Cigars and Pipes (2022)
Recently, because I enjoy a cigar now and then (well, a few times a week I’d say), I became interested in pipes. To be honest, up until I met a friend of mine, we’ll call him Spencer (because his name is Spencer. HA!) a few years ago who is extremely knowledgeable in pipes, I thought they were a thing of the past.
Truth be told, the only thing I had ever seen when it came to pipes is Popeye, a few old Normal Rockwell paintings and my uncle Dave. I remember as a kid always seeing my uncle Dave with a pipe and it smelled so good. He was always smoking something like cherry or something fruity smelling. I was a kid though, so I never really put much thought into it. Other than my uncle, no one I knew or had seen ever smoked a pipe. So, like I said, I had thought it had disappeared.
Well, flash forward a few decades and here I am as a 51-year-old man now involved in cigars and pipes. More involved than I ever thought I would be. Now as of this writing, I have a few pipes, just 3 to be exact (I sold off a few I had keeping only the one’s important to me). One is a Peterson called “Dracula”, One is an Italian that Spencer gave me for my wedding and the other is a B10 Peterson. I have over 20 jars of pipe tobacco from Crème Brule to Rum and I have two jar humidors filled with cigars (so around 20-30).
Just like any other hobby, sport or collection (yes, I know, cigars and pipes are not sports…just stay with me here for a second) it grows into something bigger and ends up costing more than you probably would imagine. Take a musician for example. A musician doesn’t just purchase a guitar and go…no no, they also have to purchase the guitar, a strap, picks, amplifier, cables, pedals, case, strings, stand, and on and on. What starts out as a $300 purchase quickly becomes a $3000 habit. Did I say habit? I meant hobby. Yeah, hobby.
Well when someone gets into cigars and pipes, the simple $8 cigar or $50 pipe turns into much more; humidors, tobacco, different cigars, pipe tampers, pipe cleaners, humidifying gels, different pipes, cigar cutters, special lighters, pipe racks, special ashtrays, tobacco storage, and on and on. $500-$1000 later and you finally feel like you can be somewhat comfortable in the “realm of the dark leaf”…for now.
My kids asked me a few weeks ago why I’m into cigars and pipes so much. Good question. Motives to get involved in anything for people are different for each person. Some people get into sports for the love of competition and physical aspects. They get into music for the way each note speaks to them and makes them feel. They get into hunting for the thrill of the chase and the success of bringing down that trophy buck. I suspect many people get into cigars and pipes for a variety of reasons. Here are my thoughts...
Now, my reasons are nothing profound, nothing earth shattering and nothing that will or has changed the world. This is just my little world, my little “slice of heaven” as they say. First and foremost, I would have to say that I am always intrigued by how things start, how things are made and the traditions behind them. I’ve always been enamored by how craft beers are brewed, how whiskey is made, how grapes turn into wine and so on. The “how it’s made” or “how it came to be” is one of the things that intrigued me with cigars and pipes.
Cigars and Pipes, to me, have always been a symbol of sophistication, gentlemanly gatherings, good conversation, great smells, history, stature, confidence, rituals, tradition and relaxation. Many fine people throughout our history have enjoyed fine cigars and pipes, so I always knew I’d be in good company.
There’s a peacefulness and relaxation that comes with enjoying a cigar or pipe from time to time. The way you prep, the items you gather, the way you light them, the way you take in the smells and on and on. It forces you to slow down and focus on just the task at hand. …It’s completely different than simply lighting up a cigarette.
Cigars and Pipes are not for everyone…and honestly, I’m ok with that. It’s a special club to be a part of. It’s the brotherhood of the dark leaf. I recommend if you ever want to check out a cigar or pipe, partner with someone who knows what they are doing. Don’t let some dufus give you some garbage from a gas station and tell you it’s a top notch cigar (gas station cigars have come a long way and have their place, but come on…). Do some research on the Internet and YouTube…there are some great things out there. Light up and enjoy!
…And the answer is yes, yes I am. I’m assuming someone is asking “Is he smoking a pipe or cigar while writing this?” I currently have a nice Isla Del Sol Robusto cigar in my mouth. It’s a pleasant infused cigar with a hint of coffee and sweetness. It’s one of my favorites.
NOTE: The uncle I spoke about earlier, Uncle Dave, gave me one of his old pipe tools after we had a conversation about pipes. He purchased it back in the 1950’s and passed it down to me. A simple gesture on his part, but a meaningful moment for me. It’s a treasure I will hold on to for the rest of my life especially since he recently passed away.
Want to know my favorite cigars, pipes or tobacco? Just ask. Or perhaps I’ll post in another Blog post in the future.
Document it...easy right?
If you do one thing today go out and buy a notepad or a journal or start a new document on the computer…and start writing…about you.
No one is going to document your life better than you unless you have some kind of documentary film crew following you around…and I doubt you do.
You’re probably asking…”Well, what’s so important about me?”
Listen, it’s not about whether you think you’re important or not. It’s not about whether you’re rich or famous or the top scientist or a Nobel Prize winner. It’s about documenting your life for you and the generations to follow. Your daily life, even if it’s boring as Hell, it’s still your life. And it may not seem like much to you right now, but it may in the future, and it may to other’s 100 years from now.
Haven’t you ever wished you had more information about your long-lost relatives? Wondered about the lifestyle of the great ancestors who came from Europe or Mexico or Africa and settled in Michigan, California, Nebraska or wherever? Maybe you saw a photo of your great grandmother posing for a photo in a garden and wondered…where did she get those clothes? Whose garden is that? What town is that? Who took the photo? What did she do before and after the photo was taken?
I know for me; I love history and the history I love the most is my family history. And as far as I know, none of my relatives or ancestors were famous movie stars, no celebrated baseball players, no disease curing scientist…just your every day average people. But I always wanted to know more about them. I saw photos of my grandparents in the mid-40s when they were in their 20’s leaning up against a 1940’s Plymouth truck and wondered…what were they doing that day? Did they go for a ride in the country? Did they eat at some local diner? Were they madly in love?
Census records and other mundane town records give us names and date of birth and perhaps a city or two lived in, but it doesn’t give us the meat and potatoes of who our ancestors really were or what they really did. You may get lucky enough to find a news clipping or two about something they did or maybe listen to the stories handed down from generation to the next. But there’s so much out there…lost…never to be seen or heard again. To me, that’s sad.
If you don’t write it down, if you don’t document the wonderful stories of you, then it will be lost forever. Do it for your kids, your grandkids and future generations because I promise you, they will want to know.
Why Are Cornfields So Scary?
Was watching the movie Signs the other day (more on that movie later). And a question popped into my head…”Why are cornfields so damn scary?”
Maybe cornfields aren’t scary to some. I’m sure corn farmers aren’t afraid of their own crops. But come on, just about every horror film out there has some sort of cornfield in them. Not to mention the horrifying scarecrows…which even the “happy” one’s look terrifying. They’re like the scary clown of the farmland. Anyway, the cornfields…I believe that the reason they are so scary is for one good reason…
You can’t see into them…it’s the fear of the unknown. And to quote one of my other favorite movies A Christmas Story…”I mean, my God, there could be anything in there!” Which holds true for those blasted cornfields. What’s the major fear most people have…the unknown.
Many people won’t swim in rivers, lakes or the ocean because they can’t see what’s underneath them…the unknown. Most people are afraid of the dark because they can’t see what’s in front of them…the unknown.
If you look towards a cornfield your mind starts to wander. As you see the stalks moving back and forth and you hear the large leaves rubbing against each other or the ears of corn bumping into each other…your mind conjures up perhaps the worst-case scenarios of what could be lurking in there…is it ghosts? Aliens? Bigfoot? Dogman? Demons? Or perhaps it’s just the wind…or maybe a delicate doe deer just wandering through…no, it’s got to be that menacing scarecrow finally come to life and is out for revenge coming to tear me apart?
I don’t know what is in there…and that’s what is so terrifying.
Stand at the edge of a cornfield sometime and just look. It will only take a minute or so before you start to see things, hear things and get that eerie chill down your spine. And if you take a walk inside a cornfield…those feelings are ten times worse…cuz then you can’t see anything around you except stalk after stalk. And if you ever go in at night…well…forget it…you’re dead.
So, back to the movie Signs. It is now one of my favorite films. I watch it about 3-5 times a year, however, when I first saw it, it freaked me out so much I wouldn’t watch it for years…like 15 years. What got me was the cornfields, yes, but the biggest “Scare” or “Popcorn spiller” for me was the scene where the news broadcast is showing the kids birthday party in Brazil. When the alien walks across the little alley way…oh man. I reacted just like Merrell did. It’s a brilliant movie with great bits of humor, suspense and setting.
What Influenced Writing Scary Stories?
After contemplating this question I believe a reality moment happened today. You see, before I would always say that I never really had any kind of horror or scary related influence because I was never a horror movie fan. Well, I should clarify that I had seen a few scary movies in my youth such as Jaws, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. but I never considered myself a horror movie watcher. I know people who are hardcore horror buffs, but I never thought of myself as such…in fact, not even close. I spent much of my 20’s thru my 40’s never really looking for scary things to watch or read. It honestly never dawned on me until recently that I actually did have quite a bit of influence growing up…
As a kid, I remember watching shows with my mother like The Munsters, The Addams Family, Twilight Zone, Tales From The Dark Side, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits, and late night weekends watching Elvira. I also remember movies like Dark Night of the Scarecrow (still one of my first favorites), The Lost Boys (one of my all time favorites), and even eating the famous monster cereals Frankenberry, Count Chocula, Yummy Mummy, Fruit Brut and Boo Berry. ..and do you remember Freakies cereal?
I believe honestly I spent a good 20 years of my life in denial when it came to the horror or scary genre of books, movies and shows. Not exactly sure why. In my mid-40’s I got hooked…and I mean hooked…on all the new ghost reality shows that came out; Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Haunted Towns, Haunted Asylums, Paranormal Caught on Camera, My Haunted House, Haunted Woods, and on and on.
Now with all of that, I have to give the biggest credit to my daughter Sadrie. She’s really the one who “jump started” my spooky story writing. It was a night on the screened in porch the fall of 2017. My wife, son and daughter and I had dinner on the porch and somehow we got to talking about scary movies and stories. I think I mentioned something about writing some type of spooky story (never honestly thinking the idea would go any further) but having doubt on whether I could actually pull it off. And my daughter just says “Why don’t you just write one Dad.” So, I replied, “You know what, why don’t I.” and as if a bolt of lighting hit me (figuratively) I grabbed a notebook and started writing.
When I sat down on the porch to write I heard the train that often goes by our subdivision. A story suddenly and immediately popped into my head and my hand couldn’t write fast enough for my churning brain. My first spooky story “Stone Hollow” was born. And to this day it’s still my favorite of all my stories.
Some things that have been on my mind lately, so just thought I would share…
Travel Channel…please, come on, it’s 2022…don’t you think it’s time to change your name to “Paranormal Channel”? I think any actual travel shows have been long gone. But long live all the awesome paranormal shows!
I really wish everyone would stop referring to their jail, prison, house, asylum, cemetery, church, town, city, village or whatever as “The most haunted in America”. I swear, everyone thinks THEIR place is the “Most Haunted in America”. How do you even prove that? As far as I know, there’s no certification you can apply for or an award you can win for “Most Haunted”.
I don’t care what anyone says….the 2016 Ghostbusters movie with the four ladies….it’s horrible. Hey I have no issues with four females taking the lead roles of Ghostbusters and I like the actors (for the most part), but they are just trying…so…damn…hard. And it just doesn’t work. Over the top, too much fluff, jokes not landing, and a struggle trying to be as great as the first one. Nope. Not happening. I wish it would just disappear.
I love all the ghost hunting shows on television right now. I really do. I’m hooked on them. But with all of the technology gizmos those groups design, build and use…why can’t someone build a simple “YES” or “NO” gadget that ghosts can use to answer questions. Stop with the flashlights and the EMFs lighting up and so on. Yes or No…simple.
I find it funny that someone can be an “expert” on bigfoot, aliens, UFOs, ghosts, etc. An expert on things that may or may not exist. Wouldn’t you be more likely be referred to as a Feasible Authority?
…and hey ghosts…just give us a definitive answer will ya! Stop with the cryptic messages, the lone bang, the footsteps, the disembodied “Help Me” and stop being so coy….no one really has a photon pack they’re going to suck you up with.
Bigfoot…hey big guy…time for you to come forward. As with the ghosts, stop being coy and come out to say hello. I’m fairly certain many people will embrace you and will want to get to know the real you. Like what’s your favorite food, your favorite game, what do you do for fun? Stuff like that.
Aliens…do they exist? Well, I say absolutely. And I would love to know for sure. I would love to know the truth about Area 51, Roswell, and all the other crazy stuff. However, I do believe in the line from Men In Black…”A person is smart, but people are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals and you know it.” Some people will welcome them, some will fear them, and some will attack them. I fear that even if the aliens do come in peace…there are those people out there who will still attack them because they are scared, ignorant, and perhaps jumping on the band wagon of others. Maybe it’s best we don’t know.
Parents…if your kids come to you (the people they most trust and count on) to tell you they see ghosts, hear noises, feel something bad, see monsters…BELIEVE THEM!! Stop blowing them off as “just being silly” or “You’re just a kid” or “It’s just your imagination”, etc. Stop! Maybe it’s nothing, but maybe, just maybe it actually IS something. Just because you’re an adult and a parent doesn’t mean you know everything. Open your mind especially to your kids.
I’d love to hear your thoughts?
Favorite Holiday: Halloween
From time to time, while conversing with friends or at get-togethers, this question comes up: What is your favorite holiday? It’s always a bit comforting when you hear other people shout out their favorite and it just so happens to be your favorite as well. Of course, there have been those heated debates that rear their ugly head when people have divided opinions on which is the best holidays (which always amused me because they are after all, just opinions attributed to individual taste, but moving on).
Now, I enjoy all of the holidays and I think Christmas is awesome…I mean, who doesn’t love giving and receiving gifts, the colorful trees and lights, images of Santa and Frosty and the food…oh Lord have mercy…the food (I’m drooling a bit as I write). Christmas is certainly high on my favorite list…it’s a close battle for the number two spot with Christmas and Thanksgiving. But for me, I have and will always put Halloween as my #1 holiday.
So once I state Halloween as my favorite, the next question is always; Why? Ah, all the candy, Duh! HA!! Okay okay, there’s certainly more to it than just the candy, but come on, honestly, who doesn’t love all the wonderful delish candy come October?
I could go into the long history of Halloween and Trick-or-Treating, but I’ll spare you the history lesson (There are lots of great books and articles on such out there…I highly recommend checking them out).
For me, it’s not just the holiday of Halloween and the art of Trick-or-Treating (Yeah, I said “Art” of Trick-or-Treating…there’s way more to it than just ringing a doorbell, looking cute or scary and begging for candy…but I’m sorry I just don’t have the time to go into right now…perhaps on another blog post). The fact that Halloween is also within the greatest season of Fall is also one of the biggest reasons I love the holiday.
I love the Fall season…it’s hard to describe my feelings on it (which I will post on another date), but a holiday that falls into the Fall season is fantastic. September, October and November here in Michigan is Fall….and I will fight anyone that says different. HA!!
Well, anyway, I love all of the spooky decorations during Halloween as well as the pumpkins, the Jack-o-lanterns, the costumes, parties, haunted attractions, the television and movies about it, as well as the feelings and excitement that surrounds it. Oh and the candy…did I mention the candy?
I get this question quite a bit…Is Writer’s Block real?
Well I can say without a doubt that it is real for me. I believe it is different for every writer and it affects them different ways. No writers are exactly alike. Some may never get punched in the face with writer’s block, while others get a daily dose of it. I can tell you what it’s like for me.
The official definition:
The condition of being unable to think of what to write or how to proceed with writing.
Writer's block is a condition, primarily associated with writing, in which an author is unable to produce new work or experiences a creative slowdown. ... The condition ranges from difficulty in coming up with original ideas to being unable to produce a work for years.
I have a mix of hours, days and weeks where I get overloaded with ideas and I am constantly and frantically writing them down on notepads or typing them into my phone and then I have days where as they say, “The struggle is real” where I have no thoughts or ideas to write down. I have moments where I can sit down at the computer and type for hours and then I have moments where I sit down at the computer, type about 10 words, then get up and walk away…because I have nothing. Literally (and I hate using that word) nothing.
Some writers find ways to break though bouts of WB and have done it successfully. I myself may have done it a time or two. At times you absolutely have to find a way to break through because you may have a deadline to meet. Results can be disastrous at times. You read through what you wrote and think, “What the Hell is all that?” and start all over again.
So I say to you that yes, writer’s block is a real thing and if anyone tells you different, they are either lying or are not writers. Just my opinion of course. - Jerrod
Thank you for visiting my blog. This particular blog is a grab bag (if you will) a mixture of my thoughts, my opinions, stories, and so on...anything from spooky stories to things that happen in my life. Enjoy!