Secret Mission


"Foo Was Here"
Made it back and boy am I exhausted..will have to post pics of the plunder tomorrow...
I will say, it turned out to be a glorious unexpected diversion from the madness of todays world....
But for those who may be in the Bloomington Indiana area, and if you're looking for some rarities, better get a move on to the B&M there called The Briar & Burley..


Well-known member
Made it back and boy am I exhausted..will have to post pics of the plunder tomorrow...
I will say, it turned out to be a glorious unexpected diversion from the madness of todays world....
But for those who may be in the Bloomington Indiana area, and if you're looking for some rarities, better get a move on to the B&M there called The Briar & Burley..
The B&B always has wild stuff in stock. I stop by every time I'm in the area.

It's a joy to browse their pipes, but I almost always find a rare tin or two.


"Foo Was Here"
Ok, after a painful day of dealing with a broken washer and going on an elusive “find a salesperson” at Lowes for a new washer...I can finally get around to posting this..

For those that do not know me well, I used to due customs hand tool joinery and furniture work.
Then life stepped in and I was unable to do it anymore...physically....and it really brought me low.
I met so may great folks, had dinner with Roy Underhill....met some amazing tool makers..but alas my shop became useless, and more so a point of depression looking at the tools I had amassed and was no longer able to use.

I am good friends with a gentleman who manages a B&M pipe shop…and he is also a woodworker extraordinaire.
In fact he and his better half are starting a woodworking school very soon.
The COVID has put a damper on things for know, but when things return to normal they hope to move forward.
I am a member of the Midwest Hand Tool Collectors Association…and the last event was held on the weekend in which all the lockdowns began...I was up at Spring Mill where I had a booth Think February?
I sold most everything…but I still had my “masterpiece”.
A traditional joiners workbench made of old growth walnut, 5” thick and 8’ long and 19 inches wide…that was just the top. It is very heavy…and beautiful. The figure in the woods are stunning in person.
Thick walnut legs and cross beams all mortised, huge African Mahogany stretchers with a unique reversed through tenon using wedges instead of the traditional peg through method.
So anyway, he had asked to save the bench for him if I ever decided to part with it.
It was a hard decision…many months of work, thought and sweat went into it.
From milling it down on a friends sawmill to scrounging up huge African Mahogany beams for the stretchers…the huge pieces of walnut for legs…this thing is a beast.
It is my baby…I designed it and put my heart, soul blood, sweat and tears into it.

Then I had the heart attack and stroke.

But now, I have decided that as the preverbal writing is on the wall…that it was time.
I only use it now as most people do with their Nordic Tracks they buy, to put clothes and set miscellaneous junk on it.

My only concern was that it went to someone who was an actual artisan…this gentleman is in spades.
I loathed the thought of having to list it and some schmuck would use it in his garage to open paint cans on or hammer out birdhouses with it or using it for anything other that what it was designed for.

So sort of out of the blue I called the store yesterday to see if any Esoterica had arrived yet...Matt recognized my voice and said “Mike?"
I laughed and said “yeah it’s me, doing my monthly call to see if anything worth driving up for is in."
He simply said “yup...some things you might be interested in arrived."

“Great, see ya in about two hours."

Matt asked about the bench, if I was still selling it.…he offered money, and I said…how about a fair trade…pipes and tobacco for an agreed price.

I did not need the money, and it felt just too cold and impersonal…a trade sounded better.

Here are some pics of the bench...and of a much younger and thinner me..sorry for the quality...I was lucky to recover them after a complete crash of my computer years ago....before I went to Apple.





"Foo Was Here"
So, we decided on a fair price, and I had free range of the store...

Here is what we settled on...had enough left to buy a ginger ale and a pack of Panter small Matt and I and his better half had a chance chat in the smoking lounge...sadly very few customers there these days.
In the times since we last saw each other, a lot had happened, friends death, illness, another friend diagnosed with terminal brain tumor, a devastating house fire, my having been found with brain lesions and other not so great stuff.....yet we were all content, each with our own smoke in a very quaint and quiet place.


My first Petersons and a Caminetto sitter....


I asked Matt about what he had that he thought would be nice, he said if he had his eye on this Peterson for I relieved him of the stress of having to see it every day...


And lastly this is very pretty in person...great colors and feels great.

I could have gotten more out of the bench had I sold it, but it was not an object of was a work of love for the craft.

The internet is weird.....I know most people will not ever see this, and few will really care.
But some might...maybe their love wasn’t woodworking and was something else, but life derailed you and it was taken away in one form or another.
Sometimes God’s plans just are not our own.
I am at peace with it, and have found it rather cathartic.

I have over the past few years since not being able to work, sold my house and all my shop...and gotten rid of many things that we all acquire over time.
I looked at them in a different light, not to covet, but rather to unchain myself from them

So, if you made it this far, thank you.
As you know most English Majors are wordy and often as not just a little too pretentious.

But, if you’ve had a life changing event that just shook you to the very foundation, I can truly empathize with you.
And there is more out there, we are all more than the sum of are parts, working or not working parts that is.

At 54, a new horizon has appeared, not that endless one of youth, but one of a final destination, a sunset of a million colors that softly beckons...and I am okay with that.

New hobbies, new circle of friends...meeting some great folks is all good.

My wonderful son recently bought an old 35mm camera.

We used to do everything together before he went into the Army, long father son hikes, fishing, camping, heading out to the country to shoot.
Now my body won’t allow it anymore.

So I too scrounged an old 35mm Richo Rangefinder off fleabay, and we now go on slower walks have longer talks and enjoy nature.
Sharing, the hobby of photography and embracing the time that is left for us all.

I am a blessed man

Now I have pipes and tobacco that have helped me with the slowing down of life.

Plus a pretty cool forum to come to and people from all over the world to converse with.

So there you have it.

Hope it wasn’t a let down.

As for me it was a bonnie good day yesterday.

And for that I am grateful, grateful for so many things.

Thanks for listening...and thanks for welcoming me into this little community of folks who are here.


Last edited:


Perpetual whippersnapper
Oh yeah....but I was not greedy, well maybe a little with the Kingfisher because they did not get many of it anyway.
And I guess buy isn’t perhaps the right word...I traded, he paid the store...
Yes I'm sorry, I caught that upon review. Glad you are so enthused and the experience of turning over your Swanson was at least some measure of rewarding.

To quote Mr. Peart: "Sadder still to watch it die than never to have known it. For you the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee."


"Foo Was Here"

Good story and detail, great attitude! I have had mixed experiences with Petersons, but can't deny how good those look. Did you buy all that Esoterica too?

I am a little wary of the Petersons also, but am little relieved as they are not bent....what sort of got me is that all the pipes (at least to me) that they have there are huge.

A lot of really big chamber stuff, they do have regular size ones and most Savinellis, ect... but the really big honkers just do not appeal to me.
Freehands in general do not.

I finally got up close and personal with a Nording...and am glad I never sprung for one....I want a meerschaum, but really didn’t see anything that lit my lamp...if we do another trade on books I might go a different direction.

That Caminetto however, it sung to me....I am looking forward to a first bowl in it.