News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
Talbert Pipes Website - Kentucky Fried Popcorn - My Web Comic.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Talbert Christmas Carol

`Twas the night before Christmas, all snug in the house.
I left the cooking to Emily... Heh, what a louse!
I sat down to clean pipes with a feeling of dread,
unnerved by the sounds of strange footsteps o'erhead.
Two evenings with family, the gauntlet was thrown.
Would I have stayed in France, had I only known?
"Nah", I thought, "I'm better off here."
"Surrounded by casks of good winter beer!"
Christmas is fun, Christmas is shiny,
Christmas is even for those who are whiny.
Those who spend this time bitching and moaning.
can be easily replaced, with the help of good cloning.
This season is made for wishes and dreaming.
Just try to tune out the relatives' screaming.
So we'll have our big dinners, and we'll dance and we'll sing,
even if Santa doesn't bring us a thing!
Because at the end of the day, the thing that has meaning
is the warm family feeling....  and getting out of the cleaning!
So Merry Christmas to all!  We hope for the best,
and please don't get charged with resisting arrest.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Lurking Fear

Biz news flash!  For those of you who are not on our mailing list, you might be interested to know that I've posted four unsmoked Talbert Briars for sale to the "final beta" version of the new website - You can see the pipes for sale here.  You can also get an advance look at the style of the new site, as well as the new online payment system.

I realize the photo to the left may seem a bit incongruous coupled with this post title, but maybe I can explain.  We've been hit here in NC with an unprecedented pre-Christmas snow this weekend (Really, I can't remember the last time it snowed in December here, but I'm guessing it was back in my childhood).  As I type this, the roads are frozen over with sleet and slush, and likely to be that way through tomorrow as well.  Seeing snow at this time of year is an absolutely joyous event for us, since we only saw snow perhaps two or three times in seven years of living in Brittany - There, winter mostly meant eternal darkness, overcast skies, and rain for weeks at a time.  We spent the day out walking our new neighborhood and taking photos, some of which I posted to my Facebook profile for those who may be curious. 

So, with this sort of scenery surrounding us today, what's the issue?  Well, we talked a good bit as we walked.  Emily has been increasingly uneasy for the past week and after some discussion, we both nailed down the origin of the feeling - It's the seasonal return of France-induced paranoia that any time anything seems to be going well, something truly horrendous is waiting just around the corner.... and this went double during the holiday season. 

Our first winter there was the coldest on European record and our heat went out for days, leaving us living and working in a 21 degree house.  Later years brought plumbing system backups, massive money-losing projects, and the regular December tax bill, which for us was generally a 1000+ euro surprise just in time for Christmas shopping season.  Seven years of life in a country that was actively trying to kill us in every possible way seems to have left us both with a deep suspicion that any time things seem to be going right, this just means something much worse is waiting around the corner. 

It's going to take a while before we relax.

The good thing is that like those mythological beasties of yore, naming the lurking fear helps to banish it.  Looking back on 2009, it's a bit humbling to see just how much has gone right this year, despite the fact that we've literally lost everything we ever had in savings and equity.  Synchronicity seems to be on our side again - When we need help, there are friends to help, when we needed a vehicle, an ideal one popped up, when we needed workshop stock and equipment, lots of US pipemaker friends helped out with loans and donations.  We are, in short, incredibly lucky people despite the problems we've had this year.  We watched "It's a Wonderful Life" the other night and were struck by just how close to home it was.  Cynics might dismiss the film as overly sentimental or saccharine, but once you've lived through a similar experience, it changes your outlook forever. 

Merry Christmas, from the backyard of "Atelier Talbert"!

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Trial run with two new Talberts

Hello everyone, and Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Bonne FĂȘtes, and a general happy holidays to you, regardless of what you celebrate!  This is a notice for everyone who might be interested - I've got a few unsmoked Talbert Briars now posted.  These are not *new* pipes, per se, but are from a small stash of unsmoked Talberts that have been hoarded here in the states for a few years, which I'm now dispersing to new homes.  I've brought them back here and given them all a look-over, with new polishing and cleaning to bring them back to shine, and each is effectively a brand new Talbert from 3 years ago.

I'll get to the links in a second, but first I wanted to thank all the good folks who have helped us out this year, during the ongoing crisis of our return to the states, whether by donation of tools, stock, time, or just good wishes.  Now I have to call on your help again, because we desperately need every last penny we can bring in this holiday season.  If either of these new pipes tickles your fancy at all, please don't hesitate to buy!  We're in the final crunch, and just need enough to live on until the new site is open and business is rolling again.

I actually have three unsmoked Talberts here, but I'm thinking of doing a restain on the third and so I haven't photographed it yet (It's an XL plateau-topped freehand).  Look for it to be added to the site within a few days, too.

This is also a little test of our new online payment system, so if you buy, you'll be helping to make sure everything works properly before the setup gets stress-tested by the initial wave of shoppers when the new site opens fully.  Also, it's a general look & feel test - These pipes are posted using the new catalog item format of the redesigned website, and include easy currency conversion as well.  I hope you will like the look AND the convenience!  And without further ado, here are the links to the two new pipes posted:


Also, if you're looking for stocking stuffers for the pipe collector in your family, I've put a few new items in our Cafe Press clothing and misc shop also, like this snazzy cap showcasing our newly redesigned Talbert Pipes logo:

You can shop the full store here:

It's still a mix of new and old logos, but I will be updating it as time permits, and at least the shirts have the new logo now.
Thanks very much for your time, and I hope everyone has a terrific holiday season!

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Finishing up

What a long, strange.... and often horrifying... trip it has been.  I write this today having just completed the setup of the last workshop lathe that we need for pipemaking, making this our semi-official "Workshop Finished" day.  There are still things lacking (workstation lighting being the main one, as I can't see what I'm doing on several machines and have to carry a flashlight with me!), and I am certain that we will rearrange and modify the setup once we have used it for a while, but for now, we have access to a fully functioning workshop again.  I'd like to take the opportunity to once again thank all the great people who have helped us out with this project - We arrived here with nothing, thanks to our final screw-over by the Herbignac mairie, and our ability to start working again is entirely down to a lot of help, donations, and generosity on the part of pipe friends all across the USA and Canada.  To mark the occasion, here is a new "Workshop assembly" comic strip showing the last steps of getting the metal lathe working, and then a two page tour of the new workshop.  Hope you enjoy! 

(Oh, and for the curious - Don't look for new pipes on the site tomorrow.  With this done, I have five days of email to catch up, a lot of business archiving to do, a starting inventory to finish, a pair of special pipes to make, a house to decorate for the holidays, and a NC driver's license to obtain before I start making pipes for the site.... and THEN that will take a while in itself, since I want to have something nice in stock in every category before we put the new site online with all new stuff.  I don't know how long all this will take, but rest assured we'll be working as hard as we can right through December to get things going again.)


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