Musings & Music & More... oh my!

Garden Fairy Doors

TreeMax Fairy Door Realty - Helping find homes for Magical Creatures since 2015 - BobBlahBlah.comRecently, Lorie and I started crafting and selling small doors for magical creatures… and so, whether you need a home for your Gnomes, Hobbits, Pixies, Elves or Fairies… we have a door that is just right for your needs!

Some are fanciful… others quite rustic… some are colorful… and others understated.  Something for every taste.  Each is one-of-a-kind, and hand-crafted.  (Honestly, I would post pictures, but they change ALL. THE. TIME.)

Lorie has also made some fun and funky whimsical accessories… banners, flags, wind chimes and more…

You can find the full assortment of what is currently available, in our Etsy Shop: http://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/GardenFairyDoors/

For fun, we also created TreeMax – a “Fairy Tale Realty Company”: http://treemax.ca/

And, if you want the full story on how we got started making Fairy Doors, you can find the details here: http://gardenfairies.ca/

 

 

The Power of Dates, Over Time

Some time ago, there was a daytime talk show, I can’t remember which one, where the host had a guest on, who was paralyzed by her parents deaths.

As the primary caregiver, she had been responsible for their everyday care and function, as well as advocating for their healthcare.

And, upon the occasion of their passing, she found that she would go into a depression, every time there was a big holiday (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving) at their birthdays… but especially on their Death Dates.  Those were really hard to bear.

The advice from experts was to remember those who passed on their birthdays, try to build new and different traditions on special Holidays, and to try to block acknowledgement of the Death Dates, by staying busy, and planning activities that “take over” the Death Dates, and by trying to “take away their power”, by remembering the good times, and pushing the sad memories away.

Mum & Dad - Happy Times - BobBlahBlah.comI found this advice helpful, as I had lost my parents at an age that I felt was “early”.  My Mum passed away in 1996,and my Dad in 1999.

I have, for the most part, been able to focus on the memories I have of them, from when they were alive, and the “treasures” I have, that (for me) helps to remind me of them, and keep their memory alive.

It struck me recently, that this year will be 20 years since my Mum passed, and shortly after, we started on the roller coaster that my Dad’s health journey would become, for his last few years.

In many ways, I think I was very fortunate to stumble upon that talk show, on that day.  It certainly has helped me.

But, on this day, it suddenly, and without warning, shocked me that 20 years had passed.  I guess that is the power of dates, over time.

And so, I shall raise my mug of tea, in toast… and go back to keeping busy.

 

 

For Matt, Whenever We May Find Him

Matt - Spazz Matt - Friend to many... Missed by all - BobBlahBlah.comToday brought into focus for me, something that has been troubling me for a while.

Today is the Birthday of a Social Media friend, who I first met through Twitter, and then extended my friendship onto Facebook.

He lived in Pittsburgh, and we never met in real life… but through the years we would talk about hockey… music… and as we got to know one another better, our past struggles with Depression.

Then one day, he was gone…

No warning. No last post. No rants about Facebook or Twitter trolls.

Just… suddenly… nothing.

And for the last few years, upon the occasion of his Birthday, it causes me, and his many other perplexed friends, to post on his FB wall, and to put out Tweets… hoping against hope, for a response.

But there are none.

I think we’ve all had friends who, upon encountering online trolls, or discordant opinions, have taken breaks, or retreated offline.  I myself, have had periods where there is just “too much muchness”, and going offline seems the easiest way to quickly quiet, a sometimes overwhelming and noisy world.

But these retreats by me, and by others, are usually prefaced by a “Taking a break for a while” note… or alternately, a rant complaining about the ugly sides of Social Media.  Some come back, and others do not.  But in most cases, there is a build-up or explanation to the reasons for the interruption.

In Matt’s case, there was none.

He called his online profile ‘Spazz Matt’.

And, so today, it made me wonder…

About the nature of friendships, and how we are naturally drawn to some people.  How we form bonds of commonality, traveling roads (whether real or virtual) together, and enjoying “shared” experiences together.

And it makes me wonder…

How someone could, after years and years, suddenly give up on all those friendships.

And then I wonder…

Beyond the facile friendships of an online community, if the struggle behind the persona, overcame the person themselves.  I hope not.

But… in all likelihood, I’ll never know.

So, on the occasion of his Birthday, I post this Simon & Garfunkel video, in honour of Matt, who would (in my recollection) doubtlessly, mock my choice.

And, with apologies to S&G, I present… “For Matt, Whenever We May Find Him” 

#Peace

And, because I would agree that the tone isn’t quite right, I give you (again) the greatest song ever written…

“I’m Going To Go Back There, Someday” by the Great Gonzo.

 

Professional Sports And Moving Forward Past Tokenism

Was pleased and excited last week to hear about Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player, being selected in the NFL Draft.

Then, this week, I saw this video about the number WHERE he was picked… 249th overall.


The NFL Draft comes on the heels of NBA player, Jason Collins, announcing that he is gay.

The biggest difference between the two, is that Michael Sam has not yet “proven his worth” at the professional sports level, (he was drafted out of College, where he was extremely successful) whereas Jason Collins was nearing the end of his career, and had become a free agent, (prior to his being signed by the Brooklyn Nets in February 2014).

No doubt, it is difficult to be first.  There has to be a massive amount of consideration, prior to announcing something that is private, and frankly, SHOULDN’T MATTER TO ANYONE.

Why would any team or sports organization want anything BUT the best players, regardless of color, sexual orientation, nationality or whatever other criteria you want to divide people by.  And yet, it apparently still does.

In one article I read recently, this quote floored me…

One NFL coach, speaking anonymously to Sports Illustrated after Sam came out, said: “I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet.”

I sincerely hope I am wrong… but the Teams who are giving these players their opportunities, seem to be struggling to find success. And both Teams received a “bump” in merchandising revenues, when these signing announcements were made.  And that got me thinking about ‘tokenism’.

If you aren’t sure what tokenism is, here is the Dictionary.com definition:

TOKENISM:

1) the practice or policy of making no more than a token effort or gesture, as in offering opportunities to minorities equal to those of the majority.
2) any legislation, admissions policy, hiring practice, etc., that demonstrates only minimal compliance with rules, laws, or public pressure: Admitting one woman to the men’s club was merely tokenism.

In light of recent ugliness on Social Media by Boston “fans”, directed towards PK Subban (an African-American hockey player), it makes me wonder how far we’ve come, towards being an “enlightened” society.  Many retired hockey players admit, that they do research on the families and friends of opponents, in order to be able to “rile up” opponents in on-ice scrums.  But, as hockey fans, how do we so easily cast aside the legacy of Boston Bruin Willie O’Ree (the first hockey player to break the color barrier in 1958) and call out a player who is a visible minority.  PK Subban is a well spoken, skilled hockey player, who works hard (on and off the ice) to promote hockey as a sport for everyone.

Hopefully, the selection of an openly gay football player, Jason Collins’ announcement, more and  more visible minorities playing hockey, and inclusive organizations such as You Can Play – are just the beginning of a more open and inclusive sports environment, and the culture of sports will become more enlightened.  This would, I think, help move sports fans, and society as a whole, to a better place.

I don’t think that there should be quotas, or requirements, or any such “rules”… but simply allow the best players to play in the top sports leagues, without their ethnicity, skin color, or sexual orientation being of ANY concern.  I believe the only thing that any of these athletes wants, is to be considered on an equal basis, against the others competing for the available positions on the teams.

I don’t think ALL the idiots will ever go away.  But, in the last while, sports fans have seen a LOT of examples of team owners (such as Donald Sterling), team management (Michael Sam getting passed over 248 times), and team coaches (see the “anonymous” quote above), indicating that many of the idiots are still RUNNING the Teams.

Enough.

Haute Note – Personalized Note Cards And Stationery

As some of you may know… on October 1st, Lorie and I bought an online card business… Haute Note!

A company that produces custom cards, personalized notes and stationery.

We have a variety of note styles, as well as designs for every reason and every season.

We feel that in this day and age, when pretty much everyone on the planet has embraced the technology for sending emails, texts, PINS and communicating through any number of Social Networks — there are still occasions when it is “special” to get a card.  A keepsake, or reminder of a moment in time.

Whether a photo Holiday card, personalized Christmas cards, birthday invitations, wedding or baby announcements, save-the-date cards, or something else completely… we can customize and personalize any of the hundreds of designs of cards.

A set of 8 Signature cards makes a lovely hostess gift, a thank you gift, something nice for Aunt Sadie or the perfect something for the hard-to-buy-for person who has everything!

Below are a few examples, chosen at random from hundreds of styles and themes.

You can find more examples at HauteNote.com

(Click on any image below to open the images up in a Gallery Viewer)

phot_hpch_crem phot_cndy_gren_1 drea_popy_redd phot_scpt_taup_script_taupethanks_t2_1
flat_gree_hell_greetings_scripthello_3 phot_scpt_save_script_savethedate_t2 phot_hchr_strp_holidaycheer_stripes_t5b phot_bbra_blos_2
holi_holi_tree phot_anim_gren_animalcrackers_green_t1b drea_bran_cher holi_fest_juni
flat_crow_prin_crowns_princess_2 flat_crow_pair_crowns_royalpair_3 flat_addn_pinb_addition_pinblue_5 clas_nost_sugr_1
clas_tree_weve_1 clas_long_kngt_1 clas_holi_gift_1 clas_cbrn_plum
clas_nost_midn_1 cele_wedd_cake cele_gath_cups hn-crown-avi-reverse-w-border-500

(Click on any image above to see the cards in a Gallery Viewer)

Should you need a personal or corporate Christmas card… a card to announce a birth, or a birthday party… a wedding announcement or a BBQ invite… we have all these, and many more! Check us out at HauteNote.com

You can also find us on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

 

“Legend Of The Tooth Fairy” – A Children’s Adventure Story

Today is the first of December, and the beginning of the Holiday shopping season… that time of year, when parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are starting to look for gifts for the children in their lives.

Legend of the Tooth Fairy - Fireside Stories Publishing - BobBlahBlah.comSome friends of mine have written a children’s adventure story, revolving around the Tooth Fairy, Dragons and their interactions with humans, led by the young boy, Garth and his group of friends.  Written by Bruce Kilby and Ken Johnson, and illustrated by Sean Cannon, the “Legend Of The Tooth Fairy“, is 239 pages full of a fantastic and engaging children’s adventure story… for less than $20!!!

The book is available through

Fireside Stories Publishing,

and available from Bruce,

at events in Langley, BC…

or you can purchase it

online through Amazon.

If you are in the Vancouver area, there will be a number of events in the Fraser Valley.  You can find the details on Bruce’s Fireside Stories Publishing website

The artwork on the Chapter Plates are, to me, striking reminders of the type of books I grew up reading.  Below is the Dragon illustration that kicks off Chapter Five.

Legend of the Tooth Fairy - Chapter Plate - Fireside Stories Publishing - BobBlahBlah.comIf you are looking for a great gift for a younger reader, Legend Of The Tooth Fairy might just fit the bill!

Happy shopping!!!

 

 

Remembrance Day Musings

Poppy - Remembrance Day - BobBlahBlah.comThere are a bunch of posts and articles flying around right now… talking about the different colours of Poppies, and which ones different folks support. (Red or White)

I haven’t had an opportunity to read most of the articles, and I don’t know enough about the various discussions and debates to comment on them… and to me, any discussion about this is really quite pointless.

When I see a Red Poppy, I think of my Dad, and my Grandfather.

 —–

alex-buchananMy Grandfather (Alex Buchanan) is a man I never knew, who lived and worked in Singapore.

Before the Second World War, he fought against the injustices of the time, for those with skin of a different colour… at a time when the British Colonials thought nothing of their two-class system.

When the war started, he managed to get his family and wife safely onto a freighter, and stayed behind to help fight the Japanese invasion of Singapore… which didn’t last long.  All the guns were fixed… pointing out to sea.  The Japanese invaded through the mainland, and Singapore quickly surrendered.

My Grandfather spent the remainder of his life in Changi Prisoner of War camp, which is where he died.

—–

Robert Harold Gray - Entertaining his fellow soldiers, during a moment's respite - Served 1939 to 1946 - throughout Europe and Africa - BobBlahBlah.comOn September 3rd, 1939, my dad was a young man who had just celebrated his 20th birthday a few days earlier.  He had just started working for the BBC in Scotland.  Then, at 11:15 in the morning, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared war on Germany.  A day later, my Dad was a soldier.

Like countless others, he signed up immediately… and through 1945, he was assigned to various units as a radio operator on the front lines… until he was wounded.  Then he would get sent to a hospital, to get patched up, and he would be re-deployed to another unit, on another front.

He fought in Italy, Crete, Sicily and Africa.

He was a young man, named Robert Harold Gray, who lived on Hamilton Road in Rutherglen, Scotland. Funnily enough, he knew three OTHER Robert Grays who lived on the same street in the same town.  Not so funny, was the reality that my dad was the only one of the four who came home alive.  And my dad knew full well that it was only by fluke that he made it home.  There was a particular moment during a battle, when his unit was being overrun by the German Army, and amid the retreat, he let a fellow soldier go ahead of him.  That soldier was immediately killed by a grenade blast.  My Dad was evacuated, with more shrapnel wounds, but lucky to be alive.

After the War ended, he was discharged, and went home to Scotland. The first thing he did was burn his uniform, and put away his medals.

He didn’t ever glorify war or hold a grudge.  One of his eventual best friends when he came to Vancouver, was a German neighbour, who lived across the street, who had been a bomber pilot during the Blitz.

My Dad didn’t sit around telling war stories.  He didn’t like or want to talk about it.

He only allowed us two windows to peek through, to catch a glimpse of the pain he had seen and endured during the war years:

– During my teenage years, on Sunday nights, he would listen to Dame Vera Lynn’s record, over and over.  Often I would come in, as he was singing along to the song “We’ll Meet Again”, to find him with tears in his eyes, lost in another time.

– During this time, he and I started watching Remembrance Day services together… until he passed away in 1999.

Since then, when Remembrance Day comes, I don’t go to the Cenotaph… I observe the Ceremony, spending time with my Dad’s memory, and thinking of the sacrifices that he and his friends made, to try to bring sanity back to the world.

The Poppy to me is a symbol of my Dad’s and Grandfather’s generation… most of them, now gone… who gave us gifts that we still enjoy.  Freedom and choice.

I do not diminish or discount the importance of having discussions and debates about the issues of Veterans’ support, peace-keeping efforts and the role of armies in the modern era.  However, I shall recuse myself from that discussion.  To me, the intent of Remembrance Day is to remember those who gave years of their lives, or in some cases, their actual lives, to fight for the intangible values of Rights and Freedoms, that we now enjoy.

The Poppy doesn’t glorify war.  There is no glory in war.  There is only sacrifice and loss, and that is what we honour on Remembrance Day.

I shall wear my Red Poppy, and with it, cherish spending a moment of Remembrance with my Dad, and the Grandfather I never knew.

We’ll Meet Again

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where.., don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

Keep smiling through,
Just like you always do,
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds, far away.

So will you please say hello,
To the folks that I know,
Tell them I won’t be long,
They’ll be happy to know, that as you saw me go
I was singing this song.

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where,don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

We’ll meet again,
Don’t know where, don’t know when,
But I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

 

Songwriters: Arthur Wilkinson, Ross Parker, Hugh Childs

Published by: Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing

Manic Monday

It has been a crazy time at our house, as appliances and lights stopped working, and THEN we discovered Carpenter Ants had taken up residence in the front of our house.

For everyone who is asking, here is what the front of our house looked like, about an hour ago.

House Renovations - BobBlahBlah.com House Renovations - BobBlahBlah.com
Removing the rotten/eaten supports, framing & headers.  Stripped back to wood untouched by water or cooties

 Cue the music…  Here is The Bangles… Manic Monday !!!

 

 

Family Is A “Relative” Thing

The word “Family” means different things, to different people.

My parents emigrated to Canada in 1956, from Scotland.  They didn’t know anyone here, but my Uncle John in Liverpool had traveled the world, working on ships, and his endorsement of the beautiful city on the Pacific, tipped the scales for Vancouver over Montreal.  Dad thought he could find a job in broadcast radio in Vancouver… so he and my mum packed up their lives into a couple of steamer trunks, and with two young daughters in tow, set sail for Canada, leaving all relatives behind.

A few years, a few houses and a few different jobs later, my Parents had me.

To me, when I was a little kid, the word Family meant my parents, and my sisters.

My parents made many friendships in their newly-adopted country, and growing up, we called most of these people “Aunt” or “Uncle”.  As I grew a bit older, I learned that these people weren’t actually related to us, but were Aunts and Uncles “in name only”.  I also learned that there were OTHER people I talked to on the phone on Christmas Day and sometimes heard, on exchanged reel to reel tapes, who I was related to.  They were the ‘Overseas Relatives’.

As a teenager, my Mum and I went to meet the ‘Overseas Relatives’, and spent three weeks meeting Aunts, Uncles and Cousins… all over Scotland and England.  Being a typical teenager, I wore the unfortunate cloak of being self-absorbed, while lacking in both self-confidence and self-assuredness. Quiet and shy would be an understatement… so I busied myself behind the lens of a camera, taking pictures.  After that trip, I was able to match faces and personalities to the Overseas Relatives. During my teens, there were also a few trips by various Overseas Relatives to Canada.

Later, when I got married, my Family more than doubled when I was embraced by my wife’s family.  Through the following years, our Family also grew to include four lovely nieces.

Then the growth stopped…  My Parents both passed away… and Lorie’s long list of Aunts and Uncles started dwindling.  At the same time, the Overseas Relatives were diminishing in numbers, as my Dad’s two siblings and my Mum’s four siblings slowly succumbed to age and diseases.  Until all were gone, save my Mum’s brother John.

Family - Buchanan, Gray, & Knox Clans - Pitt Meadows - August 2013 - BobBlahBlah.comUncle John turned 80, last April.  He and his wife, Aunt Patricia had been very kind when I went to Liverpool as a teen.  It had been Uncle John who, when I went with my Mum to see my Grandmother, Sybil, for the one and only visit, after 15 minutes, took me for ice cream, as it was apparent (even to my teenage self) that Sybil was more interested in the Wimbledon Tennis results on her TV, than in talking to me, as she had placed a wager on the results.

After Uncle John’s recent birthday, John and Patricia’s son and daughter-in-law – David and Louise – started making arrangements for a family trip. So, this is how six of the Buchanan clan: Uncle John, Aunt Patricia, David, Louise, and grand kids Rebecca and Luke, came to be in Vancouver, for a visit.

From the first greeting at the airport, there was an immediate comfort, warmth and ease talking with all of them…  and lots of laughter amid the “getting to know” everyone.  I have always known that the Buchanan men have a distinct “look”… deep-set eyes and black hair that turns gray early… and I can now “see” myself in Uncle John, David and Luke, and them in me.

It had been 31 years since the last time Uncle John, Aunt Patricia and David had been been to Vancouver… and now Luke is the age David had been, and David was the age John had been on their last visit. Someone saw a photo of their last trip, and said each could pass for the generation that followed.  I am also older than the last time they visited, by 31 years… and I’m sure, no wiser.

But I know that these people stepped off the plane as Overseas Relatives, and are leaving today as Family.

Family is a Relative thing, and today, some of my Family are leaving town.

I wish them a safe journey, and look forward to seeing them again… hopefully soon !!!

#TravelSafe