Bob & Lorie Gray
Bobsongs Creative Media

Overseas Fabrics

It has been a REALLY long time, since I have encountered a business that made me want to write about them.  That changed last weekend, and was confirmed today, when we visited Overseas Fabrics, a fabric store in Abbotsford.

Yes, I’m going to let you think about that for a minute…

Bob is writing about the fantastic retail experience he had at… “A Fabric Store.

Think about EVERY experience, or just the expectations you’ve had while shopping for fabric. It probably goes something like this:

You wander aimlessly through a maze of seemingly endless circular tables, which are often sorted by pattern-based themes or colours, rather than by fabric type… until you finally find some appropriate fabric, at which time you take the fabric to the cutting table, and then start searching anew, only this time, looking for an employee… any employee… to cut the fabric.  You finally find someone, who, amid heavy sighs, begrudgingly cuts your fabric.  You pay, and leave, grateful that the ordeal is over.

Overseas Fabrics is a COMPLETELY different experience.

Overseas Fabrics - Overlooking the store from the mezzanine - BobBlahBlah.comThey do check all the boxes you would expect…

• A huge store, full of beautiful fabrics, notions and accessories.

• Well organized, so that you can shop easily.

Nothing really unusual, or blog-worthy, there.

Where Overseas Fabrics separates itself, and pulls away from its competition…

• Great prices, every day.

• Their people – who give a warm greeting when you arrive, and offer service with friendly enthusiasm. 

Overseas Fabrics is a family-owned and run business, and you feel that, from the owners and staff alike, in the quality of service they provide, and care that they take in ensuring their customers leave happy, having bought quality products, at great prices.  They have been in business for 26 years, and they are now working on a web store to help those folks who can’t make the drive out to Abbotsford, but still want quality fabrics, at great prices!

Their website says they have over 90,000 fabrics in stock in their store, and that they are the largest fabric store of its kind, in Western Canada. I believe it!

When we arrived at Overseas Fabrics for the first time, we were enthusiastically greeted by the gentleman at the front, like we were long lost friends.  We got similar greetings from all the other staff, as we moved throughout the store.  Several times we were approached, and asked if we needed help.

Shortly after we arrived, we were asked if we had shopped there before, as Overseas Fabrics have a different approach.  They don’t play the “wheel of discounts” game… they buy in volume and pass it along, every day… No inflated prices with bogus discounts.  On every roll of fabric, there are two prices and a quantity.  That’s it.  (For example: $7 for buying one metre, and $5 for buying over a metre.)

The reason we found Overseas Fabrics, Lorie needed some brightly-coloured material for a project, and thought Sari fabrics would be perfect.  She searched the web, and on a sunny Saturday, we headed for Abbotsford.

I drove her out there, and when we got there, I wasn’t treated like a husband and ignored, I was treated as if I might be the customer.  (Stranger things could happen!)

All in all, I cannot recommend Overseas Fabrics more highly.  If you are looking for fabrics or sewing supplies for a project, check them out!

Their store is located at 32853 Ventura Avenue in Abbotsford, and is open Monday to Saturday from 10 am to 6 pm.  Closed Sunday.

Their website is OverseasFabrics.com (With an online store opening soon.)

You can find them on Instagram, and Facebook (where they have amazing reviews!)

Here are a few photos, to try to give you a sense of the immense variety of products they carry… (Click on any image to open a pop-up window)

Overseas Fabrics - Aisles and aisles of beautiful fabrics - BobBlahBlah.com Overseas Fabrics - Aisles and aisles of beautiful fabrics - BobBlahBlah.com
Overseas Fabrics - One aisle of the mezzanine - BobBlahBlah.com

 

* I have said it before, but it bears repeating: The endorsement of this business was not bought. Nor was it paid for, by credits, free goods, discounted products or anything else. Any outside businesses, which are endorsed on the “What’s In Store” category of this Blog, are endorsed, because they are good businesses, that I frequent (or have frequented) and believe they are worthy of mention.

I do not accept payment or remuneration of any kind, for any of my Posts.

 

Echoes

I was a child of the 60s.

My first real tangible memories, are the touchstones of the times.

The music of the late 60s and early 70s.

NHL League expansion.

Nuclear testing in Kamchatka.

Vietnam.

The NASA missions to space, and to the Moon.

Watergate.

My father worked for local radio stations and then the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (the CBC), and our home and dinner table was often a gathering place and nexus for discussions regarding arts, science, politics, music, and other current events that were in the zeitgeist.

I was very young, and viewed the world with a black and white sense of idealism, that had no sense of the many shades of gray that lay between the two extremes of right and wrong.

So, I had no sense of understanding for my Father, who, after a long year of working, would choose to spend our holiday time in Penticton, in front of a TV set, watching the Watergate Hearings, rather than spending time enjoying the local lakefront.

Cut to current day, where my wife and I scan the headlines, morning and night, to find the latest development, with an American President who seems to have lost his moral compass, is openly dismissive of the Press, and have a measured disdain for minorities…

Dad… I get it.

It was further brought into focus, by watching the CNN show “Tricky Dick” – a series of four programs that, using ONLY footage and audio from the Nixon era, presented the timeline of Richard M. Nixon’s rise to power, and fall from grace.

It seems that many, back then, did not recognize the signs along the way… and looks like many US citizens are repeating a lesson they did not learn the first time.

One of my Dad’s favourite quotes, from John Dalberg-Acton (1834-1902):

“I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favorable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way against holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I get it, Dad. I get it.

TeamDepotCA

A while back, I dove back into the world of retail, after a hiatus of a few years.  I took a job, working hard, having fun, and creating sawdust, at the Home Depot store in Port Coquitlam.

It feels good to be ‘back in the aisles”, helping folks with their projects, and giving them a hand with finding the items they want, and need.

The other day, along with about a dozen Home Depot associate volunteers, we went to Coquitlam, to do outreach, with our store’s next #TeamDepotCA project.

#TeamDepotCA - Store #7145 - Giving back in Coquitlam - Home Depot CanadaTeamDepotCA, is the project where Home Depot Associates go out in their communities, and volunteer time, energy, supplies, and elbow grease… and work on something that a worthy local organization needs a hand with.

On this occasion, the group getting a hand, was the RainCity Housing Shelter, at 3030 Gordon, in Coquitlam.

You can read more about The Shelter, and the great work they do, on their website.

Our team showed up with trimmers, shovels, rakes, plants, garden accessories, and a lawn mower… and over the next few hours, we cut the front boulevard. Added shrubs and winter pansies at the entranceway. Cut the back yard, and installed edging in the garden to make future maintenance easier. We pulled out a few plants that had died, and replaced them with bulbs that will be nice surprise for the residents, when next Spring comes around.

And in the process of giving back, we had a ton of fun… and are looking forward to our next Project!

Home Depot’s Orange Door Program (part of the Home Depot Canada Foundation) has a focus on ending Youth Homelessness. You can find out more, by going to the website.

Here are a few pictures, from the day’s activity.

#TeamDepotCA - Store #7145 - Giving back in Coquitlam - Home Depot Canada #TeamDepotCA - Store #7145 - Giving back in Coquitlam - Home Depot Canada
#TeamDepotCA - Store #7145 - Giving back in Coquitlam - Home Depot Canada #TeamDepotCA - Store #7145 - Giving back in Coquitlam - Home Depot Canada
 #TeamDepotCA - Store #7145 - Giving back in Coquitlam - Home Depot Canada

A fun time was had by all…
and we helped a really worthwhile project!!!

(Click on any photo,
to open it in a pop-up window.)

West Coast Flying Trapeze

At a Social Media Meetup, in 2016, we met the folks from West Coast Flying Trapeze, a new business, located in Pitt Meadows.

They are a business that offers training in various circus-related skills:

  • Aerial Silks
  • Aerial Hoop
  • Juggling
  • Hand Balancing
  • Trampoline
  • Tumbling
  • Flying and Static Trapeze
  • (And they are adding more services, all the time!)

Their facility is housed in an expansive 8000 square foot hanger, located near the Pitt Meadows Airport.

Check out their video below, for an overview of the fun!

Because I’ve had a few incidents with whiplash, I wasn’t surprised to hear that the Manager suggested that I *NOT* try the trapeze… which was my first indication that it was a top-down, safety-first facility.

The staff was all professional, and their incremental method of teaching the students, seemed to be designed specifically to maximize the opportunity for the students to succeed, as much as they could.

From the West Coast Flying Trapeze brochure:

“Circus does not require a ton of strength, a high degree of flexibility, or a certain body type.  All you need to do is show up.  Our Coaches will guide you through the rest.  At West Coast Flying Trapeze, it’s not about what your body looks like, it’s about what your body can do!”

If you are looking for a fun activity for just about anybody, I would suggest checking out West Coast Flying Trapeze… they are a Circus School for everyone!

They are located at Unit 105 – 19055 Airport Way, Pitt Meadows, BC.  (At the intersection of Airport Way and Baynes Road)

You can find more information about their services and their prices, on their website: WestCoastFlyingTrapeze.com

It is a fun venue, for both the participants, as well as observers… not only from the Circus training, but also from the perspective of the highly-entertaining four-legged friends: Russell and Tally — two very different dogs, who (seemingly) love to cuddle and entertain “audience” members! (Video below)

 

* I have said it before, but it bears repeating: The endorsement of this business was not bought. Nor was it paid for, by credits, free classes or anything else. Any outside businesses, which are endorsed on the “What’s In Store” category of the Blog, are endorsed, because they are good businesses, that I frequent (or have frequented) and believe they are worthy of mention. I do not accept remuneration of any kind, for my Blog Posts.

 

 

 

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: https://www.etsy.com/ca/shop/GardenFairyDoors/

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

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

It was he, who 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

Legend of the Tooth Fairy - Fireside Stories Publishing - BobBlahBlah.comToday 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.

Some friends of mine have written a number of children’s adventure stories, 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 first is 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!!!