Happy Father’s Day!!

Hi Folks:

Lots to celebrate today. For us, today marks our 352nd Monthaversary of the day we met. For our neighbours to the south, today marks Juneteenth – the day the last of the slaves in the US were emancipated. And on a larger scale, today we celebrate fathers … of all stripes. Being a father isn’t a part-time thing. Even for those who aren’t physically together with their families every day, being a father is a part of every moment, every breath. Marcia’s father and Mike’s dad both passed away within a few months of each other, several years ago. Mike’s father passed away a little over a year ago, and yet each of them are still present in our lives, influencing our thoughts, our decisions, our ways of Being who we are.

So today we wanted to take a moment to say thank you to our sons (and our nephews) – good fathers and men of whom to be proud. Whether you’re a father/grandfather/great-grandfather, son, brother, uncle, big brother, mother serving as father, daughter, sibling… whoever you are, celebrate today, just because. Honour all of those who are a part of your family, whatever family looks like to you. If you find yourself alone in the world, you’re welcome to be a part of ours.

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. Take our advice and use 23:37 of your day to watch this TED talk by Andrew Solomon: Love, No Matter What. It’s about unconditional love and unconditional acceptance. It’s quite possibly the most beautiful talk we’ve ever seen.

Our Thirteenth Year of Free Hugs

Hi Folks:

In addition to being World Ocean Day, June 8 is very important to us for two reasons. First, and most important, today marks the 20th Anniversary of Marcia’s proposal. We say YES!! to each other every day. Second, today marks the beginning of our 13th year of sharing free hugs – something we wrote about here: Marcia’s Meanderings: Ladybugs and Free Hugs.

As you know from previous posts, we had to stop our Free Hugs campaign on March 1, 2020 and we haven’t yet been able to resume. Some day… In the interim we continue to share hugs with loved ones and to share kindness where we can, including giving out Hug Certificates, replacing the Hugging Spot chalk art in front of our house as required, and sending out Free Hugs postcards by mail. Apparently there’s a post office in Antarctica… 🤫

So, in honour of our two Anniversaries today, we have a gift for those who want it. Here’s the deal: simply fill out our Contact Form with your name and postal address and we’ll send you a Free Hugs postcard. It looks like this:

Free Hugs postcard

On the back is a note that reads, “Please share this with someone who needs a hug today. Even if it’s you!”

That’s it. We promise not to sell or give your information to anyone else and we promise not to send you dubious offers to buy gold in bulk or try to sell you questionable real estate. After printing the address label, we won’t even keep your message. We get your trust and in exchange we get to share a hug with you and the contentment of knowing that we’ve brightened someone’s day as the card makes its way through the postal system. We look forward to hearing from you!

Hugs,
M&M

P. S. If you’d prefer to have us send a postcard to someone else on your behalf, feel free to write your own caption when you fill out the contact form. 🙂

We Have Huggers!!

Hi Folks:

If you follow our blog you’ll know that for some 11 years we took our FREE HUGS posters to downtown Victoria and shared hugs with thousands of locals and visitors from (at least) 88 countries. Sadly, we had to quit in March 2020, and we have yet to return. Someday… In the interim we continue to give out Hug Certificates and we have sent out a smattering of Free Hugs postcards. We also continue to share hugs with loved ones where we can… but yesterday we tried something new…

Continue Reading →

Happy Mother’s Day!!

Garden Sculpture at HCPToday we celebrate the women in our lives. Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms, grandmothers, step-moms, pet moms, soon-to-be-moms, want-to-be-moms, foster moms, adoptive moms, and to all the sisters, aunts, cousins, brothers, dads, uncles and community that support them.

“It takes a whole village to raise a child.” ~ from the Igbo and Yoruba people of Nigeria.

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. This lovely one was someone we met at Victoria’s Horticulture Centre of the Pacific a few years ago…

Capture One, Dehaze and Adding Definition to Landscape Images

Hi Folks:

It’s hard to believe I started this post last year… Eek!!

First of all, what follows isn’t originally my idea. I came across it in two videos, here. The first one explains more of the concept and the second one delves more into the practical application. I recommend watching both of them, either now or at your leisure. I can wait…

Enhancing Portraits with Dehaze in Capture One

Okay, what is my idea is taking this concept and applying it to landscape photography. In the end computers don’t really know, or care, what your subject matter is. A pixel is a pixel.

Continue Reading →

Happy Pi Day!!

Hi Folks:

Today being 3-14, it’s the best day of the year to celebrate pi (π) and all things irrational. Since there are few things more irrational than a nice tender, flaky crust, what better way to celebrate than with pie!?!?

Blueberry Pie“Blueberry Pie” by leguico is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Both of us have some sensitivity, especially to white flour, and to that end we mostly use a gluten-free flour mix. It works well for making cakes and things, but for bread/pastry … not so much. We’ve tried. We have buckwheat flour for making waffles, but it also fails at making bread or pastry because there’s nothing to bind the dough together.

However, we recently discovered einkorn flour and all is well in our (pastry) world once again. You’ve probably never heard of it, and that’s okay. Einkorn is an ancient grain, with some estimates for cultivation going back 10-12000 years. It was likely the first cultivated plant. Einkorn is a form of wheat, but for those with gluten sensitivities it’s often a much better choice:

“It is a diploid, with 14 chromosomes, compared to 42 in modern wheat. The grain has higher protein than modern wheat and is considered more nutritious. There some evidence that einkorn contains a less toxic form of the gliadin protein, which may reduce the toxicity to consumers with gluten sensitivities.” (https://plantscience.psu.edu/research/projects/grains/heritage-grains/einkorn)

“Einkorn does contain gluten and has a higher percentage of protein than modern red wheats and is considered more nutritious because it also has higher levels of fat, phosphorus, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einkorn_wheat)

Whether or not it will work for you is something you’ll have to discover for yourself, but we appreciate having it to use!

As far as a good pastry recipe, we refer you to the pastry recipe we posted back in 2012. Egads! Have we really been doing this for 10 years?!?! Talk about irrational!!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. In honour of Pi Day we’re making Cast Iron Shepherd’s Pie. No crust, but very tasty!!

New Day, New Year, New Beginnings

Time Moves Differently for the Ocean and the Shore

Time Moves Differently for the Ocean and the Shore

Hi Folks:

Well, for all of those who follow the Gregorian calendar, we’re now firmly ensconced in 2022. In some ways we’re in a boat that has left the pier and – even though it may be in reach, we know there’s no going back – only onward. Given the local, national and global events of 2020 and 2021, 2022 has a lot to live up to with regard to its older siblings. For some that becomes represented as hope, for others, despair. On this 4th day of January there are some who have already abandoned their New Year’s resolutions, and some who declined (resolutely) to state them in the first place. That’s understandable; a year is, after all, a lot to take in with one bite. We do better looking back, each from our own perspective, on what went right, wrong, and what might have been done better. But looking forward to the remaining 361 days on this calendar can be daunting. Our suggestion then is not to do so.

Don’t misunderstand. Big dreams are important, and plans that take time to unfold will continue to do so, but so often we have enough to do to get through today. Just today. This doesn’t mean we should ignore tomorrow or the remainder of the year, but in trying to carry all of that responsibility at once we force ourselves to turn away from what’s facing us right here, right now. So, just for a moment, stop. You may not be able to hold it for long, even a few seconds, but that’s a start, Now, in those few seconds or moments, push the rest of the year away and create around yourself a little circle of now. Quiet the hundred thousand thoughts, feelings and voices crowding into your mind and allow yourself one moment of clarity. Yes, the rest of the world is still out there. It’s not going away, but turn your attention to what you’re focusing on right now. There it is. It may be joyful or sad, it may be urgent or seem to be, and one part of your mind is telling you that you have a hundred thousand other voices all clamoring for your attention and you don’t have time to devote to this moment. But you do. You’ve done it, and you can do it again whenever you want to do so. In fact, it’s much better for you (and the rest of the world) to push back the jumble of your life even for a moment and see what’s right here, right now. Even if you’re multitasking, even if you’re juggling ten different things for ten different people, each of them is being queued in some sort of sequence. We owe it to ourselves to approach our day that way and the rest of the world will in return receive the best we have to offer.

We  are all multi-dimensional beings, playing multiple roles in each others’ lives. This is explained much more eloquently by our friend Gary in his blog post, “Many Sides of One“. Here’s an excerpt, but we’d suggest you follow the link to read the entire post:

“…I have failed or come up short in many of these things and I have also been blessed with a measure of success and joy. In all of them I have learned more about what works and what doesn’t.

I believe we have the capacity to change the world and help make it safer, saner, healthier, kinder and more peaceful. We are the sum total of all our parts and “every decision we have made has brought us to where we are.” (SAR)

This is a look back for a review which I do at the end of a day, a week, a month or a year. I put it away and look forward to the next day, one day at a time. I try to make the most and best of each day and live in the present. I make plans for the future in case there is one. I have written four books and have three others in process at different stages.

I meditate, walk, think, wonder, contemplate, talk, write, eat, drink and check in with others as we celebrate life as a blessing and a gift. An old year is ending, a new one beckons. Grace is revealed in gratitude.”

Each of us, like Gary, have lived unique and interesting lives. My experiences are not yours, and that is what makes you unique and special. Never doubt that you are. The rest of 2022 will unfold as it does. Tomorrow will be here soon enough, and when it arrives, it too will be faced as now. Take a mental step back and allow yourself a moment to face this moment, this day as it comes. Accept its trials and successes, its joys and laments and use those experiences to add to who you are. Be kind and recognize that the person next to you is facing their own trials, reveling in their own joys. Know you are loved, just because you’re you. We wish you peace.

Hugs,
M&M

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” ~  L.M. Montgomery

Celebrating the Holidays!!

Hi Folks:

Well, we’re into our second pandemic Holiday season, and pretty much everyone is doing their best to make it through the day. It’s a good reminder to all of us that everything on this planet we call home is connected… certainly not a new idea, but one worth remembering.

As we enter the first full day of winter (here in the northern hemisphere, at least) we’re also entering the period where the days begin to lengthen once again. More light, more trust, new beginnings. It’s a choice each of us gets to make in every moment, so if you’re ever unsure how to react in any situation, be kind. It’s good for you, good for the other person, is non-fattening, doesn’t cause cavities and helps to make the world a better place, even just for a moment. And, sharing kindness is often contagious! Pay it forward. 🙂

From our house to yours, we wish you a Safe and Happy Holiday season! May 2022 find you safe, healthy and surrounded by Love. 💗

“Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” – Barbara De Angeli

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Festivus, Solstice or Saturnalia, the arrival of Sinterklaas or Grandfather Frost, Hanukkah, Mawlid Un Nabi, Yalda, Pancha Ganapati, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa or something entirely personal, we send you love. Create an amazing 2022!!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. The image above is one made by Marcia during a recent visit to the Royal BC Museum here in Victoria. The image is iconic in that the 3rd floor of the museum, including the Old Town displays, will be closed on January 2, 2022 while the museum undergoes modernization and updating of their exhibits. Therefore, this is the last Christmas display there as it is now.

 

Krinkles and Twinkles and Smiles, Oh My!!

Mrs. Claus, Krinkles and Twinkles at the Bay Centre

Hi Folks:

This marks the second pandemic Holiday season, and things continue to ebb and flow. Yesterday Krinkles and Twinkles managed to twist our arms enough (it took a serious amount effort!! 🙂 ) to take them on their annual walk about Victoria. This marks our 7th such adventure, and they always have a really good time. As with 2020 we didn’t venture into as many buildings as we had in previous years, but the reindeer don’t mind. They take great delight in smooshing their noses up against windows and peeking in, waving to anyone and everyone in their path… What delights them most is when people smile and/or wave back and they know that they’ve brought happiness into someone’s life, even if just for a moment. Most children smile and wave and a good percentage of the adults do too (even if some of them only smile on the inside). Some people look at them like they’ve never seen Mrs. Claus (or her companion – long white beard, long red cloak) walking around with waving reindeer, but that’s okay too. The holidays can be hard for some people and that’s why Krinkles and Twinkles take such delight in their outing.

Starting from our home in James Bay we walked through the downtown, checking out some of the annual creations for the Gingerbread Showcase and the Festival of Trees before retiring to Murchie’s café for a tea and lunch (Mrs. Claus found the pumpkin spice soup to be excellent!)

On our way back home we stopped at the Homecoming Memorial at Ship Point to spend a moment with our old friend Captain John Mason, and we tarried awhile by our hugging tree, handing out smiles, good wishes and lots of waves!

Many thanks to everyone who joined in the celebration with us yesterday, to the person in Ottawa who joined us virtually, and to the gentleman who stopped to say he had a picture of us from last year!

We haven’t been able to partake in our hugging adventures since March 2020, but maybe we’ll bring out a couple of our other kids – Frosty and Wonder for example – to our hugging tree after the holidays and we can engage in more smiles and waves then.

Hugs,
Mrs. and Mr. Claus 🤶🎅

2022 Photo Calendars (part two)

Update!!

Hi Folks:

This is the twelfth year now that we’ve made our photo calendar templates available, both for MS Word users (for those who don’t use graphics programs) and as .png files for those who do. As before we will be making our own calendar available in .pdf format for those who are interested, but this year we’re doing the post in two parts. For our calendar we use images made in that month (i.e. the image for May 2022 was made in May 2021). Part one of this post featured the templates for those who want to make their own photo calendars; this update includes our version of the calendar, which can be downloaded as a .pdf (see below) Continue Reading →