Happy Mother’s Day!!

A chalk art drawing of a flower within a circle. Outside the circle the text reads, "Hug Your Mother"Happy Mother’s Day today to all of the strong, beautiful women who are mothers, to those who are chosen moms, surrogate moms, step-moms, adoptive moms, and to the men who are also mothers.

Special thanks to all those who love and support them.


Celebrating Today 🌎 Every Day

Hi Folks:
The other day a good friend sent us a link to a New York Times Opinion article titled: “What Is the Plastic in Our Bodies Doing to Us?” Essentially the article covered the likelihood that you have micro- and/or nano-plastics in your body’s tissues, along with the suggestion that this may be a problem but nobody really knows for sure. Our friend asked for our thoughts. Mike wrote the following, and Marcia suggested we post it here:
I find articles like this sad – not because they’re untrue, but because their only purpose seems to be to instill a vague sense of unease, to add to people’s feeding craze for fear and to simultaneously instill a sense of powerlessness. There’s nothing you can do about it, may as well give up trying… 
Nearly a century ago we exposed ourselves (and everything else) to DDT. WE didn’t stop there of course, but added DDE, chlordane, heptichlor, malathion, parathion and thousands of others. We invented fission energy and used it to annihilate each other. We created acid rain, PCB/  BPA/ pthalates and other xenoestrogens, thalidomide… the list goes on and on. 
In 1965 James Lovelock presented the Gaia hypothesis, which suggested that the earth is an autopoeitic network. He was shouted down by scientists around the world, even though people who live close to the earth have known this for millennia. We have discovered bacteria that eat plastic. We have seen how Sacred Mother Life adapts and changes, every day. 
I still remember my mother telling me that when she was a girl she told my grandmother there was no point in getting new shoes for school because the world was going to end soon. I believe Noam Chomsky would put that under the title ‘Manufacturing Consent’. 
For myself, I share news that highlights positive action, new breakthroughs, new developments. Some may consider this ostrich syndrome, but I disagree. It’s not trying to hide from or outrun the dark. It’s about choosing light, every time. In any moment one can only focus on one thing. Mother Teresa is famously quoted as saying that she would never attend an anti-war rally, but to invite her to a pro-peace rally. 
As Seth said, “A generation that hates war won’t bring about peace. Only a generation that loves peace can do that.” Among Native Peoples there’s a saying that if you had a community of ___ people, and everyone in that community cared for everyone else, there would be no disease. 
We can’t change how or what other people think and feel (no matter how hard we try) but we are all teachers for each other. Everyone has a role; for Marcia and me it’s to create a garden where those who find it can stop and rest. 
Can you imagine a world where all of the news shared by media was positive, where people responded kindly to each other? We do, every day. 🌞
Sending love and hugs your way. Feel free to spread it around!! 

2023 Hug Zones

a sidewalk chalk drawing in four colours - circles within circles - with text that reads, "Prime Hugs Zone"Anyone else needing a nice warm hug? As explained in our We Have Huggers!! post in May last year, we came across a short video on Instagram showing someone who had created a Free Hugs zone in sidewalk chalk outside their house – and the various people who had taken advantage of the situation. Always willing to contribute to more acts of kindness, we created our own first attempt. We were so inspired by the effect that we created 11 different hug zone patterns in 2022 (12, if you include the one we created at our old Free Hugs spot at the Homecoming Memorial at Ship Point).

Well, we started earlier this year as we seem to have a break in the rain for a bit. We’ll take all of the healthy rain we can get as Victoria has a tendency toward hot, dry summers, but the rain does wreak havoc on our chalk art.

So here’s our first contribution to the Free Hugs movement for this year. If you’re wandering by James Bay and want to stop for a moment you’re more than welcome! And if you’re nowhere near here, feel free to create your own Hug Zone!!

Remember to hug someone you love today, even if it’s you!!


P.S. Many thanks to the two sisters who were the first (after us) to try out our hugging spot! We’re pretty sure they were the first people last year, too!!

April 2023:

#2 Our second design for this year. Spring rains wiped out the first one.

A large multi-coloured chalk drawing with an outer circle and two counter-rotating spirals into the center. Outside the circle the text reads, "Spiral Into Hugs"May 2023

This is our old hugging zone at Ship Point. In 11 years we shared hugs here with thousands of people from (at least) 88 countries. For the nonce, we’re encouraging people to share hugs with each other.

A large chalk art circle in four colours. Inside the circle are two sets of footprints, facing each other. Outside the circle, the text reads, "Hug Here."#3 Our Mother’s Day hug zone in front of our house. A new interpretation of Marcia’s design from last year. Stay tuned for more!!

A chalk art drawing of a flower within a circle. Outside the circle the text reads, "Hug Your Mother"

Happy Pi Day!!

Hi Folks:

It’s Pi Day once again (3-14) and so today we celebrate all things irrational as represented by that most well-known irrational number (π). And there’s no better way to mark the day than with that classic mix of artistry and chemistry: pie. We made apple…how about you?

An image of a deep dish apple pie, made with whole-grain spelt flour. On slice removed to show the contents.In our previous Pi Day posts we’ve added a recipe to each post. We’re not going to do that today, but we do have a story – about pie of course.

It was about twenty years ago, and we heard that the crew with which Mike used to work were going to be at the local airport over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Working on the holidays is bad enough, but combined with being away from home and family – well, we thought we should do something to help out. So we made pies. Six of them, in fact. There was pumpkin (being Thanksgiving), lemon-meringue, apple and so on.

Pies in hand (or well boxed, anyway) we headed off in great anticipation to the airport to find… no one. Nada. Even the crickets were quiet, but it was October after all. It turned out that because of inclement weather the crew had been delayed at their previous location. Even the office and the airport restaurant were closed.

Heavily bowed down with grief, but resolute to the end, we thought that if we visited the local shelters they’d be glad to receive a little extra treat for the holiday. Nope. Closed for Thanksgiving. We were beginning to feel like Arlo Guthrie at Alice’s Restaurant, only with pie. It was Thanksgiving, after all.

Twenty years later we can remember that the pies had been distributed – somewhere – but neither of us remember exactly where. It’s entirely possible we took to wandering the neighbourhood, knocking on anonymous doors with hopeful looks in our eyes. “Hi! No, we’re not selling anything. Would you like some pie?” Fred Flintstone would understand.

an image from an episode of the Flintstones, where Fred decided to become a pie entrepreneur. In the image are Fred, Barney, a wholesaler and stacks of pies

The Gravelberry Pie King

Enjoy the day!!


Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein! (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955)
RIP Stephen Hawking (January 8, 1942 – March 14, 2018)

Low Light, High Noise and ISO Invariance

Hi Folks:

It was a dark and stormy night. I’ve always wanted to write that… haven’t you? Okay, in this case it wasn’t night (mid-to-late afternoon) and it was sunny rather than stormy, but it was dark. Marcia and I were on a trip to Tofino, BC and I was wandering along the boardwalk of the Rainforest Trail in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. The elder trees soaring above me blocked out much of the daylight, but they were the reason I was there.

Before we get too far, a few basics to get out of the way. First, I was shooting with a Sony a7Riii camera with the FE 24-105 lens, set to 1/125th second and f/6.3. ISO was set to 5000, but we’ll get to that later. I didn’t bring a tripod that day, but I did have my camera sitting on a Manfrotto monopod. Second, I have no idea what you see when you look at these images. This is partly because I don’t know if your monitor has been calibrated and profiled, and partly because I don’t know if you’re using a web browser that allows colour management and/or if you’ve enabled that. In the end none of that really matters because this is essentially an apples to apples comparison. I should note that this post isn’t targeted toward beginner photographers, but if you read something you don’t understand, please feel free to leave a comment on this post or fill in our Contact Form. The only stupid question is the unasked one.

There are three software packages in this game: Capture One 23 (16.1) is my raw editor. PTGui 12.20 is software for stitching panoramas, and Topaz DeNoise AI 3.7.2 is noise reduction software. AI is a term used ubiquitously these days, but the only intelligence involved here is still with the programmers. AI software uses very large databases of information and certain algorithms to make what one might call educated guesses as to what the user wants. Also, when processing in any of these packages there are what are known as auto adjustments (I’ll refer to them here as AA) and there are also sliders whereby one can tweak the suggested settings. With the exception of the final image, I stuck to AA in order to keep the processing as equivalent as possible.

Continue Reading →

Shorepine Bog Trail

Hi Folks:

During our trips to Tofino (on Vancouver Island’s wet coast) we always like to invest some time in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. There are a few trails we like to visit, and one of them is the Shorepine Bog Trail. Now, if temperate rainforest brings to your mind a dark canopy of trees, a woodland filled with forest giants, this isn’t it. Instead think of spongy ground, poor soil quality and an abundance of acid-loving plants like sphagnum moss and Labrador tea. There are trees here as well, but poor growing conditions mean that they grow very slowly and die very slowly. These combine to create a largely open space with a mixture of both living trees and bleached, dead ones contorted into twisted shapes.
Continue Reading →

Making Waves

Hi Folks:

We consider ourselves lucky to live about 300m from the ocean, and also that once a year we escape the city for Tofino on Vancouver Island’s wet coast. Both locations give us intimate contact with the ocean (sometimes more intimate than others 🌊). There are times when the ocean is very quiet, very smooth, and others where the ocean easily tosses about entire trees. We’ve learned to respect and enjoy both extremes.

Despite the title I haven’t made ocean waves but I have made many images of them. All of those used in this post have three things in common: the images are all of waves; they were all made last October; and they were all shot at 1/4000 second. Water is constantly moving, even when we can’t see it, and choice of shutter speed is something that responds to the situation at hand. Using a very slow shutter speed, say 1/4 or 1/8 second tends to add a smoothness, a silky texture to the movement of water. Going even slower can add a ghost-like, fog-like effect. That can work well for streams and even waterfalls, and when combined with a slow pan can create an interesting effect for waves.

For the most part, however, wave watching is an incredibly dynamic experience and when a wave meets the shore it happens very quickly. BOOM!! By shooting at a really high shutter speed we capture a very thin slice of that action in a way that the naked eye can’t quite visualize.

Most of the dozen images here are single frames; there are a few that are image stacks. These are sequences of photographs capturing the same scene, but with the photos superimposed over each other. Here we are privileged to see a period of time compressed into one moment. The stacks here are of 3-5 images; this too is scene dependent. Too many photographs used together blurs the impact. Finally, the last photo in the sequence is a triptych of three images – again showing a punctuation in time (less than two seconds) sequenced to bring you in and give you an opportunity to experience it for yourself. Continue Reading →

Celebrating the Holidays!!

Hi Folks:

We’re running a little late with our Holiday Greeting this year… The winter solstice has come and gone, winter has descended up on us (here in Victoria, anyway!) and today marks the sixth day of Hanukkah.

As we move toward the vernal equinox we’re also entering the period where the days begin to lengthen once again (here in the northern hemisphere, at least). 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. 🙂

A gingerbread creation in the shape of a pegacorn. Per the rules, everything in the display must be edible. In this case the horn is made from drawn sugar, the wings were individually hand-cut and the final result is just exquisite.

Pegacorn – by Selena Olivera for the 2022 Victoria Gingerbread Showcase for Habitat for Humanity.

“Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” —Princess Diana.

Whether you celebrate Christmas or Festivus, Solstice or Saturnalia, the arrival of Sinterklaas or Grandfather Frost, Hanukkah, Yalda, Pancha Ganapati, Bodhi Day, Kwanzaa or something entirely personal, from our house to yours, we wish you a Safe and Happy Holiday season! May 2023 find you safe, healthy and surrounded by Love. 💗


P.S. Above image made by Marcia.