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.
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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 →

Our Hugging Tree

Hi Folks:

If you’ve been following our Free Hugs adventures, you’ll know that we’ve done (almost) all of them at the Homecoming Memorial by Ship Point in downtown Victoria. Part of the reason for that was that we could stand away from the sidewalk (we offered, but people had to come to us). Part of the reason for that is the statue in the Memorial itself:

Homecoming Statue
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Happy Canada Day!!

Hi Folks:

Today is officially our country’s birthday! We were a part of the Living Flag event here in Victoria for Canada’s 150th birthday a few years ago, and after the past couple of years it’s good to see the city starting to come to life again. People still need to be cautious, but people are being cautiously optimistic as well. Yes, we have challenges to overcome, both as a country and as a planet, but Canadians overall are quietly proud of who we are. We can’t forget the past, but we can move forward together.

2022 also marks the third Canada Day we haven’t been out with our Free Hugs posters (maybe next year) so we wanted to share an image with you from our first Canada Day Free Hugs session back in 2010. This was just three weeks after our first ever session, and we were already hooked!

Free Hugs on Canada Day

image © D. Gibson

Whatever Canada and Canada Day means to you, we encourage you to invest some time with loved ones! Continue Reading →

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…

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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 🤶🎅

Sharing Free Hugs… in Print!!

Free Hugs Illustration

Illustration by Sierra Lundy

Hi Folks:

Several months back the folks at Victoria’s Boulevard magazine added a note inviting any of their readers with the ability to tell a story to submit up to three thousand words for a column called Narrative. Each submission would be considered for publication in an upcoming issue. Since we’re both storytellers we agreed that sharing a bit about our hugging adventures would be the best topic for us!! 🫂

Mike cobbled together the bones of our story and Marcia refined and edited it. We came in at 2995 words. Satisfied, we sent it off … and in August we received an e-mail from the Managing Editor, Susan Lundy, letting us know that our article would be included in the October/November issue. Colour us excited!

The article appears on pages 110-112 of the October/November 2021 issue of Boulevard magazine (Victoria). If you live in Victoria you can find them at businesses and street boxes around the city. However, if that’s not possible for you, you can also read it online.

Many thanks to Susan and all of the staff at Boulevard for sharing our story. Remember to hug someone you love today!

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. If we might be so bold, the rest of the magazine is worth reading too!! 🙂

Boulevard magazine, October/November 2021

Victoria’s Boulevard magazine, October/November, 2021

Happy International Free Hugs Day!!

Hi Folks:

As you all know, the first Saturday in July (today!) is International Free Hugs Day!! Normally (what does that even mean anymore?) that would mean we’d be downtown, by our Hugging Tree, sharing hugs, smiles, waves, handshakes, fist bumps and conversations with locals and tourists alike. Not last year, however, and not today… but soon! The world is starting to re-open, slowly. In the meantime, to paraphrase the song:

If you can’t share hugs with the ones you love, hug the ones you’re with!!

Hugging a Chinese lion, 2019

Hugs,
M&M

P.S. We have a late entry in this year’s Creampuff Derby: our granddaughter, who was born this morning. A most auspicious day!!

Who Were Those Masked Reindeer? I’d Like to Thank Them…

Hi Folks:

Last Sunday Twinkles and Krinkles decided it was time for their annual festive walkabout downtown. This is the sixth year in a row they’ve done this; their reasoning is that a lot of people lose their smiles this time of year and so Krinkles and Twinkles like to help people recover them. These energetic reindeer have huge hearts and they love nothing more than to share that with others.

We set off from our home in James Bay, and stopped first at Cora’s restaurant on Douglas Street for a fortifying breakfast. Twinkles and Krinkles were welcomed right in (our host has a soft spot for reindeer, especially around Christmas).

Mrs. Claus, Twinkles and Krinkles at Cora's

Mrs. Claus, Twinkles and Krinkles at Cora’s

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Admiring the View

Admiring the ViewHi Folks:

We’re actually in Tofino, on Canada’s wet coast right now. Last Thursday marked four years since Mike’s dad passed away, so when we saw this man on the rocks admiring the view we thought of Pop. Wherever he is now, we’re sure he has a great view!

Hugs,
M&M