Archive for April, 2010

Poison Ivy Has SEX?!?!

You know, when I think of notorious men in history, I don’t think about them having sex. Even though Hitler palled around with hottie Eva Braun, I don’t think of him getting it on. Saddam Hussein actually had children, proof positive of conception, and still I don’t picture him in the throes of passion.

In my mind, I guess I assume that evil entities would devote all their energy to their cause. They would be so focused on spreading discomfort and pain, they wouldn’t have any time to focus on anything else.

And such is the case of Poison Ivy (Toxicodendron radicans). It certainly makes sense that it has to propagate somehow. It certainly makes sense that it would do so through sexual reproduction.

Still, two weeks ago when I stumbled upon a batch of poison ivy sporting green and yellow flowers, I stopped dead in my tracks and was dumbfounded, “Wait a second…Poison Ivy actually has sex?!?!?!!”

You learn something new every day!

Things I Don't Picture Having Sex
Things I Don’t Picture Having Sex – Hitler and Poison Ivy

April 30, 2010 at 4:11 pm 4 comments

Wedding – Venue

The neighborhood kids, obviously, have become quite important to Ryan and I. So when it came time to plan our wedding, we knew we wanted to keep the festivities somewhat local so it would be easy for them to attend. We looked at two venues within walking distance of our house. Both were quite lovely, but didn’t really have much personality. Nothing that really spoke out as us. Plus with both venues, we would have to fool with renting the likes of tables, tents and chairs.

For his science blog and his science-themed Flickr PhotoStream Ryan routinely documents museum exhibits. One such museum was Newport News’ Virginia Living Museum. Ryan spoke quite highly of it and lo and behold, their website had plenty of resources and information about Facility Rentals. One weekend in August, we made a trip up to scope it out together.

Virginia Living Museum - Volunteer with Turtle Virginia Living Museum - Two Bald Eagles
Virginia Living Museum - Pelicans Fish Virginia Living Museum - Pathway and Gazebo

Snippets from our August Visit to the Virginia Living Museum

The museum was gorgeous — full of native flora and fauna. It was educational– interesting quotes, history, explanations and trivia were ample throughout. Within its walls, the curators managed to married together the wonder of science and beauty of nature.

It was perfect!

Ceremony Site
There are a number of rental areas to choose from– including a waterfall and planetarium. We chose to have our ceremony on the back deck facing the Coastal Plain Aviary. We ended up with perfect weather (sunny, 74 degrees…in March) and the perfect spot. The waterfowl were out and about and a heron even flew down and landed in the trees during the ceremony.

Wedding Weekend - Venue - Ceremony Site (by Deanna Felton)
Ceremony Setup (By Deanna Felton)

Wedding Weekend - Venue - Wood Duck (By Tony Airaghi)
Duck Loiters After Ceremony (By Tony Airaghi)

Wedding Weekend - Ceremony - Heron Cameo (by Deanna Felton)
“Our” Heron From a Distance (By Deanna Felton)

Reception Site
For the reception, we chose to have it in the main floor of the museum. We didn’t have to rent any furnishings! The Virginia Living Museum provided all the tables, the chairs, and even a dance floor.

Wedding Weekend - Reception - Dinner Tables (By Tony Airaghi)
Museum Provided Tables and Chairs (by Tony Airaghi)

The ticket sales area became an instant bar with aquarium backdrop.

Wedding Weekend - Reception - Bar (by Tony Airaghi)
Bar (Photo by Tony Airaghi)

With rental, the guests would have free reign over all the exhibits in the main floor. This included the touch tank, the human sized turtle shell, and the live three legged sea turtle. There was plenty to do and so much to see and get inspired by.

Wedding Weekend - Venue - Habitarium (by Deanna Felton)
Habitarium (by Deanna Felton)

Wedding Weekend - Venue - Britt was Spotted (By Becky and Vic)
Britt Gets Spotted (Photo by Becky and Vic)

Wedding Weekend - Venue - Sea Turtle (by Deanna Felton)
Sea Turtle (By Deanna Felton)

Wedding Weekend - Venue - Shark! (by Deanna Felton)
Sharks! (By Deanna Felton)

Kirsten Turtle (Photo by Jason Akira Somma)
Kirsten Poses in Turtle Shell (Photo by Jason Akira Somma)

The Owl
To top it all off, the museum arranged for a volunteer to bring out one of the rehabilitated animals for everyone to see, pet and learn about. That meant an adorable one-eyed screech owl attended the reception! I even got to pet it before it retired for the evening.

The Owl That Attended Our Reception (Photo by Nicole Z)

And one of my favorite shots of the whole event:

Wedding Weekend - Reception - Kids Look at Owl (By Deanna Felton)
Neighborhood Kids Visit the Owl (Photo by Deanna Felton)

I can not speak highly enough of the museum event coordinator Jennifer Turlington and the museum volunteers. We had a great deal of chaos in the final moments leading up the ceremony. Both the rings AND my father were independently lost (my father would get misplaced a total of three times that evening-hehe). Armed with walkie talkies, the museum staff managed to locate them both and get them to their proper spots.

When we started to walk to the ceremony site, we discovered a walkway was gated and locked.

As we waited behind the scenes for someone to arrive with a key, Jennifer noted that I was the most laid back bride.

“At the end of the day, I’m still going to married to that wonderful man out there,” I pointed out.

But another contributing factor was definitely, definitely the museum staff. I had them around to fret and handle the crisis for me. So while they dealt with locating keys, my side of the bridal party got to enjoy fresh air and spy on bald eagles and wolves. Ryan’s side got to hang out with the otters and my father and I got to disagree on whether or not a tree was a red maple (Obviously I was right– I was the bride).

Apparently there is one downside to having such a kick-ass venue. My brother-in-law and sister forgot to eat their cake and their chocolate Pi favors!

“Mistakes were made.” Clint explains on Flickr and then concludes, “Too many distractions in that museum!”


Wedding Vendor – Venue
Virginia Living Museum
524 J Clyde Morris Blvd.
Newport News, VA 23601
(757) 595-1900

April 29, 2010 at 12:35 am 7 comments

Dog Food Thief Forgiven!

These pictures from last night seem to indicate that Jimmie has forgiven Qubit for his past misdeeds.

Elizabeth City - Sleeping Jimmie and Qubit
Jimmie and Qubit

Elizabeth City - Drowsy Jimmie and Qubit Faces
Jimmie and Qubit

Aww… Forgiveness is so cute!

April 23, 2010 at 12:35 pm 3 comments

Wedding – “Florals”

One day some months ago, I was on the phone with my good friend and bridesmaid-to-be, Ann. A common topic of conversation those days was the wedding and true to form, I mentioned Ryan and I were meeting with a florist that afternoon.

“Oh good,” Ann sighed with relief, “Flowers are the most important part of a wedding!”

I momentarily got tongue tied and silently eyed the box of origami roses in the corner of the living room. I had been trying everything in my power to NOT have flowers at the wedding! It was a lot of money on something that was just going to die. I wasn’t aware they were the most important part! 🙂

Later that day I was walking the dogs and as we strolled over moss, suddenly a notion struck me. On a number of hikes, my groom-to-be would suddenly announce, “Hey! A succulent!” He’d squat down and pinch off a leaf to plant at home.

Succulents have amazing diversity and patterns, they don’t require a lot of water to grow, they can propagate through clippings AND they are hard to kill. What about succulent bouquets?!?

When I returned to the Internet, I learned I wasn’t the only one with that idea (Stunning Succulents by Polka Dot Bride). It was feasible! I sent out some pictures and got immediate and unanimous bridesmaid buy-in!

With encouragement and research from celebrations, ec and the extensive capabilities of Page Kremp and the team at Newport News’ Jeff’s Flowers, Of Course, we pulled it off. Succulent Bouquets!

Wedding Weekend - Getting Ready - Vicky Pre Ceremony (By Vick)
Succulent Bouquet– YEAH!!!! (Photo by Vick White)

Wedding Weekend - Reception - Bouquet and Cake (By Deanna Felton)
Closeup of Bouquet (Photo by Deanna Felton)

On the groom’s side, we wanted something nerdy. Inspired by some pictures from, we decided the nice Fibonacci curve of fern fiddleheads would be wonderful. Jeff’s Flowers, Of Course stepped up the geek factor by adding fractal-like Dusty Miller to the mix!

Wedding Weekend - Misc - Fiddlehead Boutonniere
Fern Fiddlehead and Dusty Miller Boutonniere

Wedding Weekend - Formal Shots- Vicky, Grandma, Ryan (By Liza Franco)
Succulent Bouquet, Fiddlehead Boutonniere (Photo by Liza Franco)

For ceremony flowers, we relied on the beauty of nature. We had a simple table positioned in front of a waterfront and bird habitat. The table was sparsely occupied:

  • Two potted orchids (later given away at the reception to the two couples who were married the longest)
  • A heart shaped wreath which now hangs in our house
  • A pot and supplies for our American Chestnut Unity Ceremony
  • Two potted Cycads that were presented to our parents

Special thanks to my brother’s girlfriend, Jacklyn, and my cousin, Sam, for setting this up!

Wedding Weekend - Ceremony - Table Setup (by Liza Franco)
Ceremony Setup (Photo by Liza Franco)

As covered in earlier posts, our centerpieces were made by the neighborhood kids and also featured succulents. After the ceremony, we let the kids who wanted them to take their pots and their succulents!

When it was all said and done, the only flowers in our “florals” were:

  • The two potted orchids for the ceremony
  • Small wax flowers in the bouquets
  • White orchids in the corsages for the mothers and my grandmother…which we actually forgot to hand out– so do we even count those? : )

Two days after the wedding, Ryan and I planted all three bouquets in pots. We only expected the succulents to make it, but we went ahead and planted everything just in case there was a surprise (There wasn’t).

Wedding Weekend - Monday - Ryan Waters Chestnuts and Bouquets
Ryan Watering Succulent Bouquets

Today it has been exactly one month since we planted them. There was one troublesome species of succulents with all green, broad, rounded leaves. Those guys dissolved.

Wedding - Succulents - Casualty
The Succulent Species that Didn’t Make It

All the other succulents, particularly the ones with the pointy leaves are thriving. One succulent from Ann’s bouquet even sprouted a new shoot!

Wedding - Succulents One Month Later - Vicky's Bouquet From Above
My Bouquet From Above

Wedding - Succulents One Month Later - Succulents From Carolyn's Bouquet
Succulents From Carolyn’s Bouquet

Wedding - Succulents One Month Later - Ann's New Shoot
NEW SHOOT from Ann’s Bouquet

Whenever I had a meeting on flowers, I would think of Ann and instruct the vendor, “There is only ONE person you need to please.”

With beautiful presentation, Jeff’s Flowers, Of Course was able to easily meet that goal. With reasonable prices and bouquets that are still growing a month later, they went above and beyond.

They managed to please the bride and groom as well! : )

Wedding Vendor – Florals
Jeff’s Flowers, Of Course
300 Ed Wright Ln Ste F
Newport News, VA 23606

April 22, 2010 at 11:40 am 3 comments

Surprise from a School Bus

Yesterday I got stuck in traffic behind a school bus. The back seats, historically the prized position of the most cutthroat of popular kids, were occupied by adolescent boys. As our vehicles inched forward, missing multiple stop light cycles, I could see the boys laughing with each other and looking my way. Meanwhile, I listened to music and thought about who I would call if my cell phone still had a charge. There was a bit of a commotion and suddenly a piece of notebook paper with a message scrawled on it was slapped against the back window.

Now, it’s been about two decades since I’ve been a student on a school bus, but I still haven’t forgotten the type of antics typical of this age group. Most certainly this sign would tell me that I sucked or would share some kind of negative insight about my mother.

“Pretend you don’t see it,” I thought and fiddled with the radio, “Don’t look it. Don’t look at it.”

But I did. And the sign didn’t berate me! Instead it simply said:

You[‘re] Pretty

And just like that, the corners of my lips curled upwards.

I smiled in a traffic jam.

April 16, 2010 at 8:39 am 7 comments

35th Birthday Hike – Lassiter Trail

I was actually on the verge of punking out on my birthday hike this year. With a busy work schedule and a wedding in just two days, I felt a little pressed for time. If I was left to my own devices, I likely would not have gone out. Luckily, I wasn’t left to my own devices! Ryan surprised me by taking off work (That’s two years in a row he’s taking off work to go hiking on my birthday). He got coffee started, woke me up and explained the planned route. “You can work in the car,” he volunteered (which I did!).

And so, on my 35th birthday, we went hiking at Merchant’s Millpond State Park on the Lassiter Trail.

Footwear – Vibram Five Fingers
This was the inaugural hike for some new footwear! We both hiked in our relatively new Vibram Five Fingers!

Once on a day hike, I spent about 7 miles exclusively on rocks. Suddenly I came across soft, dark soil. It felt so nice– it was like walking on clouds. Because of that experience I definitely thought I was in tune with the terrain. But really, I wasn’t at all. I was downright oblivious.

In the Vibram Five Fingers, you are much more aware of what you are walking on. You can feel the tree roots underneath you or perhaps the sand or mud. Nothing hurts– even walking on gravel or the spikey black gum balls is pain-free. Still, I found myself much more connected with the earth beneath me and I had one more sensation to add to my hike experience. I will definitely be hiking in them again!

35th Birthday Hike - Vibram Five Fingers (by Ryan Somma)
Vibram Five Fingers (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Feeling Young
Early on in the trail, some trail maintainers gave me a way to still feel young. I may be 35, but at least I’m not as old as this tree! (I’m not dead either).

35th Birthday Hike - Vicky Counts Rings (Close) (by Ryan Somma)
Comparing Myself to the Tree (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Since it was one of the first warm days, we got to see a lot of sunning turtles. Those little guys are pretty skittish. To steal a phrase from my brother– “An ant taking a dump on a piece of cotton” would make them plop back into the swamp. Ryan had to be super stealth and use a mega zoom lenses to snag these.

35th Birthday Hike - Two Sunning Turtles (by Ryan Somma)
Two Turtles (Photo by Ryan Somma)

35th Birthday Hike - Turtles and Red Maple Flowers
Three Turtles (Photo by Ryan Somma)

35th Birthday Hike - Five Sunning Turtles (by Ryan Somma)
Five Turtles (Photo by Ryan Somma)

35th Birthday Hike - Lots of Sunning Turtles  (by Ryan Somma)
#($*&$#(* Lots of Turtles!!!! (Photo by Ryan Somma)

As far as birthday hikes go, it was a shorter hike– we only did 6.7 miles. But it was absolutely lovely out and a fabulous way to get grounded for the rest of the week’s excitement!

More pictures from my 35th Birthday Hike can be found on my Flickr site.

Merchant’s Millpond State Park – Lassiter Trail

Trail Map

Additional Blog Post on Lassiter Trail

Length: 6.7 mile loop

Elevation Gain: Negligible

Directions from Elizabeth City, NC

Take US-17 North

Turn left on US-158 (there will be a brown sign for Merchant’s Millpond State Park)

Travel roughly 25 miles, passing an entrance to the park

Turn left on Honey Pot Road

Turn left into the next park entrance

April 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm 9 comments

Flickr Photos

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