Posts filed under ‘bridge’

The Garden of Lights and the Power of Subject Matter

Today Ryan Somma and I drove up to Norfolk, Virginia and had a day full of ideals and sentiment and Christmas spirit. We started off visiting the American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Chrysler Musuem. Next we caught a showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life” at the Naro Cinema (I had actually never seen that film before!). We had supper and then the grand finale– Driving through the “Garden of Lights” at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

I’m on a Christmas Light streak! In 2006, I toured lights in Wichita, Kansas. In 2007, I got to see Ritzy’s Fantasy of Lights in Evansville, Indiana. There were some surprising similarities, particularly the Christmas Dragon.

So for 2008 in Norfolk, Virginia, I expected to see more of the same and it appeared that way as we inched by familiar looking lollipops, snowflakes and candycanes waiting to enter the park.

Candycanes, Lollypops and Gingerbread Men

But once we paid our entrance fee, there was a definite theme to the lights:


I had figured the “Garden” in “Garden of Lights” was simply a reference to the locale. But it truly was a Garden of Lights! They had trees, apples, spiderwebs, caterpillars, pumpkins, daisies, butterflies, tulips, roses, fall leaves, mushrooms. They even had a waterfall and a nice little lighted river.

A Netherlands section? Tulips and Windmills!

Nature: Flower, Caterpillar, Mushroom, Butterfly, Flower


Pumpkins and behind it– a very giant spiderweb

A Waterfall and a Creek Comprised of Lights (plus some corn)

The summer of 1988, my father and I played in a Regional Bridge Tournament up in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. While we competed, my mother and my two siblings went site-seeing. One day they went to this awesome wax musuem. Both my brother and my sister raved about how cool it was and all the historic characters depicted in the museum. They got to see that and I was stuck looking at the same set of 52 cards for 8 hours. I was soooooo jealous. (Note: During my bridge career I also found myself jealous of the caddies who got to sit around and shoot rubberbands at each other all day, so it really didn’t take all that much to spark my envy).

I probably pestered my partner (a.k.a Dad) relentlessly about poor me and how deprived I was because I missed out on the wax museum. I say this because at the very next bridge tournament, my father promptly found a wax museum and took me to it. So just like the Baby Cry and Dry incident in the early eighties when Santa forget what I wanted, my Daddy was the hero, right?

Well….this tournament was in Nashville, Tennessee and instead of familiar founding fathers, Dad and I got to look at likenesses of Country Music stars. Country Music, a genre I would not really be exposed to for 20 more years when I developed a fondness for Taylor Swift. So the only person I recognized in the entire museum was…Dolly Parton. Looking at wax strangers wasn’t all that fun.

I was thirteen years old at the time and my conclusion from that experience was:

Subject matter makes a difference in wax museums.

Tonight I am two decades wiser and I have a corollary. I believe subject matter makes a difference in Christmas lights as well. Don’t get me wrong– I definitely enjoyed the lights in Wichita and Evansville.

But I really, really, really, enjoyed the lights in Norfolk.

And more picture of those lights can be found on my Flickr site.

December 21, 2008 at 12:40 am 3 comments

Jimmie and Henry- On the Road to Geocaching Celebrity?

When I was twelve, I started playing contract bridge with my father.  That following March my father took me to my first National Tournament.  His thought was that it would be a fun trip and I would get some experience under my belt.  He didn’t have any expectations of winning.  Well it turned out he and I won the opening event of the tournament!  And fifteen minutes later, the clock struck midnight and I turned thirteen years old. 

Dad and I after winning the Charity Pairs at the Buffalo North American Bridge Championships

In duplicate bridge, the demographic of the competitors is very heavy in the senior citizen range.  To put it in perspective, USA Today reported in 2005 that the average age of American Contract Bridge League players is 67!  My father, with his prematurely white hair, blended right in.  But it is safe to say a little twelve year old girl stuck out in the crowd.  I was instantly recognizable. 

My father played bridge for 20 years before I ever realized “Notrump” was something other than the name of our dog.  If I had been a novice playing with a novice, I doubt I would have had any success.  But I was a novice playing with an aggressive bidder and a talented declarer with a fondness for No Trump contracts.  My father was the reason for my success.  Yet, even with all his experience and exposure, he often found himself in the backstage role of “Vicky’s Dad.”  People would approach us because they recognized the little girl, not the man.  And even though I haven’t played a physical game of bridge in about eight years, my father still reports being approached by strangers asking about me and how I am doing. 

I guess what goes around comes around!  Now it’s me playing the tag-along role!  Twice recently, I was contacted by geocachers who recognized not me, the one who actually holds and interprets the GPS, but Jimmie and Henry from my profile picture! 

Geocaching profile picture– Henry, Me and Jimmie at War Spur near Mountain Lake

One group of cachers recognized us coming down the Blacksburg’s Gateway Trail to Heritage Park.  Meanwhile another cacher spotted a limping beagle at a trailhead in Catawba and thoughtfully contacted me to make sure Henry was accounted for (he was).  I bet I could have matched my father’s “pre-Vicky” bridge career of 20 years without drawing much notice.  But apparently, the two dogs stick out.

My father never minded the extra attention I brought to the bridge table.  And you know what?  I really can’t say I mind that it is the dogs who are drawing the second glances.

Actually, it’s sorta neat.

February 10, 2007 at 12:45 am 1 comment

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