Posts filed under ‘Occoquan’

Family Outing – Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup 2014

For the second year in the row, Ryan and I participated in the Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup. Last year, my mother watched young Sagan at home. Meanwhile, we launched our kayaks from the Lake Ridge Park Marina. Without children, we were hardcore productive and picked up tons and tons and tons of trash.

Occoquan River Cleanup 2013
Flashback to 2013 – Our Collected Trash at Just *One* of Our Stops

Occoquan River Cleanup 2013
Flashback to 2013 – Ryan With a Big Ole Bag Of Trash

Of course, there was a challenge with last year’s cleanup. : )

This year, we didn’t take advantage of the free babysitting. We decided to clean up with the two boys. We stayed land-born, moseyed down to the Town of Occoquan Town Hall, signed in, and picked up a trash bag. Two year old Adela joined us with her Daddy. With two toddlers and an infant, we found ourselves slower… and a lot less productive than last year. Our little group of 2 Daddies, 2 Toddlers, 1 Mommy, and 1 Infant totaled 1 Bag of Trash. But hey, that’s one less bag of trash out there on the banks of the Occoquan. And, boy, it was super cute to watch the kids help. : )

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Sagan and Adela Look Off Wall
Adela and Sagan Looking for Trash

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Adela Throws Away Trash
Adela and Her Daddy Throw Away a Bottle

How do you pick up trash with a sleeping infant in the MobyWrap? Squatting. Lots and lots of squatting! My thighs were pleasantly sore the next day. : )

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Picking Up Trash With a Sleeping Baby (By Ryan Somma)

My favorite shot of the day– an action shot. My husband throws trash uphill.

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Ryan Throws Trash Uphill
Ryan Hurls Trash

After we turned in our one bag of trash, our crew had a delightful lunch outdoors at the Blue Arbor Café. As much fun as 2013’s River Cleanup was, I do have to say, 2014 just might have been even better. : )

Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup - Sagan and Ryan At Lunch II
Sagan and Ryan at Blue Arbor Café

More pictures of the Friends of the Occoquan River Cleanup 2014 can be found on my Flickr site.

April 15, 2014 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Paranormal Activity and the Car Thieves

One night years ago, Ryan and I watched 2007’s Paranormal Activity. At the time, we were living in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. We owned two dogs and three cats, we had a steady influx of neighborhood kids coming in and out of our house, and I was the proprietor of one very unorganized desk.

When I watched Paranormal Activity, I got a huge kick of how easy that demon had it at first. It could instill fear and anxiety simply by moving a set of car keys from the counter to the floor. A demon certainly wouldn’t have been able to get away with such subtly in our house! If I had walked into the kitchen and found my keys on the floor, I had a myriad of culprits to blame before I would ever fret about ire from the underworld.

So flash forward a few years now. Ryan and I now live in a new town. We are (very sadly) no longer frequented by the neighborhood kids (we really miss them). But, we live with my mother and a tenant and are visited regularly by family members and friends. My brother, in particular, lives right across the street and comes over daily. We still have a lot of pets and also there might be a chance that I am possibly, perhaps, still dreadfully unorganized.

This morning Ryan and I loaded Sagan up in the car and we discovered our belongings scattered over the front seats. Our car had gotten broken into the night before. BUT— the thieves didn’t take anything! It’s a serious thing, of course, but Ryan and I couldn’t resist taking some amusement in this.

Facebook Status Update - Discovery of Car Thieves
What, our stuff is not good enough for you?!!

Now, that said– having the contents of the glove compartments vomited out on to the front seats is a pretty unambiguous sign that something is out of the ordinary. That is exactly the kind of chaos a demon would need to aspire to, right?

What the Car Thieves Did Not Take
Now THIS is noticeable (Click to see notes of the items the thieves did not take)

As Ryan and I commuted to daycare, my mother called to coordinate chores. She rattled off her plans to get papers notarized and how she was going to stop by Sam’s Club. And then when there was a lull in the conversation that needed to be filled, my mother adopted an annoyed tone (the one usually reserved for critiques about how the dishwasher was loaded) and threw out this little tidbit:

“[Your brother] rummaged through my car last night. He must have been looking for a paper.”

It sounded like a possibility but once she heard our story, she realized her car had been broken into as well.

It only took five hours.

So the take home of this story: If a car break-in could almost go by unnoticed, a demon sure would have to work its supernatural ass off to fluster my family.

Who knows, maybe one has already tried but after a few weeks of our collective obliviousness, it threw up its hands in frustration (or whatever other type of appendage a demon may have) and moved on to a family that could provide an easier return on investment. 🙂

October 17, 2012 at 11:52 am 2 comments

Family Walk and a View of “The Dam”

When my siblings and I were growing up in Occoquan, we often visited “The Dam”.  Back in those days, the Fairfax County Water Authority let people in through their entrance near the Millhouse Museum.  We’d fish back there, ride bikes back there, talk about episodes of Lassie and Star Trek with our babysitter, Jessica. I even learned an unfortunate but necessary lesson about momentum when I jumped off a skateboard that was rapidly descending a hill.  There are a lot of memories back there.

Unfortunately, in my adult years, the access to the Water Authority property has been cut off…even to those sporting a pregnancy belly and who ask really, really nicely.  That means we can no longer stroll along that particular memory lane.

I blame YOU, terrorists!

Columbus was trying to discover a trading route to the East Indies when he ran across this continent.  Similiarly, Sagan and I were trying to find an alternate walking route to the local CVS Pharmacy when at dusk, I spied a paved path to our right.  In the distance I could hear the muted roar of running water.

The dam!” I thought.

Light was scarce, so we couldn’t check it out that night, but it wasn’t long before it was “Family Walk” time.  Instead of our usual route, we walked that path.  It transversed the hillside ABOVE the Fairfax County Water Authority property.  From our vantage point, we could see the old road my siblings and I used to frequent.  We could also see the lower dam.  We didn’t get to see the upper dam, but we did get to see a number of white tail deer and beautiful Lake Michael.

Family Walk in Lake Ridge - Dam and Rhodos (By Ryan Somma)
The Lower Dam (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Family Walk in Lake Ridge - Deer (By Ryan Somma)
Deer (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Family Walk in Lake Ridge - Pond at Westminste (Close) (By Ryan Somma)
Vicky and Sagan at Lake Michael (Photo by Ryan Somma)

I would still jump at the chance to revisit our childhood route. In the abscence of that, this walking trail was quite satisfying. Perhaps one day Sagan can ride his tricycle there. Hopefully he won’t have to learn about momentum the hard way like his mommy did.

February 27, 2012 at 1:00 am 1 comment

Memorial Day Kayaking on the Occoquan

On Memorial Day, Ryan and I broke out the kayaks and did a small outing on the Occoquan River.

We put in at Occoquan Regional Park and headed Northwest past the historic town of Occoquan. After we passed where the Ellicott Mill used to be (near Rockledge), we passed under the footbridge and paddled up towards the resevoir. Then we turned around and passed under the 123 Bridge, the I-95 Bridge and finally the Route 1 Bridge. We had a small snack, then turned around and headed back to Occoquan Regional Park.

Kayaking Occoquan River - Route - Marked Up and Cropped
Our Route (In Yellow)

Kayaking Occoquan River - River with Osprey Nest (By Ryan Somma)
View Southeast of Occoquan Regional Park (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Kayaking Occoquan River - Vicky and Rocks (By Ryan Somma)
Northwest of the Footbridge (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Our trip that day was a story of birds. We saw two osprey nests, a number of Canadian Geese and a Blue Heron near the resevoir.

Kayaking Occoquan River - Osprey Profile (By Ryan Somma)
Nesting Osprey (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Kayaking Occoquan River - Canadian Goose 2 (By Ryan Somma)
Canadian Goose (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Kayaking Occoquan River - Blue Heron (By Ryan Somma)
Blue Heron (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Erasing a Pregnancy Belly Kayaking-Style!
Just like our visit to the Pacific Science Center, I found an instant way to erase the pregnancy belly. Just wear a life jacket! My 29 Week belly was so obscured, that Ryan and I paddled by some boaters that asked if we were training for an event.

Kayaking Occoquan River - Vicky With Life Jacket (By Ryan Somma)
Life Jacket – No Belly (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Kayaking Occoquan River - Vicky Without Life Jacket (By Ryan Somma)
No Life Jacket – Belly! (Photo by Ryan Somma)

More pictures of our Memorial Day Kayaking Trip on the Occoquan can be found on my Flickr site.

July 11, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Home Sweet Home…for Now

Today Ryan and I have been in Occoquan, Virginia for three weeks now. Until all the renovations are complete, all our stuff (and us) are occupying the fourth floor of my parents’ home. It’s been tight quarters.

Home Sweet Home - Qubit and Boxes
Our floor with Qubit

Home Sweet Home - Bed
Our bed with Ryan

We unloaded our Uhaul on a Monday. The following Friday I left on a business trip to Wichita, Kansas. Just two days after I returned, Ryan left on a business trip of his own. So it’s been a hectic time, but now we are starting to get settled in. The boxes are all rearranged now, so we have more room…and significantly less avalanches. Today we just got wireless working, so we won’t have to rely on the Verizon Fivespot anymore!

We have joined a new gym (It has a pool and spin cycles!!! w00t!) and found the best public library to program in EVER! They have a dedicated “Quiet Room” and they allow you to drink in it. Their internet is fast and they allow food in their foyer, which is good because I’m snacking pretty regularly these days. The best part– they don’t close until 9 PM!

The Dogs
The dogs have always loved it here, so they are happy. 14 year Jimmie seems to appreciate having the dog door at his disposal. Unfortunately four flights of stairs is a long way to go for an old dog with unpredictable bowels, so he still has the occasional accident on his way down to the dog door. Poor guy. He tries.

It didn’t take Henry long to alter his allegiances. My mother is a school bus driver. Each morning, she wakes up insanely early and feeds her dogs. Henry, of course, is quite a fan of food. Now each morning, as soon as he hears my mother’s alarm clock go off, Henry ditches us and rushes downstairs to greet my Mom. On the upside, my mother isn’t as generous with food as Ryan and I are. Henry has lost a lot of weight!

The Cats
Mollie the three-legged cat has also taken to the house quite well. She isn’t at all intimidated by my parents’ dogs and she freely goes anywhere she wishes. The gurgling and wheezing from her chronic sinus infection has caused some confusion. One night my brother, unaccustomed to her sounds, thought she was dying. Frantic, he tried to wake up Ryan and when that didn’t work…. my brother actually considered giving the snotty cat mouth to mouth!

The two male cats, Stench and Qubit, have become surprisingly reclusive. In Elizabeth City, they were perpetually outside hunting in the swamp. Here, they stay on the fourth floor all day long. It doesn’t look like a fulfilling life to me, but they seem absolutely content.

The Neighborhood Kids
Facebook has been indispensable for keeping in touch with the neighborhood kids. Every few days, I’ll hear from one of them. The baby’s sex is a common inquiry, though I won’t have an answer on that until (hopefully) April 4th. It was my birthday recently, so my Facebook wall was more animated than usual. The Facebook Birthday Onslaught is always nice, but this year, it was especially nice to hear from the kids. I’d read their messages on my phone and pause. Only when the lump in my throat subsided, would I move on to the next message. And then sometimes there are random, unexpected messages that just melt your heart. One morning I logged on and found this on my wall:

how’s its going vicky , ryan miss yall guys real bad please come see us sum time…

We miss them real bad too. Luckily, we’ll get to see them in a couple of months! Till then, I had a mnemonic device. The kids got me fancy skin products for Christmas. I still have a small supply left. Each morning when I use the fancy scented lotions, I get to think of all my friends on Hunter Street. : )

March 21, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

News x 3

Happy Friday everyone! Families have been informed, co-workers are up to speed, neighborhood kids are in the know. Now is time to update my blog with all the latest news from our household.

1. Ryan’s Job Change
Ryan’s changing jobs. The timing actually worked out super great for me and my colleagues. We’re in the middle of a big migration project and Ryan’s been able to assist us out with some contracting work. Right now he’s integrating our application with Mettler Toledo balances. Ryan’s been a tremendous help! I’m still hoping I can convince him to stay with us permanently!

Lab Visit - ZJ and Ryan in Hair Nets
The Obligatory Hairnet Shot

Elizabeth City - Ryan Working on Balances
Ryan Working on Balance Integration

2. We’re Moving
Related to #1, we’re moving circa February 26th to my hometown of Occoquan, Virginia. I have very much enjoyed Hunter Street and I am sad to leave. Surprisingly, I have yet to find a neighborhood kid who seems as sad as I am! They’re resilient! Nonetheless, I do look forward to being closer to my family… and closer to the mountains. In November, Ryan and I spent a week gutting my maternal grandmother’s house. We’ll be working on reinnovating it once we are back in Occoquan (don’t worry some of that work will be overseeing contractors doing to actual work. 🙂 ).

Grandma's House - Overgrown Exterior on 9_19_2010
Home Sweet Home….Eventually*
*It doesn’t look like this right now, Ryan already cleared away all the brush

Grandma's House - Living Room on 9_19_2010
Living Room on 9/19/2010

Grandma's House - Living Room on 11_1_2010
Living Room on 11/1/2010

Grandma's House - Living Room on 11_2_2010
Living Room on 11/2/2010

Until reinnovations are done, we’ll be staying on the top floor of my parents’ house. It should be a great exercise in patience and stress management. With our combined pets, we’ll have a total of four dogs and three cats on one property. We’ll see how that goes. 🙂

Last But Not Least….
Shortly after we were married, I received a Facebook inquiry from Tyrek.

Inquiry From Tyrek
Vicky When Is You Going to Have a Baby!

It took a while, but I finally have an answer for him.


Ryan and I are expecting our first child in mid-August!!! We’ll be at 14 weeks tomorrow, which means I somehow survived the terrifying first trimester without the terrifying part. I skated by with minimal trouble from morning sickness. I really, really, really lucked out. A big shout out to whatever force it was that decided to spare me. I owe you one!

8 Week 4 Day Ultrasound - Marked Up
Ultra Sound at 8 Weeks, 4 Days

And so we have a lot of big changes coming. They’ll be a lot of stress, I’m sure. But there is going to be a lot of great things as well! : )

February 11, 2011 at 11:08 am 6 comments

Innovation at the Occoquan Craft Show

The last weekend of September, Ryan Somma, my mother and I ran down to downtown Occoquan, Virginia to check out their giant craft fair. We were far from alone. The Occoquan Craft Show is as heavily attended today as I remember it being as a child.

Lots of attendees!

My favorite episodes of Project Runway are typically the innovation episodes where the designers have to use unusual materials to make their garments. I believe witnessing the innovation of the vendors is my favorite part of the Occoquan Craft Show as well (though the food is pretty darn delicious).

This year, there were a lot of neat items to look at. Here are three of my favorites:

Percussion Frog
One stand had little frogs carved out of wood with ridges along their back. When you took a stick and ran it down the frog’s back, it made a realistic croaking sound! They also used the same concept with pigs and crickets. I liked that the different carvings produced pitches and sounds that were true to their animal inspiration.

Percussion Frogs (Photo by farleyj)

Fish Scale Flowers
This concept is not exactly new to me as I already own a fish scale flower (a beautiful yellow rose barrette that is currently somewhere in storage). Yet, I still believe this is my all-time favorite innovation I’ve seen at a craft show. Just the notion of taking something like fish scales and making them into beautiful works of art really appeals to me.

These fish scale flowers are available for purchase from (Photo by oceanlifedesigns)

Recycled Animals
Finally, there was a stand that was chock full of creativity and vision. They took bolts, tools, buckets, bicycle gears, springs, old rakes, you name it! and fashioned them into the cute animal figurines.

A menagerie of innovative animals (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Cranes/Herons made out of rakes! (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Cats, Ducks and Dogs (Photo by Ryan Somma)

It was inspirational to see the different designs people come up with and the unusual materials they work with. Kudos to the artisans. I look forward to seeing their work in the coming years!

More pictures of the Occoquan Craft Show can be found on my Flickr site.

October 20, 2008 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

Web Pages With a Lot of Work

Having a history in web development, I’m very used to my milestones being measured in the terms of web pages.

Now, there are times were there is a whole lot of effort behind a single web page. I have had “push weeks” where we plug away for 80+ hours. I’ve had all nighters. I’ve had months of writing behind-the-scenes business logic between support calls.  Even webpages with static content can go through a long series of design iterations and debates before a look is settled on.

Sometimes, I think the end result is deceptive.  When you look at a webpage, you don’t quite get a feel for all the work that went into it.

This screen may look like a simple form, but the prerequisite database design, business logic and user controls took months to complete before this page could even be started.

The “Featured Webcasts” section above took two different design resources, three iterations before this director’s clapboard theme was chosen.  

This week, I have run across the ultimate example.  I didn’t even write this webpage, but believe me, a LOT of work went into this real estate listing:

My parent’s house is now officially on the market, complete with pictures of the house!

Behind the scenes of this listing– the work of an entire family and two helpful neighbors.  Painting, cleaning, caulking, furniture rearranging, rug removal and there was even a drape hemming effort at 1 AM.  We ended with an array of damaged clothing (I learned that caulk does NOT come of out jeans…or hair) and fingernails.  And we have three dogs that still sport caked paint on their feet and flanks.

It’s definitely one of the webpages I have worked the hardest on.  And when I look at the house now and see how great it looks in the listing, it’s also one of the webpages I’m most proud of.

P.S. If anyone is looking for a beautiful 5 bedroom, 4.5 bath house with an elevator and jacuzzi tub, all within walking distance of Historic Occoquan, be sure to check out the full listing.

March 23, 2008 at 3:02 pm 1 comment

Catch Up – Weekend of Sept 22nd

Okay, I’ve been quite busy as of late.  Here are quick glimspes of what I’ve been up to:

Groomsman Dress
Two weekends ago, I went up to the Northern Virginia area to do an activity that used to fill me with dread– I went dress shopping.  And it turned out to be a fabulous time.  I got to meet Stacy’s fiance, Louise.  I got to meet Stacy’s daughter, Addie and I got to get to know one of the bridesmaids better.

One of the bridesmaids, Jenn, and little Addison

On top of that, the act on trying on those fancy dresses was quite fun.  I’m pleased with our selection.  I was also pleasantly surprised with the price!  The whole drive up, I mentally braced myself for something along the lines of $500.  The morning of the shopping outing, my father got me flustered.

“No!  That dress is going to be a thousand dollars!” he exclaimed.

I was a bit worried until I reported Dad’s statement to Mom.  She rolled her eyes and asked me a simple question:

“Oh come on, how many bridesmaid dresses has your father bought?!?” 

How much is this dress? $1000? $500?

Dad’s guess was a gross overestimate, as was mine.  We would both suck ass at The Price is Right. 

Thank goodness. 🙂

That same weekend, I got to visit my home town!  The reinnovations to the 123 Bridge are almost done and they include a pedestrian walkway with beautiful views of the river and the town!

Occoquan River

Town of Occoquan

I also got to visit the house I grew up in, my grandmother’s house, and a brick dedicated to my grandmother on the sidewalk in front of our town hall.

Grandma’s Brick

It was a brief, but very pleasant homecoming.  More photos of Occoquan are available on my Flickr site.

Surprising Art
Within eighteen hours I discovered that *two* individuals I know have some artistic talent.  First off, Ryan Somma can draw cartoons?!?  And then an absolutely mind-boggling discovery followed.  My brother, that pesky little boy who ruined my first kiss, can paint?!?!?!  I was helping my Mom move furniture to my brother’s room and found his rendition of a turkey buzzard (my 2nd favorite bird!) on display:

Turkey Buzzard by Jay

Who knew.

Serendipity and Spit-up
When I met little Addison, I got to hold her for a while.  Things were going smoothly for while, but then she made a face and I suspected that at any moment she would start to cry.  With an audience of people I just met for the very first time, I was self-conscious about triggering a sobbing spectacle.  So what do I do?  Run away!  I handed Addie back over to her father before she had a chance to cry.  Almost immediately after the hand-off, Addie spit up on Stacy.  With him, it got on his shirt.  BUT– the way I was holding her, it would have been a perfect shot on my still-growing Locks of Love hair.  Sometimes, it pays off to be a wuss!  😉

September 30, 2007 at 10:54 pm 3 comments

Flickr Photos

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