Senior Nation: A Sexagenarian’s Musings on “Aging in Place”

One of my favorite movies is “The Thin Man,” based on the first of six mystery novels by Dashiell Hammett. Nick Charles is a retired detective who manages his wife’s inheritance; however, his wife’s adventurous spirit soon has them assisting the police in solving cases. The inspired casting of William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora made the series pure pleasure to watch.

In the first movie, “The Thin Man,” Nick and Nora are asked to help find a missing inventor who had shown signs of forgetfulness. During a New Year’s Eve party at the Charles’ apartment, the son of the inventor is surrounded by reporters asking questions about why his father would want to disappear. The overly erudite son answers “Well, he is a Sexagenarian.” One of the reporters exclaims “I can’t print THAT” and the camera pans to show Nick’s bemused face as he chuckles over the reporter’s limited vocabulary.

As this sexagenarian reaches another birthday this week, I am contemplating, even more, the challenges of “aging in place” in my early 20th-century farmhouse. Shortly after moving in, I removed the tub shower in my first-floor bath and modified the floor joists to slope the floor in the shower area. The added benefit is the extra floor space I now have in my small bathroom. I am currently designing my kitchen renovation with five feet between my galley kitchen layout for ADA clearance if that ever became an issue for me.

Whenever I design a new home or undertake a major renovation with a client, we discuss design features that would enable them to remain in their home as they grow older. Instead of the 36” wide hallways stipulated by the building code, 42” wide hallways are better for maneuvering a walker or wheelchair, and 36” wide doors make access to rooms easier. Stacking closets in a two-story house creates a shaft for a future elevator so the house could be fully accessible. Leaving space in an attached garage for future addition of a lift to the main floor eliminates the need for an exterior ramp. Many houses have three steps from a deck or porch to grade, and the code does not require a handrail. However, adding handrails is safer for people like me who need to grip a handrail for support when maneuvering steps.

I just completed a “Smart Home Technology” course as part of Continuing Education for renewal of my architectural license. This technology has had an enormous impact on home design and can be as simple or complex as you need. Voice-activated controls, security systems that can lock exterior doors and provide video of your exterior door areas, lights that can be voice or motion activated to eliminate the need of timers for lamps, etc., are all part of the technological integration of your personal devices with today’s technology to keep you independent as long as possible. It’s then easy to relax, pour one of Nick’s signature martinis and watch a great movie like “The Thin Man.”


Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Spy House of the Week: Ashby on the Miles

The architecture of Ashby, circa 1855, is dominated by the beautifully detailed Classical two-story front porch supported by Doric columns resting on a brick foundation with full width steps to the lawn below. The front gable over the porch includes a decorative window set into the pediment. The approach to the estate ends with a very pleasing vista of the white color palette of the main house set against colorful mature landscaping and green expanse of lawn. A perfect backdrop for a Plein Air painter.

The spacious entrance hall had a “U” shaped stair and wide doorways led to the main rooms on either side and to the family room at the rear of the house. Sitting rooms with fireplaces, one with a bay window, a formal dining room, period moldings and fireplace surrounds all evoked an era of gracious living.

The family room had a fireplace and a wall full of French doors with Palladian transoms for views to the pool, the landscape and the Miles River beyond. The same window arrangement was repeated on the master bedroom above and wrapped around the seating area at the rear of the suite. My favorite room was the second- floor screened porch complete with a swing for relaxing summer afternoons suspended above the landscape below.

The grounds of this magnificent property included a large swimming pool, raised bed gardens, tennis court, a three-car garage with a one-bedroom guest apartment, a two-bedroom guest cottage and a deep water dock.

For more information about this property, contact Meredith Fine Properties agents Cliff Meredith at 410-822-6272 (o), 410-924-9982 (c), mre@goeaston.net, or Amy Berry at 410-822-2001 (o), 410-310-0441 (c) or amy@talbotfinehomes.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity.”

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Queen Anne’s County Bay-Wise Master Gardeners Offer Summer Tips

Summer’s here and mid-shore gardeners are bracing for plenty of dry hot days that can stress gardens and landscaping—and gardeners as well. The Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners’ Bay-Wise committee, which regularly consults with homeowners about their gardening practices, has come up with 10 guidelines to help gardeners keep plants and lawns healthy, and protect often substantial investments of time, effort, and money.

Yet the ultimate reason for the Bay-Wise guidelines is protecting the Bay from further pollution. According to the University of Maryland Extension, which trains and sponsors Master Gardeners, most homes in Queen Anne’s and Kent Counties are within a half-mile of a stream or other waterway flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. What we do in our yards rapidly impacts, drains, or runs into the Bay waters. It’s important we all get it right and not rely insecticides, weed killers, and fertilizers to get us through summer.

Bee on Eastern Purple Coneflower (Photo Taken by Rachel Rhodes)

1. Water generously in the morning. Make sure you’re aiming for the roots and not the foliage. It’s tempting to give drooping foliage a shower on extremely hot days but such showers encourage leaf mildew. Pots should be watered until it drains out the bottom. Some people prefer using a watering can over using a hose.

2. Mulch. Mulch and mulch if you haven’t already, but no more than 2 to 3 inches. This protects the roots and helps the soil to retain moisture. Plus it cuts down on weeds that steal moisture from your plants. Use whatever works for you. There are a variety of options available.

3. Move anything that’s in the wrong place. If something seems to be suffering from too much sun or too much shade, a cloudy day is a good time to rescue those tender plants and move them to where they will prosper.

4. Mow smart. Set your mower at 3 1/2 to 4 inches. Slightly longer grass blades shade the roots, conserve moisture and discourage weed growth. Remove no more than 1/3 of the grass height each time you mow. Make sure that your lawnmower blades are sharp.

5. Encourage pollinators by using native plants. They’re genetically equipped to survive the vagaries of weather and provide habitat for hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. To prompt re-blooming, remove spent blooms on flowering bushes and plants.

6. Watch for invasive insects and disease. They’re destructive. Keep up your vigilance and remove or treat them. Japanese Beetles, for example are looking for lunch anywhere they can get it. Unfortunately, rose bushes seem to be their favorites. Hand removal works; then drown them in a jar of soapy water.

7. Trim off suckers and tie up your tomato plants before they get heavy and droop. This will ensure a good summer long harvest. Check the beans, squash, peppers, peas, and whatever else you have planted for problems or invaders. Daily vigilance is key.

8. Compost your plant-based kitchen scraps and yard waste. Diseased plants or foliage should go in the trash.

9. Weed like your garden depends on it.Weeds steel moisture, nourishment, and even sunlight. Weeding after a rain makes it easier on you and morning makes it more pleasant. Most of the weeds can go in the compost.

10. Be grateful. We all live within the embrace of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. We all are then stewards of the land and bear the awesome responsibility of gardening wisely. We need to minimize the use of fertilizers and other pollutants that sadly end up in the Bay.

To arrange for a Bay-Wise Master Gardener team visit to consult on your gardening practices, questions, or problems, contact Rachel Rhodes, Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Coordinator at 410-758-0166 or email rjrhodes@umd.edu. Master Gardener visits and advice are always free and generally, a visit to go over your yard, identify problems, and suggest solutions takes somewhere around two hours. Two links that might be helpful for you: The first, a charming visit with some young gardeners at Washington College explaining what Master Gardeners are all about http://www.washcoll.edu/live/news/10129-gardening-wisdom and for further information on the Bay-Wise Program and other environmentally sound practices, please visit www.extension.umd.edu/baywise or see us on Facebook @https://www.facebook.com/QueenAnnesCountyMasterGardeners

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Spy House of the Week: Historic North Bend

North Bend was built in the mid-nineteenth century by James Dixon and his wife, Mary Ann Bartlett. A historic marker erected on the property by the Lords of the Maryland Manors references the “Manor of Tilghman’s Fortune”, 1000 Acres” that was granted to Captain Samuel Tilghman of London by Lord Baltimore in 1659. The acreage was later subdivided into several estates which included the site of North Bend.

Located on a protected point of land on Grocely’s Cove off the Miles River, North Bend is a blend of Federal and Italianate styles. The massing is unusual with three distinct wings each three- stories high and two three-bay porches, one defining the main entrance and the other on the east façade, that are two-stories high with Ionic columns supporting low sloped roofs. Exterior details like the widow’s walk, low sloped metal hipped roofs and a turret at the northeast corner of the house give this house a unique architectural style. Later additions to the original house were made at the rear as the aerial view at the water side shows but the front elevation maintained its original architecture as the historic photograph illustrates.

The interiors reflected the Owners’ eclectic collection of antiques. Interior period details include crown moldings, doorway moldings and a graceful curved stair. My favorite rooms were in the turret on both floors. The main floor turret area with built-in seating below a circle of windows would be a wonderful spot to curl up with a book from the adjacent library. The library had a wonderful collection of glassware and I recognized and coveted several pieces of Murano glass. The second-floor turret area was an alcove off one of the bedrooms that created a cozy seating area

The house has nine bedrooms and six baths which could be a challenge for many buyers. As an architect, I wondered if the house could be rezoned. Since there are front entry doors on both wings of the main floor, making the house a duplex could be an intriguing option without impacting the original front elevation.

For more information about this property, contact Julie Ann Stevenson with Stevenson & Co., Long & Foster Real Estate/Christie’s at 410-745-0283 (o), 410-251-5291(c) or julie.stevenson@longandfoster.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Queen Anne’s & Talbot County Master Gardeners Visit Honeybee Flower Farm

Stepping onto Honeybee Flower Farm in Cordova, MD you are immediately transported into a sea of varying shades of yarrow that flow from pink to white intermingling with green mountain mint, pink cone flowers, blue bachelor’s button, asiatic lilies, and black and yellow black-eyed susans as far as the eye can see. As rows and rows of flowers, shrubs, and trees intertwine, owner Carrie Jennings describes how each plant has a purpose on the farm and their purpose when designing arrangements for her clients or for the Easton Farmers Market.

Along the way, bees buzz from flower to flower, birdschirp happily, and you begin to realize how transforming a landscape can create a habitat that not only you enjoy but one that can service a greater purpose. Slowly the farm transforms from a cottage garden to neat and tidy rows of flowers that are destined for bridal bouquets, rehearsal dinners, and anniversary parties.

Photo taken by Rachel Rhodes

Long before the start of Honeybee Flower Farm, owner and operator Carrie Jennings was in the landscape industry. During this time, Carrie developed a passion for creating garden landscapes and habitats. While working full time for the Maryland Department of Agriculture at the Soil Conservation District in Queen Anne’s County for the last 17 years, Carrie’s dream of running a cut flower farm came to fruition in 2012, when Carrie and her husband Chris built a home and developed the 5 acre property into what is now Honeybee Flower Farm. Throughout this six year period, Carrie has been working full-time and running her part-time business, which caters to several full service events every year offering cut flowers for weddings, dinner parties, and special events. As the years have gone by, the farm has evolved with the addition of a hoop house which helps Carrie get an early start to the season and a walk in refrigerator which helps preserve flowers until they can get to the market.

Like any small business owner knows, taking the leap from a dream into reality can be a bit unnerving. Carrie says “her passion to create her own vision of beauty” helped drive her, whether that includes designing her landscape or bouquets for the Easton Farmers Market, she does it all.  As Carrie transitions into the next part of her career she says she’s “focused on spending more time creating beautiful arrangements for her clients.”

The Queen Anne’s & Talbot County Master Gardeners visited Honeybee Flower Farm on June 22, 2018.

For further information about Queen Anne’s County Master Gardner programs please call or email the University of Maryland Extension Queen Anne’s County Master Gardener Coordinator, Rachel Rhodes, at 410-758-0166 or rjrhodes@umd.edu or see us on Facebook @https://www.facebook.com/QueenAnnesCountyMasterGardeners

University of Maryland Extension programs are open to all people and will not discriminate against anyone because of race, age, sex, color, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, ancestry, or national origin, marital status, genetic information, or political affiliation, or gender identity and expression.

Habitat Book Review: A Place of Houses by Charles Moore

The seminal book of my architectural education was “A Place of Houses” by Charles Moore, with his partners Gerald Allen and Donlyn Lyndon. The firm’s fourth partner, William Turnbull, drew the beautiful axonometric drawings of houses in the book, ranging from the historical Tidewater house, Stratford Hall, in Virginia to many of the houses that MTLW designed throughout their careers. Their book was published the year before I graduated from architectural school and profoundly influenced my thinking about residential design throughout my career to this day. It is written for anyone who is contemplating building a new house or remodeling an existing one.

The authors set the scene by writing about three towns they believed showed how individual houses grouped together can bestow a unique sense of place on an entire community; Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard, Santa Barbara, CA and Sea Ranch in northern CA. Edgartown’s three centuries of New England architecture, Santa Barbara’s decision to rebuild in the Spanish Colonial style after the devastating 1925 earthquake and the new architecture of Sea Ranch were all unique places.

I was fascinated by the first pictures I saw of the Sea Ranch condominiums. The stunning black and white photography made the simple geometric house forms seem to rise naturally from the rocky cliffs along that part of a barren stretch of Pacific coastline and to resemble rock formations themselves.

Climate and topography have always influenced the form of houses. Houses here in Maryland evolved to primarily deal with the hot summers. Unlike New England houses where the fireplace was centered to conserve heat for the surrounding rooms, Tidewater houses located the fireplace on the exterior wall, with rooms along a double sided central corridor through the middle with doors at each end to catch the breezes. In other parts of the country, a preferred way for arranging rooms evolved from the New England boxes to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie houses such as the Willitts House in Highland Park, where he removed walls between rooms and extended wings in four directions to spread across the flat site.

The authors believed there were three factors to be considered in designing a house, and they christened them “The Order of Rooms”, “The Order of Machines” and “The Order of Dreams”.


They describe rooms in their simplest forms as a space with a floor, walls and a ceiling. Space is brought to life by its dimensions of length, width, and height and is animated by light. Variations in the height of a room alters the feeling of the room- my old farmhouse has 7’-4” ceiling heights and whenever I visit homes with heights of nine feet or greater I keenly feel the striking spatial change.

The authors felt the opposite factors of movement and repose are important characteristics of a room. A single focus like a fireplace inglenook, a bay window, etc., becomes the center of interest and invites repose. The authors also believed “focus” organizes the interiors of rooms and “outlook” occurs through windows, which can bridge between near and far views.

The authors divide machines into two groups, self-operating like HVAC units or small machines that we operate directly, like a washer or dryer. These machines require spaces and must be considered in the design of a house. They also consider stairs to be “machines” since they assist us in vertically moving between floors. One of the most beautiful stairs I have ever seen is one illustrated in the book, the central hall in the Nathaniel Russell House in Charleston, SC, with its sinuous stair that connects three floors in a graceful spiral.

My favorite order was the last, the order of dreams. Around the middle of the 19th century, American domestic architecture changed with the popularity of Pattern Books. Instead of the sole New England Colonial style, these books offered an international range of styles from Greek Revival, Gothic, Queen Anne, Tudor, Swiss Chalets, etc. Now homeowners could select a house style to match their dreams.

The order of dreams encourages you to imagine your house fulfilling your memories and daydreams so you can create special places for them to be nurtured. One of the author’s examples of how dreams inspired an iconic house is Fallingwater. The family would picnic opposite the waterfall and dream of their house with that view. In a master stroke of genius Frank Lloyd Wright placed the house over the falls instead and the everyday became extraordinary.

Think about the places you have seen or read about that linger in your memory. For me, a few of them are a glimpse of a garden with a trickling fountain through a gate in Charleston, SC, the two-story library at Biltmore House with its massive fireplace, terraces where Fred and Ginger danced, and the screened porch at the Buckhorn Inn in the Great Smoky Mountains of my home state of Tennessee.

Collections and other memorabilia give clues about the things that matter most to us and need an important place in our homes. I collect pitchers and Oaxacan wood carvings of animals in colorful patterns. I also love genealogy. Along my stairwell are five generations of my family on my mother’s side back to one Antonio DePrato of Barga, Italy. I see my great- grandfather Mac in my brother’s face and I like to think my love of roses “stems” from my great-grandmother Rose.

The authors end the book with a series of thoughtful questions to encourage one to contemplate how their answers will tell them what they want their house to be. I used their list as a base to compose my questions for clients to create a ‘building program’ to guide the design. I have made many changes over the years but the core list remains a thoughtful guide.


Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Spy House of the Week: Craftsman Perfection

I simply can’t resist Craftsman styled houses since two of the houses I have called home have been that style of architecture. The dramatic view from the water of this magnificent house immediately caught my eye. Multiple gables, bay windows, first-floor porches and screened porches that meandered around the angled footprint of the house and second floor decks – all created great architecture. The house is nestled in the trees along its shoreline of Tarr Creek and waterside mature trees provide shade but allow views to the water, especially from most rooms on the main level and clear vistas from areas of the second floor.

The tree-lined drive offered glimpses of the center wing of the house as you passed by the separate guest house and garage to arrive at the main house.  The symmetrical front elevation is enhanced by a wrap-around porch and the angled wings created very pleasing massing. The front door opens to an entrance hall with the “L” shaped stair to the second floor and French doors on the opposite side leading to a sitting room.  The stairs led to a gracious second floor landing with a wall of books and another wall for family photographs.

Several sitting rooms on the main floor offer many different areas for relaxation and all have fireplaces. The waterside family room at the end of the entrance hall, a den near the ground floor master suite, the cozy sitting area that is part of the open plan kitchen and informal dining area that also leads to the sunroom/screened porch are wonderful spaces. Some of the walls are accented with wainscot and trim for a paneled effect and the large family room has built-ins and coffered ceilings for great interior architecture.

I loved the gourmet kitchen and how the angled cabinets paralleled the house’s footprint and had vistas through the sitting and dining areas to water views. The second floor had another sitting area and a billiards room for more relaxation options for the four en-suite bedrooms. The second-floor decks would be hard to resist for enjoying the “bird’s eye” views of the landscape and water.  A stunning property in sought after Royal Oak!

 

For more information about this property, contact Laura Carney with Benson and Mangold Real Estate at 410-745-0415 (o), 410-310-3307 (c) or laurahcarney@gmail.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”

Architecture by Christine Dayton, Christine M. Dayton Architect, PA, 410-822-3130 or chris@cdaytonarchitect.comConstruction by Steve Spurry, Spurry Builder Inc, 410-745-2259

Spy House of the Week is an ongoing series that selects a different home each week. The Spy’s Habitat editor Jennifer Martella makes these selections based exclusively on her experience as a architect.

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee.

Adkins Arboretum’s Forest Fair is Sat., July 7

Revel in a day of forest fun when Adkins Arboretum celebrates its inaugural Forest Fair (with a Medieval Flair), from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sat., July 7.

Adventurers of all ages are invited to embark on a forest quest, visit Robin Hood’s hideout and join in medieval games. Entertainment includes falconry and beekeeping demonstrations, ballads, dance, and performances by Shore Shakespeare. Archery and swordplay will add to the fun. The truly stout-hearted may visit the apothecary for a lesson on natural remedies or forage with a local peasant.

Medieval costumes are encouraged, and imaginations are a must. Forest Fair is $10 per person. Admission is free for ages 5 and under. Refreshments from Smoke, Rattle & Roll and unicorn rides are available for an additional fee. Advance registration is appreciated. To register, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Adkins Arboretum is a 400-acre native garden and preserve at the headwaters of the Tuckahoe Creek in Caroline County. Open year round, the Arboretum offers educational programs for all ages about nature and gardening. For more information, visit adkinsarboretum.org or call 410-634-2847, ext. 0.

Jill Koski Receives Garden Club of the Eastern Shore Scholarship

Jill Koski, a 2018 graduate of St. Peter & St. Paul High School, is the recipient of the 18th Annual Garden Club of the Eastern Shore (GCES) Scholarship. The $4,500.00 merit scholarship was awarded to Koski in recognition of her outstanding academic record, strong work ethic, and commitment to environmental science and sustainable agriculture.

Koski will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill this fall, where she will major in biology and minor in environmental studies.

“In a field of outstanding candidates, Jill stood out because of her stellar academic record, maturity, and commitment to agricultural advocacy,” Dr. Virginia Blatchley, scholarship committee co-chair says. “We were particularly impressed with the amount of time and effort she has already put into learning about the issues that effect farmers and meeting with Maryland state legislators and the governor to discuss the importance of protecting the state’s agricultural industry.”

The GCES offers a scholarship annually to graduating seniors from Talbot County public and independent high schools. Students being home schooled are also eligible. The scholarship is available to students with outstanding academic records, who are also considering careers in botany, horticulture, agriculture, landscape architecture or design, environmental science, or related fields.

The GCES is committed to promoting environmentally sound landscape practices and to providing programs for the community that explore conservation practices and environmental issues. It spearheaded the extensive restoration of Easton’s Thompson Park. It also maintains several gardens in the community including those at Thompson Park and the Academy Art Museum in Easton.

“In addition to our other community involvement, our annual scholarship has the full support of every member of the Garden Club of the Eastern Shore, “Jill Meyerhoff, GCES President says. “I personally believe that this investment in the future of the talented,hardworking young people in our county is the most important thing that we do as a group.”

For additional information about GCES programs or to make a contribution to the scholarship fund, please call Dorothy Whitcomb at 410-385-0486.

Habitat: Forbes Says Easton is One of Five Best Places for Vacation Home

Talbot County has once again made it onto a Forbes list. This time around, they are calling Easton one of the top five places to have a vacation home.

The reasons they cite include, “crazy low property taxes, year round culture, a farm-to-table foodie scene that gets better every year, water everywhere, and a level of celebrity discretion that’s on par with the Hamptons.”

For the full story please go here.