Family: Two homes under one roof


March 06, 1994|By Maryalice Yakutchik | Maryalice Yakutchik,Contributing Writer

Mary Scher lives up north, where all is cool, soothing and white. Down south, at Susan Scher's, all is warm and wildly tropical.

The contrasts are more a matter of taste than temperature. Mother and daughter both live at the same address -- on Winner Circle -- and are separated only by two floors, doors and a set of steps in The Club at McDonogh Township, southeast of Owings Mills.

It's close but not too close, says Mary Scher, 56, a former general contractor for Metropolitan Cedar Homes, who refers to her third-floor condominium as "my retirement home."

She moved here from a Cockeysville apartment in 1987 to recuperate after suffering a head injury in a 1984 private plane crash in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Her daughter, Susan, who was living in Houston, moved home to Baltimore County that year to be close to her mother, who needed care after rehabilitation in a New York hospital.

"I would've loved to live with her," says Mary, "but my daughter is 36 and feels she needs her independence."

It also appears Susan needs a lot more color in her life. Trained in fine arts at Towson State University and working at Radcliffe Jewelers in Towson Town Center, Susan is a scuba diver who has converted her first-floor condo into a refuge for one who clearly would rather be living on a tropical island.

In her informal eat-in kitchen, with its fireplace and aqua-on-aqua sea-sponged walls, it's always T-shirt and shorts weather.

Both the chenille wallpaper and the 18-foot mural dominating her living room resonate with the vibrant hues of a rain forest: Birds of paradise flower constantly in the lush landscape she has created, and a macaw peers warily through the foliage.

Suddenly, a flash of green takes flight. It's Susan's roommate, Cogito, a 6-year-old Senegal parrot who seems to favor shoulders to any of the elaborate perches around the two-bedroom, two-bath home.

"Cogi" is comfortably at home with the run of the place.

Somewhat less comfortable is Susan herself, whose recent trip to the Cayman Islands was cut short as a result of a motorcycle accident.

She hobbles around on a slow-healing leg, pointing out the major points of interest: a map of the Caribbean, a jar of sand, and a tanning bed in her second bedroom-office -- all of which give the pseudo-beach experience when she can't have the real thing.

"It used to be so contemporary and stark in here," she says. "I was heavy into Milan chic; I didn't have stuff anywhere. But it didn't have a personality. Now, you walk in here, and you know I live here."

Tastes change.

And so do situations. Now, her mother is close enough that Susan can take care of her as she recuperates.

And, her mother's "a built-in baby sitter," Susan adds, referring to her mother's care of Cogi.

Sure enough, upstairs in her mother's formal living room-dining room -- the site of large family dinners -- is a somewhat out-of-place centerpiece: a huge wooden perch, adorned with colorful cookies and toys.

"That's my grandchild's," brags Mary, as happy to help her daughter as to spoil the talking bird with the bright yellow eyes.

"I love animals," she adds, pointing to a porch strewn with peanut shells.

"I have five squirrels who come up and visit me. And I feed the birds and stray cats. Out back here in the woods, I see foxes.

"That's one of the things that makes this place a dream for me; the fact that I've got nature here, but am close to Towson, Cockeysville, and all the places I frequent. I'm 10 miles to everything I need. And I can actually walk to the grocery store."

With two porches, three bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths on two floors, Mary's condo, which cost $112,000, is somewhat more spacious than her daughter's, which sold for $102,000.

"It's the biggest condo I've seen in this price range," says Mary, who says she included in the purchase about $25,000 for options such as extra storage spaces, kitchen appliances, custom wallpaper, carpeting, lighting and ceramic floors. "The only thing it lacks," she says, "is a Jacuzzi. It will have a Jacuzzi."

Mary's not the only one counting the days until one is installed. Cogi loves baths.

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