With this condo, I thee wed


January 29, 1995|By Beth Smith | Beth Smith,Special to The Sun

When Sam, a miniature poodle, and Winston, a cocker spaniel, were introduced, romance followed. But the dogs were not the ones smitten.

Cupid's arrows struck Bob Brickett, owner of Sam, and Elaine then-Saltysiak, Winston's guardian.

"I have to admit that the first time I saw Elaine, I knew she was

the one for me," recalls Mr. Brickett, a retired mechanical engineer. When he found out she had a dog, he quickly offered to show her the best places to walk her pet around Glen Meadows, a retirement community that sits on 483 acres in the Glen Arm Valley of Baltimore County.

"When Bob and I first started walking our dogs together and then eating together in the dining room, I thought he had been assigned by Glen Meadows to help me get acquainted with my new home," remembers Elaine Brickett, a recently retired professor of speech pathology at Loyola College. "I finally said to him, 'How long do you have to follow me around?' "

That was August 1992. In January 1993, they were married in the Glen Meadows chapel -- the first residents to make use of the small sanctuary, once used by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, for a wedding. The entire retirement community was invited to the reception.

Mr. Brickett had moved from a Fallston rancher to Glen Meadows in 1988 because his first wife was ill. When she died in 1991, he stayed on in the cottage section -- a landscaped network of patio-style homes connected by covered walkways.

Mrs. Brickett moved to Glen Meadows in 1992, two years after her first husband died. She had lived in a 1930s stone Colonial in Loch Hill, near Stoneleigh. "At first, after my husband died, my home was like a security blanket," she says. "Then it just became too much."

Younger than most of the residents at Glen Meadows, where the average age is 79, Mrs. Brickett, 67, was still teaching when she bought her two-bedroom-with-den unit for $133,000. She hired a builder to make structural changes, including removing the den wall to open the space to the living room and rearranging closet space. She also hired a nursery to landscape.

The Glen Meadows organization allows, with written approval, changes to individual units at the resident's expense. Mrs. Brickett estimates she spent $30,000 since moving into her unit.

Her biggest project was enclosing the outside patio to create a sun room off her living room. This change proved invaluable when the Bricketts married. Rather then crowd into Mrs. Brickett's unit, Mr. Brickett moved into an empty one next door. Since his living room shared the sun room wall, a door was cut through to connect the units.

The home they created is filled with the personal belongings of each, but it is also spacious. The rooms are furnished with family heirlooms and accessorized with Mrs. Brickett's collection of teddy bears and baby dolls. There are a living room, dining room, a master bedroom with two baths, two home offices, a guest bedroom, a guest bath, a small den for watching TV and two small kitchens.

"Having two kitchens is great because we both like to cook," Mrs. Brickett says. They also like to garden. Closets in one kitchen are filled with jars of tomatoes, which they grew last summer in a garden space provided by Glen Meadows. The retirement community provides one meal daily; the Bricketts fix breakfast and lunch in their home.

The couple's gardening skills extend to flowers and fruit trees. Edging the exterior of the combined unit are well-tended beds of herbs and perennials, supported by a wood retaining wall. Fruit trees dot the beds. "Last summer, we got 40 peaches from our peach trees," Mr. Brickett says.

Sitting in their dining room, surrounded by pictures of children and grandchildren, drinking herb tea from china cups, the Bricketts say they are pleased with their living arrangement. Their home, carved from two separate spaces, has meshed well, just like their lives.

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