Kass's study at Maryland house


With a few exceptions (Lee Child’s character, Jack Reacher, comes to mind), we human beings need a sense of roots, a place we call ‘Home.’ For the past decade I’ve had two homes. So if you’ve been wondering where I’ve been this summer, I’ve been in Maryland at our second home.

Before you turn green with envy, read on.

it hasn’t really been a vacation. My husband and I have worked our butts off this summer getting the place ready to put on the market.

I’ve fought the idea of selling the place for several years now, but this summer I was ready. More than ready. It’s an older house and it just needs too much work these days to keep it up.

I put my heart and soul into this little house. When we bought it in 2002, calling it a fixer-upper would have been too kind. It needed a lot of work, and I enjoyed fixing it up (most of the time). I like working with my hands.

Kass's summer house

The BEFORE picture. Note the big-ass AC sticking through the wall. How chic! (Don’t know why the bottom half of this pic is blank.)

With lots of assistance from my brother, and occasionally hired contractors, we’ve modernized the kitchen, finished off what used to be a sleeping porch into a lovely sunroom, plus re-tiled, re-carpeted, re-painted and otherwise refurbished it from stem to stern.


Part of our remodeled kitchen. The rooms are so small it’s hard to get a pic of the whole space.

And it has served us well in so many ways.

When we retired in 2004 and moved to Florida, this little house made that transition go much smoother than it otherwise might have. I was born in Maryland and had lived here my entire life, and my husband had called Maryland home for thirty years. Knowing we still had a place in Maryland made it a lot easier to let go. As my husband put it, we didn’t have to pull up all of our roots all at once.

Also our son was in graduate school at the time, and planned to come back to Maryland to work afterwards. So every summer we would load up our van and make the trek up I-95, to see our son and his wife, my brother and other family members and our Maryland friends. And to relax in the somewhat cooler clime of Maryland for a couple months.

This little house has been a Godsend a couple of times. In 2008 when my daughter-in-law was pregnant with my eldest grandson, I came up a week before he was due and stayed at the house, just two hours’ drive (instead of two days) away from them. When the little guy made his appearance, I was able to be there to help the new parents out.

Kass's study at Maryland house

My writing cave in Maryland.

In 2011, I spent several weeks at the house, just me and the dog, doing some much needed projects (that were easier to do without another person underfoot). And in the evenings, I wrote. That summer I finished the first drafts of two novels, Celebrity Status and Collateral Casualties.

I threw my husband’s retirement party and also his 60th birthday party at this little house. It has many fond memories attached to it–trips to watch 4th of July fireworks in the nearby small town, eating Maryland crab cakes at the waterside restaurants, 4H fairs at the county fairgrounds…

But the time has come to pull up the last of our roots here.

I used to love the projects. Now the aging house is throwing problems at us faster than we can keep up. And many of the friends and family members we came here to visit have moved on. My son and family are now in Pennsylvania and my brother has moved to Florida, 40 miles from our home down there.

We’ll still travel north periodically to visit folks there, but we’ll stay in motels or rented condos like the rest of the tourists.

And I’ll probably sneak over now and again to the old neighborhood, and check on the little house that was my fixer-upper project, my roots in my home state and my writing haven for so many years.

The Maryland house today

The finished product of our efforts this year. I spent my birthday painting that shed!

How important are roots to you? Are you one of those natural nomads who doesn’t seem to need them (like Jack Reacher) or do you need a sense of ‘home’ somewhere? Where are your roots?

Posted by Kassandra Lamb. Kassandra is a retired psychotherapist turned mystery writer. She writes the Kate Huntington mystery series.

We blog here at misterio press once (sometimes twice) a week,  usually on Tuesdays. Sometimes we talk about serious topics, and sometimes we just have some fun.

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  • Reply
    shannon esposito
    September 10, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Awe, sounds like lots of good times had there. The way I see it, the memories are what are important, not the brick and board. I’ve never gotten attached to any of the houses we’ve lived in, though I do hold Florida in a special place and consider it my “home.” Other than that, I would be happy traveling and living in hotels with no roots.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      September 10, 2013 at 11:22 am

      I agree about the memories being more important, Shannon. And we always have those! But I do seem to get attached to houses. I must have a strong nesting instinct or something. Maybe I’m part bird. 😀

  • Reply
    K.B. Owen
    September 10, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    An astrologist would tell you that my love of and attachment to my home comes from being a Taurus. Wherever it comes from, hearth and home mean a lot to me, and I’ve only moved a few times in my life. We’ve lived in our current house for 21 years.

    A thoughtful post, Kass! I think you handled it just right – letting go after you’ve become established in another home, and at the point where it becomes a nuisance to hang onto the old one. Enjoy your single-home-hood!

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      September 10, 2013 at 2:31 pm

      My mother was a Taurus, Kathy. Maybe her nesting instincts rubbed off on me. I probably need to redecorate some in the house in Florida, to re-nest down there (Is re-nest a word? It is now. LOL)

  • Reply
    Catie Rhodes
    September 10, 2013 at 3:58 pm

    What a cute little house. Good luck selling it!

    Over the course of our almost 22-year marriage, we’ve moved only four times. The first three moves were good ones. The new place was always nicer than the old place.

    However, our fourth move was more of a work related move. We moved from a house on acreage in deep East Texas to a subdivision in the Houston area. Both houses were worth about the same amount of money, but talk about different worlds!

    We’ve been in the subdivision for a decade now. It will never be home. The thrum of the busy highway 1/10 of a mile away is the background music to every thing we do. The neighbors are so close we can here them fart. There’s no privacy. Ever. And you can’t even see the stars at night because of all the streetlights.

    I long for the tall pine trees and the sweet-smelling air of East Texas. I miss being able to cross town in 15 minutes. My house in East Texas had this deck on the back that overlooked woods. Sometimes I’d catch deer grazing in the garden (usually eating my black-eyed peas). I never even had to talk to our neighbors.

    So what’s the solution? We’ve been saving money for the last several years to escape subdivision Hell. We may be stuck near the city, but we can at least own a place on acreage with some distance between us and the neighbors. At least we could take coffee on our porch in the mornings without having to play twenty (boring) questions. May the next place be “home.”

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      September 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm

      That is definitely not good, Catie, to have to move from somewhere you love to something that isn’t as well suited. I can’t imagine a decade living where you don’t really want to be. That’s got to be hard.

      I didn’t mention in the post but the Maryland house is in the country (and we lived on a small horse farm when we were still in Maryland full-time). The Florida house is in the city, albeit a small city that feels more suburban. But we do have privacy there, once you get used to the traffic noises as a background serenade. I like being close to everything (it takes about 20 minutes to get from one side of town to the other) but sometimes I miss the country.

      I hope you can find something more countryish and to your liking soon.

  • Reply
    Susan Jaymes
    September 10, 2013 at 8:30 pm

    It is looking really nice. It must be hard to sell it with all the history you shared with your family there. Our house needs a lot of work and has for years. The money never seems to be there for the remodel jobs. I keep dreaming. For now it’s home where I raised my sons.

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      September 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm

      I know what you mean, Susan. This little house in Maryland is sucking up all the money for repairs and remodeling. The Florida house is starting to feel neglected.

      When we moved to Florida, giving up the house where we raised our son was the hardest part. That house was definitely chock full of memories. As the saying goes: If those walls could talk. 😉

  • Reply
    September 11, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    Kass, I loved the yearning feel of your post. It IS hard to say a final good-bye to what feels like “home.” My husband and I relocated to the desert seven years ago in a quest for less rain, more sun (we moved from Portland, OR to Tucson, AZ). But now we’ve grown weary of the desert. For people born and raised in Southern Arizona the snakes, bugs, dust storms, triple-digit heat and howling wind is normal, like rain is to us. But after a few weeks up north this summer we’ve decided we aren’t desert rats after all. We’re not certain where we’ll end up, but we’re pretty sure it will be where you can plant a tree without renting a jackhammer (the ground here is as solid as concrete). Anyway, thanks for the post. It’s a great reminder that home is where you feel “at home.”

    • Reply
      Kassandra Lamb
      September 11, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      I love Arizona, JoAnn, to visit. Not sure I’d want to live there, for all the reasons you describe. Why don’t you come down to Northern Florida? There the problem is too-sandy soil. And sinkholes that sometimes eat houses (I am not making that up!)

      Seriously, I hope you all find a place you really love.

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