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Pete and Vicki: Coming home again
A little over 51 years ago, Pete and Vicki exchanged wedding vows in a tiny church in New Bern, NC—just 10 months after meeting on a blind date in Chicago where Pete was attending the Navy’s Electronic Technician “A” school at Great Lakes, Illinois. After a modest reception catered with a single tray of pimiento cheese, finger sandwiches, cookies, and a one-layer wedding cake—washed down with ginger ale punch—they took their honeymoon on the road, travelling back to Great Lakes in order to be at class on Monday.
Over the past five decades, they’ve raised three kids, who gave them five grandchildren. Although he’s a towering 6’6” in height, Pete served in the submarine service of the U.S. Navy for 23 years. His military career had them moving from base to base with even a tour of duty in Naples, Italy.
50 years and one more place to call “home”
Shortly after their 50th anniversary, Pete and Vicki decided on one more move. They wanted a home that would better fit their life now, as they both approach the age of 74. Having grown up in the country, Pete and Vicki were ready to settle back into a quiet rural life. They wanted to get far away from both the busy road that ran behind their home and the Capital beltway.
Pete had been to The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing in Poolesville, MD, a number of times to pick up Vicki from her violin teacher’s home there. Pete really liked the location and the style of homes. On one of these trips, out of curiosity, he stopped at the model home, talked to the resident agent there, and picked up a brochure on the homes being built.
Armed with this information, Pete and Vicki discussed what they envisioned in their next home. A ranch style would be great, but at the very least, they wanted a first-floor owner’s suite. Vicki wanted two guest bedrooms, so that their family could come and stay. And Vicki, an accomplished violinist, wanted a music room where she could make music with her grandchildren. Like they had done three times before, Pete and Vicki decided to build a home rather than purchase a resale.
Like they had done three times before, Pete and Vicki planned to build a home rather than purchase a resale.
“We weren’t going to accept the home someone else built and is getting rid of,” says Pete, a woodworker who is currently working on built-ins for their new home. “Most of the time, you have to go back and change it to suit your particular needs, like a music room or a butler’s pantry.”
They built their first home in the 1970s, a 1,600-square-foot ranch in Charleston, for $45,000, with a 15.5% interest rate! While the price of the home went up over the years, the interest rate has dropped to an all-time low.
They loved the quality and were surprised by the affordability of a Kettler Forlines home. In early 2020, they made the down payment on their own Brightwell Crossing home. They chose the homesite on a quiet cul-de-sac and then the Bradley floor plan, a single-level design. The couple worked through the many included options with George Neill, Community Sales Manager, to build their home—just right!
“You can be overwhelmed with all the choices. Kettler Forlines had a broad selection with reasonable prices. Even if you took the basic options, you end up with a very, very nice house,” says Vicki.
Finding harmony at home
They chose to convert the den to a music room. Vicki plays violin and Pete is a self-taught guitarist. Their oldest daughter, Frances, plays violin and viola, while her sister, Amy, a music therapist, can play every wind instrument. Their son, Peter, was one of the top string bass players in Virginia, holding second chair and playing with the Roanoke Symphony. His wife plays piano and teaches the instrument in her own studio. Peter and Rachel’s daughter plays cello and their son is learning to play the trumpet, although he doesn’t share the family’s passion for instruments. One granddaughter, at the age of 15, is the first-chair flute in her high school orchestra. Her older sister has developed into an exceptional violinist and is the Concert Mistress in the Northwest High School orchestra as well as a Montgomery County, MD, honors symphony orchestra. Their younger sister is also learning to play the viola. Within the family, they now have the makings of a chamber ensemble.
Vicki decided to open the music room to the kitchen by foregoing the pantry that connected the two rooms. Give up your pantry? In this day and age of massive stores of toilet paper and non-perishables? The Bradley floor plan includes a room off the kitchen that could be used as a home office. Instead, Pete and Vicki converted it to their pantry. Problem solved.
More cooks in the kitchen
As they perused their options, the couple had decisions to make. A bigger bedroom in the owner’s suite would be nice but it would mean giving up a guest room. Since the master bedroom was plenty large enough for their king-sized bedroom set, Vicki said that option wasn’t an option for her.
However, the couple did decide on the butler’s pantry, a small space off the kitchen that is often used for storage, a serving waystation, and clean-up. In their butler’s pantry, Pete and Vicki created a beverage station. The coffee maker and cappuccino machine are parked there, along with a coffee grinder. There’s a sink and an under-counter refrigerator where they store soft drinks, wine, mixers, and creamer. They’ve also positioned the trash and recycling center in the butler’s pantry/service kitchen.
Vicki says she loves the large kitchen, particularly its huge island with cabinets on both sides, and pull-outs on the other lower cabinets.
“We can both cook at the same time. We even had a family gathering where three of us were cooking,” she beams, adding that the open layout is a real plus. “We never feel we are separated from any family gathering as they are watching, either college or professional football games. We can even be part of the crowd while washing the dishes.”
But the best option they chose, according to Pete, is the screened-in back porch. Almost every night since they moved in a few months ago, they’ve watched the sunset and sunrise from this porch. Their yard backs up to an agricultural preserve, so they’ll also see deer wander by at dusk and listen to the hooting of owls that have taken up residence in their “little woods”.
Pete has taken up beekeeping in his backyard. He was inspired by his father who once had 250 beehives. Pete’s father took his bees to pollinate blueberry farms of eastern North Carolina. As a result, the bees made blueberry honey. Pete recalls that delicacy, which he describes as “a honey, black as ink with wonderful flavor.” He has also taken up another of his father’s hobbies: making bacon and sausages along with smoking meats.
“I never got a chance to work the hives with my father because I was in the Navy onboard the subs and at sea. Now that I have my own ‘little woods’, I have a hive of my own.”
Their new home is a tribute to the distance Pete and Vicki have traveled in their life together. It’s close to their family and close to their roots of peaceful, country living. And the home is also a reflection of where they’re going—enjoying the simple pleasures. They love the small town of Poolesville, where the shopkeepers and restaurant owners already know their names.
“This is where we’re staying,” Pete says with pure contentment.
“This is like coming home again,” his wife agrees.