Geekville by The Lake

By STEVE KAUFMAN
Contributing Writer

Opposites, we’re told, attract.

If that’s true, it explains the devoted long-term marriage of Marla and Jerry Zwakenberg.

She’s a self-described “’70s person” who makes her living in communications and marketing. He’s an engineer, a fix-anything whiz who has devoted his professional life to technology (including some “top secret, say anything and we’ll have to kill you” projects) with the likes of Honeywell, Texas Instrument and Boeing.

Right brain. Left brain.

They converge beautifully, however, in their 4,200-square-foot home in a development called Crystal Waters, on a natural spring-fed body of water called Tucker Lake.

“We’ve always been drawn to the water,” she says of their lifetime odyssey in Florida and California, as well as Texas. They fell in love with this unit primarily because of its central view of the water.

There apparently is a wild history about Tucker Lake. “A railroad car is supposed to be at the bottom of the lake,” Marla said. “And someone once had a zoo here. People of a certain age tell me they attended some wild parties here in the ’60s and ’70s. Something about a shooting, too.”

It’s all pretty placid now. Three fountains out in the middle of the lake spew spray up into the air and light up at night. Beyond the lake, Blackacre Nature Preserve gives them opportunities for hiking the rolling 270 acres and seeing the occasional deer or fox.

“We love the outdoors,” she says. In fact, when they first arrived on this property in 2006 as Crystal Waters’ first residents, the lake had no fish left. They went out into the lake, 90 feet at its deepest, and pulled refuse out that shouldn’t have been in there. Now, the lake has been fed by the State Gaming Commission and is flourishing. “We have some monster bass in there,” she says, “and residents are permitted to fish from the shore.”

Marla and Jerry, who have scuba-dived all over the world, still go out into the lake from time to time to clean out the fountains that get clogged with algae. Residents call them “the fountain people.”

The house itself gives the Zwakenbergs more wide-open space. It’s an open floor plan filled with natural light, starting right from the 18-foot ceiling in the entry.

“It’s made for entertaining,” she said. “We both have large families. When everyone’s here, we can have as many as 35 people at one time.”

The most special of those people appear to be their daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Brian Meyers, and two grandchildren, who live in the Oldham County house on Crystal Lake that Marla and Jerry first bought when they returned to Kentucky. Their pictures are all over the house.

“After 18 years living elsewhere, we wanted to come back here,” she says. “We wanted our daughter to grow up near family.”

After buying the first unit in Crystal Waters in 2006, Marla was interested when this second, larger unit became available two years later. She liked a lot of the decorative amenities, like the double-boxed-out ceilings, hardwood floors, crown molding and granite countertops in the kitchen, including a big half-hexagonal island.

In the way some of these patio homes are built today, the main level also has an expansive downstairs almost large enough to be a second living space. There’s a second kitchen, an extra bedroom, another fireplace and a big main room that the Zwakenbergs converted to an entertainment center, with a large digital TV and comfortable theatre-type leather seats.

There’s a walk-out to the back, where the lake is only about 100 feet away.

Jerry took over a big portion of unused, unfinished space usually intended for storage and turned it into his office – or what Marla calls “Geekville.”

Several generations of old computer equipment call this home, including some stand-up CPUs you rarely see anymore. In addition to his regular job as Oracle and SQL data base administrator for Mercer Transportation, Jerry operates a consulting and repair service called Techneek – anything computer-related – out of his basement.

“He can fix anything,” Marla affirms. In fact, atop one of the rafters filled meticulously with books and equipment, a sign says POP’S FIX-IT SHOP.

“Jerry is a stuff-stuff person,” she says. “He holds onto everything. I’m a clearer-outer. After moving more than 20 times because of Jerry’s career, I’m always evaluating the usefulness of things. If I haven’t used something in two years, it’s outta here!”

There are those opposite poles again. But they make it work.

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune