Posts Tagged ‘Christopher Lancette’

PostHeaderIcon Horsing around somewhere in western Maryland

I jammed on the brakes the moment we spotted three horses in a pasture alongside a back road somewhere in western Maryland. My girlfriend and business partner Won-ok Kim hopped out of her Prius to snap photos with her iPad. The horses looked up from their mid-afternoon grass munching and stared us in the eyes. They didn’t know who we were or why we were stopping.

We didn’t know where we were. The GPS showed that we were crisscrossing dotted state lines all day long. We had just finished another round of stocking shelves in our third-floor space at the Queen City Flea Market in Cumberland, Maryland, and were spending the rest of the day driving aimlessly in whatever directions the car felt like taking us.

I stepped out of the car to join the photo shoot.

The horses decided to come over and say hello and to make sure we captured their best sides. A white one with a brown and white face forced his way to me and ate grass right out of my hands, tickling my fingers with his sandpapery tongue and lips. A brown horse with a mohawk demanded Won-ok’s attention. A very old white horse with black spots, blood-shot eyes and cracked hooves stood back a bit. He or she wasn’t quite sure what to make of us. I reached out to the old thing, drawing the animal closer and then giving it a good rubdown with my fingernails.

My white-and-brown-faced friend stepped in again. I asked Won-ok to shoot a quick video of me with the horses. She pressed “record” and I did a one-take equestrian snippet explaining that some of the great joys of the antiques and collectibles life are the experiences that have little to do with either. Road trips chosen by the wind are the best. “My” horse nibbled on my head, neck and hands while I spoke to the camera but I didn’t lose my concentration. I gave him a kiss on the nose to close the scene.

We could have stayed there all day hugging the horses and staring at the lush green grass that rolled out in every direction. We were in the middle of nowhere under a brilliant blue sky, only the spirits of the dead looking down on us from a hill-side cemetery across the way.

We bid farewell to our ungulate friends and continued our sojourn. We passed the youngest baby cow I have ever seen in person. The calf looked like she couldn’t have been more than weeks old — a spindly-legged ball of black, still-wet fur. She was the cutest thing ever, at least among the bovine kind. Her mom wasn’t amused by our visit, though. She nudged her offspring back a few dozen yards. That moment reminded me of a day two decades ago when a mother moose chased me away from her kids on a bike trail leading out of Anchorage, Alaska.

The car pulled us around who knows where. We passed a barn on which someone had painted a giant poem about the value of farmers and what they do.

We intended to keep going in the direction we were traveling but were forced to do a U-turn by a pair of a mammoth cement barricades and a “road closed” sign: A tiny creek in front of us could not be crossed. Won-ok and I made our way to a fork in a country road that indicated we were in Maryland and gave us the choice between two towns we had never heard of.

“It has been my life-long dream to go to Frostburg,” I joked, veering right.

We fell in love with the place the moment we came across a carriage museum, old train depot and a cafe that was flooded with bicyclists.  The museum was closed so we didn’t get a chance to soak in some extra knowledge that would help us with our business but we did go for a hike on the crushed stone path of the Allegheny Highlands Trail of Maryland — part of a network of bike trails that run from Washington D.C. to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We stopped to smell yellow and purple flowers, pose for photos on boulders, climb trees and explore the woods next to the trail. Some trees cheated — their leaves turning brilliant autumn hues of orange and red while the others remained green with envy. Windmills stood atop the mountains in the distance in one direction, a folk art bike welded vertically to a metal pole in the other.

Joggers removed their seemingly invisible earphones to return our hellos as they passed. A pack of 60-year-olds kept each other in stitches as they took a break from their Saturday ride.

It was way too early to head back home on such a spectacular fall day. We hoofed around the town for quite a while, marveling at the fact that an independent bookshop and a theater still existed there. Both beckoned us to make a return trip so that we could take in what they had to offer. We wandered all over the campus of Frostburg State University, home to about 5,000 mighty Bobcats.

The knee-buckling aroma of broasted chicken coming from the Frostburg Trail Inn & Cafe lured us back there. We didn’t know what “broasted” was but quickly learned it meant yummy for our tummies. The biscuits melted in our mouths while a six-piece order of hot wings added just the right compliment to the house speciality.

A young woman next to us asked her friends working at the cafe for the name of the article of clothing that Scarlett O’Hara wore to give her dresses their distinctive shape.

“Hoop skirt,” I said to the Frostburg State student working on a paper for English class.

She thanked me and raised her eyebrows.

“I’m from Atlanta,” I said, explaining why I would know this.

Won-ok and I grew tired as the sun set and opted to head out. The parking lot was full of a group of teenagers sporting tuxedos and brightly colored dresses drawing all kinds of attention from parents with big cameras. Homecoming, we figured.

We learned that the train depot is still used by Western Maryland Scenic Raildroad, which offers brief excursions down its tracks. We’ll be back for that, too, and we’ll bring our bikes. A guidebook and the friendly staff at the inn and cafe told us everything we needed to know for our return.

GPS activated, we used I-68 east to begin making our way back to I-70. Early that morning, we drove right through a cloud as we took the roller coaster ride up and down that route.  At 8:30 p.m., we played hide and seek with a full moon that kept sneaking behind the mountaintops before jumping out over the interstate.

I paid half attention to the radio play-by-play of our beloved Baltimore Orioles  — “our kids” as Won-ok calls them — pulling into a first-place tie with the Yankees. My mind kept drifting back to the three horses. I wondered if they missed us, too.

PostHeaderIcon Procrastinators unite at Flower Ave. Holiday Market on Dec. 24

This Slinky Bronco pull toy from the 1950s will be on sale Saturday at Orion's Attic.

If you’re not all set for Christmas, there’s still one more Saturday to shop local at the Flower Avenue Holiday Market on Dec. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Yet more new vendors will be there, too!

Located at 8809 Flower Avenue on the parking lot at the corner of Flower Avenue and Arliss Street (near Piney Branch Road), the last day of the holiday market features some of our most popular vendors selling hand-made clothing, jewelry, men’s cufflinks, antiques, vintage toys, hand-carved animals from Africa, hand-painted Christmas villages, candles, cosmetics and more. The Long Branch Women’s Sewing Circle also returns, selling shopping bags and taking orders for more. New this week are vendors offering hand-made bookmarks, leather belts and bracelets, and phone accessories.

The dollars you spend support local entrepreneurs and re-circulate money in the Long Branch/Silver Spring/Takoma Park communities. Your shopping also helps raise funds for IMPACT Silver Spring, a nonprofit dedicated to community building and economic empowerment in our neighborhoods. Read more about the social good the market is doing.

Here’s a list of some of the vendors scheduled for the Flower Avenue Holiday Market on Dec. 24:

Antiques, Collectibles

Orion’s Attic: Antiques, art, collectibles, decorative glass, home décor, vintage toys.

Art and Arts & Crafts

Christ-Life African Arts and Crafts: African arts and crafts including hand-carved wooden animals.

Huaman, Maria: Peruvian crafts and holiday things.

Thai Art: Thai Oil Painting on Black Velvet pictures. Sizes from 4″x10″ to 28″x50″


Barney’s Bookies: Handmade beaded bookmarks on silk thread. The beads were harvested locally from bead stores and recycled from thrift stores.

Christmas/Holiday Decor

Braden, Mark: Hand-painted Christmas village scenes, home décor. See video:


Asunder By Ray: Custom-made cufflinks, Raymond Thomas links men with sophisticated taste to cufflinks that express their personal style.

Bold as love: Clothing, all tie dye hats, tapestries, shirts, socks and  pants.

CHO-PI-CHA: Clothing, Ladies tops, Pants, Dresses, Scarves, Hats, skirts and Accessories.


Gebreeggziabaher, Zebenay: Hand-made curtains made by her and her brother.


My Equisite Scentsy: Candle-warmers with moderns scents and aromas.


Fun to Give, Fun to Get: Hand-worked sterling silver and precious metal clay with natural stones, glass beads and swarovsky crystals.

Jennifer’s Handcrafts: Arts/Crafts, Jewelry, Handmade and import Jewelry for kids and adult.

K Wear Designs: Leather belts and leather embellish bracelets, seashell pendants, ornaments for pants, provocative chokers, clay made pendants and etc.

Lovely To Look At: Hand-crafted jewelry.

Nonprofit Organizations

IMPACT Silver Spring: Dedicated to creating economic empowerment opportunities for communities including Long Branch.

Phone Accessories

Fashion Wireless: Phone accessories, phones. Jewelry.


Long Branch Women’s Sewing Circle: A group of Latin American micro-entrepreneurs sell a variety of sewn items and will take orders for more.

Skin care/Beauty Products

Canales, Yolanda: Perfume

Williams, Tiara: Mary Kay Cosmetics. The products for sale include gift baskets that host skin care, fragrances, and make up.






PostHeaderIcon Pet sanctuary perfect choice for next Ron Howard film

Sher Polvinale's heart is even bigger than her sanctuary

I didn’t quite know what to expect the first time I pulled into the driveway of the House With A Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary in Gaithersburg, Maryland. I was afraid that a charity dedicated to caring for old, abandoned dogs (and a few cats) would be a sad place, one that much like a hospice for people reeked of decay and despair.

Minutes after walking through the front gates, however, I thought I had accidentally stumbled across a modern-day re-make of the movie “Cocoon” that starred senior animals instead of senior people. A little blind poodle named “Faith” somehow flew into the arms of Orion’s Attic co-founder Won-ok Kim. Another little one was bounding around after recovering from a spinal tap. In another spot, Daphne seemed to have no memory of a second broken leg she suffered before arriving at House With A Heart.

A Portuguese Water Dog with some collie in her DNA may have represented the biggest transformation.

“She had completely shut down by the time she got here,” House With A Heart founder Sherry “Sher” Polvinale tells us. “Now she moves around, goes in and out of gates, and will sit and let you rub her belly.

Part of the joie de vivre might come from the energy of the temporary — and younger — residents that are boarded there while their parents are away. The rest clearly comes from the force of nature that is Sher, who started rescuing animals 30 years ago and never looked back.

“People love animals but they don’t always love them forever,” she says, her beaming eyes off-setting the sadness of her words. She is good at delivering powerful one-liners because the demands of her day don’t often allow for time spent wasting words. She’s not one for sitting down, either. She fields one call while pinching the phone to her ear so she can spray a cleaning agent on the floor with one hand, wipe with the other, and dry with a towel she drags underfoot as she paces.

Though Sher and more than 50 volunteers provide a spotless, loving home and medical care for nearly 30 dogs and four cats, she won’t accept praise for work that rightly deserves to be called saintly.

“I love spending time with these animals,” she says. “This my treat to myself in my old age. It’s selfish, really.”

I beg to differ. Working that hard — the Army would be impressed by what she gets done before 9 a.m. — is anything but selfish. If it weren’t for House With A Heart, these old animals would likely spend their last days unwanted and alone in a shelter before euthanasia took their lives prematurely.

Part of me understands what Sher was trying to say. Our company is named after the world’s greatest Siberian husky who was in God-awful shape the day we met. Orion gave me ten of the best years of my life. His shelter-rescued companion, a half-husky named Alexis, wasn’t supposed to live a week when I got her. That was 13 years ago. She rests at my feet as I write today.

Then I watch Sher toil away for another hour and am quite convinced that she is extraordinarily unselfish.

Won-ok and I will try to do our small part to help House With A Heart’s effort to bring joy to

A blind dog sees Won-ok Kim's love at House With A Heart

old animals but the nonprofit organization needs — and deserves — a lot more support. It takes about $12,000 a month to operate the facility, though the number is going up due to increased medical care needs. That veterinary tab alone could hit $70,000 this year. House With A Heart could also use at least 20 more volunteers.

Sher admits that one of her biggest problems is asking for help. I do not suffer from that affliction and I ask everyone who reads this to click on the charity’s Web site above and pass it around to everyone you know. Make a donation if you’re so inclined. Volunteer.

Who knows, you might even get the chance to be an extra if Ron Howard swipes my idea and makes an animal version of “Cocoon”.




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