December 6, 2017

Joan Larsen’s Sleigh Full of Holiday Ideas: Turning Your Selection of Christmas Gifts into Lifelong Memories

November 29, 2017

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by Joan Larsen   Aren’t the feelings of warmth, of joy and laughter .  .  . but, most of all, of love – what the holidays truly are supposed to be?  Shouldn’t the element of togetherness be forefront in this season?  I think we are all nodding yes.  I am sure you are. But instead, […]

Joan Larsen’s Thanksgiving at the Lake House: Sharing My Private Thoughts the Weekend After

November 26, 2017

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By Joan Larsen You have caught me lounging  . . . not planning to get up anytime soon. Outside, out that big window, I can almost watch the ice, no longer near the shore, creeping onto the main body of the lake. Flocks of geese, perhaps the last of them, vie for places in what […]

Joan Larsen’s Warm Welcome: Thanksgiving at the Lake House

November 22, 2017

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It’s Thanksgiving at the Lake House and the gathering of family is always equated to love overflowing and the feeling of closeness . . .   A warm welcome to our family Thanksgiving!!       The greatest fun is coming early and working together to make decorations for the house   As the children […]

Lauriate Roly Remembers: Try It, You’ll Like It

November 17, 2017

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By Lauriate Roly Today we returned from an eye doctor appointment. Maddy is constantly at my side these days because I’m not in too reliable shape. I don’t even dare to imagine how I would manage if she were not the very devoted and precious daughter that a widower like me has to depend on. […]

Joan Larsen Presents: An Island is Born

November 15, 2017

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By Joan Larsen The ocean off Iceland was fairly calm fifty years ago when a fishing boat spotted fire in the distance.  In this empty ocean, it would have to have been another fishing boat burning to cause such color in the skies.  The crew sped toward the scene, only to see a volcano arising […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Wonders: Get Lost in Iceland

November 8, 2017

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By Joan Larsen So close yet so remote. So magnificent that it beats out all comers on our planet. Until now, it has been my own secret hideaway on this earth – Iceland, the magnificent. For years, Iceland has drawn me back again and again like a magnet.   And once you too have received the […]

Jim Klobuchar: Aging Toward Old Age – Another Way to Look at Old Folks

November 1, 2017

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By Jim Klobuchar   It is again with pleasure and delight that I introduce you to a man of many talents: Jim Klobuchar – the daily columnist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune for over 30 years (and probably the best-known name in the whole upper Midwest), named the nation’s top columnist in 1984, finalist in NASA’s Journalist […]

Wayne Ranney: A Place that Inspires Superlatives – Cambodia’s Angkor Wat

October 25, 2017

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By Wayne Ranney     It is with the greatest pleasure I once again introduce you to Wayne Ranney — famed geologist – who we once again find as Guest Lecturer on one of National Geographic’s extraordinary Private Journeys this Fall.   This round-the-world one-month journey finds the group uncovering treasures of our world that many of […]

Lauriate Roly Remembers: Just Call Me Bob

October 23, 2017

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By Lauriate Roly I knew when he died that I would miss him, because I liked him very much. But, even more than missing the individual himself, deep in my heart, I knew that to never hear his full voice again, live, and unrecorded, would be such a painful loss that it would affect me […]

Joan Larsen’s Tales From the Deep: Midnight on the Arctic Ocean

October 18, 2017

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by Joan Larsen This is the northern tip of Iceland at midnight.  Winter there is total darkness for eight months.  In summer the children of Iceland can be seen enjoying the midnight sun until all hours in bright sun – for there is no night.  .  . so why shouldn’t the two of us do the same?  Before us — the fabled […]

Why Don’t Cleanliness-Obsessed Americans Use the Bidet?

October 16, 2017

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I have long been interested in having a bidet in our home, but it just wasn’t practical or affordable to renovate our bathrooms.  Silly me, I had no idea (until recently) that there are economical, simple-to-install, effective bidet attachments that can just go right on your existing toilet.  A mere $39.95 later, Lila became the […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: A Landscape of Superlatives – A First Look at Yosemite

October 11, 2017

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by Joan Larsen Only a morning’s drive from San Francisco lies one of the world’s truly great wilderness areas – a place of plunging waterfalls, snow-capped lakes, stark stone cliffs of stunning beauty, and a natural cathedral of ancient Sequoia trees that are among the largest on Earth. Its name: Yosemite National Park, its beauty […]

Sexy Halloween Costumes for Children: No, No, No

October 9, 2017

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It’s just wrong.  I am aware of, and repulsed by, the increasing hypersexualization of women and even of underage girls in this country.  I don’t like the message it sends:  that women’s primary purpose in life, their role, their aspiration, is sex.  Looking good, putting out, appealing to men.  How hollow, limiting and limited.  How […]

Joan Larsen’s Far Out Adventures: Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place in America’s Southwest

October 4, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   Reimagine a walk in the park… as we all know that the wonderful feeling we get when we “discover” the incredibly beautiful places in our world that just may take us a few steps off the beaten path — or the paved road.  In the Americas, I have kept the national […]

Joan Larsen Reflects: The Third Chapter of Our Lives

September 27, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Happiness is like a butterfly:  the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and softly sit on your shoulder.  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)   Writing a heartfelt, personal letter to a friend — so dear that I […]

The Other Reason Girls are Hypersexualized

September 25, 2017

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Do we continue to foster a culture that insidiously discourages females from doing much of anything else? Women’s-lib veterans must be SO disappointed.   As we have lamented before, it seems like girls these days are too wrapped up in their physical appearance, that they put so much of their self-worth in things like boobs […]

Joan Larsen’s High Adventure: The Good, the Bad, and the Grizzly

September 20, 2017

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All of those traveling to Alaska’s Denali National Park are given “the lecture” by a park ranger before setting out, warning about the dangers of hiking alone and the distance that must be kept between you and a grizzly to be safe.  Unfortunately, the bears do not receive the lecture.  It is where they live […]

“Thank You For Your Service.” What Do You Really Mean By That?

September 18, 2017

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Instead of a thank-you, I’d like something different:  I want you to pay attention, stay informed, and get politically involved.   In recent years, more veterans are letting us know that they find it a little off-putting to be thanked for their service. The exact reasons vary, but I have my own, so count me […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Gorillas in Our Midst

September 13, 2017

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By Joan Larsen   The world is still in semi-darkness when we were awakened at 6am in the almost unknown country of Africa’s Rwanda, settled into vehicles, and off to what can only be described as one of the most magical encounters on our planet. To be honest, I do not believe I slept last […]

Joan Larsen Presents Eileen Rockefeller: Unconditional Love

September 6, 2017

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In this week following Labor Day, we are delighted to welcome writer-author Eileen Rockefeller to join us once again .  Her words remain always deep — and so deeply felt –and you will find yourself, as I do, nodding your head in agreement as she writes.  We, too, find that it is only in the natural world […]

Stop With the Plastic Already!! The Plastic Convenience Trash Nation

September 4, 2017

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Or maybe, the Plastic Convenience Trash Planet. Maybe, following last week’s rant about the hazards of plastic clamshell packaging, I have been sensitized to plastic packaging in general.  We have really gotten to the point of the ludicrous.  Somebody, please… make it stop! The other day I discovered that there is such a thing as […]

Joan Larsen’s Most Breathtaking Moments in Travel: Killer Whales Come Up for Air

August 30, 2017

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By Joan Larsen It’s a rare moment to capture: whales taking a breather as they swim under polar ice. ANTARCTICA – In the Ross Sea portion of Antarctica, the American McMurdo base has been clothed in darkness for six months. Those “wintering over” spend that time frozen in by the ice until the spring months of […]

Death to the Clamshell! I Long For The Simple Cardboard Box

August 28, 2017

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Hubby: “I’d like to find the guy who invented this crap and punch him in the face. If he was here I’d be like, ‘Oh, was this your idea? Come here so I can punch you in the face.'” Hubby is usually a pretty easy-going guy, and generally reserves such outbursts of violent fantasy for […]

Joan Larsen’s Adventures: Exploring Australia’s Land of the Never-Never

August 23, 2017

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By Joan Larsen Flying by small plane, low over Australia’s Northern Territory, we are present- day Crocodile Dundees, wanting to be one of the first to go exploring a desert world that most travelers will never see. Our delightful, agreeable pilot seemed more than happy to chase down the only large inhabitants in the empty […]

Fun and Disaster with Foreign Languages

August 21, 2017

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I was laughing so hard I could barely breathe. “This book was expensive!” he said.  “I’m sorry,” I replied, “but we just don’t talk like that.” Language-translating machines like Google Translate or Babelfish are handy for small, simple things like finding a bathroom, but they are no replacement for a fluent, bilingual human being.   Just […]

Joan Larsen’s Favorite Retreats: Flying Low and Slow Over Glorious Sedona

August 16, 2017

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An Arizona landscape to take your breath away By Joan Larsen There are some places in our world that take our breath away in ways unexplainable – but we find their visual beauty forever lodged in our hearts.  And so it is with the town of Sedona, with its red rock canyons and sunsets so […]

Teen Pregnancy: The Old, Old Story

August 14, 2017

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It is the old, old story. Young love, flaring passions, secret, unprotected sex… an unintended pregnancy… and life-changing consequences.  Adolescence instantaneously ends, and two young people are flung, unprepared, into adulthood. Here is a glimpse backward at how things once were… A far cry from how they are today. Just some food for thought. A […]

Joan Larsen’s Scariest Climb: Reaching for Heaven on Angel’s Landing

August 9, 2017

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By Joan Larsen The scariest climb It is no secret to my friends that I absolutely live for adventure…  so yes, over the years I have done more than my share of climbing to the heights in so many places in the world.  “But what was the most difficult, the most scary, the most life-threatening […]

Joan Larsen’s World: Close Encounters of the Grizzly Kind in America’s National Parks

August 2, 2017

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By Joan Larsen     August, 2015, Yellowstone National Park … and yet another hiker dead, killed and mostly eaten by a grizzly bear while hiking in the Park. The man, an experienced hiker, actually worked in the park and knew its dangers. Hiking alone especially is not recommended. All visitors are instructed to carry […]

Gypsies, Stereotypes, Offense, and Truth

July 31, 2017

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Back in the days when parents still told their children fairy tales and scary stories at bedtime, the old saw about Gypsies stealing children was a staple (one famous example was Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, in which Esmeralda had been kidnapped by Gypsies as a child).  I had never given the idea […]