TopLine October 19, 2016

Our Ex-Feral Cat: Happy to be a Pet

October 17, 2016



Yesterday, 16 October, was National Feral Cat Day.  I would never have known this if not for some cat interactions around our own house some time ago. It all really started over 20 years ago now, when we rescued two kittens from a rather dismal shelter.  My husband called it “taking them off death row,” […]

Joan Larsen Presents Wayne Ranney: Kingdom of Bhutan – Hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery

October 12, 2016



Paradise.  Eden.  In all of south-east Asia, Bhutan remains the secret sanctuary of sanity and peace.  I have been reluctant to share my secret as, frankly, I have wanted it for myself – and managed to keep it that way for some years.  The beautiful quotation from the master, P.G. Wodehouse, is one I find […]

In Honor of Columbus Day: That Yummy Columbian Exchange

October 10, 2016



When I lived in Europe, I once had the chance to stay in one of the older homes in Zurich.  The keystone above the doorway was engraved with “1402.”  “Oh, was this house built in 1402?”  I asked, impressed with its age.  “No,” came the reply, “It was renovated in 1402.”  Wow!  As I lay […]

Joan Larsen Presents Katrina Kenison: This is 55

October 5, 2016



“To really value life is to know this:  the best moments are often the ones we might miss altogether if we weren’t paying attention.” Katrina Kenison As we too become immersed in the latest chapters in our lives, there is something so reassuring to know that we are not alone.  And so it is as […]

In Honor of Oktoberfest: Trachtenmoden!

October 3, 2016



This weekend marks the final days of Oktoberfest 2016.  Who hasn’t heard of this annual German festival, with its beer and bratwurst, its oom-pah bands and fest tents, its dirndl-clad women and lederhosen-clad men performing traditional Bavarian dances? When we were in Germany, we never did go to the “big Oktoberfest” in Munich.  What many folks […]

A Personal Story From Joan Larsen: Remembering Steve Jobs

September 28, 2016



By Joan Larsen Moments in life – usually small moments, totally unexpected – are the ones remembered forever.  It was the very late 1970s, at a gathering in one of the beautiful small villages that dot the gorgeous peninsula running south from San Francisco to San Jose, that I met Steve Jobs.  The name then […]

Language Barriers and Customer Service

September 26, 2016



Would you expect to be able to move to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, and be hired for any kind of job where you have to interact with customers on any level?  This is an enduring mystery to me.  Not to mention, kind of frightening to contemplate.  I can get by […]

Joan Larsen’s Life Stories: The Aftermath – Love Letters from a Scammer

September 21, 2016



By Joan Larsen All of us deserve to have happy endings in life.  For my own “adopted” daughter, Diane — a mother with children just out of the nest — the door had been opened for her . . . a new chapter in life seemed to hold great promise. She was older now, more […]

No, We Are NOT All Getting Taller or Growing Bigger Feet

September 19, 2016


Hey manufacturers: remember that there are plenty of us still around who haven’t grown much in the last several decades. Lila is a mere five feet tall with size 5 feet, a situation that has not changed since… oh, probably about age 13 or so. So when headlines trumpet that we are getting taller, or […]

Joan Larsen Presents Eileen Rockefeller: The Rewards of Labor in Beauty

September 14, 2016



In this week following Labor Day, we are delighted to welcome writer-author Eileen Rockefeller to join us.  Her words are always deep – and deeply felt… and this week is no exception.  We too believe that spending time in the natural world tends to help wash away our worries and concerns.  It can wipe clean […]

I Never Wanted to Be a Mommy

September 12, 2016



I ran across this really excellent article by Jessica Valenti in The Atlantic:  “Not Wanting Kids Is Entirely Normal.”  Thank you, thank you, thank you Ms. Valenti.  Everyone needs to read this.  It exposes the dirty, secret truth about parenting:  there are a lot of mothers out there who regret becoming parents, who didn’t know […]

Joan Larsen’s Caribbean Adventures: Touching Down on the World’s Shortest Landing Strip

September 7, 2016



By Joan Larsen Some things in our world never seem to change.  That tiny volcanic island of Saba, only 5 square miles in size and actually hidden in the vast Caribbean, lies only a beautiful 20-minute plane ride from the wondrous isle of St. Martin – but still remains caught in another time. For years, […]

Lauriate Roly Remembers: The Big… Balloon?… In the Sky

September 5, 2016



Lauriate Roly recalls a strange phenomenon. By Lauriate Roly In 1952 I lived in the Town of Mount Royal, a sub-division of Montreal. I had just left home at about 8 o’clock in the morning for my drive to work. It was a lovely clear warm day. I drove a convertible in those days and […]

Joan Larsen’s Quest: North America’s Ultimate Escape – The Uncharted Wonders of the Bugaboos of British Columbia

August 31, 2016



By Joan Larsen In the uncertain world that we find ourselves living in today, we find that we long for a change of scene – and yes, escape – a bit more often than we once did.  But travel can be costly.  .  .  and the last thing we want to do is arrive at […]

All I Need to Know, I Learned From Comics: Baltimore Comic-Con This Weekend!

August 29, 2016


This weekend, for anyone who can make it, is the Baltimore Comic-Con! Hubby and I were fortunate enough to attend the event a couple of years back.  It was apparently an enormous success and drew the largest crowds seen in… maybe the whole history of the event, at least up to that point.  The line, for […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Walks on the Wild Side – Exploring America’s Zion National Park

August 24, 2016



By Joan Larsen The summer of 2016 . . . and a day to remember forever.  Monsoon rains with high winds from Arizona had travelled northward, flooding all in that direction.  Waterfalls never seen before poured from the Grand Canyon’s rim, turning the Colorado River at its base a muddy red.  Seasoned rafters on the […]

Off to College? Choose Your Major Wisely

August 22, 2016



Okay, kids, it’s back to school time, and some of you are heading off to college.  Soon you will be faced with the decision of what to study.  Before you go prancing forth with some naive notion of “following your dreams,” be sure of some things: 1)  There are actually jobs to be had in […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Living With Giraffes

August 17, 2016



By Joan Larsen Enchanting. . . and as you glide up to Kenya’s Giraffe Manor, you will find that your breath is actually taken away by the sight of a stunning estate – made of bricks from long ago — with beautiful vines covering it. But your eye is actually caught by a bevy of […]

10 Reasons Not to Get Cosmetic Breast Implants

August 15, 2016



Or at least, read the information at these links if you’re thinking about it… and then decide if they are really worth it. –  Many of the changes to your breast following implantation may be cosmetically undesirable and irreversible.  This can be exacerbated by breast changes due to pregnancy, age, or weight gain/loss. –  The […]

Joan Larsen’s Life Stories: Sharing Life’s Special Moments With the Women of Iceland

August 10, 2016



By Joan Larsen Life comes down to a few great moments.  I think I can speak for all women when I say that the intensity, the immensity of those times that we, as women, have had together – has brought to each of us the laughter, the tears, the joy …  those precious things that […]

Distracted Driving: It Was Just an Accident, Right?

August 8, 2016



Why we need to shame distracted drivers Since time immemorial, people have gone out, gotten drunk, and staggered home on foot or let their horses find the way.  Once cars were invented, it didn’t seem to occur to anyone that the pattern should change at all… until Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded in […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Hidden Hawaii – the Long and Winding Road to Hana

August 3, 2016



By Joan Larsen     Home once again, we always will have that one last farewell toast to our latest journey with my favorite champagne. It never fails to feel like I am tasting stars.  Returning once again from the island of Maui, our most lasting “forever” memories are the moments when we are heading […]

Food Pouches for Kids: Convenience, But At What Cost?

August 1, 2016



Just this week, Hubby and Lila were at the grocery store and noted some intriguing ethnic meals packaged in pouches.  The idea is that you cut the pouch open, glop the contents over some rice or noodles, and microwave it.  We’re not much into convenience foods these days, but we are fans of spicy exotic […]

Joan Larsen’s Secret Wonders: The Joy of Having Older Friends

July 27, 2016



By Joan Larsen     Beautiful young people are accidents of nature, But beautiful old people are works of art. –          Eleanor Roosevelt   I am often known for my good taste in people.  And so, for years, the friends I hold the most dear are the beautiful older people that are presently living the […]

Commercial Food Production and Declining Food Values

July 25, 2016



The latest:  in tomatoes, commercial breeders have selected varieties with a beautiful red skin to appeal to consumers.  Trouble is, the gene for that trait is linked to lower sugar production in the tomato, and thus, a lot less flavor.  You want great tomato flavor?  Buy the ugly varieties (I have noticed that the typically […]

Wayne Ranney Experiences Life on the Edge: Hiking Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail

July 20, 2016



By Wayne Ranney   It is with delight – and a truly great sense of envy – that I want to introduce you to one of the great travel writers, author, and world traveler extraordinaire, Wayne Ranney.  We met – well, closer to home – as each of us can be found whitewater rafting the […]

The Gritmobile: My Dad’s Toyota SR-5 Turns to Treasure

July 18, 2016



Keep something around long enough, and magic can happen. Way back in 1983, my sixty-something-year-old Dad casually announced that he would be trading in his somewhat plain gray sedan and getting, for the first and only time in his life, a pickup truck. “Whatever for?” I wondered. “I just like it. Something different,” said Dad. […]

Joan Larsen’s Travel: Alone in Australia’s Outback

July 13, 2016



By Joan Larsen Mysterious.  Remote.  A faraway place of endless wonders.   Another world – all its own – lies in the direct center of Australia, just waiting to be explored.  Australians call it The Outback — but surprisingly few of them have visited.  Fewer still have explored it from its bottom to The Top End. We did. […]

Lauriate Roly Remembers: Woolworth’s

July 11, 2016



By Lauriate Roly I’ve been fortunate enough to have dined in some of the greatest restaurants. None sticks in my memory more than Woolworth’s. From where I worked to my night school classes was about two miles, and I would have to walk that distance, if I expected to use the money I had on […]

Joan Larsen’s Time of Pure Joy: Saving a Baby’s Life on California’s Pacific Coast Highway

July 6, 2016



By Joan Larsen The very best . . . the most wondrous times of life come to us at the most unexpected moments.  The few that touch our hearts in that certain way stay with us forever.  For most of a lifetime of driving down to Carmel and Big Sur along the Pacific coast of […]