Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.


“If you are filled with anxiety, fear, depression and disturbance, there is no space for the Spirit…You have to risk letting go of the things that do not work for you in order to gain the things that will.” ~ John Roger, “The Tao of Spirit”

So many books that I read make it sound so simple — “Just let go.”


It’s like letting go of a leach attached to your leg and expecting it to slither away.

Someone might say that faith in God and prayer are the answer. Another person might say meditation and yoga are key. I prefer to throw all of them into my “Go To” self care recipe topped off with a bit of wine and chocolate.

Some days I think, “Wow Maery, you are really depressed.”

Other days, I think I am just disillusioned and exhausted.

Many days, I think I’m just old.

Disturbance: the interruption of a settled and peaceful condition; the breakdown of law-abiding behavior; the feeling that comes from life simply not going as planned.

I look happy, don’t I? And that’s the confusing thing. For the most part, I am. Or I should say I am when I’m outside doing the stuff in these photos or sitting on the sofa with a good book and a couple dogs cuddled beside me.


But I’m just as likely to break out in tears off camera because of a difficulty at work, a sad song on the radio, because I feel cutoff from friends and family, or simply because I haven’t been able to sleep and that’s putting me on an emotional rollercoaster.

I’ve heard that happiness is a decision. Each day is a gift and everything depends on how you greet each day: with dread or with delight.

No matter how wonderful I think such a way of facing life is and how much I admire such people, try as I might, I can’t seem to incorporate this view of life into my own brain. At least, not by force of will or by doing things like writing down three things I’m grateful  for at the end of the day. I’m grateful for a lot, but that doesn’t seem to mean that I’m happy.


This summer, I wanted some quiet time to think and to do the things that are most important to me without distraction. I wanted to find what I needed to do and what I needed to stop doing.

I wanted to stop running from here to there and then turn to run back again. But my mood hasn’t miraculously lifted as a result. And THE PURPOSE for my life hasn’t magically appeared at the door and thrown its arms around me in welcome.

It doesn’t help that I’m geared to be anxious. “Just let go,” they say. And I say, “I do,” about a hundred times a day, every day.

But what I know about this way of feeling is that it can’t be changed by trying to change my attitude. Because the ‘disturbance’ is telling me I need to change my path and that means action, not thought. Action, especially action you know you should take but you don’t want to, makes you feel anxious.

floating in pond


It’s strange to look onto yourself, watching your body turn against you. I pull out my usual bag of tricks to try to level my chemistry back out again. Usually that means getting busier so I don’t have time to think too much. I thought I’d try something different and slow down instead. That hasn’t exactly worked but I don’t think getting busier would have worked either.

It feels like my body is caught in a loop that is etching its way in like a stream cutting a groove into rock. I need to break the pattern as it will only get harder the longer this lasts. At least I can be logical about it. I’m still frustrated and worried, but with a dollop of calm that comes from a belief that I can figure this out. I always do. And I hold on to that faith like a lucky penny.

Plus I’m giving St. John’s Wort and a cup of Kava tea before bedtime a try. I’ve even cut back to only one cup of caffeinated coffee in the morning. These things seem to be helping, along with listening to mellow music and being silly and finding those laughable moments (having dogs helps).

horseback riding

There are a lot of photos here as a sampling of what I’ve been up to while I’ve been taking a blogging break. It’s been a great summer really, thus making it even more difficult to explain where I’m at. If you suffer anxiety, I don’t have to explain.

I do think things are leveling out for me. I have a plan and I’m working it.

I do miss having a record in photos and words as time marches on. It is a good way to relive and treasure the goodness of life so I hope I’ll be back to blogging more regularly again, even if it’s only for myself. I have a lot going on that may take priority, so we’ll see.

Maery’s Summer

FYI – If you hover your mouse over the photos, additional comments appear about the photo.

Camping Trip to Beaver Creek Valley. I loved seeing the trout swimming in the creek and watching Java enjoy laying down in the water to cool off. Did not so much enjoy the narrow, slick trails up the hills that I thought I was going to plummet to my death from. A warning about the trail conditions would have been nice. Even the dogs were losing their footing. Thankfully I had walking sticks to help keep me upright but since my hands were occupied, that meant attaching Java’s leash to my waist. Coming downhill, I put her behind me so she had to stick to my slow pace. We did a lot of work on commands like “Woah!” and “Easy!”

dog camping dog camping dog camping

dog walk

Rides on Luke. The heat and humidity of this summer hasn’t been great for horses or riding. Not to mention the storm that flipped the run-in. Most of the time we’ve been riding inside where the riding arena insulation keeps it cool and dry.

run-in shed horseback riding

horseback riding

Bike ride to Stillwater. We rode on the Gateway State Trail for the first time and loved it. Gorgeous views and a well maintained trail. The trail ends at Stillwater, a place I love to visit for the restaurants, view of the river, and to watch the old lift bridge go up and down for the boats.

bicycle in Stillwater Stillwater Liftbridge Stillwater Gateway State Trail bicyclistWalk with the dogs in the park. The bridge to King’s Island and trail across it is complete. It’s a mixed blessing – it will be nice for road bikes and to connect up trail systems but the increased traffic could be rough on the wildlife and it’s taken away the rugged fun of off road riding. Although I think it will continue to be a challenging ride in the winter.

dog dog walk

Backyard Garden, Pond, & Clothesline. There’s been quite a change from early summer (first two photos) to now (the rest). I seem to have a jungle going. I love the new clothesline Steve built with it’s Morning Glories and wind chimes on one end and a ledge to put the clothes basket on the other. Thank you Carola for giving us the inspiration for this on your blog! I have a lot of tomatoes, kale, and lettuce growing right now. Thankfully the zucchini and cucumbers are winding down. Still waiting for the squash and hot peppers to ripen. And spending time sitting on the patio reading and listening to the waterfall in the backyard pond.

Garden in May 2015 Clothesline in April

Tomato Plants Clothesline Salad table Tomatoes Grape Tomatoes

garden harvest


Backyard pond

bicycle on bridge over lake

Luke’s New Home

horse grazing

Last Friday I moved Luke out of his familiar home of the past five years to a new stable. Luke hasn’t been on a trailer for two years and I haven’t hauled a horse for three years so it felt like the first time again.

I decided I was going to approach the loading as if it was routine and it turned out that it was. Luke walked right on, stuck his head out the window, where Steve was waiting to clip his halter, and started munching on hay. Obviously taking things more in stride than I was.

The drive was without incident, except for a heavy rain that started up and the road spray the semis were throwing at us.

Unloading and getting Luke settled in also went well. When I left the barn, Luke was still in a stall, while the barn manager and owners waited for the rain to stop before putting him into a pasture.

When I went back the next day, I was told that Luke quickly established that he wasn’t going to take crap from anyone. He and the other three horses he’s out with were soon acting like they’d been in the same pasture together for years.

horses grazing horses walking in pasture

There was a schooling show that Saturday so I got to watch a few people warm up and ride their tests.

dressage horse and rider dressage schooling show warmup

The mares were putting on their own show. Note the one quarter horse who stands and watches… 🙂

mares running mares running mares running mares running mares running

When I went back to ride Luke on Tuesday, he didn’t run away from me (as I thought he might with so much area to run away into). He called for his newly found friends for a few minutes but then quieted down. We rode both inside and outside, where he gawked at new things and didn’t know what to make of all the  horses pastured around the outdoor arena, but we had a good ride.

The Bike Touring Initiation

packing up bikes at Carver Park

I didn’t get back to ride Luke until Tuesday because Sunday Steve and I did our first mini-bike tour —  riding 56 miles to Carver Park reserve where we camped overnight. We rode back home on Monday. It was quite the learning experience, which is what the brief trip was intended for, I just didn’t know how big the learning curve would be.

The unfortunate reality is that you end up bringing almost as much gear if you are only camping one night as you would if camping a whole week. We had our two-person tent, sleeping bags and pads, freeze dried meals, propane, lightweight single-burner stove and cookware, rain gear, pack towel, headlamps, and clothing and shoes to change into at the campsite.

Oh, and we had compact chairs to sit in around the campfire. One could say those were unnecessary, but I can tell you that they were a very welcome comfort to settle into after riding all day. So much better than sitting on the cold metal picnic table bench.

bicycle path through woods

It got down to a damp feeling 49 degrees Sunday night so there was much layering of clothing that was put on and then taken off as Monday heated up. I think I started out Monday riding with bike shorts, tights, sweatpants, t-shirt, base-layer, fleece shirt and windbreaker. I ended up only wearing bike shorts, t-shirt, and arm warmers.

Our total round trip ended up being 103 miles. The extra miles on Sunday were due to construction we ran into in two spots and VERY badly marked bike path detours. Most of our riding was on regional or state bike trails through the woods, with a few jaunts on county roads and through neighborhoods. Most of the trail was paved, with a few stretches of crushed limestone. It was a beautiful ride with a combination of thick trees, wild flowers, meadows, and wetlands where we saw deer, herons, hawks, and wild turkeys with their babies.

bicycle path through tunnel

Google maps told us the ride would take about four hours… try seven. I guess they didn’t add in the bathroom, food, water, photography, look at maps and try to figure out where the hell you are and which direction you should go, and the plain old “rest and stretch” stops.

The weight on the rear of my bike was around thirty-three pounds and there was maybe five pounds in my handlebar bag. Steve carried about seven pounds more on his bike. This was actually a light load compared to what I’ve seen people post that they carry on their bikes. Of course, most of those people are not in their very late fifties.

bicycle bridge through marsh

We knew the weight would make a difference in how the bikes felt but I didn’t realize how much difference until I tried to standup and pedal to power up a hill and felt my bike’s back end shimmying back and forth — I quickly sat back down.

Even small inclines seemed to require gear changes as the weight pulled at the bike, especially towards the end of the ride, when we were more tired. A few hills I got off and pushed and pulled my bike, which may have been more work than riding, but I needed to give my knees a break.

Neither Steve or I have actual “touring bikes.” My bike is a hybrid, all aluminum bike and Steve’s is an aluminum road bike with a carbide fork. My wheels have more spokes than Steve’s do, which I’ve read is a good thing for touring. I plan to ask more experienced people to see if there’s anything we can do to make our bikes more suitable for carrying a load. Neither of our bikes are built to have racks put on the front, although there are racks out there for bikes with front suspension, like mine.

What might help even more than changes to our bikes is more long distance rides on weekends to build up those leg muscles!

So would I do it again? Definitely!

bicycle on bridge over lake

dog on patio

dog on patio

I am gardening on a tight budget this year. Everything planted in the pots and raised beds came from home grown seedlings, except for a few hard to grow herbs. There aren’t too many actual “flowers” in the mix. I do hope to add some alyssum later for a little bit of frill.

container gardening

I can’t take credit for creating a garden plan, growing the seedlings, or getting much of the garden in — that was mainly Steve’s effort. I swooped in on Sunday to fill some pots and find homes for orphan plants that looked like they might get tossed otherwise. I have a thing about finding homes for the unwanted.

(and for overexposing photos on cloudy days)

container gardening container gardening


Since putting in a backyard pond last year,


Steve had to move the raised beds over to the far left on the lot and work on putting up new fencing to keep the dogs away from the plants. We used some leftover chainlink and are still deciding what can be scrounged up to finish up the ends and make cuter gates. Chicken wire will have to do for now.

raised beds

Thank goodness the perennials are thriving. In fact, I think they are evolving into some kind of jungle.

chicken coop and shed chicken coop and shed

Sunday’s garden plunge was a much needed break from the things I’ve been busy with — much of which feels like misdirection and deadends.

“It’s all part of the process.”

“It takes time.”

True, but what it feels like is a whole lot of work with nothing to show for it.

Which leads me back to gardening. Digging your hands repeatedly into dirt and doing transplants as delicate as any surgeon (actually, I’m a bit rough with my plants, it toughens them up) does seem to put things back into perspective.

My father told me once that he liked to do things like weed or put up a book shelf because you can so plainly see the results. What I’ve been doing lately doesn’t seem to have visible, clear-cut evidence that I can point at and say, “Yup, that’s what I did today.”

dog by pond

Gardening is different, although the young, small plants we put into pots barely break up the blackness of the dirt they are planted in. It’s tempting to fill the pot, so it looks good right now, rather than being patient and giving the plants a chance to grow and fill out. But if you give into that temptation and over plant, the pot will become too crowded. The plants will compete for space, and some won’t get enough light or room to thrive.

container gardening

And so it is with building a dream. I realized that some of the things I think are opportunities that are going to draw me closer to my goal are actually too many plants in my pot.

Once I’m done with a couple things I already committed to, I’m cutting back. I pledge to fight the urge to run after the next pretty shiny thing that catches my eye.

Unless it’s a flower or a dog.



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