The Five Top Stories of 2020 on Marie’s Meanderings

If you’re reading this, you survived the year that was 2020. I won’t offer any inane or overused platitudes about this year. We all know how it went. While I did write a few posts about the coronavirus and other 2020 disasters, everyone else was, too. So, I tried to keep my topics unique and personal. My most-popular list reflects that. Here are the five top posts from this year, along with a couple of overall popular posts since I started this blog seven years ago.

But first – a couple of more numbers: views almost doubled again this year, with 27,960. My blog has about 520 followers. Thank you, followers. I value you all!

A girl makes friends with an Ojibwe horse at Quetico Provincial Park in Canada.

#1 Revisiting my Horse Mania – This is a relatively recent post (from November) where I reminisce about the love of horses I developed a child. I was able to revisit my passion as I researched and photographed a story in Canada for Lake Superior Magazine about a rare and endangered breed, the Ojibwe horse (also known as Lac La Croix Indian Ponies). My story, “The Horses Nobody Knows” describes how the breed was saved from extinction in the 1970s, and what the horses mean to the Ojibwe people today. The story is only available in the printed magazine (Dec-Jan issue) right now, but the magazine intends to post it online in Feb 2021. I’ll try to remember to post a link here once it’s up.

#2 Bog Birding Bust – This story’s high ranking surprised me because it’s about something that DIDN’T happen. After years of anticipation, I finally went to a local bog that’s a legendary birdwatching site. I hardly saw anything! So, this post was a lesson in the worst time to see birds in the Sax-Zim Bog in northern Minnesota. I guess failure is sometimes much more interesting than success.

#3 That Time I Organized a Sea Lamprey Taste Test – This was a trip down memory lane from when I worked for Minnesota Sea Grant in the late 1990s. We received funding for a demonstration project to determine whether there was an overseas market for a Great Lakes invasive pest – the sea lamprey. To promote the project, I organized a media event, which included a taste test by local luminaries, including the university chancellor, the mayor, etc. The event was a hit – leading to national and international stories. The project was also a hit, until further testing showed the lamprey were too high in mercury for safe consumption. So, it turns out, despite my concerns at the outset, I did a darn good job of promoting something that can contaminate people.

#4 The Many Faces of Buddy – As if this year wasn’t sucky enough, my dog (who was a frequent contributor to this blog) died. To know Buddy was to love him. We still keenly feel his sudden loss.

#5 A Mini-Minnesota Vacation: Lake Vermilion State Park – Despite travel restrictions, Russ and I were able to meander around a bit, close to home in our Scamp trailer. One of the first trips we took was to a new state park in northern Minnesota. Read my post for some pros and cons.

Overall, my blog’s most popular posts continue to be a tongue-in-cheek story I wrote about writer’s bumps (17,300 views this year!) and another about how crappy Iams dog food is.

Best wishes to you all in 2021. May your coronavirus vaccinations come quickly and with few side effects.

The Year in Blogging, 2018


The image from my most popular post of 2018. No, I am not flipping you off! Photo by Jak of the Mast Cells & Collagen Behaving Badly blog.

Traffic to my blog continues to grow slowly. Part of the slowness is because I don’t have a lot of time to visit other blogs and court their owners’ readership of mine. I am too busy living life and writing about it! But at least my readership isn’t shrinking.

In 2018, more than 7,100 people visited my blog and it had over 8,900 views.

Here are the three most popular stories I wrote this year, plus the most popular overall:

#1 Writer’s Bumps: An Endangered Condition? – My, my, my, but many people have mysterious bumps on their hands! I had no idea. I wrote this post as a joke because I thought that the cushioning bump that grows on writers’ middle fingers when they hold a pencil was going out of style in this age of computer keyboards. Apparently not! Almost every day someone finds my story because they are wondering what the heck that thing is on their finger.

#2 Echoes of the Past: A Sneak Peek Into the Hotel Chequamegon – I had the chance to stay in an historic hotel in Ashland, Wisconsin, for a writing contest reading I gave last winter. I wrote a review of my stay. Hardly anyone else has written reviews, so I suspect that’s why people who are interested in the hotel are finding it.

#3 A Visit to the Tallest Waterfall in Minnesota – A friend and I visited High Falls in Grand Portage State Park last winter and lived to tell the tale, which involved slippery footing and some harmless trespassing.

The most popular post during my six years of blogging is one I wrote in 2017 about a bad experience my dog had with his food. It involved some sleuthing and label reading on my part. To think, I almost didn’t write it, but then went ahead because I hoped others might find the information useful. I guess my hunch was correct.

Iams Dog Food Alert!—This story’s popularity is unfortunately because many dogs other than mine have had bad reactions to the sneaky changes this company made in the recipe of their dog food. I wish it wasn’t so popular, but more and more people keep finding it though searches. I am glad the story is providing them with answers, but sorry to hear that their dogs are having problems.

Thank you again for meandering with me, and Happy New Year wherever you may be . . .

The Year in Blogging, 2017


This was my favorite image from 2017. I took it at the beginning of the March for Science, which happened in Duluth, Minn. I call it “Standing Strong for Science.”

My fifth year as a blogger has come to a close. I hear in the blog-o-sphere that such longevity is unusual. Most bloggers only maintain their efforts for a year or two. What can I say?  I keep doing it because I keep coming up with stories to tell and places to visit. I don’t have any goals other than sharing my stories. Well, there might be a bit of book promotion in there, but I try to keep that to a minimum. Oh, and there’s also that time I tried to save my job, but more about that later…

In 2017, my blog saw the most traffic so far. It had over 4,500 visitors and over 6,100 views. I’m sure part of that is because there’s more content so my blog shows up in more searches, but I’d also like to think it’s because people find what I have to say of interest and of use.

I’m sure if I was active on more social media channels, I could up those numbers. But upping numbers is not my goal, it’s just a nice side-benefit of telling stories.

Here are the most popular stories for the year:

# 1 Why Sea Grant is a Kick Ass Program (And Not Just Because I Work There) – This was my plea for people to contact their congressional representatives to save the federal program that employs me. The post got shared widely among my colleagues and friends, and guess what? It worked! We all still have our jobs with an organization that works to study and protect one of our most basic requirements of survival: water.

Not only was this post the most popular for 2017, but for the entire time I’ve been blogging.

Congress ignored the President’s budget cut for us, and even gave us a little bit of a raise. It’s nice to know that your country values you. Alas, the president has zeroed out our budget once again for next year, but I’m not freaking out because the Sea Grant leadership suspects that congress will keep us in the budget as before.

Anyway, thank you for the support you all provided!! It means a lot.

#2 Iams Dog Food Alert!—This story didn’t take off right away like the Sea Grant one did. Its popularity is unfortunately based on the fact that many dogs other than mine have had bad reactions to the sneaky changes this company made in the recipe of their dog food. This is one story I wish wasn’t popular, but more and more people keep finding it though searches. I am glad the story is providing them with answers, but sorry that their dogs are having problems.

#3 Minnesota Singer/Songwriter Jacob Mahon – This is a short post that I whipped out in about 10 minutes after seeing a new Duluth-based musician. I suspect part of its appeal is that it was short and to the point, plus the guy is good! The story was shared by several people, which helped lead to its popularity. Go Jacob!

#4 and #5 The Lake, it is Said, Never Gives Up Her Dead and Remembering Black Sunday in Duluth – I group these two together because they are about the same topic, and because they follow each other in popularity. Fifty years ago, three of my cousins drowned in Lake Superior. The stories are about the incident and a special ceremony that was held on the lake in their honor and to remember the people who tried to rescue them. They serve as a reminder of how powerful this lake can be.

#6 Challenge: Describe Your Community in One Word – This story, which I wrote in 2014, describes the efforts of myself and a friend to find one word that describes the people who make up Duluth, Minnesota. I’ve noticed that this story pops up in a lot of searches, especially from the Philippines. I suspect there’s a school teacher there who is giving his/her students the assignment of coming up with one word for their city or country. My blog has probably been plagiarized for many a school paper, but that’s okay with me!

Thank you for meandering with me, and Happy New Year wherever you may be . . .

Marie’s Meanderings in Review – 2016



My favorite photo of the year: The Moray Coast of Scotland.

Hello blogging friends. As I complete my fourth year of blogging, I am still amazed by the geographic reach of the visitors to Marie’s Meanderings. It tickles me to start the day knowing that someone in Swaziland or Moldova read my blog.

The reach of my stories continues to slowly grow. In 2016, more than 4,000 people from 100 countries viewed my blog. My homeland of the U.S. had the most viewers, with the United Kingdom second, which may have something to do with my series of stories about my trip to Scotland this year.

Here are the five top posts for 2016:

Invisible Gold Medals for Mom
Maybe I should feel insecure that my most popular post was not written by me. It was a posthumous guest post written by my father as a tribute to my mother for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I lost both my parents this year, and telling their story in my father’s words was much more comforting than writing something myself. The story was shared among my relatives, which accounts for some of its popularity.

How I Fought for my Mole
I suspect this 2015 story about a skin care treatment I underwent is so popular because people are actually searching for information on how to rid themselves of fuzzy moles – not on their faces, but in their back yards. (The animal kind of moles.) The story describes how I decided to keep my facial mole, despite the best efforts of the skin care technician to dissuade me. (I’m still glad I kept it, BTW.) But the story could also be popular because a lot of people are considering having the same facial treatment I had.

The World’s Largest Freshwater Sandbar
This is where I use science to explode the popular myth that Minnesota Point and Wisconsin Point in Duluth make up The World’s Largest Freshwater Sandbar. Close, but no cigar. And I guess a lot of other people need the facts about this one because it pops up in searches a lot.

How I got a Job at Mayo Clinic
The venerable Mayo Clinic is one of the largest employers in Minnesota. I worked for them for a year a few years ago, and this story describes how I got the job. The story was shared among my former Mayo colleagues, and many people find it through searches. I suppose they want a job at Mayo, too.

The Rachel Files: Week 7 and the Real Cost of Toilet Paper
This is a perennial favorite that’s been a top story since I began blogging in 2013. It’s popular mostly for its image: a sad-faced toilet into which someone is throwing toilet paper. The toilet paper has a big red X across it. But it’s also popular among people searching for information about excessive toilet paper use. I once lived with a roommate who had this problem, and the story is about how we addressed the issue and how much it cost to have my plumbing repaired. I have mixed feelings about the popularity of this tale, but will keep it up as a service to the world and for people who need an image to post in their bathrooms.

I plan to continue blogging in 2017 as long as the ideas keep coming. Thank you for meandering with  me!

This Blog: A Retrospective


I’ve been writing this blog for well over a year now, and it feels time for a retrospective. I didn’t want to do it in January because every other blogger was doing that, and I’ve never been one to follow the crowd. Besides, with the spring thaw, it finally feels like a new season and a safe time to look back.

I started this blog in late January 2013 to keep my creativity alive through a record-cold winter and as a way to escape the mental and physical cage such cold presents. But I also began it because I wanted a more personal outlet for my writing – one where I was freer to express myself and describe some of the weird things that happen. My day job (of science writing) and my night job (of novel writing) don’t always allow for that.

I did not start this blog to make friends (although that is a nice side-effect) or to inspire legions. If that were the case, I’d have more than 76 followers and 3,000 views. Actually, I do have a rather devoted following among my Facebook friends, which is where I get most of my feedback and conversations about the stories. For that I am grateful and appreciative. It’s always nice to know someone is paying attention! Between Facebook and my blog followers, each story has the potential to reach 240 people.

Although most of my readers are from the U.S., I’m amazed by the foreigners who find this blog. Word Press (my blog hosting platform) offers a statistics page where bloggers can see the countries of origin that have visited their site and which stories are popular. Every few weeks my son puts up with reports like, “Someone from Serbia visited my blog today.” He just rolls his eyes. But the tally is impressive: Portugal, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, Australia, the Philippines, India, Lithuania, Ireland, etc.

The most popular posts have been:

Living for the Dead, where I wrote about former friend Matt Link after going to a presentation about him. I think its popularity is because his father and stepmother shared the story on Facebook, and they have a large following.

Cold as a Cage, was my first entry, which I shared widely by email and Facebook to publicize the start of my blog.

Minnesota Nice Meets Hollywood, which was based on a church sermon that I shared with my fellow-church-goers through Facebook.

Why I’m Giving up Bottled Water, is popular perhaps because many others are considering doing the same thing, and they found my story through web searches.


Old Wood: A Love Story, Part 1 and Part 2, which told the story of some local folks who were on the television series Ax Men last year. Every time the show aired, people did a slew of web searches for their names, and my blog popped up.

I intend to continue Marie’s Meanderings for the time being. It’s fun and it doesn’t take much time. I hope you are enjoying it, too. Please feel free to comment. Since I am so famous and important now (smirk), it might take me a day or two to reply, but I am paying attention.

Thank you.