Welcome to my blog Upstate Girl, (a.k.a Follow Your Bliss Part II), I am an independently published author. This blog is all about writing and the stuff that inspires me to write, the joys and obstacles that come along with the writer's life, and my fascination with the psychology of people and what makes them tick...the human condition, as is...and my love for words, playing with them and making sense of them...and I throw in a few photos from my acre of the world just to make things pretty...sometimes there are things I have no words for, only pictures will do.

*Copyright notice* All photos, writing, and artwork are mine (
© Laura J. Wellner), unless otherwise noted, please be a peach, if you'd like to use my work for a project or you just love it and must have it, message me and we'll work out the details...it's simple...JUST ASK, please.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

An end of an era, Crouching Tigger-Hidden Pooh 1998-2017



One of the best of tabbies I’ve known passed away in the early morning of March 5th. God speed old friend, we will miss you, but we’re sure to meet again someday. At first, he was just named Tigger, because it was easy to name a ginger cat with stripes after the bouncy-pouncy lovable tiger from the world of Winnie-the-Pooh. We also called him Tiggy for short. At least, the record at the vet’s office said that was his name when we brought him there for his first shots and then to be neutered. It felt foreign to us when they insisted on calling him “Tigger” when we brought him by for the various things over the years, because his name evolved beyond the initial christening out of necessity...you see, when he was born, it was the year of the "Horrible Horde" - the litter of 1998. (Actually there were three litters, three feral mom cats, plus the remaining roamers from the litter of 1997, and our original three we brought with us when we moved from the city to the country, there were thirty cats out there - yes, 3-0, 30!) But I digress... we had noticed that he would "coo" a lot and it sounded like he said “Pooh!” So his name melded to Tiggy-Pooh, and then his full name became Crouching Tigger-Hidden Pooh, which we ripped off from an episode of Whose Line is it Anyway? Funny, isn’t it? Tiggy-Pooh, Tiggy-bug, Pooh-bug, Burbles, Pooh-wow, Meer-meer, little fellow wearing yellow, Mellow Yellow, Bumblebee…some of the many names he was called over the years. Mostly he was Pooh or Tiggy, whatever name came to the lips when talking to or about him, he responded to both.

His passing is an end of an era because he is the last of the litter of 1998. The remaining four former wandering paws are all drop offs that arrived after 2002, and one came from the city that my son brought home one day. (I really need to compile these cat tales into a book someday.)



 
He was a catnip addict...but what cat isn't?



 Nineteen years ago Pooh was squirming around inside his mommy’s belly—she was Calico. (It’s what we ended up calling the little wild mamma cat. She was very sweet. She eventually came inside to live with us when the winter came and she decided she had had enough being wild.) His father, probably the ginger and white tomcat who never stuck around to be named, but his calling card lingered on our screen door letting us know he had passed through. The last time I saw him, he looked rough like he had been in a fight, he still had enough grit to look at me over his shoulder with a foul stink-eye that I knew to leave be. The classic old country Tom cat, big round head, scrawny and brawny, busy fighting and fucking, scratching fleas, and catching a fur-covered snack-pack for a meal. 



Calico brought around her little brood of six kittens to our side of the road—they were born in Bill’s barn on the other side of the road, that deadly broad piece of asphalt—there were six of them, cluttered underneath the lilac bushes on Memorial Day weekend, wary of people, hissing and running away, skittish. A black and white tuxedo kitten, one solid gray, two gray with white mittens and tums, and two ginger tabbies with white mittens and tums, Tiggy-Pooh was one of them. It’s amazing that I can still remember each one. All boys. I watched Calico teach them to wait at the end of the driveway, look and listen before crossing the road. They’d tumble along after her when she knew it was safe. When we were giving away kittens that year, one of the neighbors came by to look at them, Tiggy-Pooh, his twin brother, and one of Charlotte’s little gray and white girls (Mittens) were left. The twin was chosen, Tiggy-Pooh was too shy. Mittens, although the lady thought she was very beautiful, felt she was too freaked out, and was not at all cuddly. It was a relief to find a home for one of the six. The others died by car, coyote, or just disappeared without a trace. One little gray kitten I gave to two people out for a walk, and he was a tiny guy, and was hanging around down by the mailbox, and since I heard them  talking pretty to him, and I said “You want him, he’s free.” Who knows how his life turned out. I have to hope it was fine. (They didn’t try to return him.)



 
Willy Big and Tiggy-Pooh
The Big Three...Fatty Woo Hobbes, Tiggy-Pooh, and Willy Big



Pooh has had a good long life—I figured his birth happened in April for him to be toddling around by Memorial Day, his eyes were already changing to the gold/green, so considering that, he was a passenger 19 years ago in his pretty calico mamma’s fuzzy belly, he’s been with us a very long time... I remember seeing her trotting down the snowy driveway one day, her belly so round, I scooped her up, and felt the kittens in there. As I sat watching the light leave his eyes, I thought about his friends who have gone before him, and how he would mourn their passing, carrying his tail low behind him, almost as if it was broken. I even Googled it, wondering if it were a strange symptom for something I’ve never seen before. Having as many cats as I’ve had in the last twenty + years, I’ve seen a lot of things. No. He was grieving in his own way. His tail was always expressive, and it was his buddy. He loved his tail. He’d hug with it. 
Pooh and Max
 He always had to touch, if his paws didn’t reach, he’d use his tail to touch a buddy sleeping near him on the bed. If two cats were sleeping on the bed separately, he’d insert himself in between the two and would have to touch them both.

This is Max's bed, always covered in cats, especially the Big Three.
 
Pooh with Charlie...and my shoes (I didn't need them.)
He knows how it works, he just doesn't have thumbs.



 He loved begging to go outside, he’d rattle the doorknob, touch it with his front paws, sometimes even wrap his paws around it—he knew how it worked (if only he had thumbs!) If any cat deserved to have thumbs, he did. We’re certain that he had blue prints and volumes of notes regarding his theories about how the doorknob worked. He was a smart little fellow. He also recited his Pooh-ems, his most famous ones were Singing for My Supper, Nite-Nite Snack!, and the rollicking I Want to Go Outside.





 He loved popcorn. (Pooh corn) Trust me, he didn't contemplate that for very long.

September 2016, an outing on a sunny morning
 He passed away after I went to bed around 1AM almost a week ago, I had a feeling he was letting go soon and didn't know if he'd be still with us in the morning. I held his paws, and the little toes curled around my fingers, they were toasty warm, he was nestled in by the woodstove on Max's old bed, and was quietly dozing, making a soft rumbling purr. I had a feeling the light was keeping him awake, and thought maybe he wanted to be left alone. His friend, Charlie, was sleeping next to him, so he wasn't really alone, Charlie had been sticking by him all day, as if he knew that his old friend needed him. I kissed him goodnight, told him that I loved him, his paw curled around my finger. He left us with dignity and on his own terms.




Monday, January 16, 2017

My thoughts regarding "Batsof the Republic" by Zachary Thomas Dodson

A book—a novel—an illuminated novel—an art object. The attention to detail is simply amazing—I’m green with envy and loving it. This is the kind of book that one must take the time to look the spots off it—if you know what I mean—if you don’t you might miss something. It’s magical when a book is so well done, multi-layered like Russian matryoshka dolls and so full of a wealth of the story, a story within a story, within a story—a storytellers book. I will want to read it again before too long. There are many theories about what is real, what is history, there are possibilities of temporal loops—time bending-mind bending—the bats and maps, diagrams, letters, transcriptions, drawings, pictographs, symbols, descriptions, motivations—a sealed envelope inscribed “DO NOT OPEN”, and instructions inside how to read the contents… A book—a novel—an illuminated novel—an art object. It’s all good.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

My thoughts regarding "The Plains" by Gerald Murnane

Twenty years ago, when I first arrived on the plains, I kept my eyes open. I looked for anything in the landscape that seemed to hint at some elaborate meaning behind appearances. (P. 13)

And so it begins…this novel made me think a great deal about our own country—even tho’ I finished reading it well before the 2016 election results were decided, I was already well aware of the division between the coastal, urban areas and the rural areas, especially the open plains. You know, those “fly over” states in the middle—the Great Plains, the “Bread Basket” of the nation, amber waves of grain and all that salt of the earth stuff. I know there are some who look at that part of the USA map and think, “those red state people who love Jesus, take the Bible literally, and don’t believe in evolution.” Whatever. To each his own, they’re not hurting me none, and I mean them no harm. You’d be surprised, we are more than what we seem, more than anyone can imagine. Being from Upstate New York, I’ve seen a similar difference between town and country—Upstate vs. New York City. There are Upstate people who would love to cut off from NYC, many of the “us” up here resent the audacity of those city slickers trying to impose their highfalutin ideas on us simple folk in the great, lake effect, cold, white north—take that as you think best, it can go either way. The people of the Midwest and the people I bump elbows with outside of the realm of the academia bubble in the Upstate regions are pretty much from the same cloth. And they feel left behind, the forgotten America. Even though, I’ll never fit in with them, I do admire them for their honest, hardworking ethics. Even the ones who are a hard scrabble lot who don’t know better, they chronically do dumb things, and wind up doing time in jail for petty nonsense they shouldn’t have done. I always sympathized with the ones on the outside, even if they didn’t understand me at all, the ones who I befriended, tipped their heads with curiosity and gave up on figuring me out. I wasn’t a threat, just different. They’d talk, I’d listen to their stories. For as long as there’s civilization, there will always be differences, factions, groups, and each has their own ideas of how things are, and what is right—or wrong. See…this is what I love about books, they get you thinkin’ about stuff…even if the stuff has little to do with the book, there’s something about reading that turns on the brain to travel in and around…

The plainsman’s heroes, in life and in art, were such as the man who went home every afternoon for thirty years to an unexceptional house with neat lawns and listless shrubs and sat late into the night deciding on the route of a journey that he might have followed for thirty years only to arrive at the place where he sat—or the man who would never take even the one road that led away from his isolated farmhouse for fear that he would not recognize the place if he saw it from the distant vantage points that others used.

There were historians who suggested that the phenomenon of the plains themselves was responsible for the cultural differences between the plainsmen and Australians generally. The exploration of the plains had been the major event in their history. What had at first seemed utterly flat and featureless eventually disclosed a countless subtle variations of landscape and an abundance of furtive wildlife. Trying to appreciate and describe their discoveries, the plainsmen had become unusually observant, discriminating, and receptive to gradual revelations of meaning. Later generations responded to life and art as their forbears had confronted the miles of grassland receding into haze. They saw the world itself as one more in an endless series of plains. (p. 18)

Wow—think about it. Ain’t it beautiful—universal truths and all that—can you dig it? I thought you could.

The same landowner began to describe other influences that he felt late at night in the more remote wings of his house. He sensed sometimes the lingering persistence of forces that had failed—of a history that had almost come into being. He found himself looking into corners for the favourite pieces of the unborn children of marriages that were never made. (P. 23)

I spent some time west of the Mississippi—a friend and I drove 13 ½ hours on Route 10 from Houston to El Paso once, (that was enough.) I saw a changing landscape along the way, from humidity drenched heat to baked desert dry—a big sky, a broad expanse all around with the ribbon of highway cutting through, and then the shimmering haze of distant horizon—the horizon, the future, the place you’re trying to get to—or get away from—depends on how you want to look at it, I guess. I was far from home, and passing through, looking for something outside of myself. I hadn’t written a book yet, but wanted to, I just had to find what I was looking for out there in that horizon—that periwinkle blue future distance.

…the famous ‘tint of the horizon’… what moved them more than wide grasslands and huge skies was the scant layer of haze where land and sky merged in the farthest distance…talking of the blue-green haze as though it was itself a land—a plain of the future, perhaps, where one might live a life that existed only in potentiality on the plains where poets and painters could do no more than write or paint….a landscape that was wholly illusory…the zone of haze was as much a part of the plains as any configuration of soil or clouds…they esteemed the land of their birth for the very reason that it seemed bounded continually by the blue-green veil that urged them to dream of a different plain.(bits n’ pieces stitched together from P.27)

…an “art of the horizon.” (P.29)

Anyone surrounded from childhood by an abundance of level land must dream alternately of exploring two landscapes—one continually visible but never accessible and the other always invisible even though one crossed and recrossed it daily.(P. 36)

This obsession with explorers. Please don’t misunderstand me; it’s a worthy task we’ve undertaken. But that vision of the plains we’re all looking for—let’s remember that the first explorers may not have been expecting plains. And many of them went back to their seaports afterwards. Certainly they boasted of what they had discovered. But the man I want to study is the one who came inland to verify that the plains were just as he’d hoped for. That vision we’re all looking for… (p. 46)

It depends on what you’re looking for—the filmmaker who proposed to make a film about the plains—The Interior—it never happened, at least, not realized in a tangible way that was initially proposed—he was really a writer not a filmmaker, and got caught in the trap of expectation.

…I learned in time that I was considered by a small group to be a film-maker of exceptional promise. When I first heard this, I had been about to reply that my cabinets full of notes and preliminary drafts would probably never give rise to any image of any sort of plain. I had almost decided to call myself poet or novelist …or some other of the many sorts of literary practitioner flourishing on the plains. Yet if I had announced such a change in my profession I might have lost the support of those few people who persisted in esteeming me…A few of these men argued even that the further my researches took me away from my announced aim and the less my notes seemed likely to result in any visible film, the more credit I deserved as the explorer of a distinctive landscape…It suited the purposes of these men that I should continue to call myself a film-maker; that I should sometimes appear at my annual revelation with a blank screen behind me and should talk of the images I might yet display…No one afterwards could point to a single feature of whatever place I stared at. It was still a place out of sight in a scene arranged by someone who was himself out of sight. (bits and pieces stitched together from pages 109-110.)

He came, he saw—he stayed. If he left, something would’ve come of it.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Rumor has it they lived happily ever after...

Drinking from the Fishbowl, 2017

I finished it. Well, it was finished on 12/30/2016then the next day I added that “one more thing,” which you know always happens

So I’m just telling you now, it’s finished.

For the rest of the story...https://laurajwryan.wordpress.com/

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

A Donkey's Tale...

I adopted Eeyore from EBay the week before Christmas...
but he didn't have a tail...so I knew that he'd have a hard time finding a forever home... He effectively breaks my heart every day...I love him!

Poor sweet fellow...I assured his previous owner that I would take very good care of him and make him a new tail...

 When he arrived in my mailbox that cold winter day the week before Christmas, I promised that I'd make him a new tail...a finer tail than he's ever had...

I asked him if he would like to stick with a pink bow, cuz now would be the time to make a change if he so desired...he seemed uneasy about change, so I didn't want to fool with his comfort zone, and found a pink bow that was just right. The one thing I improved on was adding a button...I guess Christopher Robin never thought of securing the tail with something better than that dumb old tack.

 A few quick stitches and it was on!

The moment of truth...does he like it?

YEEEHAAAAA!
That's one happy donkey!

Eeyore gets a new forever home and a new tail...

https://laurajwryan.wordpress.com/2016/12/28/a-donkeys-tale/

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Trespassers Will



I had Donald Trump visit in a dream one night—actually, it was very early in the morning, I had been awake, but went back to sleep. The minute I recognized him, I thought “This isn’t good.” (That’s putting it mildly, but I won’t get into the politics here.) Dreams are odd events, the brain is busy working things out, and my brain has been feeling “already too full” as it is lately. I’m sure the radio turning on and delivering the morning news babble added fuel to this murky muddle...

And it goes like this...

We (my Fred and I) were out walking along a country road, it was a beautiful autumn day, and there he was out for a walk too, suit n’ tie, raincoat, alone. We stopped and greeted him, the polite thing to do here... this is the country road.

“Not much to see here,” he said. “It’s nice, but there’s not much going on.”

“We like it, it’s quiet.” One of us replied.

He pointed to a leaf strewn dirt lane that led into the wooded area alongside the road. (It was pretty down there, whoever owned it kept it well maintained, there were mossy stone walls marking the edges. I imagined it to be a fine place to ride horses, although there were none to be seen, I knew they were around...or had been at one time and their spirits lingered.)  At the entrance of the lane next to a mailbox there stood a wooden sign on a tall post, although weathered by many years of exposure, it clearly stated NO TRESPASSING.

“I think I’ll walk through there,” he said.

“But Mr. Trump, there’s a sign that says ‘no trespassing’, you shouldn’t go there.” One of us said, concerned. The sign was steadfast in its demand for respect. (This is the sort of place that you must be invited to visit.)

He looked at us and smiled, he said. “What are they going to do?” he gestured to himself (in a now familiar way, blustery confidence that nothing will happen because he is who he is...Trump.)

I guess he’ll find out, I thought.

He walked on with a wave and a thumbs up, (so full of confidence that no one will mind that he chose to stroll through their land without an invitation.) We didn’t stop him because we agreed it wouldn’t do any good. I felt sad about it—not for him, but for the one he’s trespassing against. (We were raised to respect other people’s right to privacy—it seems not everyone cares about such things anymore.)

(Back in the day when such things mattered, Dracula knew that he had to be invited inside, but I haven’t kept up with what vampires do these days, so who knows...)

Then I thought, out loud “Cellphone coverage sucks out here.”

Maybe after this he’ll see to that.

I woke up and wondered in my current frame of mind... what the fuck is that shit about?

Yes, that was it...with some parenthetical embellishments necessary to untangle the frustrating murkiness and sensations that are part of dreams—this is what my busy already too full brain came up with while asleep. I rarely remember my dreams.

Why would I dream about this? Other than what this man stands for in my mind, a bully who will take what he wants, he’s all for himself, and doesn’t care who he stomps on along the way—the country road, the two of us, or the private property that he felt entitled to take a stroll through because he is who he is—and my concerns regarding personal space and privacy.

I know I trespassed from time to time in my childhood, little kids do that shit, just cutting through someone’s backyard, through someone’s woods or a pasture to get to where they’re going, being nosy, learning the ways of the world by getting into trouble because of curiosity, learning how to ask for permission rather than asking forgiveness. It’s part of growing up. I tried to be mindful of the land belonging to someone that I should take care, and I shouldn’t wreck it. Things were so simple then...now, not so much. I feel invaded a lot.

This dream also brought me to The World of Pooh, a book I keep on my nightstand for a quiet read...a security blanket of sorts...

Winnie-the-Pooh, Piglet's house (image from The Disney Wiki) From the story In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle

THE Piglet lived in a very grand house in the middle of a beech-tree, and the beech-tree was in the middle of the forest, and the Piglet lived in the middle of the house. Next to his house was a piece of broken board which had: "TRESPASSERS W" on it. When Christopher Robin asked the Piglet what it meant, he said it was his grandfather's name, and had been in the family for a long time. Christopher Robin said you couldn't be called Trespassers W, and Piglet said yes, you could, because his grandfather was, and it was short for Trespassers Will, which was short for Trespassers William. And his grandfather had had two names in case he lost one--Trespassers after an uncle, and William after Trespassers.

"I've got two names," said Christopher Robin carelessly.

"Well, there you are, that proves it," said Piglet.

Well there you are. Maybe I’ll post my sign...Trespassers Will.

And of course, while doing my research, I discovered a band called Trespassers William...and because I love finding new music even if it’s old, I bought one of their records, Different Stars...although they’re no longer together it looks like the former members are still out there making music.

There’s so many layers in life’s journey...so much to learn...so much to see...

That’s my story today, and I’m sticking to it.


This blog is also posted at my Wordpress website...it'd be real sweet of you to stop by there and follow me...