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.

Monday, December 31, 2012

The Long Tail of Willy Big...

 The Long Tail of Willy Big…how he was once Willy Little and was always Willy Soft, Willy Sweet, and Willy Good. He just got Willy Old and it was his time to go. He will be so missed by those who loved him. July (?) 1997-December 30, 2012

Portrait of Willy Big

Willy Big with his older brother Fatty Woo Hobbes
Tiggy-Pooh loved his buddy Willy Big
Willy Big, son of the feral tortoise shell barn kitty, Miss Charlotte, half-brother to Fatty Woo Hobbes, cousin to Crouching Tigger-Hidden Pooh (aka Tiggy-Pooh), and good friend of Max, Charlie, Popeye, and Butters passed away after a long life on Sunday, 12/30/2012 at 11:37PM, he was 15 years old. Predeceased by Miss Charlotte (disappeared in 1999), his litter brother B.B., (hit by a car in 1998), his litter sister, Miss Molly (RF, 2004), and his older half-brother, Fatty Woo Hobbes (old age, 2012).
The Big Three on the bed
Looking outside...all three together
When you have a multiple cat household there’s certain personalities who demand attention (even if it’s bad attention) all the time…and then there are those quiet individuals who are like little ghosts, you don’t see them, and sometimes the question pops out “Have you seen…?” Willy Big was always a quiet, pensive fellow, he had the manner of a poet, and he had a rich rumbling purr. He had exquisitely plush smoky gray fur with four white paws, a blazing white bib and fluffy white belly, a small white stripe in between his green eyes and a white tip at the very end of his tail. It is the legend, that when they were passing out the white markings, he got the tip of his tail mixed up with his paws and dipped it in the white marking bucket.

Willy Little in the middle, siblings George on left, Miss Molly on right, August 3, 1997
Back before he was “Big”, when he was Willy Little as a wee kitten, he was discovered one August Sunday morning cautiously toddling out from under a wood pile by our shed. He was born to a feral tortoise-shell lady named Miss Charlotte late summer of 1997. He was a bitty fellow, smaller than a grape leaf on the vine that twined around their little home; fuzzy gray with white markings, including a few white hairs at the pointy tip of his tail, and his pale cornflower blue eyes had blurry vision at best, he hissed at me when we first met, but soon enough we became friends. Then at the tender age of 6-8 weeks old, he had one of those nasty maggots living underneath his skin in his side and we had to run him to the vet on a chilly Sunday morning, and after a bit of finagling, the critter was removed from his side and he, along with his four wee litter mates (five total, four boys and one girl) were put into our studio so that he could recover…Miss Charlotte, was nowhere to be found for a few days, but suddenly returned, waiting at the door, she chose to come inside to nurse her kittens, and then leave as soon as she was done (funny how she knew right where they were being kept.) As we were dispersing the litter to any takers, I insisted on keeping Willy...as I paid a pretty price for having that grub removed from him, I wasn’t going to part with him willingly. Willy recovered from his trauma, and grew to be Willy Big.

The Long View of Willy Big...
Willy Big had a wonderful life...my most favorite memory...on Christmas Day, many years ago, Willy caught a cherry pie that he found on the stove…when my mom and I came out to prepare dessert, we discovered him, coveting the pie on the floor, it was still firmly wrapped in foil and saran, and he was growling at the other curious kitty cats who wanted a piece of that pie…but Willy was very proud of his catch, and did not want to share it with them…we were pleased that not a crumb was touched and no damage done…my mother famously said: “We won’t say anything about it, he didn’t get into it.” After that, she’d always inquire “How is Mr. Cherry Pie?” These last few days, I’ve talked to him about his greatest catch, and he’d purr...
On my writing table by the window...
He was always a dramatic sleeper…
A very soft and plush bit o' belly fuzz!

...sprawling in interesting positions...
One basket wasn't enough...he needed to spill into the second...

Willy sleeping with the dog's toy piggy
…somewhat undignified...
Why do the biggest think they can fit in small boxes?

 ...for one so solemn and proper.

Waiting...so patiently...easily mistaken for a plush toy...

...our quiet, sensitive little boy had a sense of humor whether he knew it or not...he was my little buddy...and he loved to watch television in the living room beyond the French doors (the cat free zone), snuggled on any available lap...

Such Pretty Green Eyes

Willy Big, who was once Willy Little, and then later became, Willy Old...he had many names...
A Willy Big baby in the high chair...

Mr. Cherry Pie
The Little Hippo (just because of the funny way he would run...)
Bunny Feet
Willy White Whiskers (Willy White Tip, Willy White Mittens, etc...)
Willy Soft
Willy Quiet
Mr. Plush
Mr. Pensive
Willy Mouse (or The Mouse...he was a very good mouser...it wasn't just Cherry Pies he could catch!)
Willy the Gray
The Poet
The Thundercloud (the rumbling purr)
Dust Kitty (or Dust Ball, or Dust Bunny)

On Thanksgiving, Willy was "helping" me find my dust cloth by being the dust kitty caught in it...
Sleeping in the sunshine for the last time. 12/30/2012

the Willy White Tip...and a Willy White Sock...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Members of my family...

circa 1900, we think this is my mom's father, Gordon VanDusen...back when jumpers were the rage for little boys and girls alike...what a little sweetpea!

I've been working on organizing and scanning the family photographs...I grab a few and do some...it is a little bit addicting...it's too bad so many have no dates, no names, but some I recognize just because they're unforgettable faces...
This interesting postcard is of a shirttail relative, Albert Young a funeral director and licensed embalmer in Williamson NY, Yes, he embalmed his dog "Spot".

Gordon VanDusen on a jackass... (his word choice)
a baby taking a bath...could be Gordon...
My Aunt Mimi with her horse Ginger and Great Uncle Leslie VanDusen (Gordon's brother)

Mimi and Janie VanDusen (Janie is my mom.)
Mimi was a ballerina...studied in NYC with Martha Graham, and tried out with the Rockette's but was too short to be one of the dancers at the end of the line...
Janie was a beauty queen...c 1949

This must be Hazel May (Brewer) VanDusen, no date, my mother's mom

Sylvia Demaris (Woodworth) Farnsworth...this would be my great-great granny...Hazel's granny

The Pritchetts...Gordon's mother's folks

my great-uncle Charles Brewer (Hazel's little brother)

my great aunt Mabel, (Hazel's little sister)
Hazel and Gordon VanDusen on Janie's Wedding Day

 Lovely photos...I'm really enjoying seeing these treasures and taking care of them...

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Altered Environments

Opens tomorrow, 10/10/2012- 
reception on Friday night 10/12/2012!!

I've been pretty busy painting for the last couple of weeks...and I did battle with a very annoying cold that was a bit of a head-ringer...but I'm getting better every day...naturally I had an FMS flare-up at the same time, so that was so DANDY! (Oh, wait, you don't feel shitty enough, here...let's turn on the "trash compactor" and see what happens...ARGH!)

Nothing like napping and taking hot baths whenever I felt like it for a few days...

After this flurry of creativity to prepare paintings for this new exhibition (take a peek over at Follow Your Bliss to see the paintings I've made recently), I'm looking forward to a little bit of down time so I can get back to editing Drinking from the Fishbowl...it seems I need to back track a few chapters to regain my focus...which is okay, I did a little bit more work on chapter 18 last week so I'm very happy to go back and take another look at what I've done so far and hopefully tickle a few words here and there to my satisfaction...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tribute to Fatty-Woo Hobbes, 1997-2012

Oh so round, so firm, so fully packed!

Who is that handsome kitty in the mirror? Hobbes very often visited his reflection and would sit staring at himself, purring very loudly....
There is an empty space in our family, our beloved friend Fatty-Woo Hobbes passed away on Wednesday night (9/26) from natural causes, he went peacefully in his sleep surrounded by his family who loved him well, he was the son of the wild tortoise-shell barn cat, named Charlotte and an unnamed yellow tom cat, he was 15 years old. 
Feed me.

I will never forget the first sight I had of him...you see, across the road there is a collection of old barns from long ago when our house was part of a large dairy farm, when we first moved to our acre of the world, we would've like to have bought the property over there, but the family was asking for more than we could afford...there was a fellow renting the place, he had two Belgian horses and two young Holstein bulls and as barns tend to collect there were a multitude of cats...every year there were kittens trailing along behind their mothers, the associated tom cats leaving their calling cards squirted on our door. Two years later, I noted the new batch of kittens in the spring, a pale creamy tabby toddling around under the hooves of the big Belgians; he stood out bright amongst the gray and tortie siblings following their mother around. By late summer the fellow and his horses and bulls moved on and we discovered the cats abandoned..."They're not mine, they came with the place." he said. Fair enough. In the meantime, it was August, and wee kittens with blue eyes just opened tumbled out from a pile of wood on our acre, their mother was the tortie of the brood we spied in the spring. The cream-colored tabby kitten leading his three sisters came a calling at our door a few days later, hungry. Naturally, we fed them, the little boy, put a paw on his wee sister's head and pushed her out of the dish...not very nice, but he was bigger than the girls were and it was his instinct to see to himself. We attempted to tame the girls, but only the boy made himself at home...christened Hobbes after a Sunday funnies tiger, he became part of our family by settling into the first available lap, "Hi, I'm here, feed me." His sweet nature won us over in no time...there was not a mean bone in his body. His fur a soft blend of cream and pale gold swirls, and his eyes were a stunning dark amber, nearly brown.
Out for a walk...

He lived a long life and earned many additional names...Fatty-Woo was added to his name as he grew into his fat tabby glory later in life...but he also went by...the Sunshine Kitty, Little Golden Boy, Button-eyed Schmoo, the Comfort Kitty, Tubby Tabby, Mr. Peaches n' Cream, Mr. Floppy, the Goldfish, the Pachyderm, The Kitty, Sack of Potatoes, Blubby Belly, Dumpling, Doopie-Do-Woo, Little Fellow Wearing Yellow...

Coming home for dinner

He even had a little song...Fatty Tabby, four by four, couldn't fit through the litter box door, so he fell on the floor and said "Meow, I want to eat some more!"
Help, I've rolled over and can't get up.

He was certainly a character as all cats can be and we all have our favorite stories. When he was neutered in the fall, the little guy came home still dopey from the anesthesia, and tried to cram himself into the warm grate of the heater to get warm and kept falling off, so I tucked him into my apron to keep him warm and safe, I cooked dinner with him there, and he was perfectly content to be there. Such a sweet little boy. Although his litter mates were wild and dispersed outside, he became perfectly content to be big brother to the little ones from his mother's second litter, they clearly adored having a big brother to play with, to pile onto a bed or in a chair with and snuggle in a pile of purring. Hobbes had the best purr. He became known as the "comfort kitty" because that magical purr could calm the storms of various sadness’s over the years...
Basking on the driveway

I remember one summer day, I called in the kitties to come inside for dinner, and couldn't find Hobbes, I went up into the barn loft looking for him, but he was not there, I looked out the window overlooking the field and saw way off in the distance a little golden spot moving around on the fresh mowed clover field. I called out "Hobbes, where's my boy?" The little golden spot stopped, looked...I swear I could see those dark amber eyes look right at me. I called again, "Here kitty kitty kitty! Hobbes, where's my boy!" The little golden spot started to run home, and run and run and run and run. I watched him run until he reached the weedy spot behind the barn so then I came down from the loft and met him at the driveway, he flopped down on the pavement panting like a little dog—all out of breath and happy, he smelled delightful, sunny and sweet. He always came home for dinner...never late. He loved to eat...and eat. He became very fat in his middle age, tipping the bathroom scale at 16 lbs at his tubbiest. We put him on a diet once he became so fat he couldn't reach his butt-hole to clean it. (Yes, that was gross...and earned the unfortunate nickname Fat n’ Smelly Sumo Kitty.) We fed him his portions of breakfast and dinner in the living room, separated from his younger siblings and others. He also liked the dog food too so we had to make sure everyone was done eating before letting him out. He was so patient. Sitting in a little bunch, waiting to be let out...sometimes forgotten...little dark amber button-eyes staring out through the glass panes of the French doors, waiting patiently, then scooped up and cuddled once found there, always a good boy.

Sleeping hard.

Hobbes loved his boy...our son...he loved going into his room, and was observed on more than one occasion, standing outside 'his boy's’ room pushing at the closed door with his head, patiently pushing, pushing, pushing...the old farmhouse doors are rarely shut tight, so this patient little cat would push with his head like a pachyderm...
The Big Three looking out the window

He loved his buddies Willy Big (his little brother from the late summer litter) and Tiggy-Pooh (we assume is a cousin, with the likelihood of sharing the same father, arrived in a litter the following year.) The three little old men would spend many winter nights on the bed by the woodstove, sleeping in a pile like kittens, tails and paws intertwined, heads pillowed on bellies, back to back, sometimes butt to butt in a pin-wheel formation...cuddled cheek-to-cheek.
Hobbes on the bed with Tiggy-Pooh and Willy Big...and the dog's toys

Woo and Pooh
Yes, this is the dog's bed...so what about it? There's room if he wants to join us.
Barely enough room for a fat tabby, one dog and a bear
His last days were rougher on us than him as he slept most of the time, he patiently waited for me to come see to him, give him his special dinners and breakfasts, fuss over him, and most of all, love him. Although we were prepared for this loss, it is never easy to lose one so beloved...I knew a year ago that his time was short, and in spite of my doubts, I promised him one more summer and that I'd do everything in my power to get him through one more Upstate New York winter on our hilltop acre so he could spend one more summer with the sunshine in his fur...

A summer morning stroll (7/5/2012)
I kept my promise and he lived one more year, I knew that I couldn’t get any more than that—it was his time—with the darkness coming on earlier, and the chill creeping in at night, he decided it was time to go and so we sadly said our goodbyes and waited, he took his last breath, and passed quietly in his sleep. He will be missed by all who loved him.

The Last Photo, Soaking up some sunshine, 9/16/2012