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 16, 2013

Max, the passing of one of the best of good boys


October 20, 1999-December 16, 2013

He had a nice walk this morning, fresh snow (his favorite), and then while he took a nap, I snapped a few photos of him sleeping, such a good dog, the best of good boys. He's been slipping away from me slowly for quite some time, at the most, for two years since we suspected that he had a brain tumor. Other than this suspicion, I've watched the aging process do its thing to my old friend who has been with me since he shyly tip-toed into my yard one spring day twelve years ago, smelling like skunk and needing someone to look after him...a needy type.

His former owners no longer wanted him, they gave him away to us, saying he was an "escape artist"...well, he never ran away from us, we paid attention to him, we didn't forget about him. He was with me every day, I walked him, talked to him, worked in the garden with him nearby, photographed the wonders that I found on our one acre of the world during our walks, and he was there while I wrote my novels in their early drafts, his steady and quiet presence always there, waiting, watching my every move, always patient...he learned that the sound of my thumb drive connecting with my laptop meant that we will be going for a walk soon, so he'd jump up, ears perked and tail wagging.

He loved the snow
sniffing for baby bunnies
 Once the skunk smell cleared off him, he carried the smell of the beach on his fur...a warm sweet smell that I will never forget...he never lost it, he still smelled good even as an old fella...most old dogs don't...

Because of thunderstorms, he would hide in the bathroom, bunching up the rugs to create a bunker for hiding in...

Sniffing for stories

He made doggy snow angels...

He loved his cats...

...and they loved him...Tiggy-Pooh especially...

Max in the daisies...

He really did not like having his picture taken...

...and because of his being so camera shy, I have a lot of pictures of the back of his head...

Watching the world go by...

The best of good boys!
I cannot say enough how much I will miss him...but I've been missing him before he actually left, his dementia took him away from me a little bit at a time...it was rare these last few days that I could see the dog that I knew in his eyes...and it got harder and harder each day to have him know me like he used to...

Rest in peace old friend...

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Storyteller by Mario Vargas Llosa

“After, the men of earth started walking, straight toward the sun that was falling. Before, they too stayed in the same place without moving. The sun, their eye of the sky, was fixed…They were peaceable and without anger. Before the time afterwards…Then why, if they were so pure, did the men of earth begin walking? Because one day the sun started falling. They walked so that it wouldn’t fall any farther, to help it to rise. So Tasurinchi says…That, anyway, is what I have learned— (from pages 37 and 38)

The Machiguenga walked to keep the sun from falling from the sky—the story has variations, and there are many stories about the moon, death, the fireflies, floods, droughts, sickness and the little devils that cause all kinds of troubles, and there is even a Gregor-Tasurinchi metamorphosis story—what a beautiful book, it is joyful, it is sad, it is hopeful—it is a human document. I thoroughly enjoyed myself reading it, a real treat.

Storytelling, what a magical gift—I starved for stories as a child and often made up my own—I was called a liar by other kids who didn’t like it that I told stories that sounded a bit too real, so they must be a lie—and I, a liar. Sometimes, when we’re young, the imagination is a wee bit too overactive and the stories that come from that curious place where they are conceived feel real enough—it’s learning to understand the difference as the creator as well as the receiver of the stories. Ah, fiction—a precious gemstone of many facets –the truth and the lie, the mundane and the adventure, all wound tight together, a thread of thoughts, a word or two of conversation, an observation—a sky, a land, a path to follow through the trees—tree trunks, roots and branches—light and shadow—a sense of place and time, stories occupied by people and their doings.  It’s amazing how stories come together while we’re making them up. Storytelling is a very old tradition—the passing on of knowledge, the retelling of legends—the explanation for the how come of things made up on the spot by the tribal shaman and the story told and retold, built upon and told again—shared, passed on. Storytelling is the preservation of a way of life—an existence threatened by humanity’s constant progress—well, some of us progress, while others prefer to cling to old ways, taking comfort in the familiar stories, familiar rituals, familiar ways of doing things—it all served a purpose. Why must we [humans] impose ourselves on the ones we feel we must conquer? Convert. Exploit. All the profits lining the pockets of some rich bastards who never once got their hands dirty in the process of exploitation. The way of progress stinks, it’s corrupt, it is morally wrong—yet we do it, have been doing it for ages—assimilating—trying to eradicate what is not like us. It’s a sad old story, one that repeats itself time after time, after time—slowly wiping out cultures of people and the creatures great and small, spoiling land, polluting the water, destroying everything in our path like a force of nature. It is not sustainable.

Before the time afterwards…

I lament. I’m getting older now and so I lament for there are things that I hold dear that are slowly being dissolved by progress—many of us see it, but do we admit to it? Or do we just shrug and chalk it up to ‘progress’? We’ve always done it that way—why change what works (even if it’s not working for everyone)?

I want to believe that the Machiguenga of Llosa’s story are still walking—don’t let the sun fall from the sky—you’ll never get it back again once it’s gone.

That, anyway, is what I have learned—

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thoughts about Doris Lessing and the Golden Notebook...

22 October 1919 – 17 November 2013

The Golden Notebook is the kind of book that I have a special name for — it is a “human document” (I can envision Doris Lessing writing this [book] — pen to paper, head down, breathless and barely breathing, caught up in the intense flow of it, from beginning to end — for there is nothing more beautiful and wretched than the physical and mental experience of writing a novel.)

It is an important book of its time and it is just as relevant now as it was fifty years ago, its themes remain timeless. It’s more than just a story with a beginning and an end and a bunch of stuff going on in the middle — oh, my dear, it is so much more than that! This is a real book — it is loaded with energy and emotions — it is dense with carefully wrought words, its texture is raw and complex, its psychological landscape is gorgeous and ugly at the same time. The characters are uncomfortable in their own skin; they love and hate — and can be indifferent; they live with the uncertainty of free will and they acknowledge their destiny, burdened by the dogma and history of those who came before them and the expectations of others. No one simply comes into this world, pours themselves into a mold and lives life confined to those perfectly formed edges. They naturally spill out, do such wonderful things right alongside of stupid things; they fitfully cringe at their flaws, yet they will go ahead and make the same mistakes over and over and over again — it’s what people do — what we are — being perfectly human, grievously imperfect in spite of our intelligence and enlightenment, blithely muddling along one breath at a time. People are dichotomies and they struggle within themselves to achieve balance — seeking beauty, looking for love. It’s an ongoing growth that we experience from birth to death, those of us who are more self-aware, like Anna Wulf, and any of us who are creative, struggle the most — part of our “being” is this struggle — this questioning, and on occasion, letting go enough to dream or to go mad, and then come back to reality, relieved or perhaps more pissed off than ever about the way things are. We go on, influencing those around us in one way or another, always looking over our shoulder and second guessing ourselves, trying to make things right — tormenting each other with truths and lies — moving on with faith and forgiveness, living with a wealth of happiness and sadness. Life goes on, trundling forward, although burdened by the bulk of the past — there is hope. For heaven sakes, don’t take my word for it, or the word of anyone else, just read it and find out for yourself.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Wonderland by Joyce Carol Oates

This book is for all of us who pursue phantasmagoria of personality—   

What is personality—can it be destroyed as the brain surgeon, Dr. Perrault, declared “with a tiny pin in my fingers.”—? The formation of personality according to the reciprocal determinism theory, an individual’s behavioral genetics and social environment and consequences have a direct impact on the formation of personality—and then there’s the idea that personality possesses the power of free will, personality is characterized by morality—there is more, but I’ll stop there, all of this makes my brain hurt, but I think about this stuff all the time, it fascinates me. The philosophical divides and resulting debates regarding our being human are all frustrating and wonderful—Free Will v. Determinism; Heredity v. Environment; Uniqueness v. Universality/ Active v. Reactive; Optimistic v. Pessimistic—They’re all right in their own way, yet at times a bit too certain of themselves. Goodness knows, I’m not an expert, but I can’t believe there is a rigid set of parameters that make up a personality in the “this is how it is because we say so”—you know, that sort of shit always makes me dig in and say “No fuckin’ way.” Some people just gotta have the Coke or Pepsi argument just for the sake of arguing about something—Good grief, if a little chocolate free will gets in your determinism peanut butter, let it be, it all ends up in the same place. (Trust me on this.)

Wonderland is an exploration of the personality—it is a book that I call a “human document.” The human being is such a complex character, a fascinating mystery—the first time I read Wonderland it was like riding a rocket to the moon.  I remember being told that it was a “good one” and checked it out from the library—I tried to ignore the librarian’s gentle attempt to direct me toward something more age appropriate like the latest Walter Farley since it was well known that I loved horses—but it was not long after I read Dickens and Shakespeare in school, so I knew what I was looking for—I wanted “a good one”, something real. Seriously, I had trouble enough with reality since I spent a good amount of time inside my head, and the way things were at the time, well, sometimes it did not feel real. I wanted something to feed that gnawing sense of “I want more”; I wanted to go into the deep end of the pool where I had to be bigger to touch bottom—I’m not just talking about the physical “bigger”. I might’ve been around 14 or 15 when I put the weighty tome into the basket of my bike and rode off to somewhere quiet to read it. I had a favorite tree in the woods where no one would bother me. It was a fat book (which I did not find daunting at all.) It had a bright yellow dust jacket with the crinkly protective plastic cover—it had that special library book smell that went along with summer days. The book was shocking, it was terrifying, but it was fascinating—that “adult” forbidden fruit sort of thing that I gotten myself into when I was impressionable and testing the waters of life beyond childhood. The characters were real—too real—they were nightmarish monsters and selfishly up to no good—I couldn’t trust any of them to not cause harm or to make a disaster of every moment. I held my breath a lot, grinding my teeth sometimes. Some of what was going on went over my head as I found their adult actions to be baffling—yet I accepted all of it as the author’s intention and trusted her wisdom to tell the story as she saw fit—I leaned forward and read on. After I made my way through this novel, I knew there was no turning back. Dang—after reading it, I wanted to be a writer of such arcane things as personality and have spent years picking away at words of my own. I’ve been wanting to re-read Wonderland for a very long time, but didn’t want to until I accomplished writing something that I could call mine—I also didn’t want this monumental book to become something for me to navigate by—but nevertheless, it was there, a distant lighthouse, an encouraging reminder and a stern caution. Now that I have read it with the experienced eyes of someone who has delved into the mines to unearth my own “human documents” because of their exploration of ‘being’, I was actually surprised by it—and not just surprised by how much I had forgotten.  The magic is still there, but different for me now—it still gives me the chills in a good way; it’s just as frightening and nightmarish as ever, it is timeless, and ever so interesting—exploring the phantasmagoria of personality.

Did I tell you I love this book?

photo credit: Jack Robinson

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My two "girls"...

These are my two “girls”…I just want to announce that I’ve signed them up for the Kindle Matchbook program the other day, so when a reader buys a paperback copy of The Fractured Hues of White Light or Dusty Waters, A Ghost Story through Amazon.com, the Kindle edition comes free…It went live today, so please indulge if you feel inclined…

Even after all this time, I’m really squeamish about this self-promotion stuff, it’s really weird…especially when you're raised a certain way, and told not to be such a "show off" or whatever...but it must be done so you know what I'm doing or that I've done something…

I do love my two little books...still do! They are my girls, Dusty and Samantha. I love what I do and I feel very fortunate that I have accomplished what I have accomplished thus far…the girls sell from time to time, I make a little pocket money. I've had readers leave me nice notes telling me how much they liked what I've done and I've had some readers leave behind some venom in their dislike...it's part of the territory, so I don't mind so much anymore. I have no illusions about becoming famous or being "set for life"... I'm not going to delude myself that this is a get rich quick scheme. I have an honest perspective about how I want my life to be, everything that I have, I've worked hard for, and it has very little to do with being famous and having gobs of money. I'm content with my life and making the time to be creative...I have creative freedom to write and design them as I envision them...that's what I want.

My third novel (my third 'girl'), Drinking from the Fishbowl is still in an editing marathon that started three years ago, its been an epic effort to get it ready. I really butchered it back in 2007 when I bloodied it with red ink and threw away chapters of nonsense, so much of my work as I go along involves some rewriting where I'm filling in the gaps that I created years ago. Honestly, I'm loving it, I love watching this little-big book about Georgia Sullivan mature...

I've learned so much since I first started writing about her during that muddled period of inspiration between 1999-2003 when I filled up salt n' pepper notebooks with the initial plots, lists of characters and smatterings of dialog, flailing around with early drafts and thinking I could find an agent with the mess I made in double space 12 point Times New Roman, perfectly formatted to the proper specs for submissions to the various slush piles in NYC. Oh, those were the days...I've learned a lot since then. I've become a better writer from the years of experience, plugging away, muddling along, feeling my way through the process, most of the time going with my gut...it's part of being honest with myself. I feel confident that when I'm finished, I'll be glad to have spent the time to see it through... to make it right. It's part of the craft...it's part of the art of writing.

Writing a book and having the patience to accept the responsibility for the entire process before publishing in paper or electronic form, it is not a task for the faint of heart. Yes, there is always hope that one of my books will do well, that one will stand out a little more than the rest. Fishbowl has been in the works for ten years or more…I have no idea when I’ll finish it as I creep along line by line, tweaking words here and there, writing a new paragraph, but I’ll keep you posted when the time is right and I’m happy with the result...

I'm actually thinking about how I want the book cover to look, so that's an indication that I'm "getting there"...

Saturday, September 21, 2013

A few pictures and thoughts...

Life has been a bit hectic lately, it is all do-able at some level, but there are times when just finding a moment of quiet contemplation is becoming a rarity...

My laptop has been in the shop having an issue cleared up, so I'm working off my old Boo Radley XP  which is still serving me well after all these years...I think I bought it in 2007 or something like that...it's a little slow, but it works...if anything, I don't spend too much time online...

Catching the light...

A truckload o' stuff

Clearing out my parent's house has been a priority for two years...it still isn't finished...there's nothing more personal than sorting through the 61 years of a married life contained in one structure built by our father. I swear that my mother is still there in some form. I haven't seen her or heard her, just felt her presence...and as we were loading the rental truck with furniture last week, I swear she was disappointed that I didn't get the dry sink on the truck...I can't fit it all, Mom. The smaller truck helped me make more logical choices rather than a shopping spree...I could always get another truck.

A donkey and a sunny day

The wee donkey and goats are doing well, however, I'm having trouble finding a farrier to trim Elizabeth's hooves, they are growing longer every day, and were neglected by her previous owners, so it's becoming dire. I am very frustrated with this...calling, leaving messages, waiting for responses, getting none...I feel as if as soon as they hear "mini-donkey" they just don't want to deal with it. She's not a fancy show horse, she's a pet...I'm persisting to find someone to do the job because it must be done, poor little thing. She's doing great except for her feet, such a sweet little soul.

Hi, got any carrots?

The Little Monster is making progress...he's good until he isn't...

Max and the Little Monster

I like seeing that he's getting on better with the dog, just not yet with our four resident cats, this is going to take time...

Max is hanging in there, becoming frail at fourteen years old, he's the best of good boys still and always will be! I'm not sure how much time we have left to enjoy him...it's always a tough call to make when he has a bad day that is immediately followed by a string of good days with perky ears and bright eyes...we'll know when it's time.

Progress is progress no matter how small...I've crept my way through my manuscript Drinking from the Fishbowl, I'm poking and prying around in chapter 27, this chapter is nearly finished. I'm quite happy with the whole thing thus far, I can't determine when I will ever finish it, but I'm not going to rush through it in any panic to have it ready by Christmas or any such artificial nonsense. It will be ready when I'm ready to let it go...it's a big book, a doorstop...I've put my characters through the wringer and they're growing stronger.

I've been re-reading Wonderland by Joyce Carol Oates, which was one of those landmark books that inspired me to become a writer...it is quite intense...and will post my gut reactions on Goodreads once I'm done with it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

There was a Special Delivery Today!

Delivery of 1 miniature donkey and 2 pygmy goats
Me n' Elizabeth

Have a carrot!

Exploring and meeting the horses

I'm going outside to take a look around...I'll be back.

My Fred and Elizabeth

My Fred and Pebbles and Tessa the wee goats
 A transition for them and for us...my goodness they're little!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Her name is Elizabeth...

Hello, Elizabeth!
 My Fred and I are in the process of adopting a mini-donkey and...

  ...and her friends the two pygmy goats...

It's not definite as we're still working out the details, stay tuned...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The White Peony...

Something Georgia O'Keeffe saw once, and I could see it too.

It's raining today, naturally, now it's going to rain because my peonies have finally bloomed (they were tight little fists right up until Friday, being in the higher elevations, I'm a week or two behind everyone else...my spring is longer.)


I have more photos than I can count, I was out there hovering around the blooms from early morning to twilight for the last three days...and of course, I couldn't avoid the ants...so I focused on them too...my camera looks forward to photographing these beauties every year...

One Ant
Two Ants

Morning dew on petals

My Daddy when he was a wee one-year-old being held by his father, Rochester, NY

My Daddy, the sailor, posing with his father, Spring 1945

Another Father's Day, I visited with my daddy at the nursing home, he's very frail, his COPD has become more advanced, and although his dementia rules much of his thoughts, he still knows who I am and is glad to see me and sad to see me leave. I'm still mining the family photos, it's a long process...

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Poe-em about Dreams and Realities

Dumpster Abstraction, 5/31/2013

Thoreau said: “To live deliberately,
to front only the essential facts
of life and to see if I could
not learn what it had to teach,
and not, when I came to die,
discover that I had not lived…”

…the trials of life stretch ahead of me.
I am drunk on the prospects; the future
is Wonderland — yet, I’m chronically sad
for the loss of those innocent days; entering
my own simple history, a sentimental composition
of ethereal memories — chasing dust motes in horse
barn sunbeams and butterflies in the meadow —
riding bareback, my legs clamped to the reality of
a warm barrel of horseflesh, furry muscles running
between my knees, charging up the hill to reach the sky,
we fly together, my horse and I; a daydream —
a wish — a hope; desire so sweet — I watch my plans
swim in a fishbowl — a crystal ball in motion.
Plans change when the bowl needs to be cleaned.
Hold on — I stop time to write down words —
random thoughts on bits of paper to save
for later — poetry made by the day drawn out
by hand in a silent night spent in my room;
the dark presses against the window —
the unknown tomorrow leaking into the darkest
hours before dawn. Peeled onion eyes filled with
sleepless dark, I wait impatiently
for the light of day to set me free from
the thoughts reeling inside my mind —
drinking from the fishbowl in Wonderland.
Thoreau said: “There is more day to dawn.
The Sun is but a morning star.”

Drinking from the Fishbowl in Wonderland (Georgia Sullivan’s Dreams and Realities) – 6/7/2013

The words rolled out the other day while I was editing my manuscript, Drinking from the Fishbowl...the poem is based on the main character Georgia Sullivan and her vision of the future as it was played out in chapter one...sort of channeling my little poet girl, and her anxieties. I'm quite happy with the editing process I'm going through this time around...thoroughly enjoying myself and taking my time. I butchered it back in 2007, several chapters gone forever and others bleeding red ink...so this time around is a reconstruction in a good sense. I've learned a lot since then, and my vision is clear. It is distinctly written in three parts and I'm tempted to serialize it as three books before printing them in one volume, but that's just thinking about it, I might keep it together as one book and forget about this trilogy business altogether...who knows. It's going to be a big fat chunk of literary fiction...

 Leave it to me to discover beauty in the dumpster we hired to clear out our garage and shed...random junk jumbled together and the rusty and battered insides of the beast fascinated me for a few days...I probably have over 100 photos...there's no way I can process all of them...

a dumpster collage, 5/31/2013

The Battered Insides, 5/31/2013

The Battered Insides, 5/31/2013

The Battered Insides, 5/31/2013
Then...it wouldn't be a post without a picture of one of our cuties...