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, July 26, 2014

Melymbrosia by Virginia Woolf

Jeepers, I wish my first drafts of a novel turned out this good. Granted, it is rough—raw in places, and there are things that develop in later drafts that grow from knowledge and time, and so The Voyage Out grew from Melymbrosia as it should have. I can see why VW’s male friends cringed and insisted that she tone it down. (Here is where I must remind readers that it is a book of their time, not ours.) I read it from my size 6 ½’s in the 21st century and thought, “Really? That’s pretty tame.” Maybe because I’m so cynical at this point in my life, I’m just numb to it all—who knows. Whatever. It’s been a long time since I read The Voyage Out so I had to dig out my copy and poke through it while I wrote this bit and admired it for what it is, fleshed out to a density that was typical of her early novels. I noted that Hewet never had his revelation of “dreams and realities” until The Voyage Out—it’s the same musing that Ralph Denham had about Katharine Hilbery in Night and Day (the original title was Dreams and Realities.) So it is interesting to see the overlapping of themes between the two novels—how often do we imagine a person being a certain way, thinking certain thoughts, creating a mold and filling the qualities of our dreams into it, and then when faced with the real person the mold is shattered completely and we feel certain that they do not love us in the same way as we love them.

The title Melymbrosia is a mystery, apparently, VW never gave an explanation for it—Louise DeSalvo speculates in her introduction (which you must read after reading the book) that perhaps it is a combination of the Greek words for honey and ambrosia, but I wonder if it is instead, melancholy and ambrosia—a strange combination—sadness, gloominess, miserable moodiness, delicious, delightful, intoxicating loveliness—the beauty and the terror, the sublime. In my opinion, it is sort of in the vein of the sublime as in “the beauty and the terror”. It’s a Victorian aesthetic that creeps into British writing ever since the Romantic era. Mr. Dalloway suggested that Rachel should read Burke, tho’ he mused over the more political books about the French and the American Revolutions, but I thought Burke’s book, A Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) was more appropriate for this journey. " WHATEVER is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is conversant about terrible objects, or operates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime; that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling. I say the strongest emotion, because I am satisfied the ideas of pain are much more powerful than those which enter on the part of pleasure. Without all doubt, the torments which we may be made to suffer are much greater in their effect on the body and mind, than any pleasure which the most learned voluptuary could suggest, or than the liveliest imagination, and the most sound and exquisitely sensible body, could enjoy. " Burke believed that the sublime—such as vastness, infinity, magnificence of a stormy ocean or an unexplored landscape—has the power to destroy, it was something that could incite terror, and yet, “pleasure” enters into this intense emotion, as in a sense of being “ravished”, the passion of fear (especially the fear of death.) It is a complex human experience—ambiguous in its nature. The tension between representation (imagination) and concepts (reason); the waffling of harmony and disharmony, pleasure and displeasure, anguish and joy—there and back again—all very human feelings. Virginia Woolf knows the language of the sublime, and perhaps she felt it much too keenly—when writers write, their emotional spigots are on full blast, it’s exhausting to say the least, rummaging around within the inner depths and dragging out a treasure of words—

“—while the gulls are squawking above, the sea is running round the world, and the plants are opening on earth? I live, I die; the sea comes over me; it’s the blue that lasts.” – page 42


My Dad

 William E. Wilkinson, April 5, 1927-Juy 13, 2014

My father passed away on July 13th, he was 87. It seems unreal to me being without both of my parents—we as children are defined by their being there, and now I feel orphaned as there isn’t that one more step above me to turn to…or to tell about something that happened…or to call and ask “How are you?” Sometimes I dial the number just to hear its familiar ring.

He slipped away rather quickly once he started failing on the 11th, he had been in hospice care since April, and although he was frail, he seemed in good spirits and was doing well with the additional care provided by the hospice volunteers and nurses who visited with him at the nursing home. There's a strange false sense of security in knowing that he's being well cared for that made us think, he might continue on status quo...but on Friday he stopped eating, Saturday he was running a fever, was listless, and not talking; by Sunday he was completely unresponsive. He would occasionally crack open an eye to look—in response to our voices in the room or a touch, but the gaze that I saw was far away—he knew we were there. There was no struggle, he passed peacefully in the bliss of a deep sleep...the way it should be if one has a choice.

He was a patient man, gentle and kind, loving and loveable. He had the best laugh, a good belly laugh that was distinct. He loved to read, and made it fun for me to learn while sitting in his lap having a story read to me, and he'd talk to me about the story, almost like a story separate from the one we read, explaining the how come of things. He was also talented in drawing, he saw me struggling to make a picture of a lion once, and he showed me how as he made marks with swift, sure strokes with the pencil. I was so stunned that he was so good at it. He taught me how to take pictures and he built a darkroom in the basement so we could develop and print our pictures. I see the directions for developing a roll of black and white film that I wrote out in my girlish penmanship years ago still hanging by the stationary sink, a relic most revered by him because I wrote it down. His patience was most appreciated when he drove me on his Wednesday afternoons off from the store to take me to my weekly horseback riding lesson at Terry Ho Stables in Phelps NY. I had no idea how he learned of the place and arranged for these lessons, but this was something that he wanted me to have because I kept pestering for a horse, and he wanted to make sure I knew how to handle one first. So he sat in the truck for the hour, reading a book while waiting. Sometimes I'd see him by the rail watching, or strolling around with his camera taking pictures of the horses and landscape. When he did buy me a horse, we drove to many farms to look at several ones, he called on several advertisements in the paper, some were already sold. Hajji Baba was acquired August 1, 1975, I was 13. Which meant more time spent sitting in the truck while I rode my horse and did all the chores to take care of him. 
He taught me how to drive...in addition to driver education at school, he took me around to learn parallel parking and all the other moves necessary to pass my road test. Sadly, I just had gotten my license when I sold Hajji Baba in March 1980, Daddy was with me that sad day when we loaded Hajji into the truck and saw him off, he let me drive home.

When I got pregnant, before I told them the news, he knew by looking at me that I had the little bun in the oven. He called me up and told me "You need to take good care of yourself, you have something very special inside you that depends on you to be good to yourself." It was very sweet.

I don't know where the time goes, but it's gone.

We’re still cleaning out the house that he built of their 61 years of life together—there is so much stuff. It’s hard enough to go there every Saturday to work on it when one has a house and a full time job to attend to…there has to be time for one’s self too. Of course, over the last nearly three years, there have been various illnesses and life interruptions that make going there impossible.

As I resettle myself into this latest version of normal, I find that I’m still editing the same book that I was working on the night that I learned my mother was taken to the hospital almost three years ago on August 2nd. (If I were diligent enough, I could find the exact file that I was making changes to that moment when I telephoned home on my normal Tuesday at 7PM to check in and say "Hello, what's up?") I'm superstitious enough to wonder if the book is cursed or maybe there's a reason for it, all that has happened has provided me with the additional angst I need to finish it properly...or something.

William and William

At Three
Boot camp

On furlough visiting home


Fooling around as young sailors do

Home and the new car

At home

On my wedding day

Bill and Janie 1950