Sunday, November 7, 2021

November: Time to Fall Back!

Photo by MR Tonery, 2020 

This is Charles.


These are the days of Cat's Cradle: Darkness will come earlier now. The air feels significantly cooler.Time to bank fires in the wood stove. Only 4 weeks left in the Fall Semester.  Everything is starting to  pick up and slow down at the same time.  I feel caught in this Warp Speed. Held still in the commotion that circles me constantly.  I am suspended in this hour that promises me a bit more time.   To accomplish what eludes me daily. 

I make lists in my head.  Yesterday was a good day to check things off the list.  I felt satisfied by early afternoon. Now to re-trigger my own creative writing and art making.  The sun is shining today.  Everything thing seems to be golden.  I need to go for a hike.  Get inspired by the nature that surrounds me. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

Autumn in Western NY. Gold and Bronze. Time of Reflection.

                       Letchworth State Park: 10/28/2021. Photo by Meghan Rose Tonery

This week (10/23-10/31)began with rain, teeming rain, day into night, into the next day; rain swelling the creeks to overflowing. The foliage this year is gold, bright yellow, and bronze, with dashes of red.  It hasn't been cold enough for the leaves to be dazzling as in the past. However, the season is upon us. The harvest, nearly done.  Storage cupboards and freezers full. We are grateful for this year's many gifts.   I imagine, in winter, when the wind is howling  over Lake Ontario and the snow is fall like arrows, we will be happy to have toast with a dollop of  our Fair Weather Strawberry Jam.  We will close our eyes and savor the taste of summer.


                          October's Field of Sunflowers, Route 19, entering Pavillon NY,

                                                                                 Photo: Meghan Rose Tonery

This has been a season of looking over my shoulder, wanting to take stock in where I have been and where I am going, still going.  I am at a point in my life where everything counts or is being counted, and I don't want to miss those moments of solitude, of taking an easy breath, of standing in a forest, or on a hillside, or in a field, with my arms loose at my sides, and think, This is it. 


                                                       *  *  *

                  And, the Big Chair was Just Right! 
Photo: Meghan Rose Tonery

With real effort and determination, channeling the seven-year-old inside of me, I climbed     up this Big Chair on the grounds near Letchworth Dam. Sitting in this chair, I felt connected to all the others who have climbed up and sat here for a minute or two, or more. There was a warning sign: Do not hang off the back of chair; do not hang off of the arms. But, no warning not to sit here. 

What a thrill to climb up gracefully into this perfect seat.  Queen for a minute.  Then, Meghan asked me how I was going to get down. I thought for a moment ( it was quite a drop to the ground) and decided to re-trace my steps.  Ta-da!  Home free.

                                                    *  *  *

Good News came on October 19th, 2021. Foothills Publishing (Michael and Carolyn Czarnecki, publishers, editors, producers) accepted my 100-word story chapbook: Rock. Paper. Scissors., which features twenty-four 100-word stories. I am so grateful to them, for believing in my work these many years. 



    Letchworth State Park. Photo by Meghan Rose Tonery


Saturday, August 28, 2021

Last Days of August: Looking Back on Summer

Ontario Series, #1, July, 2021

M.J. Iuppa

Over the summer, I made nature collages: stones, shells, sea glass found on the Lake Ontario beaches.  I created scenes, which I hope inspires tranquility. The gift of summer, of being barefoot and walking on the sandy beach,close to the lip of the lake.  I have made four of these so far. Framed them in 4x6 black frames. They are small windows.  Two have been taken to new homes. I was thrilled that they were desired. It made me happy. New skill: I learned how to use a glue gun without removing my fingerprints.

As soon as the Spring semester ended in May, our planting season began.  My husband had great luck starting our plants from seeds in our greenhouse.  He even started flowers: Moon flowers, Lupines, Zinnias, Sunflowers, Marigolds-- all with great success.  Our flower gardens have many colors and have been fun to watch them grow and multiple.

We successfully planted three gardens: North, East and South, which total 5000 square feet. This is a lot to maintain.  Now we're harvesting our efforts.  Canning tomatoes, from sauce to puree, to whole in tomato juice. A steamy process.

It's been warm here.  The heat is always expected in August, but this summer was truly pleasant, with many mild days and a decent amount of rain and sun. Perfect for gardens and orchards.  So far, we have stayed ahead of our harvesting.  I think I planted more than 200 tomato plants, cherry to plum to a variety of slicers. Thus far, nothing disappoints.

Besides gardening, I gave myself a writing challenge. To write  every morning, which I did faithfully at the start of summer, and was successful in completing poems, 100 word stories, lyric essays. As the summer progressed, I had to divide my attention.  Big garden commitment.  Of course, the gardens need the care of small children.  I mean things can get out of control pretty fast.  So I fussed over everything every day. You guessed it, in the morning, before the sun got too hot.  A chunk of writing time spent in the garden.  But not lost time, I think I was writing in the garden.  Loose thoughts coming together in my head.  Lines repeating as I weeded.  It was good work.  I am grateful for this life on the farm.  How it restores me. 

A lot of change:  I made the decision to retire from St. John Fisher College after 24.5 years.  It's startling to  realize that I have been teaching there, January 1997 to August, 2021. So many classes and bright students, and papers and tests, and creative writing and visual art, and performances and readings, and laughter and discoveries and collaborations.  I will miss that the most. I am grateful to my many wonderful colleagues (faculty and staff).  I received a lot of support in my efforts to bring quality Art programs to St. John Fisher College. I am grateful for my work experience there.

Now I will continue teaching at The College at Brockport this semester and the next. Closer to home, with three classes to teach. No night classes.  I am looking forward to the start of this semester on 8/30/21.  I taught remote courses all last year.  It's going to be wonderful being face to face in the classroom again. Hopefully, all of us will remain healthy as we navigate through the semester.  It can be done as long as we're aware of what we need to do to stay safe.

Lastly, I wanted to create several manuscripts this summer, and I was successful. I have a micro-chapbook of prose (lyric essays and a prose poem) called In a Silent Way; a chapbook of  twenty-four 100 word stories called Rock. Paper. Scissors.; and my fifth full-length poetry collection called The Weight of Air. I have submitted these manuscripts to chapbook competitions and presses. 

On 8/6/2021, I submitted The Weight of Air to Kelsay Books for possible publication.  It was accepted on 8/19/2021, with publication scheduled for May, 2022.  I am thrilled by this good news. 

Soon, the air will change, and shadows will grow longer, and autumn with be upon us. Another change of season.  

Sunday, June 6, 2021

June 6th, 2021: I have No Idea How It's Suddenly June


Photo: Meghan Rose Tonery, June 2020

Time for Confession?  I Hear Ya! 

Suddenly, It's June.  The work and stress of teaching is like the memory of childbirth.  Already, I have forgotten the intense labor of those last weeks. True, I learned a lot, teaching in the "remote" format, but  I missed being on campus.  I am looking forward to teaching face to face in Fall 2021.

Somehow, I found the energy to do a fistful of end of year reports by their due dates in May as well as  editing the upcoming 2021-22 catalog copy. With each task checked off the To-Do list, I felt lighter and lighter. I have forgotten my high anxiety, which was complicated by the number of hours I spent online.  It's a little nutty how working from home doesn't have the "limits" of shutting your office door for the night or weekend. Instead, work is always there.  I think both instructors and students suffered from this "constant" presence of work to be done.  I am not sure what exactly I learned  this past year. I stepped up; my students stepped up.  We got it done.  Now we're looking around, feeling a tiny bit lost, because we are suddenly free to do whatever we want.   For me, that feeling of being oar-less is disconcerting, but I somehow right myself after two weeks of drifting . . .  Now working on new poems and stories; edited my novella, hoping that it holds up for my readers (we'll see what they say!); sending manuscripts of prose and poems out. It's been 4 years since I've put together a manuscript.  The process requires such concentration to get it just right (we'll see what they say!).  

Of course, time doesn't wait here on the farm.  Our gardens (5000 square feet) are nearly planted to capacity.  We are out there in the early morning, trying to get things done before the sun and its brash white light fries us to a crisp.  It's been plenty warm lately.  Gardens are looking good, too.

My time in the garden is a meditation on whatever I'm writing or editing.  So I can weed a couple hours; then come in and work a few hours on writing projects.  I hope this will be a summer of healing and accomplishment.  Here's hoping we have bushels and bushels of produce!  

Thursday, April 1, 2021

This Thirst by M.J.Iuppa Reviewed by Adrian Koesters March 31.2021

Here is the link to the review of This Thirst:


Thank you, Adrian Koesters for this review.

Kaktus Reading on March 30th, hosted by Jules Nyquist and John Roche, featuring cousin poets M.J.Iuppa and lauren Ayers


Thank you to Jules Nyquist and John Roche for giving me the opportunity to read with my cousin.  I read from my collection This Thirst (Kelsay Books 2017)

Cover Artwork by Elizabeth King Durand

Here is the You Tube link to our  poetry reading on March 30th, 2021:

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Sunday: January 10, 2021: What A Week.


Photo: P. Tonery 2020: Red-Headed Woodpecker.

Private Life:

It's hard to believe that we're nearly mid-month of the first month in the New Year. I have been trying to be "intentional" in everything I do this year.  I have been reading for my own pleasure 30-45 minutes a day.  Love the big print books I rented from the Brockport Seymour library. Currently reading three women (nonfiction) by Lisa Taddeo. At first, I wondered what I was getting myself into by selecting this book, without really knowing what it's about.  Endorsement from Elizabeth Gilbert is why I picked it up.  The library visit is not the luxurious browse. It's find what you need or want, and move on. I wanted to see if the book club that I had attended twice in two years was having its meeting online. No longer associated with the Brockport Seymour library, but still led by a woman named Dryad or Driad, who strangely didn't like me, because she knew I was a writer and teacher. I think she was worried that I would take her authority.  Hardly my intention, I just wanted to read a few books and listen to the discussion. I wasn't successful sticking with it because my teaching at The College at Brockport occurred during the hour of the Book Club's meetings. Too bad, because I really liked the people, including Dryad the leader, who attended the club.  During the shelter in place, The Book Club moved to The Sweden Senior Center; yet, the Seymour library still reserves the books for the members.  I was hoping that they were participating via zoom meeting and I could attend again. A librarian named Stephanie helped me.  She phoned the Book Club leader.  I guess when Stephanie revealed my name, the Book Club leader bristled and said, "Tell her that the membership is closed." So I am out of luck.  I have been banned from a Book Club.  I am going to read the book slotted for their next meeting: The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards.  So, I'm hoping I'll find another Book Club for this year.

 I have been attending readings, far and near, since the start of the year.  I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to the featured readers and the open mics.  Zoom has made this possible. I realize how many prefer in person readings, but this Zoom platform has made opportunities for so many who wouldn't be able to attend in person.  I hope, after the pandemic lifts, that this platform will remain, giving all  interested the opportunity to attend readings, concerts,  lectures, and so on. 

During the next 3 weeks, I will continue to work on writing and art projects and prepare for the upcoming semester, which starts on 2/1/2021.  I am feeling healthy.  Trying to get back to reduced sugar intake.  I had quite a bit over the holidays . . . Just because. Need to take those long walks, again.

 Public life:

My eyes are spinning in oil.  I have been reading newspapers online, cover to cover.  Watching the events on January 6th horrified me and my family.  We sat transfixed for hours, trying to make sense of what what happening in the Capitol. It was so scary. I am beseeching our leaders to do everything necessary to put an end to the Trump chaos. The leaders who supported this chaos should be dismissed from their positions.  They are a danger to us all.  It's time to send a clear message to these people who have blindly put their faith in believing the lies.  I believe  the next four years will be a time of reconstruction of  our values and moral integrity.  We will make it so.  I am fed up with racism, prejudice, bias, greed, deceit. It has to stop. I do believe, people to people, we can making a difference.

Do not hide from this challenge.  Do not depend on someone else to bring peace and understanding to  our communities across the United States.  Have courage to be kind and considerate of everyone. Listen and speak with good intention.