Who loves you, baby? Meow

The cover of Women who (still) Love Cats Too Much

The cover of Women who (still) Love Cats Too Much

A very dear friend is republishing a very funny book and asked me to comment on it. Here goes:

In the decades since the initial publication of Women Who Love Cats Too Much by Allia Zobel Nolan with illustrations by Nicole Hollander, the world has changed.

That yowling, mewing, purring sound you hear is the soundtrack of hundreds, even thousands, of cat videos, cat photos and cat memes being uploaded to the Web every day.

It’s not that far-fetched to say that cats invented social media because if we weren’t sharing videos of Nora the piano playing cat or trading posters of Grumpy Cat, or playing someone off with Keyboard Cat or laughing at Kitlers (Cats Who Look Like Hitler) or using that copious extra cat hair to Trump Your Cat — what else would we be doing? Something silly, no doubt, like actual work.

So the republication of Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much (Now With Even More Cat Hair) with updates that acknowledge the feline digital revolution, is cause for celebration. Because let’s put this book into a proper historical, social context.  It ain’t just women, folks!

Say what you want about Dog Friend vs. Cat Friend, but cats rule the Internet (except maybe for the Dog shaming) which means both nerd and nerdettes are snorting the catnip. Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much acknowledges this with such bon mots as “You stand on line for six hours to get an autographed copy of Grumpy Cat.” Or “They expect you to make videos of their midnight crazy antics and get up at 5 am to post it to their blogs.” These lines join such classics as: “You can’t enjoy sex if the cat’s box needs cleaning. “ “Or you feel guilty having a quiet, romantic evening out without your cat.”

Does this sound like you?  From: Women Who (still) Love Cats Too Much

Does this sound like you?
From: Women Who (still) Love Cats Too Much

These lines and others could be the story of my life with cats. It wasn’t always that way.  When I first met and became friend with Allia Zobel Nolan, so long ago that dinosaurs still roamed the planet, I was amused, even annoyed when she stressed over a sick cat. “You wait, “ Allia told me. “You wait and see when this happens to you!”

And oh boy. It did. I was adopted by a beautiful tortoiseshell and have not been without a feline companion since.  Which is why reading Women Who Still Love Cats Too Much remains such a pleasure – I see myself on almost every page and on almost every page, I think, “Actually, that’ s quite reasonable behavior.”

Because another friend has never let me forget the time I went to the back door and called out, “Titan, Titan come in. Animal Planet is on. You’ll like it.”

That’s not in the book, thank goodness, but readers will recognize themselves and that includes both men and women.

We all love cats – and no, it’s never too much.

The book will hit the bookstands this fall, but you can pre-order now at http://www.amazon.com/Women-Still-Love-Cats-Much/dp/075731872X.

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The Land’s Sake class project, posted yesterday.

New Produce On Sale: Bell and Sweet Peppers at Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass. Photo Courtesy Shelagh Dolan.

Seasonal produce on sale at Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass., includes several kinds of peppers. Photo by Shelagh Dolan.

Yesterday’s post was the result of a class project completed on Saturday, July 18, at Land’s Sake farm in Weston, Mass., near Regis College. The goal: Produce a multi-media narrative, with text, photos and video, in one day. And the students did it!

Tasks were divided up: some students concentrated on interviews, some on photography, some on video. The class play acted interviews ahead of time, then went to the farm when they talked to staff and a few customers. The students felt the customers were not very friendly. The instructor, however, sees that she needs to teach students to be more aggressive (as well as respectful) in approaching strangers. The students finished their research about noon and after a break went into the class and as a group wrote a story, editing and selected photos and created a short video using iMovie.

The results were posted about 5 p.m. The class then composed tweets and research hashtags of the type that that would be sent out  to promote their story or the farm itself.

The goal was to show students how to approach a story using multiple formats and how to operate under deadline pressure. We all applauded when the instructor hit publish.

Land’s Sake Farm provides a hand-picked experience for Weston

Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass. offers Community Supported Agriculture that Reconnects Customers with the Land. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass., offers Community Supported Agriculture that Connects Customers with the Land. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

A Morning at the Farm

By Matthew Cerullo, Shelagh Dolan  and Simona Horsikyan,
Edited by Nicole Jean Turner, Instructor Stephanie Schorow

The morning was dark, chilly, and somewhat rainy at Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass., but the sun prevailed in the afternoon. Bumblebees hummed around the sunflowers, feeding on nectar, and birdsong welcomed guests and farmers alike.

As soon as we walked in, we were barraged by smells coming from the chickens, the flowers, and the many different fruits and vegetables. These aromas mixed with subtle hints of petrichor and fresh-cut spices from the land around us were some of the many treasures of spending a morning on a farm.

Daily, Sweet Corn is Harvested and Sold Fresh. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

Sweet Corn is Harvested and Sold Fresh Daily. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

While the market’s staffers are arranging the produce and explaining  farm mechanics, customers start browsing, mothers start picking flowers, and children observe the chickens and rabbits.

A white truck drives up the dirt entrance. A man hops out of the cab and opens the back of the truck, and unloads stacks of what resemble thin white pizza boxes. He carries them up the gravel path and places them on a wooden farm stand shelf.

A  look inside the stack reveals green cardboard containers of blueberries, raspberries and currants, freshly delivered for community members to buy this Saturday morning.

New Produce On Sale: Bell and Sweet Peppers at Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass. Photo Courtesy Shelagh Dolan.

Bell and Sweet Peppers Are Among The New Produce This Season at Land’s Sake Farm in Weston, Mass. Photo Courtesy Shelagh Dolan.

Welcome to a typical Saturday morning at the farm, which is dedicated to building connections among people, the food they eat, and the land.  Most of the produce you buy at the grocery store is picked before it is ripe and transported thousands of miles before it reaches the store. In contrast, the Land’s Sake produce is picked right before the market opens in the morning.

You can find a variety of colorful organic fruits and vegetables, which are packed with vitamins and minerals. Here at the Land’s Sake farm, customers talk directly to the people who grow the produce. The farmers tell how they grew it, what fertilizers they used, what variety they planned, and can answer other questions.

Squash and Cucumbers Ready To Be Weighed and Bagged. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

Squash and Cucumbers Ready To Be Weighed and Bagged. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

A visit to Land’s Sake Farm  is a great opportunity to spend time with your family. There is no entrance fee, so and also it’s a fun way to enjoy a walk on a summer’s day.

Land`s Sake is a registered nonprofit corporation that supports sustainable farming, environmental education, food donation programs, and land management. The farm is based on principles of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), meaning community members can invest in shares for a season, and in return they can pick up fresh vegetables and flowers from the 30-acre property.

Colorful Watering Cans Alongside the Colorful Flower Field. Photo Courtesy of Shelagh Dolan.

Colorful Watering Cans Sit Alongside the Colorful Flower Field. Photo Courtesy of Shelagh Dolan.

The farm has about 300 CSA shareholders, each assigned a weekly pickup day, when they can come by and collect their shares. Seasonal shares come in five different options, so families can choose which type best fits their needs.

In addition to the CSA shareholder program, Land’s Sake has an on-site farm stand, stocked daily with fruits, veggies and special products like popcorn, honey, syrup and shortbread cookies. Land’s Sake doesn’t grow its own berries  but it receives fresh berry deliveries to the stand three times a week from partner Nourse Farm of South Deerfield, Mass. Farm stand products are available to everyone, CSA shareholder or not.

A Shareholder Snips Celosia From The Pick-Your-Own Flower Field. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

A Customer Snips Celosia From The Pick-Your-Own Flower Field. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

Our team arrived in the early morning to scope out the grounds. We first noticed the chicken coop housing about 10 birds, clucking and drinking water. The chickens came close enough to the gate that we could touch them but we didn’t dare risk getting pecked. The little things loved the attention but as soon as we walked away from the coop they went back to their water and food.

The Farm is Home to Several Rabbits for Teaching Children About Animals. Photo Courtesy Simona Horsikyan.

The Farm is Home to Rabbits for Teaching Children About Animals. Photo Courtesy Simona Horsikyan.

We also saw a mother and baby rabbits in moveable hutches. Their homes could be picked up and moved around the land to provide the rabbits with the most luscious grass. When we got closer to their cages, the rabbits jumped up on two legs and pressed their twitching noses against the metal grate.

Stacked on the shelves of the farm stand, barrels of fresh violet eggplant, juicy red and black raspberries, thick leafy greens and bell peppers overflow onto the tables. Customers of all ages browsed the day’s selection. In the fields next to the stand, other farm visitors borrowed scissors to cut their own flowers and create bouquets.

In the CSA shareholder tent we caught up with Weston mother Barrett and son Naimon, Land’s Sake members who come every Saturday to collect their produce and cut flowers. Naimon enjoys hand picking the green beans and Barrett likes that the farm teaches her son about growing local, fresh food.

An Employee Bundles Fresh Flowers, Hand Cut by a Customer for 50 Cents Per Stem. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

An Employee Bundles Fresh Flowers, Hand Cut by a Customer for 50 Cents Per Stem. Photo Courtesy Nicole Jean Turner.

“Land’s Sake is a very important part of our town,” said Barrett. “It’s great because [the kids] learn what vegetables look like when they come out of the ground.”

Looking to a new semester

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Ready for the new semester in professional writing

With hope and sadness, I begin to update this blog. I will teach Multimedia and Social Media for the Professional Writer for the third, and possibly last, time at Regis College. Unfortunately, due to many factors — most of them budgetary — the MAPW program will fold as a separate entity at Regis College and my position as director has been eliminated. Some good news — the courses we develop will be retained and become part of the Master of Science in Organizational and Professional Communication program at Regis College and I will continue to teach some of these courses as an adjunct professor. I will continue to maintain and run this blog and make it part of my own personal branding platform.

In the meantime, we will be using this blog as a teaching tool for EN 504 Multimedia and Social Media class. The summer is about to start.

The Internet Ate My Homework… and Published It

Screen-Shot-2015-06-18-at-12.31.13-PMA note from last semester:

MAPW student Shelagh Dolan turned her final project for the Advanced Professional Writing class into a published article —  a lesson for other writing students and teachers. She was interested in how shoppers were using mobile phones while stopping; she found that many young women were sending photos to friends for advice. The idea was discussed and refined in class and Shelagh later did a series of interviews of shoppers in Downtown Crossing to flesh out the concept. She finished the piece for class and later pitched a final draft  to BostonInno. After patience, polite phone calls  and more patience,  Styling Ourselves with Selfies was published last month. (There was a last-minute correction on her  name, a lesson in how a fast-paced media can sometimes mess up,  but also how corrections can be easily made once you reach the right person.)  Shelagh also did a great job in tweeting out the story; it was retweeted more than two dozen times and “favorite” by fashion mavens. So this piece of homework turned out to be an exercise in multiple aspects of publication… and persistence.