Posted in Homesteading, Kitten dramas

Squirrels gone wild…

Squirrels are going nuts over here on the old Minnesota Brookes’ homestead. We’ve got 4 cheeky buggers running all over the front banister and flower boxes hunting for treats. Naturally, the felines are intrigued…

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But what had me rushing to get the camera wasn’t the insane squirrels who seriously looked like they were staring into the house at times…it was to document the proximity between Tobycat and the kitten.

Lookit that closeness! They are, like, TOUCHING.

I’m callin’ it. They are now (drumroll please)…

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Thanks, you nutty squirrels, you brought my furries together!

Posted in Homesteading

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Over here in Minnesota-land, we’ve had our first few “sticking snows” and are entering December, the month where we accumulate the majority of the snow that won’t evaporate until March. But today it is raining (BOO! We want more snow!) and feels like October. So, in light of the fact that we are now officially in the holiday season, I would like to share some holly jolly from the Brookes home.

Yesterday, I spent some time making the treats that secure me happy little helper elves: Traci Brookes spritz cookies!

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Last year, when I asked Nayt to help me put up Christmas decorations, his response was, “I don’t see any spritz cookies!” Apparently, he was bribed into jolliness by his mom’s baking. I don’t blame him, these cookies are ridiculously good. And for the first time, the entire batch turned out great. Huzzah!

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Abdullah and Nayt put up the Christmas tree with me and even helped put ornaments on it! Spritz cookie magic!

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Rudi kitten promptly got up in the tree to play. His two favorite ornaments are pictured above: 1) the pink baby ball is from my childhood and he likes to paw it until it falls out of the tree 2) he grabs Totoro with his teeth and runs off with him! I had to relocate poor Totoro higher into the tree…

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I got a new tiny wooden nativity at work, and am happy with all the different ways we acknowledge the real reason for the season.

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Some remaining decor, including: Nayt’s old Snoopy decorating his doghouse collection that comes out each year, a happy gnome my Aunt Greer gave me that is so adorable and a handmade Noel sign from old Christmas cards. 🙂

Merry Merry, everyone! Now, excuse me while I upload my extensive Christmas playlist to my iPhone so I can be jolly on my lunch break at work today…

 

Posted in Thoughts

S.A.D. or just circumstantial?

The sun and I have a weird relationship. I think I’m codependent on him.

I’ve started keeping weird hours. I get up at 5:30am everyday (yes even on weekends) because now the cats are conditioned for morning food. Hopefully, we can break them of this habit after the Rudi finishes the bag of kitten food and both cats are eating the same stuff. But for now, this is my normal.

The problem is not the hour I wake. I have become an early morning person by both choice and habit. I am fully awake the moment the alarm goes off. Mornings are energy-filled for me. 5:30am does not feel early and I’ve done much earlier without drama. The problem is daylight savings and winter.

When it’s fully pitch black dark at 6pm, my body feels like it’s 9pm. Last night, I ate dinner at 6:30 and by 7, I could feel my body physically winding down. My eyelids were getting heavy and my brain was just mush. This severely hinders any connecting with other humans going on in evening time hours. Which is a problem, since my husband is a night owl.

Last night, I was in bed at 8pm. I actually wanted to be ASLEEP at 8pm, but felt like that would be extremely ridiculous, so I puttered on my phone for an hour. This has become my pattern. Joking about my transition to senior citizen aside, I don’t want to lose time with my husband and others because “it’s dark out” and my body thinks I need more sleep cause it’s winter. That is super lame. My most alert time is now spent with two cats. I’m alright with being a cat lady, but I also need human contact!

Next month, Half Price Books starts staying open until 10pm during the week. We don’t actually have a lot of customers in the 9-10 hour, so it feels really pointless for us to be there later. But this is especially hard for me when my body has transitioned to “winter Jes” hours. 10pm is at least an hour after my body is thinking I should be in REM. That’s just sad.

And speaking of S.A.D. …

Nayt would argue that I struggle with Seasonal Affect Disorder. But I’m unsure there is conclusive evidence. The past three winters have had unusual circumstances that have contributed to lethargic Jes symptoms. For example, upon moving to Minnesota in January of 2013, I had no job and no friends, an extrovert’s nightmare that didn’t get fully resolved until 4-5 MONTHS later when my friend Ann started working with me at Archiver’s.

But I do have to admit, in the winter, I feel like I lose a great deal of my energy and focus. It’s like all I can do is work, cook a little dinner and sleep. Those are the only things my winter brain will allow. I can fake it through December when there are lots of Christmasy things to do: presents to make and wrap, markets to visit, carols to listen to, joy to spread… 🙂

Maybe the sun affects me more than I want to admit. Do you struggle with what I’m talking about? How do you power through to the Spring Equinox, when daylight is more than half the day again?

Posted in Media Mondays

Aurora

Nayt & I have very different preferences for music, so it isn’t often he suggests an artist that ends up on my playlists. But slowly, I am learning that my rockstar of a husband likes strong female vocals. After a couple Paramore concerts and countless “ooh, listen to this!” sessions with Canadian and European bands I’ve never heard of, I should just accept that Nayt will introduce me to way cooler sounds for the rest of forever.

Last Saturday, Nayt took me to see Aurora perform at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. She’s a Norwegian artist and has a bell-like voice and some crazy cool background vocals in her songs. Seeing her in concert is like watching Alice in Wonderland sing about deep stuff.

So, on this Media Monday, check out my favorite Aurora song: Warrior

the lyrics:

I fall asleep in my own tears
I cry for the the world, for everyone
And I built a boat to float in
I’m floating away

I can’t recall last time I opened my eyes to see the world as beautiful
And I built a cage to hide in
I’m hiding, I’m trying to battle the night…

Let love conquer your mind
Warrior, warrior
Just reach out for the light
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior of love…

I stand behind the wall of people and thoughts, mind controlling
And I hold a sword to guide me
I’m fighting my way…

I can’t recall last time I opened my eyes to see the world as beautiful
And I built a cage to hide in
I’m hiding, I’m trying to battle the night…

Let love conquer your mind
Warrior, warrior
Just reach out for the light
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior of love!

Underneath darkened sky
There’s a light kept alive

Let love conquer your mind
Warrior, warrior
Just reach out for the light
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior
I am a-yeah-yeah-yeah-yeah
Warrior, warrior of love…
Warrior of love!
Warrior of love!

Posted in Homesteading

Little Free Library open!

Our little plot of land here in North Minneapolis just gained a long-awaited feature. We are now the stewards of a Little Free Library! Unfamiliar with the concept? Neighbors all over the country are supplying little library boxes in private and public spaces that contain free reading material for all ages, in the hopes that you will “take a book, leave a book” with no strings attached.

I have loved the idea since spying my first box and for my birthday this year, Nayt built me one with our friend Mike! It will be easy to keep stocked as I work at a bookstore and can peruse the clearance section weekly. And I’m hoping to meet neighbors while gifting our hood stories. Just a little way to make everything a bit nicer. Here in North Minneapolis, we have a few but nothing in the 3 block radius around our house. It’s a Little Free Library desert over here, y’all. (well, not anymore!) 🙂

Sadly, in the Twin Cities some people have been clearing out Little Free Libraries to resell the books for cash. I suppose free invites all kinds, but the idea of being taken advantage of, especially when stewards personally buy what goes in library boxes makes my justice rage alarms go off. Some recommended ways to combat this have been to mark each book as part of the Little Free Library system and to not have it stocked to the brim. So, today I marked spines and stamped interiors and hope this first batch will go to people interested in reading, not selling. 🙂

Without further ado, North Minneapolis, TADA another Little Free Library!

Posted in Kitten dramas

Kitten vs. Toby: the unfolding drama

I know you all are dying in wait for kitten drama updates. Do not worry. I have photojournalism in store just for you!

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Toby has begun to tolerate eating near the kitten…

There is a reluctant peace between the kitties thus far. The kitten is 100% all about being friends. Toby is barely tolerating Rudi’s presence. We’re making progress. 🙂

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Learning to share…
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Toby wants the benefits without having to be near the kitten…
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Toby is annoyed that the kitten gets to have all the fun (Rudi! attack the hand!!!!)

Toby’s major problem with Rudi is that he is a kitten. Rudi has SO. MUCH. ENERGY. When he comes into the room, he runs. He skips. He makes noise. He will unexpectedly jump on things. Toby no likey. He reacts by growling and meowing when the kitten comes near him. Or if there is a showdown on the stairs (i.e. Toby is sitting, watching the kitten and the kitten wants to get by), Toby air punches at Rudi with his paw, like, “THESE STAIRS ARE MINE!” Jerk cat.

But I am encouraged that Toby is slowly tolerating more and more time with the kitten. BOTH of them were cuddled on me Sunday while I was in the throes of the worst migraine of my life. Granted, they were a “safe” 2 feet away from each other, Toby taking my feet and Rudi on my chest, but I was impressed!

So, for now, I will sum up the kitten dramas with this final picture:

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Toby is Emo. Rudi is Elmo.
Posted in Media Mondays

Stacey Kent: a voice like butter!

Oh man, guys. I was on a long commute home, stuck in traffic and flipped on the local jazz station. So glad I did! I heard Stacey Kent croonin’ an understated version of That’s All and immediately bought the album on iTunes. Firstly, I love that song. Secondly, one of the major reasons I love jazz vocalists is that with the exception of skat, the general standard is to sing well, not necessarily to sing to show off. And I love that. To me, a great singer is one who can captivate with their pure voice, no noodling or embellishments or tricks.

Stacey Kent is pretty much the queen of that. She also sounds like a sweetheart. Somehow, she has an innocent engenue kind of auditory impression, like she is falling in love for the first time and we’re just invited into the pure joy of it. I imagine her singing with a secret smile. But it isn’t your cliche “dirty little secret” type. I find it refreshing that she manages romance without blantant, in your face sexy sexiness. There’s an honesty about her voice, a wholesomeness that doesn’t scream boring prude. Is that even a marketable trait in music anymore? And man, her voice is like melted butter, a soft purr, light rain drizzling your windows…pick your metaphor. 🙂

Have a listen: That’s All

 

 

*photo courtesy of www.dakotacooks.com