Saturday, January 28, 2012

bella's beautiful progress

Last year, after the joy of adopting Bella, we faced the struggles of her unknown past. I haven't posted anything about her since, so let me remedy that now by telling you about her progress - both as a beloved member of the house and as a dog recovering from abandonment.


  • Bella learns our routines quickly, and amusingly. When we first got her, she knew that my post-breakfast glass of ice water was the last step before she went into her crate. So as soon as she heard the ice clinking into my glass, she would go sit by the basement steps. These days, she goes WILD in the morning after Able-Bodied Boy gives me my morning kiss goodbye; this means he's about to take her downstairs for food.
     
  • Speaking of food, we overfed her and she's really turning into quite the chub. We're currently working to get her weight down by 20%, and as such she constantly hunts for sustenance elsewhere. We are obviously letting her waste away and she reminds us frequently.
     
  • Bella has gotten 100% comfortable with our Tuesday night gang. Her first "incidents" were with two of the guys on Tuesday night, and it took all parties a while to recover comfort and confidence. But now she can't get enough lovin's from them. And we recently added Purple Monkey and her infant; Purple Monkey has already gotten belly offers (this is when we flop on our back and wiggle around to show you a warm fuzzy belly that you know want to rub, right?) and the infant is a mild curiosity.
     
  • Bella has always been great with little kids. Our first encounter with a toddler was a little traumatic for the toddler (more on that in a moment), but she otherwise just flees in the presence of the unpredictable young ones. She'll yelp if accidentally hurt, but never anything more.
     
  • Bella doesn't know how to play. She chews hard bones. She chews soft cloth toys/blankets/towels if we allow her. She barrels into you from a running start, if you let her. But otherwise, she won't take balls, rope toys, frisbees, or anything of that sort. If you throw something in the yard, she runs after it, past it, and enjoys watching you fetch it. Which is why, the first time she saw a toddler, Bella barrelled into her from a running start... because that's the only play she knows. We would love to teach her how to play, but really have no idea where to start.
     
  • Bella is quite comfortable with my family now, having spent a bit of time with them at their various houses lately (with the holidays and all). Her main issue now is with the other dogs. They do fairly well for the first few days (maybe a growl here or there to remind them that she likes her space), but after a couple of days, the tensions start running higher and they get into a scrappy fight. All this has mainly taken place at other's homes, and we haven't had the other dogs to our place in a while. It will be interesting to see how she does with that, if the occasion arises.
     
  • Bella was wonderful on her first long car ride. We went from a longest trip of ~2 hours to a 9-hour trip. A little whining in the beginning, and a little whining at the end, but otherwise she was content and had no car-sickness. At each stop, she gladly hopped back into the car. I think she would just do anything to be with us.
     
  • We are becoming better at identifying her signs of discomfort with other people, know when we are better off just leaving her isolated (which she tolerates/understands more now) and at providing rules to "strangers".
    • If she is laying/sitting on her bed, that is her territory and you should not approach her.
    • If she is laying/sitting near me, I am her territory and you should not approach her.
    • Ignore her. Let her sniff you and do not try to pet her. Ignore her. If she wants your attention, she will come up and sit by you and look at you. Otherwise, ignore her.
       
  • We used that last tip with my parents the first time they ever met her. Within three hours, she was sitting at my father's feet, begging to be petted. I call that a Win. Of course, there are still some who, after listening to the rules, say "Oh, dogs love me!". I am happy to say they are still in possession of all fingers, but may be a little less confident in that personal assessment.
     
  • Bella still makes some of our friends and family uncomfortable. So we send her to boarding (which she now tolerates much more, now that she knows we always return) instead of traveling with her, or lock her away upstairs while they are at our house. It doesn't bother us to do so. It's all about the comfort and safety of all parties involved. There are some situtations in which everyone wants her to be present, but Able-Bodied Boy and I don't feel like it's appropriate. She is our responsibility, and if we can't always be watching her but feel like we need to keep an eye out, we have to decide if we have the time and energy to devote to her introduction to the particular group. We take our responsibility seriously and judge each situtation independently.
     
  • My favorite part about the whole thing, about wanting a dog for so long, about working through that with Able-Bodied Boy, about finding Bella and dealing with all her quirks and all the coordination to keep her - ya know - fed and happy and alive... my favorite part is that Able-Bodied Boy LOVES her. Loves her so much it makes my heart ache. Loves to get down on the floor and play with her and use his playful kid voice. And that means more to me than anything...
     
video


Do you have similar stories of 'time healing all things'?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Thursday, January 26, 2012

have you been counting?

This officially marks the 100th post of Able-Bodied Girl, and I couldn't have made it this far without your support and readership.

Thanks for being there through funny times, and serious times...  Through weight loss struggles and triumphs... For being interested in worms, and chickens, and tolerating all the personal hygiene tales...

Thanks for taking an interest in the Urban Homesteading movement...

And for trying those Roasted Thai Lamb Shanks (YUM!)...

Thanks go to Jill of Lost and Not Found for writing a love letter to us all...

And to the cast of characters in my life: Able-Bodied Boy, the Able-Bodied Family, the Barnhenge's, Purple Monkey, Beth - Girl Explorer, and countless commenters who have amused and supported me.

In the coming year, I hope you'll join me as I expand the Clean Hippie list and continue trying to be a better me (and lose those 30 damn pounds!).

And so you don't get bored, you may note I've changed up the design a bit. Everyone needs a bit of change now and then, eh?


Any changes or topics you'd like me to tackle?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Monday, January 23, 2012

the sad conclusion to our tale

Well, thank you for following along with the chicken antics. I'm glad you were as entertained (and sometimes disturbed) as we were...

After the first story aired, but before I had released the second and third parts, we received some sad news.

While at boot-in-the-ass camp, Bunter managed to find his way over to the very busy rural road on which the Barnhenge's live. Sadly, we cannot answer the age old question "Why did the chicken cross the road?", we only know that Bunter did not make it.


 
Farewell friend. Barnhenge Mama says you were starting to mend your ways, and another family was interested in taking you into their flock.

  





 
Kinda makes you appreciate life, doesn't it? Even those that have made mistakes in their life...

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Sunday, January 22, 2012

hearty belly-filling food

Last weekend, I made Hungarian Chicken Paprikash and German Spaetzle noodles.

Paprikash is a dish my mom used to make on occasion, and I absolutely loved. But, as all things go, it faded from memory. That is, until I met Brigita in New Zealand, a Hungarian girl that I befriended and became one of my closest friends while our time in Wellington overlapped. Paprikash was one of her home favorites and, had we had a few spare dollars for the paprika, we would have made it. Luckily, I have a ton at home now, and the spare container of sour cream in the fridge screamed out for it :)

As for the spaetzle, it just seemed appropriate and I was curious about how they were made. The recipes I found seemed easy enough, so it was worth a shot. Especially since I bought a bag of egg noodles as back-up :) You don't need a lot for a full serving of these... they are VERY filling!


(what the leftovers look like, since this was made on the same day as
the outdoor chicken drama and brownie splurge and I didn't think to take photos:)


CHICKEN PAPRIKASH
(adapted from the Food 52 recipe)

You'll need:
  • 6 - 8 chicken thighs (with bone and skin)
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 medium onions, sliced into rings
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
  • 5 Tbsp paprika (you can use a mix; I used 4Tbs Hungarian and 1Tbs smoked)
  • 1/4 tsp (or more) Aleppo pepper flakes (or crushed red pepper flakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream (full fat, please!) brought to room temperature

Instructions:
Salt and pepper the chicken thighs. In a dutch oven over medium heat, brown the thighs - skin side down first - until golden. Set the thighs aside. (Can be done in batches.)

To the dutch oven (with the chicken fat), add the onions and cook until soft and slightly browned. Add the tomato paste and garlic, cooking until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Add the chicken broth and deglaze the pot. Add the tomatoes, paprika, and pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add the chicken thighs and any juices that collected with them, and bring to a simmer.

Simmer uncovered for 1-2 hours until the chicken is cooked through and tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, then whisk in the sour cream. Do not allow the heat to rise too much, or the sour cream will curdle.

Serve with egg noodles or spaetzle.

Yields: Serves 4-6


Time:
Prep: 20 min
Cooking: 1-2 hours


SPAETZLE

You'll need:
  • 3 cups AP flour
  • salt
  • 4 eggs
  • up to 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tbs butter

Instructions:
In a large pot, fill two-thirds with water and add a heavy dose of salt. Cover and set to boil.

In a large bowl, mix 3 cups flour and a pinch of salt. Create a hollow in the middle of the flour.
In a small bowl, whisk eggs and 1/2 cup milk until fully blended. Pour the egg mixture slowly into the flour, whisking it with a fork as you go. Add additional milk until the consistency is like a thick cake batter (more runny than dough, less runny than pancake batter).

Once the water is at a full boil, pour the batter into a gallon-sized plastic bag. Cut a tiny corner off the bag (you're looking for a stream of batter that is approximately 1/8 inch wide) and pipe into the bubbling middle of the water. The noodles should float to the top and, eventually, you may find it hard to find open spaces to let the stream into the water. A free hand (your own or someone else's) can use a utensil to create gaps.

The noodles only need to cook for 3-5 minutes, so let them cook for a couple additional minutes after you finish piping, then into a strainer they go (I scooped them into the colander, so I could re-use the water in case of a disaster).

The agitation of the water should break up the noodles, but if not you can break the pieces up after they cook.

In a large pan, warm the butter on medium and toss in the spaetzle to coat. (I don't know how necessary this step is; some recipes included it, others didn't. It is possible to fry/brown the spaetzle, but I didn't have any luck with it. The technique didn't hurt, but it did add calories and extra dishes to wash.)


Yields: Serves 4-6


Time:
Prep: 10 min
Cooking: 5 min


What's your favorite winter ethnic dish?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Friday, January 20, 2012

chicken soap opera, part 3

One Chicken Life to Live...


When we last left them, Bünter was caged in the garage and Ginger was recovering in the hen house with her friends, Mac and Babs...
Sunday morning, we left for Barnhenge Mama's, equipped with earplugs should Bünter decide to start crowing in the car.
(As a side note, at this point I was still high on the delicious brownies I had the night before. Can you say 'caffeine sensitive'? When the alarm went off at 7:30, giving us two hours to gradually get out of bed, shower, and prepare to leave, I immediately popped out of bed, said a very loud "Good Morning!" to Able-Bodied Boy and proceeded to be very industrious. The first caffeine crash gave me 3.5 hours of sleep, and the second round of energy was running at full steam...)
So, off we bounced into the countryside of Pennsylvania. When we arrived, Barnhenge Papa greeted us and encouraged us to bring Bünter out to the yard. He repeated their offer to swap out for another hen, so I followed him to one of their coops, where Bünter's cousins were safely locked in. Able-Bodied Boy went back to the car to get Bünter.

Now, if you've ever tried to catch a chicken, well, you probably know that it's hard. If you have never tried, it's hard. I mean, the Barnhenge's can probably do it no problem, but I'm an amateur compared to them, and not exactly the most agile person in the world. Chickens are skittish, not as big as their feathers make them seem to be, and can fly enough to make for a 3-dimensional battleground.

So, into the coop I went. Barnhenge Papa stood at the full-sized door and watched (laughing to himself, I'm sure, with my totally bogus technique). I decided to go in slow, let them get used to me just enough that I could gain a little ground, then try to corner at least one. Keeping in mind, of course, that of the 20-ish birds in there, only 4-5 were actually of the breed we were going for. So I crept. And crept. And they scattered back and forth. Finally, one of the Auracana's was directly in the corner I was approaching, so I moved in, hoping to keep her cornered and catch her.

It didn't quite go as planned.

From the yard, Able-Bodied Boy had arrived with Bünter and stood at a distance watching the door of the coop where Barnhenge Papa was watching me. The air in the doorway suddenly filled with squawking, panicked chickens flying out of the coop and into Barnhenge Papa's face. I spun around, realizing that all the chickens had fled and they were going to be much harder to catch out in the yard. Only to find that Barnhenge Papa had caught one, an Auracana.

Thus we had gained a Bunty2.



We chatted in the 20 degree morning chill while I held Bunty and we pondered the joys of chicken ownership. Eventually, we decided it was time to let Bünter out and fend for himself among the rooster and large flock - and the Major had already noticed his competition.

Bünter's first act of business upon leaving the cage was to find the nearest hen and try to mount her. Unlike Ginger, who must have been caught off-guard during her de-flowering, this hen fought back. The two circled and leapt in the air at each other for a few moments until Bünter gave up on her. He eyeballed another hen, tried again, and got the same response.

Barnhenge Papa chased him out of the chicken run and into the yard, where the Major and more hens mingled. And time and time again, Bünter tousled with hens and lost. The Major was so unimpressed, he virtually left Bünter to fend for himself. Last we saw him, Bünter wandered the yard alone...

I think he'll learn his lessons in ladies and manners.

After a lovely visit and a wonderful lunch, we headed home with Bunty2.
(Between the calming camomile tea and the carb load at lunch, I was now a hollowed zombie of my former caffeinated self. But the brownies were really sooooo good :)  

Monday morning, I planned to leave all the hens in our run to allow them time to sort out their pecking order, let Bunty get adjusted to the coop, and keep them safe while I left the house for a few hours (no rooster means that hawk attacks are more concerning).

I went out to give their frozen water a thaw and found Bunty sitting on the inner roof. No big deal, they get up there on occassion. But between the pecking from the other hens and my frightful presence, Bunty decided that there must be a way out of the situation. She lept up to the edge of the roofline, squeezed out through the web of string, and flew deep into the young woods behind the coop. You know, the web of string meant to keep hens in and hawks out? Yeah, that.

I happened to get a photo of the excitement:

Soooooooo, lest she not be able to get back into the coop later, I opened up and let the hens roam for the day. And I checked in on them frequently to see that Bunty was back with the others and integrating. Which she was, thank goodness. So now our only concern is her ability to escape and be flock-less and water-less all day, so we've been risking leaving them out while we're away from the house. But a little chicken wire should fix that sometime soon. And the flock will be complete and happy, once again.


Even after all the drama this past week, I have to say I LOVE having chickens hens. The entertainment value is immeasurable, as I spent hours happily watching their reactions to all of the weekend events. And I learned more about them, like the cock-eyed looks Mac gives when she hears another bird's call ("Is that a hawk??"). And how Babs, who used to be the lowest on the pecking order, now eyeballs and half-stalks Bella to determine if she could take her (my bets are on Bella, just sayin').

This photo doesn't do justice to the little dance that Babs did around Bella on Monday when they were out in the yard together. Babs would take a few steps closer to Bella, lean in to gauge a reaction, then get closer and closer. As Bella moved on, not paying attention, Babs moved behind her and then to the other side of her, still leaning in and gauging Bella's reaction. She got close enough at one point that I thought she was going to peck at Bella (I think that would have been a really really bad idea!), but Bella kept focused on pursuit of her favorite treat: chicken poop.


And the fresh eggs. I could go on and on about how much healthier they are. And bigger. And how much fun it is to make your own food spring from nature.

And the entertainment value. Oh, those funny chickens...
Are you tired of chicken stories yet? Cuz I'm not :)

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

chicken soap opera, part 2

General Chicken Hospital...

Last we saw them, Bünter had violated, harrassed, and cornered a bloody Ginger in the run as Able-Bodied boy ran to the rescue...
After they were separated, Ginger limped along the back of the house - not letting me get close - and we pondered how to separate them permenantly. Able-Bodied Boy retrieved the dog crate and some stale bread while I kept Bünter from stalking Ginger.

In the meantime, Babs and Mac had no problem sticking by Bünter's side and, as we tried to tempt him into the crate with bread, he left them to retrieve any scraps they could get. Then, as they turned around to enjoy their treat, he'd steal them. The group got bored of the scraps without Bünter ever even getting close to the crate.

So, we corralled him across the yard and managed to trap him in the coop. I locked him in while Able-Bodied Boy went back across the yard for the crate. A few minutes later, a very upset Bünter was sitting in the crate.

I called Barnhenge Mama, our wonderful chicken giftress, for advice. Should we do something for Ginger? Will Bünter get over this or is he bound for a stew pot? She graciously offered to take him back, and advised to treat Ginger's wounds as we would our own: clean and disinfect.

We found Ginger wedged under our front bushes, and I managed to grab her - which she was really not happy with. Blood was thick around her comb, and dripping down her beak. I cradled her, with a wimpering cluck-cluck, and sat down on the porch. Able-Bodied Boy brought warm water, latex gloves, paper towels, and antibiotic cream, and Ginger settled in for 15 minutes of care.

Ginger's wounds, as seen the next day:


Afterwards, she was happy to settle back into the hen house, and Mac and Babs came in to check on her.

We arranged with Barnhenge Mama to bring Bünter back to the farm for lessons in manners from the Major (their rooster) and their large flock of hens, as well as selecting another Auracana (a female, no really). Barnhenge Mama really is a saint :)


Next time: Will Bunter learn anything from the Major and his girls? Will a Bunty2 come home with us?
Don't you wish you had chickens?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

chicken tv turns into daytime soaps

As the Chicken World Turns...

So, as I may have mentioned, our big and beautiful Bunty had a sex-change. Or, possibly, someone at the hatchery didn't quite identify the correct parts when s/he was a chick.

In any case, a couple of weeks ago Able-Bodied Boy noticed some rather loud crowing and discovered Bunty was our cock-a-doodle-doo-er. He sent a text and I immediately googled Auracana roosters. Yup. Bunty is not a Bunty. Bunty is a Bünter. Cock-a-doodle-doo-ing up a storm from the front porch.

Asexual Bunty:

Decidedly Male (and camera-shy) Bünter:



We trekked in the cold to the neighbor's houses, apologizing and asking if it was a problem. They were gracious and "we live in the country, it's expected..." so we started liking the idea of having a rooster around to keep an eye to the sky for hawk attacks.

There was also a concern about aggression, so we figured we'd keep an eye on him...



Fast-forward a week to this past weekend. Early in the afternoon, I started hearing some squawking cries from the front bushes. It didn't sound like a hawk attack, but I went out to investigate anyway. Lo and behold, Bünter is trying to do his manly duty with Ginger, and she was NOT having it. Only, she didn't really know how to fight back, so he kept at it.

Apparently, roosters aim for the red on the hen's head when approaching her to mate, then grab the comb or neck to hold onto while mounting. Sadly, it seems he was a little too aggressive...

So we separated them. Ginger's head looked a little mangled and slightly bloodied on her comb, as well as being shaken up in general. So I grabbed her (normally, very difficult to do, but she was very disoriented), cradled her, and took her to the hen house. I locked her in for safety and comfort and we figured we'd keep checking on her.

After a couple of hours, she still didn't seem to want to come out, but we left the doors open so she could get food and water if necessary. Bünter was around on the other side of our house, so we hoped he wouldn't notice and would leave her alone.

From our bedroom upstairs, we watched as she tentatively came out of the house and coop, and entered the run where her friend Mac was waiting. And we watched as Bünter came around from the front of the house and headed to the run. Ginger looked very scared, eyeing him the whole time. He walked around the run, eventually found the entrance, and headed straight for her. She fled, closely chased by Bünter , and the two ran laps around the run and side yard. Able-Bodied Boy ran downstairs, shouting for me to tell him which of our doors to use to get to them quickest. Ginger ran back into the run, trapping herself, and was repeatedly attacked again. Able-Bodied Boy chased Bünter off as I ran down myself.

 
Next episode: Will Ginger survive the attack? Will Able-Bodied Boy grab an axe to dispatch Bünter? Or will Bünter have a second chance to learn how to treat the ladies right?

Does chicken TV interest you? Have you considered the joys of poultry passions? Would you enjoy the eggy delights?


Much love,
Able-Bodied Girl






Sunday, January 15, 2012

weekend excitement

What a weekend (and it's not over yet)! No time - or photos - to post about it all just yet, but here's a taste....

We spent Saturday chasing a sex-crazed rooster (yeah, Bunty is decidedly NOT a hen) off of our poor dear Ginger, who was getting injured.

I made a hearty eastern-european meal of Hungarian Chicken Paprikash over homemade German spaetzle noodles, shared with dear friends.

I ate delicious, fudgy brownies. Which - if you know my sensitivity to caffeine in any form - made for a very squishy-brained Able-Bodied Girl.

We shipped the rooster off to boot-in-the-ass camp at Barnhenge Mama's farm, where he will learn manners and respect of the ladies. We also picked up Bunty2 and integrated her into the mini-flock.

Tomorrow, I am off of work. And I've decided to have a tech-lite day. No internet. No email. No tablet. No TV. No DVD or Netflix streaming. Cell/text only for immediate matters. No computer. Until 9p. Able-Bodied Boy is willing to join, although pressing work matters may force email/computer use. Crafting, cleaning, and board games will abound!

 So until then, have a wonderful Monday!

Anything exciting in your world this weekend?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

consumerism at its....

... not best... not worst... just, at itself...

I've been a total consumerist this holiday season and it's been driving me a bit nuts. Ok, maybe not total, but at least more than usual.

I'm sitting here on a new tablet, all shiney and new and Made in China (by oppressed workers, I'm sure) and made with precious metals purchased from African tyrants.

But it's a really really awesome replacement for my dead laptop (which did, by the way, get a ressurection through some upgrades a couple of years ago). And I realy needed it. How else am I going to avoid real human contact by just browsing Facebook updates and downloading apps? My laptop couldn't do anything important, like output Hulu to the TV so I could sew while half-listening.

My dead laptop, which will probably now join the millions of tons of other worthless electronics that gather in toxic graveyards.

You see why I'm a bit twitchy. This is how my brain works.

I drove around last night buying things from stores that were not organic, local, eco-friendly, or sustainably-made. I didn't even think about any of that before driving around after work.

I didn't think to look where the Dole fruit cups were made/shipped from/made of before buying a dozen after my surgery. Oooooh a Sale! Must Buy!  (China, the Phillippeans, Mexico... #5 plastic - not recyclable here - with a celophane top).

But little things like that drive me nuts afterwards. And I guess that's a good thing. I mean, I'd rather be conscious and trying and failing than ignorant and not trying at all.

I want to live my life in the cycle of life. Not just consume and dispose and only think of the one moment that the item I bought is in my life. I want it all to fit together, the way that nature does in and of itself. I want to know that the inputs and the outputs aren't just ellipses in my life; they should be knowns that don't make me cringe.

Think about antiques. Old, well-built stuff that has lasted, what, 50+ 100+ years?  Things that have purpose, both functional and decorative. In 50 years, will we have antiques? Or just old crappy iPhones to laugh at?

That's my rant. I'm going to go consume some unrenewable energy and encourage child labor now.
  

Anything pissing you off lately? Make any resolutions about them?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl


  

Sunday, January 1, 2012

happy. new. year.

Well, I finally have time to post, seeing as I stuck in the hospital, recovering from an apondectomy on New Years Eve.

Anyway, stellar end to 2011, here in a hospital bed at 4:30am. The thing is though, I'm not sad or upset about it. Granted, it was a little hard sending Able-Bodied Boy off to the big party of friends (I told him to), but overall, I'm happy, and it has been a great year.

2010 was the suck of suck. I won't explain why, but I have alluded to big changes that took place that made me believe that 2011 would be great, and it has been. In a lot of way, but mainly it's been great in my head, heart, and spirit. My level of gratitude on an immediate basis has gone skyhigh, and it's been lovely to watch my personal growth this year, mostly in my headspace.

With your encouragement, I blogged. It helped me expend creative juices, reviving my love of creative writing. It also gave me an outlet to express and codify and clarify many of the beliefs I have about motivation, choices, and our relationships with our selves, loved ones, and world around us. That has been huge for me, and I appreciate all the kind words and feedback about the things I've had to say. I know my blogging rate slowed down, but you all stayed around and that encourages me to continue in 2012.

I have also had an amazing year at work. I don't often speak of my employer, for obvious public-blog-legal-issues reasons, but I have to say that I love my workplace. Lots of changes to my immediate work group this year, including my own position/promotion, and any kinks in the changes have seemed to work themselves out. My employer has afforded me a ton of professional growth this year, and I am extremely grateful for that and the overall wonderful treatment of their employees. The commute still sucks, but that's not their fault :)

My relationship with my family continues to grow stronger. It's amazing how we get over those tumultuous early years of teenage drama and sibling rivalry. My sister-in-law mentioned that she couldnt imagine Able-Bodied Brother and I not getting along. On one hand, OOOHHH the stories... on the other hand, he is truly one of my favorite people on the planet and I'm starting to tear up here thinking about how cool he is and how fun it is to, every time we get together, bond more and more. Gah he's awesome!
Same with my parents. Dad and I were always close, but that relationship is more and more tangible every time I see him or speak to him. And after fighting it most of my teenage years, I am finally grateful for all of the ways in which I am my mother's daughter (Reppucci, you bastard!). I am so happy to see them fulfilled and loving their retired life - though I ought to call it semi-retired since they both now have jobs and are far busier than ever!

Able-Bodied Boy treats me like a queen and I ask myself every day what I ever did in my life to deserve his love and devotion. Our opposing perspectives on just about everything had been something I struggled with but have seriously begun to embrace and value. He has taught me so much about patience and acceptance, and has truly made me a better human being.

One of the awesomest things to happen this year has been new friends. My skydiving buddies from last year, who were virtual strangers at the time - having only met them once at a comping event - have turned out to be the most supportive girlfriends and I am so grateful to have found people I can relate to. Able-Bodied Boy and I have also become friends with our neighbors! Seriously, the walk-down-the-street-for-dinner sort of thing. The drop-by-and-check-on-my-animals thing. The I-don't-hate-living-in-the-middle-of-nowhere-quite-as-much thing. It has been an amzing few months getting to know them and Able-Bodied Boy and I look forward to that growing relationship. Neighbor-friends... amazing!

So, what shall the New Year bring? Well, for one, it better bring me some damn solid foods soon! I don't thing I'm going to have resolutions, per se. The 30lb goal was, well, too high a bar and, while I think I did pretty well at most of it, I know I'm far less ambitious that I wish I was.
>>More food preservation. Always a struggle due to Able-Bodied Boy's 3-week departure mid-summer, but he has some things he wants and we WILL work together for all of our canning goals (right dear??).
>>More cycling. Finding the in-the-moment motivation to get into the cycling clothes and on the road is sometimes tough, but man, I do love getting out there. As long as no one plans to get married that weekend, I'm definitely trying for the 75m Bike To The Bay this year, maybe even the 100m. No clue how many miles I put in last year, but I think I'll track this year and see if I can reach the 1000 mile mark.
>>More organization. I can be very type-A, and I can find plenty of outlets for that in the home.
>>More friends. I can't wait to spend more time with friends, new and old, this year. Especially if they agree to play some of the fun games Boy got me for my birthday and Christmas this year :)

And here's what I'm looking forward to in 2012...
>>More sushi days! January is booked. February guest list is being finalized. And I'm hoping to lure more friends that we don't see often enough with my fabulous sushi. (Sounds like a blog post to me:))
>>Bridesmaid! My dear childhood friend is getting married, and I've been honored to be asked to be in her wedding party. We met in first grade as neighbors, have kept in touch ever since, and now enjoy annual camping trips together with our significant others. Can't wait to spend her day with her in the Poconos!
>>Work! Ok, I know that sounds wierd. But I have so many exciting (self-imposed) goals for myself in 2012, and I just can't wait to get to it all!
>>Blogging! I think I need to schedule it into my week, which is pretty feasible. I just need to git'er'dun. So much more I want to share with you!
>>Solid foods! For the love of god, I'm starving....

What are you looking forward to this year? What made 2011 good/bad and what would you like to see change?

Much Love,
Able-Bodied Girl