Friday, 3 July 2015

The Future Is Taking Shape

                 The Bray Golf Course. Yes, I realise it's nice here too!

Changes are coming.

I feel a little funny saying this, because I’ve been saying it since the beginning of the year. And by the way, do you realise that 2015 is now more than halfway over? Time really does fly. I almost feel like yelling: “Slow down! I have a lot more to get done this year!”

So the current status is, I handed in the final requested document for the appeal of my mortgage application this week. My bank advisor assures me the decision won’t take long now. I’m hoping and praying but at the same time, I’m prepared for all possible outcomes, which are:

1. Either they’ll approve my mortgage and I’ll go looking for a hag cottage in the West. I may or may not move into rental accommodation there for a few months until it’s all done and dusted. All this also depends on me getting actual work from home (I’m working on that as well, but nothing concrete yet).

2. Or they’ll decline the mortgage, and then I’ll move into rental accommodation in the West, again pending a job from home. This should be possible though, I have a few leads and if necessary I’ll compromise on things like salary (I have a very good idea of how much I need to live on, and once I don’t have to save 750 EUR a month for my deposit anymore, I can afford a cut in salary).

I don’t quite dare put a date on it, but I’d like to move out of my current place within the next three months. This is the one thing I know for certain; it’s a lovely place, but it no longer suits my needs and it’s actually harming me now, with my light sleep that’s always interrupted by the sounds through the wall. It served its purpose but my time here is over.

The birds need rest too in the night, the fact that it gets noisy just after I turn off their light at ten, is very stressful for them. I want a light, airy room for them in a detached (free-standing) house. I want them to be happy, especially my two little patients.

I haven’t told you this yet, but it turned out a few weeks ago that my two babies are a. not Miko and Leah but Mika and Leo, haha (I’m calling her Miko now and him Laeas), and b. survivors of a horrible disease called the French Moult, which makes young chicks lose tons of feathers, which never fully grow back. The breeder waited until their bodies were feathered again and then sold them to a clueless pet shop, where luckily I was the one to pick them up.

They just looked very young at first, but then Miko’s flight feathers and tail grew out awkward and crooked so she can only fly a little, and Laeas’s didn’t really grow at all. Poor Laeas will probably never fly, and it frustrates him so much. I’m trying to make it as easy for him as possible, carry him places and construct lots of walkways so he can get to the same places Miko can.

The experience has just highlighted to me all that’s wrong with animal protection in this country. The pet shop didn’t even have the name and contact details of the breeder. Crooks are getting away with all sorts of things – strictly speaking, my two should have been culled as babies, cruel as it sounds. Now that they’re older and I love them, I’ll obviously care for them and make life as easy for them as possible, but it’ll always be a struggle for Miko and Laeas.

And that’s it from me for now. I wish you a sunny weekend and hopefully some time to yourself!

Friday, 19 June 2015

In Which I Might End Up In A Hobbit House After All

So, my mortgage application got rejected.

I’m appealing, of course, with the help of my very lovely and supportive bank advisor. But the chances are slim. My advisor says it’s ridiculous, and also tells me she’s never seen anyone with their finances so well organised. I did learn my lesson there ten years ago, you see.

But I’m not a young, Irish couple with two incomes and a split of the risk, and 2.5 children. I’m an older, foreign, single applicant, and in recession-plagued Ireland, the banks have become super cautious. That’s the same banks who were throwing 3rd and 4th mortgages at obvious crooks only a few years ago.

Ah well. I’m not giving up of course, so no reason to become all doleful! I’m also looking for alternatives, which I’ve already alluded to in my last entry. The most exciting and beautiful of these alternatives is the Cauldron Community, an eco village a friend of mine is planning in the West of Ireland (please like the Facebook page as well!). Incidentally, the West is exactly where I wanted to go in any case; all I need is a work-from-home job, and Apple already offer those in Ireland. They are regular, full-time jobs with benefits and job security just like any office-based job, and I could work from anywhere in the country, provided I have a good stable internet connection.

The Cauldron Community is going to be a village of ecologically sound “hobbit houses” in the style of the one in the picture above. Obviously, I’m all for it! The only reason why I’m not 150% sure I’ll end up there is that my bird sanctuary is going to have specific requirements, such as a very quiet place and a separate room, or I won’t get any more sleep than I do now.

The one thing I know is that I’ll not stay in my current place any longer. It’s still a lovely place, and my landlord and family are still lovely people. But there’s more noise coming through the walls than ever – the daughter is now 16, and while she is amazing and not at all noisy, she is AWAKE at all hours (like I was at that age - I’m not going to be a hypocrite!), and with the thin walls and my light sleep, this dooms me, especially since I need to get up a good hour earlier than she does. It's not good for the birds either.

It’s eating away at me and at my health. My lovely doctor, who’s amazingly open minded to alternative medicine as well as conventional, told me that my immune system HAD to get compromised eventually with the constant sleep deprivation. I also don’t live healthy – I mean, I do, but I don’t eat as cleanly as I did last spring because I’m just so stressed in my job and the one thing that’s always available is unhealthy stuff. In the evening, I’m often so tired I don’t want to cook and go to the chipper instead. I know these are my choices, but I’ve also chosen not to beat myself up at the moment; it’s what keeps me sane. But it can’t go on indefinitely.

So, either they approve me for a mortgage after all, I get a job working from home and buy a hag house somewhere in the West, or I don’t get a mortgage, and then I’ll look into renting a standalone house also in the West and also work from home, and help with the Cauldron Community. We're hoping for the first hobbit houses to be habitable some time next year.

There are exciting times ahead in any case. And I know, I just know it in my bones, that something is going to work out for me. I’ll keep you updated!

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Monday, 1 June 2015

To Own One's Day

Some weeks ago I watched a documentary about the rather mad but very likeable guy who invented “Earthships” (ecologically sound dwellings, google it for pictures). One thing he said about life in his hand-built house, is how great it feels to “own your day”, to completely have one's time to oneself. There's no job to go to, no money to chase, the food is grown in and around the house and the house consists mostly of recycled materials and is already paid-for.


It pretty much sums up my ideal, and something which has been my ideal since I was about 19. I don't quite see it happening, not while I live in this expensive country and have very specific plans about a detached dwelling and a bird sanctuary. In fact, there is a project a friend of mine works on, an eco village in the West of Ireland, and I'm looking into that as well – it would mean the self-sufficient life I aim for, with planting our own food etc.

I suspect I'll have to get out of my current living situation before that project becomes reality though, and if my mortgage does get approved, I might end up with a liveable compromise: a house with a decent energy rating where I can, after saving up for another few years, install solar panels and a geo-thermal heat pump as well as grow my own food – and have my bird sanctuary. I'll still have to work, but I hope I'll be able to work from home. The two hours I currently spend commuting every day could be used for the sanctuary, without making any other change.

To own my day would, of course, be the ultimate freedom. To Coach and look after cute featherballs, and to game, and to meet friends. To dance and sing, and celebrate the moon and the sun and the changing of the seasons. To sit in front of the fire with a mug of tea and a good book. It's got to be possible, right?

And it better happen sooner rather than later, because my body is sending me signal after signal that all is not right. For the last week and a half, I've been battling streptococcus throat, and despite antibiotics I'm still not well and now I also have a cold on top of everything else. It's alright, body – I got the message! I'm working on it! The wait can be very, very trying at times.

I'm not quite ready to talk or write about the other news, which is that my beloved Titus, my “big grey boy” as I used to call him, has died. I was with him as he softly fell asleep on the floor of the cage, slept for about an hour, and then fell over dead. I'm so very sad – it's so cruel because he'd just started to trust me a little in his last few days, happily sat on my finger and ate out of my hand. I brought his body in for an autopsy, and it looks like he had testicular cancer. The toxicology report isn't back yet, but there's a chance I've no gastric yeast in my aviary after all. Then again, why is Talion throwing up? I hope he doesn't have a tumor too.

That's it from me this time, I'm going to play with “the babies” Leah and Miko for a bit - I'm typing this sitting on my bed with my laptop, watching over them as they play outside the cage, and about every half hour one of them flutters to the floor and needs to be rescued, hehe. That's them in the picture above – aren't they adorable? Once I know my aviary is disease-free, I'll introduce them to the “big little budgies” (Talion and Tracey are older, but tiny. I suspect Leah and Miko might be from exhibition-type parents) downstairs.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sad News And New Life

The above picture proves that spring is, indeed, here! It's a tree in one of the front gardens of my street. Every now and then, I need to look at the blossoms to remind myself – the weather has been cold and rainy for a while now, so it's easy to forget that it's actually May.

I hope you had a beautiful Bealtaine! For me, it was the 10th anniversary of my Dedication, but the day itself was a bit of a rush for me – I had to catch up after working long hours for my work's quarter end, and cleaned the house, went shopping, and got set to go to Germany for a few days. I had a great time in the end, with my dad and with dear friends, and I decided to make it a full week of anniversary celebrations. Tonight I'm finally going to bake my Bealtaine Bread, a little late this year but that's how life works out sometimes.

Going away is always difficult for me because I hate leaving my budgies, but this time it was particularly heart-wrenching. The reason is that my Titus fell sick a few weeks ago, and by now Talion is sick too. I've excluded quite a few possibilities, and am now almost certain that they have Avian Gastric Yeast – a fungal infection which is present in an alarmingly large percentage of pet birds, but doesn't always break out. I suspect that Titus came to me four years ago carrying it, because he, Talion, and Tracey have periodically thrown up, something Tia and Mirias never did.

When Tia died, it put a big strain on Titus, and that might have brought out the illness. Now Talion has it too. There's not really a cure, but I read good things about weak thyme tea and prebiotics, so they're getting those. And tons of love.

I'm facing the very real possibility that I'll be losing all three of my budgies. Tracey is still holding up but you never know. It's like doom hanging over my head. I can't even begin to describe the horror of it, especially now that I'm getting closer to them and they're almost tame. It's beyond cruel. So much so that I can't write more about it now.

When Tia died, I couldn't even contemplate getting a new budgie. But yesterday, I don't know why, I suddenly knew I needed some joy again with my budgies, apart from all the heartbreak.

And so today, I got two new baby budgies. No, they're nowhere near the aviary, I don't want them to catch anything and they're too young anyway. So I made them a “nappy cage” upstairs, and there they are now – that is, one of them is. The hen hasn't come out of her box yet, she's very scared so I put the box into the cage. Now she can take her time. I hear her “tseh!” every now and then out of the box, which is very cute! Barely arrived and already giving out, haha, looks like I got another feisty one there.

I thought of breaking the “T” name tradition and calling the new ones Leah and Miko (pronounced “Mee-ko”). Photos will follow when they're settled in. They're still babies, with short tails (hee hee), and might be siblings, although they're very sweet with each other. Who cares, I don't intend on breeding them anyway.

Send a little healing to my Titus and my Talion, please, when you have a bit of energy to spare.

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Wednesday, 1 April 2015


                  From left: Tracey, Titus, and Talion

Yes, I DO have an update. It’s not the final one yet, but I can’t really drag it out any longer, can I? And it’s good news to boot so far. Sooooo, here’s the big dream progress.

D’you know how I started getting together the necessary paperwork to apply for a mortgage in early February? Yeah, that took a while. You see, joint applications (from a couple, for example) are no problem, the risk is spread, you have two incomes… And then there’s the hag. I make decent money but for a single applicant, the bank assumes such huge living costs there wasn’t much left, especially with the payments I was still making to clear the rest of my debts.

You might remember how I negotiated a settlement in early 2013, to pay back all the debt but not the huge interest that would have kept me in debt for 30 years. The agreement was to make payments up to January 2016. And these payments reduced the amount I could borrow for a mortgage so drastically, I could have perhaps bought a dog kennel with what was left, but nothing more than that.

I’m not known for giving up though.

And so I thought back and forth, and in the end paid off the rest of the debt in one fell swoop. Tada! Debt-free hag! It feels amazing, let me tell you. At the same time, this of course tore a rather substantial hole into the sum I had saved up for a deposit, but my dad jumped in and agreed to lend me the rest in case I should find a house quickly. Because a mortgage approval is good for 6 months, and each month that passes means I save more money back into the deposit fund. But it’s good to know my dad has my back in case I need it.

As you can imagine, arranging all of this and transferring the money to Austria, and getting their confirmation that all’s paid now – and getting it in a form that was understandable to my non-German-speaking Irish bank, took some time. But now my mortgage application is truly on its way and although I’m superstitious and won’t celebrate until I have the approval, my lovely advisor at the bank says it’s looking good.

I’m telling you, it’s quite a journey, and my inner journey mirrors the developments. I still alternate between joy and excitement and sheer terror, but the joy is winning. And I apologise for being a big tease, but this is truly only the tip of the iceberg of developments. I’m truly working on creating my dream life, and the house is just one part of that. But I really really can’t share any more there just yet!

In other news, my budgies have meanwhile all eaten from a small bowl of eggfood I held, and all three of them have tasted my finger holding the bowl to see if it’s edible too (very gently, though). It’s so ticklish! Titus and Talion have also sat on my finger whilst eating, which is without contest the Best Feeling In The World and makes me very happy.

Now hopefully we’ll all have a new place to live soon, where we all feel equally happy and safe! If you have them to spare, I could use some crossed fingers right now.

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