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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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Changes and Modern Electronic Trances

It’s always refreshing to go back to one's roots, and one's favourite books. I’m currently re-reading a few books by Luisa Francia, one of my favourite, well, I suppose you could say “magic teachers”? She’s so refreshingly down to earth, has lived in different parts of the world and learned from magicians of tribal communities, and developed her very own, very Western approach to magic, and one I can relate to so well.

There aren’t too many of those!

For example, she writes about the way people get so absorbed in their phones and computers. What many people simply write off as a negative trait of modern times, she calls by its name: It’s a form of trance. And human beings have always sought out states of trance, always. In medieval times it was the steady tilling or sowing of long furrows in the fields, or the ever-same turn of the spinning wheel or the weaving loom, in other times and cultures it was and still is dances with repetitive motions (including dancing to modern electronic music).

When I’m in front of the computer, I can get so absorbed I’m completely oblivious to the world. Suddenly I look up and Titus is on the “roof” of the aviary, and I didn’t even hear him flying out the cage door (in case you didn’t know, budgies make an almighty racket when they fly, they sound like helicopters). Suddenly I look up and it’s two hours later. It happens when I’m playing WoW, but also when I do other things online. Most people know the phenomenon when they’re on social media. TV has a similar effect – not all the time, but it happens.

How about we stop seeing this as a bad thing, and welcome it as a human need? Yes, the teen with their head bent over their phone doesn’t chat to strangers at the bus stop. Then again, who does? As long as we still communicate with real people, as long as we still hug and meet up and do “real” things in the real world, our electronic trances are no worse than anything humans have done throughout history.

What else is new? Life is kicking me in the backside. I get more and more signals that I’m actually supposed to go in the direction I want to go to. This weekend, I started having symptoms of RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury) in my right forearm. I’m having an assessment by Occupational Health today and I’ll also see a doctor about this. I’ve ordered a bandage/splint to wear at night and read up on all sorts of exercises and other things to do to alleviate the pain and prevent it from becoming permanent. But in the end, the message is: Don’t spend all day and evening at a computer!

That’s the moderation I mentioned above. It does not exist in my life at the moment. I don’t get to hug people nearly enough. I spend all day at the PC in work, and then again for either Coaching or Gaming in the evening. It has to change, and it will – watch this space! I’m not going to be a stressed office worker forever (although I’m with a very decent company, it’s still office work, and the pressure in recent months has been incredible).

It’s happening. The Empress is on her way.

P.S. I’ll not stop working altogether, or Coaching or indeed gaming, and certainly not blogging! No worries. Moderation is where it's at.

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Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Wait


I’m in a weird state of suspension at the moment. You know how they say, that you shouldn’t spend your life waiting for the future, anticipating but never living in the moment? Well, it’s kind of hard right now.

Believe me, I’m trying. I’m talking to my cutest. I’m going to the movies with friends. I’m consciously appreciating the fact that my life isn’t at all bad right now. And still I’m wired. The full moon isn’t helping either, it’s making me twitchy and impatient with all that extra energy.

I’m still enjoying it. Search me.

The fact is that there are several big changes in my life upcoming, and I can’t even talk about it right now because it’s just not ready to be shared. And so I wait, trying to get grounded, but it’s rather like catching a wet bar of soap – kind of fun, but slippery and hard to get a hold of!

To give you an idea of the process I’m going through, it’s like the early stages of hatching (well, I’m a mad bird lady, what kind of metaphor did you expect from me??). I’m struggling, squirming, pecking a hole, slowly widening the appearing cracks. It’s rather uncomfortable but also familiar and comforting. But out there is the world, and that’s my destination. So I keep pecking.

In less cryptic and more enjoyable news, I’m making a serious effort to get my budgies, if not tame, then at least less afraid of me. Drama-queen Tia’s lessons are anchored deeply within them; especially Talion is absolutely terrified of me, or to be precise, of my hands.

As long as my hands are on my back, they happily close their eyes at me and fluff up while they listen to me singing their praises. But scary hands appearing in front of or (shock, horror!) INSIDE the aviary, and they panic, no matter how slow-motion my movements are. I’ve tamed several budgies in my life, but this is new: they are fairly independent of me and have a big aviary to fly to the furthest corner where I can’t reach them, the little beggars.

Still, there’s progress. Some days ago, they ate eggfood out of a bowl I was holding. That was my greatest triumph. Titus even put his claw on my finger (which was wrapped around the bowl). I wanted to shout: “Yes, yes, yesssss!! Little-Titus claw on my finger!!” but I knew better and just continued murmuring what a clever little budgie he was, whilst holding perfectly still.

Funny how some people don’t understand that my heart stops and starts with moments like these.

And that’s my rather weird update this week. I hope I’ll have more and clearer news soon! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the full moon and all the abundance and energy She brings.

If you feel called to it, please leave a comment below. It will be visible after approval and I respond to every comment, so please check back later!

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Tia, ca. 1. Feb 2007 - 3. Feb 2015

                    From left: Talion, Titus, and Tia

When I walked into a dodgy little pet shop in early November 2007, I had no idea that upon leaving, I'd be carrying my heart, no longer in my chest but in two small transport boxes, containing two adorable little budgies I'd already named Tia and Mirias.

I'd found them in an overfull cage, much too exposed to the customers of the store, and poor Tia was constantly fluttering from one side to the other in utter panic. She was the prettiest of all the birds in the cage, yellow and an exotic kind of green. It made me think of one of the female characters in Pirates of the Caribbean – and at that moment, my then-boyfriend who'd joined me in front of that cage, said: “You should call her for that voodoo woman in Pirates of the Caribbean. What was her name again?”

I exclaimed: “I've just been thinking of her too! Her name was... hang on... oh yes, Tia Dalma!” We hadn't seen the movie recently or anything, it was what some people would call a co-incidence. I say, it simply was her name. 

                  I had a very bad camera at the time, hence the washed-out look! You can 
                  see how young she was because her eyes are big and black without the 
                  "rings" around them older budgies have.

Tia and Mirias became friends quickly, then fell in sugary-sweet love. They were the original “cutest” and whilst Tia was so paranoid she convinced every other budgie around her not to become tame either, I did develop a close relationship with her. 

Tia was a little daft sometimes, but at the same time the most intelligent of my budgies. I had entire conversations with her, and while I'm not silly enough to claim she understood what I said, she understood the tone and what was behind it, and she'd “answer” in an appropriate tone every time.

               This was about the furthest apart Tia and Mirias ever got from each other!
These two were my companions through the years, they moved house with me several times and went through so much stuff with me – often scared, but always such troopers. They loved some places, disliked others. All in all, we were happy. I even let them breed one time, and Tia laid seven perfect eggs, but they turned out to be infertile – probably hormonal problems on Mirias's side.

                 Tia's first 3 eggs.

Tia had the most varied chirps and taught first Mirias, then after his untimely death my other budgies, lots of new notes and tunes. I've never had a budgie with such a varied, beautiful voice.

My Tia budgie. My sweet, mad, funny, and utterly adorable little Tia.

She loved Mirias to a fault. We mourned him together when he died of a weird wound under his wing, scared and in pain in the vet's office and feeling betrayed by me. Mirias's death still haunts me and always will, and I swore to myself to never do that to another of my birds.

                 Tia and Titus

Tia survived her first mate by four years and after her initial grief (budgies mate for life, unless a mate dies), she found Titus. They weren't quite as close as she and Mirias had been but they still adored each other, and when Tia developed an awful tumor on her lower belly and fell sick in December, Titus actually sat cuddled up to her for hours to keep her warm. I can't even tell you how amazing this is; it's not something usual in budgies (they do caress each other's heads sometimes, but aren't otherwise very touchy-feely).

Tia had never been sick a day in her life. ALL my other budgies have felt off sometimes, and bounced back, but she had a rock-solid health and immune system. So when I found her too fluffy and on two legs instead of one, and saw that awful swelling, I instantly knew it was serious.

But my brave Tia got back to her normal chirpy self again after a few days, and for another month, was almost normal. I prayed the tumor might be benign. Either way, a vet couldn't have done much. Budgies are so small, surgery is very risky and kills them more often than not. I had sworn not to put another bird through the trauma Mirias had experienced, and I wasn't going to expose my Tia to the terror of going to the vet – not her, my little drama queen who had never come any closer to being tame than she had been on the first day.

After a few weeks of “normality”, her illness caught up with her, and this time she wasn't getting better. I kept hoping although deep down inside I knew.

A few days before her death I told her it was ok to go. That she should fight as long as she could, but if it was too much and she was in pain, she should let go and it was ok and I'd understand.

                   The last picture of Tia

On Tuesday, 3. February, she began to look disoriented. She “fell” and caught herself to land on one of the lower perches of the aviary, and had trouble coming back up. She ended up climbing on the side of the cage, and Talion, the sweetie, flew down to cheer her on and show her the way.

When they had their “dinner” that night, Tia went to the food tray with the others, but looked confused and didn't eat. The others flew off when they were done, but Tia stayed on the food tray. 

I knew it was time, and I wasn't going anywhere. 

I said good night to them and got comfortable on the sofa in the dark. I kept watch, I dozed, and at one point Tia began to scramble, it sounded like she was scratching away seeds in the food bowl. I talked to her softly, told her how much I loved her and that she needn't be scared. Then she was still.

I didn't want to disturb them by checking to confirm whether she was truly dead, and when everything remained quiet I actually went upstairs to get a few hours of sleep. When I came down in the morning, I found her in the food bowl, dead.

So many tears followed. I am devastated at the loss of my stalwart companion of 7 years. She was exactly 8 years old. I'd always promised her we'd get our own place, without scary noises from neighbours. She never lived to see the place.

If I'm heartbroken, Titus is even more so. He actually got sick at first, he was inconsolable. Now he's picking up, but he's still quiet. All of us are. Talion misses Tia almost as much as Titus; he was the first budgie I bought after Mirias had died, and he was still a baby, only six weeks old at the time. He worshipped Tia with a kind of puppy-dog love, and he misses her a lot. Even Tracey misses her “girlfriend” - the two had an unusual understanding (normally budgie hens don't get along).

My one comfort is that she had as beautiful a death as she could have had, and the exact opposite of Mirias's. She was at home, where she felt safe, in her beloved aviary, with the others close by and my voice telling her she wasn't alone. She didn't fall on the floor or hurt herself. She didn't struggle, it was all over in a few seconds. I am so grateful for that.

Both my original “cutest” are gone now, flying high in green fields. Mirias has long left me, but I sometimes feel my Tia still around. She went from Tia-budgie to Tia-spirit and I'm pretty sure Titus feels her too. He's so far resisted Tracey's attempts at getting closer to him; maybe in future they will become mates. We'll see.

For now, we all need to heal the Tia-shaped hole in our hearts.