Howdy

Woah! I moved this blog to WordPress.org at the end of December 2016 and the last post I wrote was in mid-January 2017. Three years and a half have passed between then and today. Who could have foreseen that I was going to abandon the blog for such a long time. The truth is that life happened in the meantime, and the problems I mentioned in my last posts, about the camera setup was part of why I haven’t blogged again. I haven’t stopped sharing things on Instagram, but somehow my sewing evolved into different projects. I’ve also made some cake, but most of my sewn garments are things for everyday wear, and it somehow didn’t justify taking my DSLR, tripod, remote, and light deflector from the closet (just mentioning each item is a hassle). Around that time I began taking my audiobook reviewing blog more seriously, and unconsciously I stopped writing here and begun writing there.

Usual setup to take pictures for the blog in our previous apartment

2017 was also the first year that the numbers on our flock exploded: we received a cockatiel and a lovebird from a friend at the start of the year, and Billy and Jane had five chicks in December. We gave two of them to friends, one died after some troubles hatching and not being properly fed by their parents, and we kept two. The four survivors were females, and the two girls that we kept were named June and Molly.

The four chicks

That year we also decided that our life was stable enough to get a mortgage and, after some apartment hunting, we zeroed in on to a 50-year-old apartment with five rooms, and just 300 meters from where we were currently living. It was October and, a three-month renovation was needed to make the place we wanted to live in. Three months became a bit over four, as it usually happens on these matters.

House renovations
Our living room almost ready

In February 2018, just at the time when we were going to move to the new place I was informed that I was being made redundant at work. I had been working for the same department for about 8 years, 2 in Belgium and 6 in Madrid, remotely. I was the only one in Spain and got a temporary contract when we moved here from Belgium. When it was time to get it renewed, IBM had a pension-related lawsuit from ten years before, and the hirings were frozen just when I had to be renewed. I was hired by a third company to keep my job, and was even made permanent after some time, but after six years in Spain, my boss informed me that the heads of the department in the US thought that they didn’t want to keep paying for a contractor in Spain when a contractor in India could be much cheaper. The company that hired me was looking for a new client I could work for, but due to my background, I only got offers related to security and banks, and I just didn’t feel up to it. My health was still bad, and I didn’t want to switch to a high-stress environment. I had also been working from home for the past six years, so it was going to be a big change. Working on the basement of a bank with highly sensitive data and not seeing the day of light after 45 minutes of commute? No, thanks.

The four chicks

I found a good enough paid job working with databases and open sources. It sounded interesting enough and the people there seemed friendly, but I only lasted four months. I had to suddenly reorganize my life, adding at least 90 minutes of commute to my day. I was always exhausted. I need to sleep at least 9 hours every night to be able to function properly, but leaving our apartment at 8 and returning at 7 was draining me more and more. It was the time I had to start batch cooking to have my meals ready for work, and my Sundays became a nightmare. I’m still batch cooking nowadays but I got more used to it.

Chicken in Alfredo sauce

In the beginning, with all those changes, it completely destabilized me. The worst part: I was good at my job and everybody loved me. I worked closely with my boss, being the only one under his management. He was a good person but a workaholic, and he expected the same from me. I received messages from him every day at the strangest of hours: 7 am, 11 pm, it didn’t matter to him. His excuse was that it was for him to remember to tell me something, otherwise he would forget. Meetings were also chaotic, took a long time, and he was never in time. My work was of course often interrupted for spontaneous meetings initiated by him. I requested to work from home one day per week to the big bosses in the USA, and after a week of deliberation, my request was denied without any explanation.

One of the many bathroom selfies I took while working at the office showcasing my handmade garments

Two months in, I knew that job wasn’t for me, and I desperately wanted to return to a remote job, just to have enough sleep and some time for me. My health worsened during that time, I got a horrible eczema on my face and I was permanently exhausted. I think it’s when I started crying. I had sudden bouts of crying at the office. Luckily, only one of my colleagues caught me, and she recommended me to find something else. I found a couple of remote jobs that I thought I could be good at, and before ending my trial period, I took two weeks of vacation, during which I was waiting for news from one that I really wanted and also did lots of crying. I only returned to the office to sign some papers and return my laptop. I was offered anything I wanted to stay, but this time it was my turn to say no. Three days later, I was on a plane to spend four weeks in Omaha to get trained for a new job, which still is my dream job.

Getting ready to spent one month in Omaha. Panicking a bit

The month abroad was quite an experience, especially because I hadn’t traveled much since I got ill, and I was not used to being in an uncontrolled environment. Fortunately, I was staying in a nice hotel room with a kitchenette included so I was able to cook my meals and take them to work. I absolutely loved the job and the people, and I still do, two years later. I think this was the best that could have happened to me, even though it was challenging at first because I had to leave my comfort zone.

The Old Market (Omaha)
The Old Market (Omaha)

Contrary to what I expected, the end of the year was bad. Long story short, I became overwhelmed taken by depression some months later around October, and I spent my birthday (November) crying. It was the turn of the big four. 40. Forty. No matter how you say it, it sucked for me when I got to it. It defined the end of a part of my life and the uncertain beginning of the next. I had delayed the decision of having children for years due to my poor health, but the moment to finally decide had arrived. My biological clock was ticking, but I was yet not prepared for a drastic change in my life. I was getting old but my mind didn’t want to accept it. The “I’ll decide later” was not valid anymore, youth was not eternal, and this was affecting not only me.

Added to all my woes in November, I had to take care of this wild monk parakeet found by a friend on the street

2018 was also the year that Harry began to have health problems. He already had pododermatitis a couple of years before but this time, things were getting worse, and he had problems perching correctly. Towards the end of the year, I had to take care of an injured monk parrot. I was busy, overwhelmed by my feelings, and seeking a way out. I read lots of books about happiness searching for an answer, any tip that could help me decipher life. During this time I started writing on my bullet journal, and never stopped since then.

One of my reads during my soul searching period

I spent 2019 busy preparing myself for the trips I had for work, one every three months. They were a step forward for me but they required a lot of prep due to my food allergies, and it was partly a source of stress. There were good moments though, and meeting my team in real life was something I learned to look forward to. I seriously work with the best people.

Tuner Park (Omaha)

2019 was also the year that Harry’s symptoms got a lot worse and we got his Avian Ganglioneurits (also known in the past as PDD or Bornavirus). He was more or less fine until July, but that month, he began to deteriorate progressively, to the point that at the end of the month he couldn’t fly anymore and the vet had to put a special bandage on him because he got splayed legs. We learned that what Harry had was a virus, a nasty one, from which scientists don’t know a lot yet. Sally didn’t seem affected but at the end of October she woke up with respiratory issues and died that evening at the vet. It’s not very well known how Avian Ganglioneurits is transmitted, and several strains are believed to exist, which affect different species of birds. I have tested all my other birds, and the results came back clean, although false positives sometimes occur. My Gouldian finches only left my home a couple of times, and they came from the same breeder in 2014, so I don’t know if they were already infected when they came and the virus was dormant or what else. Harry was getting more and more emaciated but he was surprisingly holding up. He was still eating well and getting his medication every day.

Harry

Koen spent almost the whole year with a tooth infection. He had a root canal on one of his front teeth when he was twelve, after breaking the tooth while playing with friends. It seems these things are not forever, and it was time for this root canal to expire. The dentists tried to save the tooth and he had surgery several times get the zone drained but alas, he was scheduled for tooth removal in January 2o2o.

The day I got back from Omaha Koen cut his left thumb while prepping food. This picture was about a month later. It was a nasty cut!

2020 was going to be my year. I had learned how to travel, my health was much better, and I was seeing some light after all the mental issues we had. Koen came with me to Omaha for my work trip, and we then went to Hawaii, where we spent 10 days and had the most simple wedding in the world. We absolutely loved our stay there. The people were kind, the weather was mild, and I was able to travel again without worrying too much. 2020 was going to be definitely my year.

The trail to Manoa Falls (Hawaii). I wanna go back! 😭

But it wasn’t.

While waiting on airports on the way back I read about what was happening in Wuhan, and watched an interview via Skype to a girl there. It was unbelievable. Didn’t I know what was about to come.

Rainbow over Honolulu

We were mostly okay. We didn’t leave our house much, and we found ways to keep entertained at home. I’m finally playing some ukulele thanks to Cynthia Lin’s lessons, and I’m trying to get back into the sewing wagon. My mother was ill in January, February, and March, but as nobody was testing back then, we don’t know if it was COVID. She’s fine now, but as she is part of the risk group we didn’t go to visit her this year. Madrid was in pretty bad shape all winter and spring, and it’s bad again now, so we haven’t left the city for fear of carrying the virus with us. We hadn’t had any symptoms, but who knows?

Following one of Cynthia Lin’s tutorials

Harry died in March after aspirating some of his own food. It was very sad to see him go. There were so many times that I thought he wasn’t gonna make it that it made it sadder to see him deteriorate so much. We thought about putting him to sleep before then but he wasn’t in pain and he was eating well and taking baths just one or two days before passing away.

Harry and Sally, we’ll never forget them

During this time, Harry and Sally left us, but we also have new additions to the flock: Lynn and Perla, two cockatiels rescued from the street, and Mango and Litchi, two lovebirds sent to us by a friend.

The flock, not all are shown here. They are 12 in total

We managed to stay sane thanks partly to the birds. I’m more at peace with things in general right now. I also have things to say about my sewing and knitting during this time, but that’s something for another post. I hope I’ll write it before another three years!

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