Friday, February 28, 2020

February 2020 Personal Update: Vacation, Iris, PO Box, Call for Topics

Welcome to the first personal update of 2020, witches!  It's been a while.  For those of you that weren't aware, I decided to cut my personal updates in half when I cut my posting schedule in half.  I prefer a certain content ratio here at Witchy Words and it didn't seem very fair to have a personal update every fourth or fifth post. That means, however, that I haven't made an official personal update since November of last year.

Newsflash: No big changes!  Shocker, I know.

So let's dive into what's been going on back at Rhoeas Hearth.


Oof, December was hectic!  I typically start slowing down at work come November and December but, instead, I worked three weeks straight during the holiday season.  I kept taking events because I didn't know when my husband would land a new job and it led to my overbooking when I could have finally rested.

Not that I'm complaining necessarily.  We've also had some financial blips where having a non-stop job has helped.  But it also led to an immense burnout, which led to...


Oh my gosh, where do I begin?  So I found a tiny cabin on 60 acres of woodland just an hour outside of the city.

I've actually known about it for some time and wanted to take my husband there before he started working again, but I just couldn't justify the cost during his unemployment.  I mean, it costs less than a hotel but, when your income is more than halved, it's hard to put it into motion.  I sat on it until my burnout kicked in hard.  Sure enough, about mid-December, I couldn't take it anymore and booked it for January.  Looking forward to my vacation was enough to push through the burnout of my job.

A huge bonus is that I could bring Artemis with me to the cabin.  I'm not necessarily the kind of person that needs to have my dog everywhere with me but vacations are infinitely better with him by my side for all the obvious reasons.

The cabin came equipped with a small propane fireplace which, let me tell you, was an efficient little heater.  I'm glad we had it as it got down to single digits during my stay.

It also came with a little propane kitchen!

And did I mention that it's on 60 acres of private woodland?  I spent my days tromping through the forest... evening charring food over a campfire...

...and my nights curled up by a fireplace.

The sights were beyond words.

I have so many more I could share.  It's so hard to choose just a few.  The magic of the area was unparalleled.

Maybe at some point, I'll upload an album on my Patreon so those of you who want to see all the photos can.  It was amazing!

I don't want to overplay it though.  The cabin was rustic living.  This meant tromping through the dark, quiet woods at 4 am and a mere 5F degrees, coming within feet of a 50-foot drop into a quarry, to go to the bathroom.  It meant climbing a ladder to sleep on a hard mattress at night in a loft that my dog wasn't allowed in for safety concerns.  And Artie is a dog who adores sleeping at my feet.  Having to sleep on the ground floor was upsetting for him the first few nights.  He did eventually become accustomed to it but it broke my heart to hear him whine, knowing he didn't get much sleep the first couple of nights only to hike the woods all day.  He's 11 and, though he's still extremely spry, he's not really built for no sleep and long hikes.  But, once he settled in, he loved it.

He was definitely ready to go home at the end of our stay though.


The last three months have been mellow for the familiars.  In December, I bought them new pet beds and a cat tree for the office, which they've been enjoying. 

Also in December, Artie had his yearly checkup and got an A+, gold star for health.  The vet said they've never seen such a healthy 11-year-old dog - hyperbole I'm sure, but it's also probably why readers often mistake him for being half his age.  We also started him on senior vitamins this fall, which has also probably helped.

The cats will begin their yearly checkups starting March.  I don't expect anything too new to crop up.  Zeus, however, is six months older than Artie and lived on the street the longest of our three cats, so it also wouldn't surprise me if we added a new ailment to his growing senior-cat list.  That being said, no one's exhibiting any new behaviors or concerning symptoms.  At least, not in the familiar department.

I wish the same could be said of our one non-familiar pet though.

Molting season has begun!
In January, Iris started having small tremors.  It would almost look like she was vibrating or bouncing for about 15-30 seconds.  Then it would stop.  These occurred once or twice a day.  Some days, it wouldn't happen at all.  With all the stress regarding going to the vet and because it was so infrequent, I decided to seek the source out at home.  She was at the tail-end of mating season, so I thought it might be hormones.  As pictured above, she lost her first feather for molting season, so I also thought it could be a vitamin deficiency.  We tried a few different things over the course of two weeks but nothing changed.  And I do mean nothing.  She didn't get worse, but she also didn't get better.

So I finally took her to the vet.  They ran a slew of tests, which all came back clean.  So we did some more extensive bloodwork.  That came back that she had elevated inflammation.  Now that could be from stress over hormones/molting - so I could have been, in a roundabout way, correct.  However, her bloodwork also showed that she's been at very least exposed to Avian Bornavirus at some point in her life.

My understanding, from what the vet said, is that being exposed to bornavirus doesn't mean they'll contract it.  It's also really common for birds to have exposure, especially if they've been kept at a rescue like she was for over a month.  However, with her tremors, it could be a sign of something called Proventricular Dilatation Disease.

If you're a bird owner, you might be having a heart attack right now.  I know I am.

PDD is a bad virus.  It's almost always fatal.  It causes the immune system to attack the gut and nerves, creating tremors, seizures, and poor nutrient absorption.  Many parrots live many years with PDD but, in the end, it's a death sentence that will likely cut her life short.  Maybe months.  Maybe years.  But eventually.

So last Friday, I took Iris in for an official PDD test.  The labs are sent out and I won't know anything for more than a week after this is posted.

I'm trying not to panic just yet.  I did have about a 2-hour cry stint with Iris perched on me chirping and unaware.  But there's no point in panicking about this until we know something.  Even when we do, I don't know if there's any point in panicking still.  There is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent her from getting PDD - she would have come with it.  She could live many years with PDD.  And there was no guarantee she'd live a full life given the hardships she's faced anyway.

We will face it when we get to it.  If you want to stay up-to-date about this, follow me on any one of my social media channels - either Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Patreon, or Ko-Fi (obviously, Pinterest isn't very useful in this).  I will update as soon as I know anything.

In the meantime, enjoy this knitted Iris hat one of my coworkers commissioned for me as a Christmas gift:

And the Dolly Challenge for all of my animals:


So this is a new thing I'm doing this year and I wanted to share it with all of you.  I've been taking a second clip of each day and compiling them into a video.  I'm purposefully doing a vertical video to separate it from other videos I take on my phone.  Enjoy!


A quick reminder that I have a PO box!  I check it once a week, post the letters and cards to my board in my office, and always respond to every piece of mail. Feel free to send me some at:

Witchy Words
PO Box 165
Independence, MO 64051

I love getting mail.  It absolutely makes my day.  So if you've got a spare card or some stationery or even a torn-out sheet of spiral notebook paper, I'd love to hear from you!


In March, I'll be working on half of all articles I'll be writing for 2021.  If you have any topics you'd like to see covered, drop me a comment below!  I'm particularly looking for what I should do my 10 to 12 part 2021 series over, but I also have a slew of 10 one-off articles I need topics to fill!

Well, that about sums it up, witches!  As usual, you can find me on social media posting the occasional updates but the next time you'll see a personal update here won't be until the end of April.  Until then, enjoy the articles!


  1. That cabin in the woods looks absolutely lovely. It is so worthwhile to brave the cold and see forests in all their winter glory. Snow-covered pines are so beautiful!

    I'm sorry to hear of Iris' health issues, and I hope you get firm answers soon, whatever they may be.

    Also, I must say, you look positively vibrant in the photos you've posted of yourself!

  2. I hope you guys find answers to Iris' issues soon. I can't imagine what you much be going through. I'm glad you've been such a loving, stable environment for her though. She certainly deserves it!

  3. I'm truly sorry for what you guys and sweet Iris are presently going through and hope to the twinkling stars above and back that you'll receive good news from her test results.

    Strength, support and immense healing energy coming your way,
    ♥ Autumn