Monday, December 31, 2012

Gadjo likes to keep everyone clean

Mojito was a little weirded out when he suddenly felt a tiny tongue on top of his head...

...but he certainly seems to have found the bath relaxing.

Happy New Year. It is still freezing here. I have to get really bundled up to walk Moji. He, of course, loves it.

I wanted to remind everyone that I am still offering all my art at half price (plus shipping, if applicable) to raise funds. You can email me at: jala [at] jalapfaff [dot com].  Thanks.

More art on my website:

Friday, December 28, 2012

Sauna for one

Ahhh, that dry heat of the private sauna just feels so good...

Free facial included, today only!

More art on my website:

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Happy Festivus

...the holiday for the rest of us. (George Costanza.)

All the little kids around here must have been thrilled when they woke up. It has been an extremely dry winter so far. Then, last night, Festivus Eve, it started snowing...and it snowed all night...and today it's a White Festivus! 

If only it weren't so bitter cold. But this is Mojito's favorite weather, and seeing him enjoying it so much makes me smile.

Happy Festivus!

More art on my website:

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Why yes, Fennec is strange, thank you for asking.

Random health facts: 

1) Today I have a migraine combined with a cold. I feel really awesome.

2) I've joined the elderly club--I now check out large-print books when possible. Wow--so much easier to read! Who knew?

3) My hearing is going, too. I've already been noticing it's a lot harder to hear someone next to me talking if there is background noise.
But then, today, a guy was walking around the dog park talking on his phone, and I overheard him say: "So, Sue found a little horse." 
Ah, this was very intriguing! I walked on, imagining and pondering: where would one simply accidentally stumble upon a horse? And by "little," did he mean baby or a miniature horse? Or, perhaps, a baby miniature horse? And who was Sue? But more importantly, I'd love to "find" a baby miniature horse.
Anyway, after about 15 minutes, it suddenly struck me that he had actually said, "So, you sound a little hoarse." (Not nearly as interesting.)

4) I finally got results back from the blood and urine tests I had done at the low-cost clinic. Now, I'm not necessarily pointing fingers at the clinic--they send their specimens to an outside lab--but someone sure screwed up. First, they forgot to run the whole thyroid panel completely, and the urine test...well, Too Much Information coming up, but let me tell you, that test was such a pain to do--you have to collect all your urine for 24 hours, by peeing into a little plastic thingie and then pouring that every time into a special jug that has to be kept in the fridge at all times, then washing and drying the plastic thingie every time. 

So this test requires planning it out days ahead of time, so that a) you won't be away from your bathroom or fridge for more than a couple of hours, and b) you have to get the jug to the lab on a day they'll accept it, and it has to be as soon as you've completed the test (so, like, 25 hours after you started). If you are out somewhere and/or forget to collect even one pee, you have to start all over again, and get a new jug (because there's some little amount of preservative in), plan out a new day to do it, etc.

So...the lab tested for the wrong thing. They were supposed to check cortisol level in the urine, and they checked for protein instead. I don't know who screwed up, but I'm pissed (so to speak).

Well, the bright side is that now I know my kidneys are working fine!

More art on my website:

Friday, December 21, 2012


 Methinks there be a size discrepancy here.
Actually, congratulate Fennec--he has lost a little over a pound since I instituted the new feeding method the vet ordered: Fennec is too heavy to jump up to the feeding shelf, so I lift him up there several times a day. Before, I had a chair there, so he could go up whenever he wanted to. 

He weighed close to 19 pounds and now he's around 17.5!

To compare, Gadjo is 8 pounds. Such a delicate (yet strong) little creature. 

The two of them look like different species.

Gadjo, by the way, has developed a new habit I'm not very fond of--anytime I lean over, like to pick something up off the floor, pull laundry out of the washer, or scoop cat food from the bag, Gadjo leaps onto my back like a flying monkey. If I move the slightest bit, out come the claws. And he refuses to jump down when I try to tilt him off (the way any normal cat would), so I'm getting a lot of little claw marks carved into my back lately.

In spite of the pain, I always find it extremely funny when I feel him leap onto my back and stand there, so lightly and perfectly balanced. I have to laugh, even as I scold him.

More art on my website:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

He ain't heavy, he's my brother

Gadjo is very good at staying warm.

It's been a while since I shared with you some of the search terms that people have recently used to find (usually accidentally) my blog. Enjoy:


two dead northern flying squirrels

flying hanuman for car

a two-headed hamster

fake squirrel

cat falling off couch

More art on my website:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Like a chicken with its head cut off

Whew, my life is crazy lately. (Hence the blog post title.) I'm driving around like crazy, legal appointments, picking up low-cost prescriptions, blood test appointments at the low-cost clinic (no results yet), doing a tutoring job here, an interpreting gig there, teaching a class somewhere else, back and forth between Boulder and Longmont... And just had a job interview for more part-time teaching, to start in mid-January. Although the pay is not great, and the commute's kind of going to suck, at least it's something. (Don't you just love it when the miles you put on your car, plus the gas in a sucky commute, nearly cancel out your wages?)

I spent several hours a couple of weeks ago applying (online) to a job that would've been a lot better, and more work, and benefits--and heard nothing. When I inquired, they said they'd filled the position a month earlier, and just never bothered to remove the ad. Gee, thanks, people.

Driving so much makes me really weary. I think it's because I'm simultaneously really bored and hyperalert, and that combination sucks all my energy out. Plus the noise. And having lived in this area for over 20 years, I can tell you that the traffic is insane nowadays. What used to take 15 minutes (e.g., central Boulder to downtown Longmont) now takes 45.


But please enjoy the photos of my darlings.

More art on my website:

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Archives: Miss Lemon and Baby Rumi, and a big rant

Miss Lemon with baby Rumi, from the archives... Why? To try to smile and feel better. The cuteness!!

I hope Miss Lemon and Lynxie are doing okay and happy.


I'm having an especially pissed-off day. I'm so angry about being born into the only "first-world" country to deny its citizens the basic right to health care. (Of course, being angry about this is nothing new.)

I need to see a specialist (endocrinologist), but none of them will do a sliding fee scale. Even one office visit plus tests plus a follow-up office visit (the bare minimum to try to get diagnosed) is ridiculously expensive, never mind potential treatment! Researching all this today has me especially pissed off.

I'm also angry that I had to be a person with multiple complicated health problems. And to be that person, and to be born in this country, where only money will open the doors to healthcare.

I'm pissed. (Perhaps you gathered that already.)

I recently watched a British documentary in which a guy with a terrible, life-threatening health problem, whose family had been literally taking care of him in every way, physically, financially, etc., for years and years, finally decided to go to a doctor and try to do something about it because, he said, "My family deserves to have me with them." 

This struck me, hard, as so arrogant, and so very alien. 

I pondered why. Eventually, I realized it's because the latter half of my childhood, the message I got was basically: if you must exist, then you shouldn't have any needs; if you can't survive entirely independently, you are weak (and therefore worthless); and this includes health problems, which you shouldn't have anyway, and even if you do, it shouldn't matter.

I read something pithy and accurate recently. It was something like, "To survive a serious mental illness in this country, you need three things: really good finances, really good health insurance, and a really strong support system of family and friends." 

Um...yeah. That is not a description of my life.

I also have always hated the term "mental illness." Even when I heard the term as a child (applied to my mother), it seemed to imply a reduction in a person's intellectual capacity, and so the term never made sense to me and I have always found it misleading, personally humiliating, and unwittingly hurtful. I guess bipolar, schizophrenia, etc., should be called something like "neurotransmitter variations."

I can't afford insurance, and if I did have it, I'd no longer be able to afford the copays on the med that I'm currently getting for free through the manufacturer's indigent program. I can't get need-based disability because although I would qualify for it somewhere civilized like Europe, I don't in the US, and even if I could get it, it wouldn't even pay for rent, and wouldn't let me work much at all. I can't get Social Security-based disability, because I didn't work enough "quarters" total during my lifetime. I can't get some form of welfare because I don't have a kid. I can't get Medicaid because there's an endless waiting list just to be put in a lottery, and it wouldn't cover things like specialists, anyway. My job skills and high education only qualify me for low wages. Why wasn't I born in, I don't know, Sweden maybe?

Yes, I know, intellectually, that things could always be worse. If I'd been born in many parts of the world, I'd be even worse off than I am now. I have my beautiful animolecules who are probably even better than a therapist, I still have a roof over my head and food and enough meds at least for a couple of months, I have some blogger buddies rooting for me out there. Those are big things, I know. 

I am still trying to count my blessings, though it's very hard for me lately. My health is getting worse and it makes the usual bipolar and sleep disorder and migraines ever harder to cope with. I can't find more work than I already have, get no responses from work I apply for, am spending too many fruitless hours online looking for jobs and reading about health insurance and such, can't make myself paint, am pissed at the person who owes me money requiring me to go through exhausting legal processes, and I can almost laugh when I repeatedly read health info online where the first piece of advice for any health problem is: "1) reduce stress in your life".

I hate this season too, how it's so dark outside and all about commercialism, and everywhere you go, you have to hear the same dreaded Christmas carols over the loudspeaker, every TV ad shows a Santa, fake snowflakes, and stockings hung from the fireplace, superimposed with words like "Giant sale!" if joy and jolliness will be the direct result of how much money is spent buying stuff, most of which the recipients don't need and which will go into the landfill sooner or later. And not to offend anyone reading this blog, but I resent the assumption most people have that everyone here is Christian. A few times, I've been out of the country over the Xmas holidays, and it was really refreshing to not have all that thrown in your face multiple times a day.

Oh, and I found out that my former best friend, who abandoned me during my divorce, is friends with my ex. Some people have no shame.

I could rant forever--I'm a little bit pissed off today, ya know?--but, um, yeah, I guess I'll stop with the invective now. Enough vituperation for one day.

I have long wanted to write a memoir about my life and bipolar (for those of you who don't know, I was a writer before I was a painter), but never felt ready. I think I might be becoming ready. Fully formed sentences have been drifting through my head lately... I think I'd better start writing them down.

Anyway, the most important thing is to scroll back up and look at the sweetness and love in those photos. I couldn't live without animolecules. They are the epitome of beauty, faithfulness, consistency, and unconditional love, amongst other incredible qualities. Do it--go back up and look at them, and let all my angry words dissolve in their warmth and fur. I promise it will make you feel better.

Monday, December 10, 2012


It was a very cold day here, and it's an even colder night.

(Oh, how I love Fennec's little curled-up back feets.)

The weather gods...they have laughed at me for begging them the other day to keep it warm all winter:

I didn't get much sleep last night, because Mojito gave me a scare: he had had a couple of days of some diarrhea, then last night it was the worst yet, and then...he vomited. 

Mojito is 7.5 years old...and has never vomited before! (Lucky him.)

I worried all night...and of course today he was fine.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Naughty children

Those naughty boys were at it again last night. I'm certain that Rumi was also involved with this, but he was feigning innocence.

(Yes, I've now given up and moved [what's left of] the jade plant. But it was there because that's the spot that has the brightest light in the house. Oh well.)

And then they go nap to recover from their exertions, and look like little angels.
How cool is this bike rack?!
Don't forget, my art is all 50% off right now to raise needed funds for me and my furry boyz. A good holiday gift...for yourself, perhaps?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Maslow's hierarchy

My faithful...

 ...and silly companions.

 When I left my apartment today, look who was waiting for me on my porch! Tortie Girl, we love you! Tortie Girl was very wiggly-friendly (she reminded me a lot of Miss Lemon), so it was hard to get a good pic of her.

Long-time followers of this blog have probably noticed the paucity of new art being posted. One reason is that, without the studio wall space I used to have, most of my unposted pastels are in my loft storage area now and kind of a pain to deal with (hence are going unphotographed).

The other reason? Other than the big red circle painting I posted recently, which was completed during Open Studios, I've been making no new art. 

Why? Even I hadn't been able to figure out why I've been unable to even enter the studio. 

But I think it's because I'm dealing with Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. (NB: I cut and pasted the graphic and the two paragraphs below that, so blogger put all of that, plus my own text below that, into a big white box. Very annoying. But I don't know how to fix it.)

A key aspect of the model is the hierarchical nature of the needs. The lower the needs in the hierarchy, the more fundamental they are and the more a person will tend to abandon the higher needs in order to pay attention to sufficiently meeting the lower needs. For example, when we are ill, we care little for what others think about us: all we want is to get better.
Maslow called the first four needs 'D-need' as they are triggered when we have a deficit. Only self-actualization is a need that we seek for solely positive reasons. Maslow also called them 'instinctoid' as they are genetically programmed into us as essential for evolutionary survival. Loss of these during childhood can lead to trauma and lifelong fixation.
The first half of my childhood, part of my twenties, and most of the years of my marriage, I was able to focus on the top parts of the pyramid. The rest of my life has been a struggle being stuck at the bottom, and never have I been more at the bottom than now.

I know the best thing for me would probably be to get in that studio and make some damn art, regardless, but I have been artistically paralyzed for quite a long time now and I am just hoping the ability to do art will return eventually, on its own time.

I really am trying to count my blessings, including my beloved animolecules, who are the best company imaginable; and including the support I receive so regularly from my kind blogger friends.
Thank you all again for your contributions and donations (including a new one that hasn't shown up yet)!

I have been able to begin the Contempt of Court process on the person who owes me money; I will be able to take Mojito to the vet for his shots, annual exam, and a possible ear infection; I was able to pay my heat bill and to pay for the local low-cost clinic for the uninsured to begin blood and urine tests--I found out I may have Cushing's Disease, an endocrine disorder which I had never heard of before. I have many of the symptoms. I'll keep you updated about the results. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vianne's birthday party

Oh, that magical world that exists only under the papasan...

Vianne is one of the redhead goldens who frequent the local dog park. She's smaller than your average golden, and very sweet. Here she is with Sue, her person:

She turned 7 today, so Sue threw a dog birthday party. The weather could not have been more beautiful (dear weather gods: please please make the whole winter like this). People and dogs came and went for hours. Here's Moji scrounging food crumbs in the grass:

And I unwittingly captured a rare triple rear-end-sniffing moment:

 Sue brought doggie cake (rice, carrots, chicken, salmon) for all the dogs. Vianne could hardly wait:

 What I hadn't known about Vianne is that she is a food monster extraordinaire. I had never seen such a sweet, quiet dog turn into a raving Incredible Hulk when food was nearby. Here's Vianne being restrained while Mojito laughs:

 In a total of one second that her leash wasn't being held firmly, Vianne made a lunge for the cake containers, flipped off the lid of one, and stuck her entire face into the doggie cake, up to her eyes. No one got a photo of it--it happened too quickly and we were all in shock.
In her giant mouthful of cake, she'd also tried to eat the knife, which had to be pried out of her locked-down jaws.

Vianne: {Heh. I got away with it. I am not ashamed.}  (Note food on side of face.)
In completely unrelated news, I have to see an endocrinologist soon. Apparently, I may have more endocrine problems going on than just my hypothyroid. If tests are positive, it would actually explain an awful lot of symptoms. 

I have appreciated all your donations, via ChipIn or by mail, or buying some of my art! That will also help me to hopefully pay for the unexpected costs of an endocrinologist visit and some tests, since I don't have insurance.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


They remind me of three teenage boys spying on the proverbial neighbor woman in the bikini.

It's Tortie Girl! She's returned to tease my boys some more. Gadjo was absolutely beside himself.
My silly boys don't know it, but when they're not looking, Tortie Girl marches brazenly up onto the patio, sniffs all around, and drinks from Mojito's outdoor water bowl.

(Don't worry, she's not a stray. She lives in one of the buildings near me.)
And I had another unexpected visitor today: Mr. Migraine! Oh joy. :(

I took a migraine pill and felt better about four hours later. I always get what I call a "migraine hangover," though, and tonight I had a weird experience. I took Mojito out for a late walk, and was feeling a bit dizzy and lightheaded from the migraine hangover. I had the strangest feeling at one point--for about half a second, I believed I was completely untethered to the earth, as if there were no gravity. It was bizarre...and sort of interesting. The brain is fascinating.