On 01.02.02, I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Too late for surgery, I had chemotherapy, which failed. In May the chemotherapy was changed and I was soon in remission which was celebrated and welcome and lasted nine years - until October 2011. There was progression in 2011 so more treatment was indicated and I am now back in partial remission. But I'm not only a cancer patient - I also enjoy my family, walk my dogs and am learning to draw and paint. Life is good!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Still Barbara

My apologies to those of you who clicked in for updates and found.... nothing. I figure I added about 17 hours to my schedule now that I'm working four times a week at Juvenile Hall, commuting and reading to kids in the public library. It's all good stuff but I come home exhausted and take naps to keep myself together. I'll get used to it.

I'm still trying to figure out my place in Juvenile Hall. Officially I assist the art teacher. That part is easy - set up the room, pass out materials, offer directions and encouragement. This isn't exactly a career path job, but I'm long past that and so what's important to me is that I interact with the kids in a way that is helpful to them.

We chat. We doodle. I ask them about their lives, whether they have visitors, if they hope to be successful after being released. A couple thanked me for being there, said it helps to have the outside world brought in. They love my dog.

I've worked at Juvenile Hall for about six years now so am surprised when I learn something new. In my doodle, for example, the kids informed me that the little brick motif was not allowed. Bricks are prison art, I learned, which came as a huge surprise because I've been doodling bricks at least since high school, usually when I'm bored. So, no more bricks.

Some of the boys are confident artists, but most are uncertain, don't know where to start. I was keeping myself busy, doodling and chatting at a table with three kids. When I looked at their work I noticed that all three of them had integrated the same basic pattern into their drawings as well, first a squiggle, then half-moons colored in. I need to think about that, how I can help them create original designs and feel comfortable with their own work.

In my own class we are still using toned paper and I'm finding it difficult. I don't really like the hard edge of Conté crayons and the color doesn't seem to fall where I place it. This flower, for example, didn't cooperate in its making.

And finally, I did finish reading one book this week. STILL ALICE, by Lisa Genova, is just about the most terrifying novel I've ever read. It tells the story of a Harvard psychology professor and researcher, a brilliant young woman, who develops early onset Alzheimer's disease.

As the reader, you already know how the story will end. You like the character. You are totally helpless to save her. What's worse, in between readings, any time you have a memory glitch of your own you are certain you're headed down the same path! Having said all that, it's a great read, a prize-winning book that is worthy of your time. If only I could remember where I put it....


  1. I imagine your work with those kids will stay with them a long time. I like your flower, although conte is difficult, I think. You seemed to have mastered it very well!

  2. Glad to visit after so long. Interesting about the "bricks." So what would they say to Thomas Kincaid? (or Pink Floyd, for that matter).Are they sophisticated enough to think that symbols are (usually) ONLY as important as you make them? I doubt anybody would think your bricks or mine reflected a stint in prison.

    Read a sad article on Reuters about child abuse increasing due to economic stressors. Glad you're in the trenches.
    Best wishes.
    (Love the nude female, too.)


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