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, August 21, 2010

Saturday morning

Something happened, a week slipped by! I'm still stuck on last Sunday when Beulie and Demi posed together. That's Auntie Demi and her niece, Beulie.

The second ART You Ready for Dinner? program at Juvenile Hall went exceedingly well. All four boys returned voluntarily and a new boy accepted the fifth place. Because I had done all the talking last week to bring everyone on board I asked the original four to tell the newbie what he needed to know.

It's interesting what sticks in a kid's head as important. The four spoke enthusiastically about their art journals, the few demands in the program, ("All you have to do to stay good in here is eat your dinner and add a page to your book!", said one) and they seem to appreciate the reduced tension ("Once you're in, you're in, even if you lose points in school..."). They like being trusted with sharp gouges for making rubber stamps, they like owning their journals (walking in with the book clutched to the chest is a sign!), and they enjoy choosing their activities and chatting over dinner. I played the role of the interested Mom-type and they seemed to like answering my questions about their life in Juvenile Hall and their plans to be successful when they leave.

One "problem" had arisen during the week. It seems that the boys asked to draw in their books at other times and staff didn't know how to respond. The day staff allowed them the privilege (the books are contraband because they have wire spirals, bound books are contraband because they have hard covers), but the late afternoon crew needed to check. I addressed the issue with staff making it their call, but saying it would be great if the kids drew so much in Juvenile Hall that they filled their first books and needed a second! It seemed good that the kids even wanted to draw and I know it made them elite to own something the less well behaved kids couldn't claim. In Juvenile Hall competing by not fighting and other misdeeds is a good thing!

So, with the new boy brought in, we were off and running again. Demi was begging for dinner scraps (I think a few got slipped to her under the table) and the staff generously let us work for 1-1/2 hours, fifteen minutes longer than we'd agreed. I brought in a boom box this time and let the kids work to Pachelbel's Canon in D and other gentle, classical music that has never touched their young ears. I didn't make a big deal about it, the music was just there, but a couple commented favorably.

The kitchen staff baked a blackberry pie and sent over a half-gallon of ice cream to go with it. I've told the kids that if I start gaining weight this program is over(!), but they just laugh and enjoy the specialness of everything -- the dessert their peers don't get, the art journals to own, the contraband art supplies, everything.

The time was up way too soon. Two of the kids expect to be released this week. They formally shook my hand as they left, one saying, "Thank you so much. This is a great thing you're doing for these kids!" -- which amused me since he is one of "these kids."


  1. marvelous post about the program you are doing...I knew it...Art does heal! very inspiring that you are doing this with boys who need it...thanks for stopping by my blog, it was a while ago & I'm just catching up...thank you.

  2. I am so happy the class is going well for everyone. I love reading your reports !!

  3. I've been wondering how this has turned out. Great work! There's so much to consider that I've never been exposed to. Glad you're there.


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