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!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Off to work I go

Well, all of my wireless devices aren't working, but I am!  I was back at Juvenile Hall for both groups this afternoon and glad I made the effort.  The kids were perfectly behaved (that's an amazing statement if you knew who they were!) and I was happy to be with them.

The boys' art group is recreational with nothing assigned.  They have sketchbooks to fill - with drawings or painting.  As long as they don't draw gang symbols and other no-nos they are free to fill their books however they choose.  They can also draw during the week when I'm not there, something the other kids can't do because they don't have the sketchbooks.

But, I thought I'd change things a bit.  I asked the boys if they'd like to paint masks for Halloween - an idea they jumped on.  We don't typically all do the same sort of project at the same time, but for the holidays I think I'll encourage it.  There will be a real Christmas tree to decorate, for example.  I just ordered the supplies for the mask-making project - nice preformed shapes that are ready to paint.  Already the boys (most are Mexican-American) are asking me to bring in Aztec designs so they can get to work.

This group is quite small because of the risks involved.  They are in maximum security for a reason.  Unlike the rest of the units, these boys don't have roommates.  They have fewer privileges and I have to be much more careful about the supplies I bring in.  I used to bring in rubber stamp carving tools on other units, but when the program was moved to this one that was the first thing the program staff asked me to change.  (Of course, I absolutely agree!)  The total allowed in the room with me is only five - and they are chosen by the staff based on their recent behavior on the unit.  Only three are in the group now, the same three for over a month, and likely to be the same for several weeks to come.  I would welcome one or two new guys, but they have to earn the privilege.

They love Demi.  This evening they were trying to teach her the Speak command.  Brix will do it readily, but Demi acts like she doesn't know it.  I'm sure she does because it's a basic command for most service dogs and she made the cut.  It's used when the disabled person needs human help - the dog is supposed to bark and bark and bark.  Neighbors and family members would recognize that as unusual behavior and hopefully, respond.  For dogs who don't want to do it - or don't understand the task - the dog is usually tethered to the point of frustration when it suddenly starts barking on command, is rewarded and things get easy from that point on.  I don't have the heart to frustrate Demi.  If I need help I'm gonna have to yell for help all by myself.

Oh, the company I keep!

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