It’s been three weeks since I posted anything. I wrote a little, but mostly just took a break from schedules and needing to be anywhere. Bob and Chris have been beyond generous. They’ve been saints! Not that we are hard to get along with as long time guests, but having another person and dog in your world does change the rhythm of life.
One of the things I loved about staying with them was being in the presence of their relationship. The freedom of expression and flow of energy was lovely to witness. I grew up in the midst of dysfunctional relationships, and spending time in space of their functional relationship was a blessing and on some level very healing.
Some of the things Sherman and I did during these weeks:
– We sleep late and took a few naps.
– I binge watched the last 3 seasons of The Good Wife
– I spend a good bit of time thinking about and feeling into what’s next?
– I repack the hiking gear into the van.
– I do some remote computer client work.
– I treat my knee very gingerly as the swelling and pain lessen.
– And…

Sherman LOVED their sheep. He’d sit for an hour watching them move about, or laying down chewing. Or as in this video, lovingly butting heads.

Sherman learned to play with his toys from being with Nuka. He’s still playing in ways he never had before.
We go into Bristol on Halloween and walk the most trick-or-treated street in town. Heard the next day from a friend of theirs that over 700 kids came to the house! I don’t think i’ve ever had more than 20 come to anyplace I’ve lived…
I get a massage with a woman who does sports injury work. She works on and with my knee and says it seems like soft tissue damage. Muscle or tendon. Didn’t think it was anything that wouldn’t heal on it’s own. A few days later a couple friends who know about the knee said I should go to a doctor since it’s still sore. Then a few days later a friend of Bob and Chris’ comes to spend the night. Turns out he’s a doctor. His advice was to continue to self-monitor it. If I go to a Dr now they’re going to want to shoot it with steroids and scope it. It’s too early. He said, “As long as your experience is that it’s still getting better, less sore, more flexible and stronger, all is well. It can take a few months for a knee injury to heal because your constantly using it.” Ok. That felt better. Then a friend I visited in Rhode Island told me about a knee injury he had that took many months to fully heal. Me knee continues to be stronger and remind me it’s injured less. So, I’m still self-monitoring…
We go to visit, CA friends near Montpellier, Nancy and Richard, who moved to VT a few months ago to support their daughter and son-in-law who had twins 6+ months ago. They are in a wonderful little modern guest-house with a nice rustic feel. Lots of warm wood and light. In the evening we drive into Montpelier, the capital of Vermont, and take a walk. A very cool little town of 8,000. Lots of historical presence with a kind of a post-hippy feel to the place. Lots of very interesting small businesses line the main streets.
One night we go on a full-moon walk in town. It’s the night of The Super Moon!  This is a guided walk, on trails through town.
iPhone night photos of the State Capitol and the Super Moon.
We go to NH and visited my old pottery partner, Terry Silverman, of The Pottery Works, and a couple, Bob Gogolen and Beth Caldwell, who were among Linda and my best friends when we lived in NH.
Terry is the same but older and wiser. The pottery was much the same as I remember it. The surprise is that he’s Chairman of the Planning Board. He said that at one point he decided that since he was not planning on moving, he’d better get involved with what was happening. I asked if that was a continuation of the battle we waged 40 years ago against the town moving the dump down the hill into our neighborhood. During that battle we elected now supervisors who supported keeping it where in was and searching for new solutions. He said it was. Many of the people who got involved then are still involved in the city government.
I don’t think I’d seen Bob and Beth since Eben was three. So… 38 years…!? It was like we’d been on vacation and picked up a conversation after a 6 months gap, I love when that happens. It speaks to the depth of the connection that was forged long ago. They are still in the same business, technology related, though it’s morphed a number of times in response to market forces. Sherman loves them right away and we have a delicious heartfelt evening and next morning before the demands of work and travel return.
Bob and Beth still have this children’s bowl from a series I made that Eben decorated. Both their kids used it.
Bob, Chris and I take Sherman and Nuka (their Golden Retriever) to the High School sport fields to run and explore a number of times. About the 4th time, Sherman goes into one of his running, running, running, you can’t catch me spaces. He races a car coming up to the front of the school to pick up someone. It’s not quite chasing the car. He’s not trying to catch the physical entity. He’s racing the car. It’s something he started at the dog park in Ojai. He’d wait for cars to drive by the one side of the dog park and race them to the other end. Sometimes he was so focused on the game, that he wouldn’t start to stop in time and would collide with the end fence.
Sherman is fine the next few times we go to the school. So, I chalk it up to an anomaly. Then… another day at the school… he starts racing cars down the school driveway almost to the main road. He goes into a side field and disappears. I drive over there to see if I can get him to come to the van. He pops out of that field and goes back to where Chris and Nuka are playing. I drive back and finally catch him by tricking Nuka to come for a pretend treat. Sherman also comes for one. I don’t have one but grab his collar and put on the leash. I can’t punish him, he came to me which is good. But… I don’t know what to do… So, he won’t be off a leash for awhile… YIKES for both of us.
I read online about dogs who do this and talk with Bob and Chris about it. They have an electric fence to keep Nuka within the bounds of their large yard. She probably has a couple acres to run on. And she stays within the boundary. Away from the shock zone. It works. I read about remote training collars—shock collars. It seems to be the only way to communicate with him when he takes off and is that far away.
So, today I order a shock collar for Sherman. It’s been difficult to reach this decision. I wanted to do resolve this with positive reinforcement. I don’t know how to get at his car chasing through positive reinforcement. I read that it’s basically a matter of improving his recall reliability. What made this a viable decision is the dramatic change in these collars. They now are available with over 100 levels of stimulation. To tune to the dog you put it on and start at Zero, checking that the dog doesn’t respond. Then you go to One and push the momentary stim button looking for a response. What you’re looking for is a small change in the dogs stance. An ear twitch. A turn of the head. If they’re panting a momentary stop in panting. Just a notification from the dog that they are noticing something at the level of a flea bite or itch. You want it to be irritating but not painful. I’ve watched videos of trainers working with dogs using these collars and the dog never does a pain response. Never cowers. They still have their tail up. Still attentive and playing, learning tricks, with the trainer. It’s kind of like an electric fence. A notice of going too far. Then their conforming behavior is acknowledged with praise and treats. So, it’s basically enhancing the NO command by using an irritant that goes away when they’re doing what you want.
We go to Burlington to walk around downtown. There’s a closed to traffic area downtown like Santa Monica. I heard that the area by Lake Champlain was wonderful. So, Sherman and I took a hike up and back the waterfront. Very cool city. Bernie, you did a good job leading and coordinating the transformation here…
I love this drinking fountain in the closed street area.
Saw this in the window of a shop reflecting our cultural narcissism. The native in the canoe, or his culture don’t exist.
Along the Lake Champlain walkway.
Looking across Lake Chanplain to the Adirondack Mountains in NY.
From Bristol, I’m heading to Amherst, MA to do some computer work for a former CA client, then on to Windsor, RI to visit potter friends. The only place I’ve been before in Rhode Island is to Providence to visit Eben when he was a student at The Rhode Island School of Design — RISD.