Note to self: read the fine print.
It was a comical morning when Cindy begins with...
"Don't be upset with me."
"Fallingwater is closed on Wednesdays."
"Closed on Wednesdays? I feel sorry for the employees."
Oh, well, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpieces will have to wait.
What to do now?
We thought about a trip to West Virginia, but I had had a late start to the morning.
I remembered what Paul affectionately called it.
A rare Chinese condition: Dragon Ass.
New plan: we go back to Mingo Park, but take different walking paths.
On one of those paths, I am convinced we missed a bear.
How else could you explain being out in the middle of the woods on a gravel path and noticing that a section of that very path smells like the inside of a dump truck?
A bear I tell you: a bear.
We then take a scenic drive to Montour -- a rails to trails route -- where we will continue our therapeutic walk.
Therapeutic for her.
Therapeutic for me, too.
Cindy tells me stories of her now deceased dogs -- Casey and Daisy.
Recollections of their canine bond.
It's our last evening together; she's sad, and I am, too.
So, we walk.
We're also on the lookout for some photo opportunities.
We find some.
Then, we find a perfect place to turn around -- a misplaced stop sign.
We make a grocery stop because I want to bake Paul some cupcakes for his birthday.
When we return to her place, we take showers and prepare dinner together.
Really, she does most of the work.
Hank continues to feel horrible; still, he attempts some interaction with us.
We heat-up his homemade meatballs, boil some pasta, and drink some wine out on their big, beautiful back porch.
No deer... no rabbits this time.
As we're about to eat, her daughter (my best friend) Jennifer calls.
Jenn joins us as we pleasantly stuff ourselves.
Bees suddenly appear for a wine fix.
Al fresco is not as romantic as the movies make it seem.
We finish our talk with Jenn and our meal.
Clean up time... then, make cupcakes, time.
She tells me about her high school accolade: the Betty Crocker Homemaker of Tomorrow Award.
(If I get this title wrong, she will let me know in the comments below, so let me know Cindy.)
I have tied one on with a little red wine, and now, I'm baking with an expert, here.
She helps me make the frosting from scratch -- a chocolate ganache only without the heavy whipping cream -- just milk.
I sift and sift (as my mom preached in my youth when making cakes).
The measuring of milk goes awry, but in the end, those marble cupcakes turn out okay.
Next... a feature... a recent Cindy favorite.
We watch Brooklyn.
Sweet and sappy and beloved by all women whether they care to admit to it or not.
That's how I close out my evening with Cindy.
Tomorrow, she drives me to some park and drive near Pittsburgh where I'll meet Paul.
But now, it's just me and her.
Me and her and fitbits and stairs and long walks and picturesque parks.
Until we meet again, my friend.