March 16, 2017 Day 6: Tonto Basin, AZ to Phoenix, AZ. Are we there yet?

Map from Tonto Basin, Arizona to Phoenix, Arizona

I don’t remember much about today except it was HOT. Yes, it got hot and stayed hot. It was in the 90s at 7 o’clock tonight. Did I mention it was hot?

I started as soon as it was light enough to see, which is just before 7 a.m. (AZ doesn’t use Daylight Savings). Nice, easy peddling through to Jake’s Corner (that’s the odd “zag” you see on the map above) but all that changed once I reached HWY 87, or The Beeline Highway.

HWY 87 was not a pleasant stretch of road. The heat aside, the road is a major artery into Phoenix and traffic is very heavy. There are also some serious elevation changes.

More bluntly: Hills. Big, damned hills.

The heat, traffic, and hills combined to make it miserable. No doubt they could hear my whining at the International Space Station. I was ready to pack it in by noon.

I am inexpressibly grateful for my patient, kind, and helpful support team. I passed several people today who were packing their own gear and was glad I had an air conditioned car to get into when the weather got too brutal. And I’m glad for chocolate, too.

I only took one picture today (there appears to be an inverse relationship between pictures and misery) and it is of my SAG crew, Brantly and Gigi.

 

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The greater Phoenix area is not one I would like to approach on a bicycle. We came in from the Tempe side and drove around aimlessly for a few hours while we tried to find a motel.

Finding accommodation proved to be unbelievably difficult, not to mention expensive. The first place we booked over the phone was horrific and we left before we even unpacked our bags. Even 1.5 star Quality Inns are over $250 for tonight and over $300 tomorrow night. (That’s where we are staying and grateful to get it!)

The city is besieged by people coming here to watch spring training. (And I thought football was over after the Super Bowl.)

The good news is there is a wide variety of food. We had excellent Greek food today and will go on a doughnut hunt in the morning.

I will meet up with my cycling buddy-Leslie- for the first time tomorrow and we will head out Saturday morning. I’m guessing Saturday will be a half-day as it is projected to be the hottest day before the heatwave breaks on Sunday.

The really, really good news? There are at least two Nordstroms here. . .

March 15, 2016: Day 5

Having lots of internet connectivity problems out here in the boondocks. As I’ve already lost one posting thanks to dropped connections I’ll have to play catch up tomorrow. . .

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Day 5 began in Globe, AZ.

Map from Globe, Arizona to Tonto Basin, Arizona

To say that Tonto Basin is the back of beyond doesn’t really do it justice. Besides, there is Punkin Center, AZ, which is just a few miles further down the road, and it really deserves the title.

But I am getting ahead of myself. . .

We spent the night at some motel I no longer recall but I began my cycling day at The Copper Hen in downtown Globe. Guess who found this breakfast spot and then nagged a hole through her husband’s head until he agreed to eat there?

No, I didn’t actually eat there, myself, that was Brantly’s job. I can’t eat a full breakfast at 6:30 in the morning. But he can.

Anyhow, I did manage to take some time and check out all the fascinating chicken paraphernalia.

Like this:

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Guess what?

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Get it? Get it?!

CHICKEN BUTT!!

Technically it is one chicken butt and one rooster butt.

Incidentally, I would be pleased to teach the “Guess what? Chicken butt!” routine to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, what have you, free of charge.

And here is a flock of chickens that have seized control of an empty coffee pot:

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And look at this!

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There is Snoopy waiting to begin the day while I fart around taking pictures of chickens.

Oh, while I was writing about this chicken-themed establishment I recalled yet another chicken-themed restaurant in Duncan, AZ. I didn’t actually see that one. Brantly ate lunch while Snoopy and I were out on the open road slaving away.

When he stopped to give me a little water and a crust of bread an hour or so later he said, “Hey, you should have seen this place I had lunch. There were chickens all over the place.”

“Did you take any pictures?” I asked.

“Pictures? Erm, no.”

*silence*

“But I’m going back there to take some now. . . ”

So, here is a picture from Hilda’s in Duncan, AZ:

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Yes, I know it’s upside down. I think it might be easier to just tilt your laptop than for me to figure out how to flip a picture. Well, easier for me.

Back to Globe.

The drive out of Globe was a bit hairy as the town is extremely hilly with intersections placed in inconvenient locations (at least for people whose feet are bolted to bicycle pedals).

So far this has been the most beautiful, pleasant day of the trip. Even though it was hot and the left side of my body continued to burn-no matter how much or how many different brands of sunblock I applied-the scenery was spectacular.

I absolutely love these Saguaro cacti so get ready to suffer through some pictures. . .

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They look so huggable, don’t they?

And then there were these guys:

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I mean, what the hell is going on here? I had to take several shots of this bizarre Cactus Cabal. Something about it reminded me of The Wicker Man (the 1973 version, naturally).

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Doesn’t it seem like they’re looking at you? It was kind of eerie biking through thousands of them. Thankfully I didn’t see any other disturbing groupings like this one.

And then there were these guys:

Pssst! Psssst! Hey, come over here. Come closer . . . we won’t hurt you. . .

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But these are just begging to be touched:

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Aren’t they cute? So fluffy! So soft! So cuddly! These are actually called Teddy Bear Cacti.

And here is the only picture I have of me today, so I’m including it. That is my Maori cycling jersey. They didn’t sell it in pink.

It looks like I might be putting out a cigarette here. (Just kidding, Mom) I think I was actually doing The Hustle. (I hope that song is now firmly embedded in everyone’s brains.)

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When I got to the top of hill there was this:

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Believe it or not, I’d rather climb hills than descend them. I probably used up at least 3 year’s worth of poor Snoopy’s breaks going down this hill.

But when the black, acrid smoke from my burning breaks cleared there was this:

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The Roosevelt Reservoir (or Lake Roosevelt)

This was a shocking sight in the middle of so much desert. You can’t tell from this shot, but it was already swarming with tourists. Why so early in the year? Because it’s Spring Break!

The ride along the lake was truly beautiful and relatively peaceful.

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And on to Tonto Basin and a rustic night’s stay. . .

 

 

 

 

 

March 14, 2016: Day 4, Safford, AZ to Globe, AZ

Map from Safford, Arizona to Globe, Arizona

Hey! Check out this nifty map.

Started out right as it got light this morning. After the heat yesterday I wanted to get out as early as possible. It turned out to be a good decision…

A small collection of town for about 10-15 miles outside Safford made for busy biking. I kept looking at all the fields that were in the process of being flooded with water and wondering, “What the hell are they growing out here?” Well, then I noticed all the little cotton ball type things on the side of the road. They were, um, cotton balls. Or at least raw cotton, which looks a lot like a cotton ball. If I had been thinking (which I was not as I had only a half cup of coffee) I would have put Pima together with cotton.

Anyhow, lots of cotton farming. Also these chickens:

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Again, you will have to look hard to spot the chickens. It made me miss my own birds but I was glad to see such a happy bunch of free-range girls out and about.

Today was also the day when the Saguaros began to appear. Here is a big bastard with a US post office growing off to one side. This picture was courtesy of a guy staring at a flat tire on his trailer and scratching his head. He said taking a picture for me was better than changing a flat…

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There was a lot of nice flat until Bylas, AZ, which is in the Apache Nation. There was also a gas station and convenience store in Bylas–a rarity indeed in these parts.

Brantly, my intrepid chase car driver, met me just in time to share a coke and have a chat with a cyclist coming from the opposite direction. We exchanged road details, checked out each other’s bikes, and discussed the relative merits of hauling all your own gear versus getting some kind-hearted soul to haul it (and you) for you. I have to say I didn’t envy Charlie (the other cyclist) his 45 lbs of gear. He said he left lots of neat stuff at camp grounds (a folding chair, clothing, bear spray (yes! bear spray) and other camping supplies) all along the way. So, if you’re looking for some free stuff (and bear spray!) check out camp grounds between San Diego and Globe. Happy trails, Charlie!

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After Bylas it got as hot as hell– 91 degrees. I was 7 miles outside Globe when I finally called it quits and thumbed a ride in the wagon, ending my day at 70 miles.

And here is yet another shot of me wearing clashing pink and red clothing…

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Tomorrow is a gentle day at just under 50 miles, which my thighs and scorched ear will be thrilled about.

 

 

March 13, 2016: Day 3, redux.

As I sit down to write about yesterday I realize I can hardly recall it after today…

I do remember there was a footprint on the ceiling of the motel room where we stayed. Here it is, you have to look closely. No, closer. . .

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Okay, so you have to look really hard.

Anyhow, yesterday was Lordsburg, NM to Safford, NM. This was a long day (72 miles in all) and it got much hotter than I expected. Did you know you can burn the inside of your ear? Yes, you can. And it hurts!

There were some hills but they were nothing like the first day (notice how I keep saying that? It’s true. After Emory Pass everything is hardly worth mentioning) and there was a lot of time to recuperate between climbs. The road was a bit rough in places and there were a lot of my country people driving huge motor homes with tow-cars.

Somebody needs to teach Canadians that cyclists are not something to aim for but something to avoid. Anyhow, this was the first day I had a few hair-raising moments, especially when the cut-aways in the rock did not leave much (read: any) shoulder. Naturally those were the times when a semi was coming toward me and a Canadian maniac from behind. But I survived.

Today was the day I left behind New Mexico and entered:

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There is Snoopy relaxing on the state line while I do all the work. As usual.

Stopped to have lunch in the middle of nowhere. Did I mention it was hot?

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Lots of relaxing downhill into Safford and along the way I passed this:

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The guy at the bike shop (at least 15 years older than me) didn’t know about the George Jones song set in Clifton– Open Pit Mine. He seemed disturbed when I told him there was a woman called Rosie buried deep in the open pit mine. . .

 

March 12, 2016: 73 (or maybe 74) miles from Lordsburg, NM to Safford, AZ

The truth is, I’m just too damned tired to blog tonight. I’m going to have an early night and catch up tomorrow night. It’ll be twice as exciting tomorrow!

March 12, 2016: Day 3

We spent last night in Silver City, NM at The Murray Hotel, an Art Deco Era hotel that is doing a valiant job to keep things together. The only other hotel guests were a raucous (and highly entertaining) wedding party of gay men and a geriatric Harley Davidson gang.Brantly felt a bit like Switzerland during a rather tense interaction in the elevator where sentences like “my husband has a Sig Sauer” were spoken.

Well, it all turned out just fine and everyone played nicely at breakfast.

Woke up at 5:30 sore and bleary-eyed but ready to face the day! Wait…it’s not 5:30? It’s 6:30?

Here I am in the lobby of The Murray Hotel (which kind of reminded me a bit of that hotel in the movie Barton Fink, now that I think about it.) Snoopy, my bike, was not allowed into our room at The Murray and had to spend the night downstairs in the luggage lockup.

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Oh, well. So we hit the road a bit later than expected, which is fine because today is the “day of rest” day with only 44 miles.

I loved today’s ride for many reasons.

1st while it was very hilly right up until the last 5 miles, it was not a hair-raising vertical climb that made my lungs explode.

2nd the shoulder was unbelievably wide and the pavement is new!! I couldn’t believe I was actually in New Mexico. New pavement? How did this happen? Except for a small section of old road and excessive gravel (see below) it was delightful almost the entire way to Lordsburg,NM.

3rd I saw things like this along the way:

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Look closely! See the shy pink one, hiding behind the weeds?

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There were dozens and dozens of them. Who knows why they came to this particular spot?

It was . . . magical. Especially when one considers there are no toilets listed between the towns of Silver City and Lordsburg. I paid my respects and moved along.

The drivers on this stretch of HWY 70 were unfailingly polite and gave me a wide berth even when they didn’t need to.

I had music plugged into one ear and listened to wildlife with the other. I’m pretty sure the bizarre shrieking I heard at one point came from this guy:

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Yes, there is a bird in this picture. You have to look closely and you can see his little head with his entertaining head gear. This photo is really on here for my friend Tammi, who will spot and identify him for us.

Here is another:

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He watched me for a little while but didn’t seem nearly as interested as my flicker boyfriend the day before.

I have a confession to make. Today marked the first time I fell off my bike. Stopped for a drink of water and to take a picture of something (can’t recall what after the trauma) and decided I didn’t need to un-clip both feet (You were right, Zach– ALWAYS un-clip both feet!!)

I don’t know what happened but suddenly the bike was tipping over and I was going with it. Once you are horizontal with a bike on top of you it’s twice as hard to un-clip. On a stretch of road that maybe only had a car every 10 minutes there were at least two nearby to watch my ignominious accident. I can’t even call it a crash. More of a “tip”. Anyhow, I was glad to get that out of the way.

Oh, and here is a picture of the shoe that contributed to my embarrassment:

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Not long after that my SAG driver stopped and we shared a bite to eat. Here he is, posing beside one of the ubiquitous yuccas along this stretch.

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Not long after this delightful break I came upon a section of heavy gravel that lasted for several miles. I could bitch for days about gravel. Instead, I’ll just say this:

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More about the delightful town of Lordsburg, NM tomorrow…

 

March 11, 2016: Day 2 of “The Who in the Hell Thought this was a Good Idea Tour” Emory Pass

Up at 5:30 a.m. and feeling pretty crusty.

It’s amazing how much junk a person needs to ride a bike. I don’t recall it being this complex when I was twelve.

It turns out cocktail dresses and multiple pairs of stilettos aren’t necessary.

After a healthy, delicious, exciting breakfast. . .

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Finally, a good use for USA Today.

It was 50 degrees at 6:30 but the temperature dropped a little by the time we reached Hillsboro, NM which a very cute little town with one functioning business. Thankfully the business provides coffee and a bathroom– the only bathroom for many, many miles. The Hillsboro General Store has been there since the dawn of time. The two older gentlemen who occupy the table to the left of the entrance can attest to that fact.

Here is a picture of me ready to go outside the Hillsboro General Store and Cafe. (AKA the Last Bathroom for Miles)

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Well, I could just snivel for days how steep it was. Yes, it was steep. Yes, 5140 over 54 miles is (and there is no other word for it) Hellish at times.

Brantly picked me up and drove me past 4 miles of road with signs of washouts from snow melt. There were still signs of recent work-bulldozed mountains of mud and rock and wood beside the road and some freshly fallen rock in places. Most of that was on the descent after cresting the pass. Even going downhill that much gravel, mud, and rocks would not have been fun.

It was a long, long day and I never want to climb that much elevation in one day again. Ever.

That said, it was really, really beautiful. The road that runs up to Emory Pass- HWY 52- is also an NM Birding Highway and the birds were certainly out today. My favorite was a male Red-tailed Flicker who thought I was some new breed of huge, pink bird.and followed me for about 1/4 of a mile trying to get my attention.

Too tired now to remember all the beautiful stuff I saw. I took frequent breaks (every 15 minutes for the couple of miles right before the peak) but didn’t have the energy for setting up the camera and taking pictures I thought I would. Most of my time was spent drinking, eating, and breathing.

Tomorrow should be a piece of cake in comparison.

Here is a picture my husband took while waiting to refill my water bottles for me. Even with a horrible cold he is turning out to be the best SAG wagon driver a person could ever want.

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A picture of me with a smile on my face peddling for the feed wagon.

And after all this beauty from Hillsboro, NM to Emory Pass?

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Santa Rita Open Pit Copper Mine, second largest in the world.

There really aren’t any words to express this mine, which just goes on and on and on and on.

There were large barriers ringed with razor wire along this section, which was the only area where you could really see the actual mine activity. Ginormous trucks were creeping along up the steep, stepped sides even on a Saturday.

More tomorrow…

March 10, 2016: (kinda) Day 1 of the Biking for Love in all the Wrong Places Tour (Hey! If you think you might have a better name for my Southern Tier Tour Title, bring it.)

Okay, first off, thanks to all of you who sent me bon voyage emails this morning and told me to wear sunscreen, watch out for road ‘gators, hydrate, and so forth. That’s tomorrow, folks.

Today all I have to worry about is all of the junk food we bought at Trader Joe’s on our way through Santa Fe. The husband wanted to photograph it, but I’m too ashamed. If I burn 4000-6000 calories per day, as projected, I’ll need to cycle to Tierra del Fuego.

We started from our home in Taos about 1.5 hours late, which isn’t bad considering 40 odd animals and excessive amount of luggage I decided to take. Luckily for me my first cycling companion bowed out of the tour a few days before, so I didn’t have to leave behind even one pair of shoes, which is the space he’d been allotted in the back seat of the Cube.

Many of the creatures gathered around to see us off.

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Viccus admiring his reflection on the car door before we drive it away…

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Lola and Ms. Squawkers wondering who will be bringing them breakfast, lunch, and dinner while their servant is off cycling across country.

Many errands and two! roadrunner sightings later we ended up around Hatch, NM, where we spent the next 4.5hours driving the two routes I had to choose from for the first day of my journey.

Option A: 90+ miles of ugly but flat terrain on a relatively busy road. (180, which touches I-10 at one point)

or,

Option B: 75 miles of beautiful scenery that ascends 4000 feet over 10 miles. (Not to mention some hair-raising drop offs and sections of road that had been recently washed out with flooding and quickly repaired). Emory Pass is 8228 and the highest point on the Southern Tier cycling route. As far as a segment for my first day out…well, it sucks, but that’s the way it is.

Well, it was an easy decision. Option B won.

I decided it would be prudent to start my journey at Hillsboro, NM rather than Hatch, NM, which would take about 18 miles off my trip.  That meant 57 miles for the first day, which is inside my daily projected average of 55-75.

After viewing what I would have to face the  next day we went to our motel room in Truth or Consequences, NM and tried to figure out if it was too late to book plane tickets to just about anywhere else.

So, a little about Truth or Consequences, NM, just in case you were eyeballing it for a future destination. Whatever you decide you want to do in TorC (how the locals refer to the town) make sure you do it before 8 p.m.- even on the weekend. Yes, even the Blake’s Lottaburger closes at 8 p.m.

We stayed at the TorC Holiday Inn Express, which apparently had its WIFI hijacked by somebody in Sioux City, Iowa (link thoughtfully provided for anyone interested in US hacker strongholds) which meant my Google account went on lock down.

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Here is Snoopy (my bike), my chicken handbag (necessary when actual, real chickens can’t be around), and some pink luggage at the Holiday Inn Express.

Bed at 11 p.m. and tomorrow will come early….

 

This Old Adobe House, Part I removing the floor…

When we decided to close down the Cottonwood Inn, Bed and Breakfast in Taos, NM and turn it back into a house we had several big projects.

The original house was built in the 1930s and expanded in the 1960s by artist Wolfgang Pogzeba. Pogzeba liked massive spaces and the nearly 8,000 square foot home was only three bedrooms. When it was converted into a B&B in 1995, the rooms were subdivided into 9 bedrooms.

We opened up the partitions between four of the rooms but our biggest challenge was opening the flow of the house from end to the other. There are two sets of semi-circular stairs but one had been built over in 1995.

In the interim, a deck had been built off the room. When we decided to remove the floor, it would leave a door hanging a couple feet above the stairs.

The photos below may do a better job of explaining . . .

 

This is the room with the floor we will be removing, starting on the left of the hot tub and going in a half-circle.

This is the room with the floor we will be removing, starting on the left of the hot tub and going in a half-circle.

First we remove the floor tiles. We tried to salvage as many as possible as the shiny saltillo is kind of unusual.

One tile at a time, starting at the right side of the hot tub.

One tile at a time, starting at the right side of the hot tub.

The fun started once the tiles were gone. Then the saws came out. We were able to salvage both sections of sub flooring along with the 2×6 supports that were below. These came in handy in our next project.

This was closed off and used as a storage closet. The stairs are quite lovely and massive. 52 inches wide by 10x22 pie shaped wedges.

This is the view beneath the floor. It was closed off and used as a storage closet. The stairs are quite lovely and massive. 52 inches wide by 10×22 pie shaped wedges.

That line around the wall was pretty distinct and was the perfect test for my beginner plastering skills. I’ve since learned that a slight patch is far worse than just jack hammering out a chunk and fixing it.

Here is the first section of floor removed.

Here is the first section of floor removed.

And how about a view from the stairs upward?

Can't see much in this picture but there is a 15x15 foot skylight over the hot tub.

Can’t see much in this picture but there is a 15×15 foot skylight over the hot tub.

Remember this door?

Here is the deck when you can actually get to it . . .

Here is the deck when you can actually get to it . . .

And here are a couple of pictures of afterward . . . (Yes, that is me, dressed bang up to the nines and directing air traffic on the giant landline headset).

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Here are where the stairs begin. file-removal-17

Here is an area of lath and plaster I will get to fix.floor-removal-18

Here I am widening the doorway to the stairs, which had been narrowed to 30 inches and needed to go up to 52. You can’t see it, but I have a SAWZALL in my hand!floor-removal-19

Are you ready for some after?

oops! how did this get in here?

oops! how did this get in here?

Well, you’ll have to wait for the after pictures until Part II. . .

Oh my goodness! What a romantic my husband is

My husband and I are approaching our ten year anniversary. As a sweet surprise my husband set up a very romantic evening this week. At about three in the morning he whispered in my ear that he wanted to show me something and that I should follow him. I grumbled out of bed and followed him out on the deck. There, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was playing quietly on the stereo and there was an open bottle of my favorite wine on the table. We climbed into the hot tub and he pointed out the Perseid meteor shower which was was going on silently above our heads. We spent several wonderful hours enjoying each other’s company and the magnificent celestial show.

 

Not to be outdone, I made him his favorite – homemade (from scratch, of course) beignets for breakfast and then it was back to writing.

Homemade beignets on my writing desk.

Homemade beignets before writing.