I was cold while walking the dog this morning. I hurried her along, impatiently encouraging her every time she paused at some neighbor’s trash can for more than a second or two. “Cold, Zelda, cold,” I said. “Walk faster!”

Possibly I should have worn socks? Or maybe a jacket? Instead, I had on sandals, a sweatshirt, and a light scarf. About halfway through my walk, Zelda gave me a plaintive look, and I had to laugh at myself. And take a picture.

a banana plant

This was dangling in front of me. Bananas. Or plaintains. I don’t have any idea how one tells the difference and I’d look it up, but then I’d wake up to discover that three hours had passed while I was looking at plant pictures on the internet and I don’t have time for that today.

Anyway, it was a potent reminder that while I don’t generally think of where I live as tropical, it’s pretty darn close. Palm trees and hibiscus and bougainvillea that grows like a weed and bananas… yep, tropical.

In other news, the kitchen is close. So, so close. The microwave still needs to be put up and there are wires sticking out of the walls that are destined to be connected to lights under the cabinets and I need to do a tile backsplash and repair some paint, but it’s nearly there.

It’s strange how I feel about it. I’ve been trying to separate myself from the house for the last unknown number of months, facing the reality that I cannot afford to live in a three-bedroom house with a lawn and a pool, and if I want to keep trying to make it as a writer, I should be planning a move to a studio apartment instead. Those are mostly not bad thoughts for me — I don’t feel like I need much, and I’ve been content in a studio apartment before. But the kitchen is mine now, in a way it wasn’t before. I want to not love it because then it will be harder to give it up, but there’s a deep-down core part of me that wants to stand in it, saying, “Mine, mine, mine,” like the seagulls in Finding Nemo.

The one sort of big thing left to do, post house-disaster, is to turn my office back into my office. It was where the flood was worst, and I wound up moving everything out of that room. For the last month, it’s where all the kitchen stuff has been stored, and before that, it held the Christmas tree, but now it’s empty, so I can again turn it into my work station. I appear to be reluctant to do so, however, because it makes such a great yoga space. Lots of room, great light, no distractions. Still, I’ll get on that. Maybe this weekend.

On Friday, in honor of Friday the 13th and because I like the juxtaposition of Friday the 13th and Valentine’s Day, A Lonely Magic is going to be free for the first time. I feel like I should spend today searching for ad sites that might be able to run an ad for it with that little notice, but if I did that, I’d be being a sensible business person. Instead, I’m going to go back to tweaking this same stupid chapter of A Gift of Grace and see if maybe I can get Noah and Grace back in the same room. Or same place, since literally, it’s the forest, not a room.