Day 49: Sand Mining

Day 49:

The lake at the edge of the southern entrance to my cave house is thick and deep with sand that melts at a nice temperature for making glass.

Technically, making glass is a bit of a luxury when one is stranded on a planet with nothing and no one except what one makes for one’s self. But coddammit, it’s nice to be able to see what’s hunting me from the other side of the walls, and glass blocks, while not easy to make and easy for a giraffe corgi monster to blow up, are still better for seeing out the walls than granite.

So I’ve been digging up bags of sand today to put in my smelter and make glass from. Which means, once again, I’ve spent the day wet from top to bottom.

Bonus: it looks like there’s a cavern under the lake (which makes sense considering that I’ve dug into the roof of one right next to the lake) so one wrong shovel full of sand and I could be washed into a hole.

Watercolor of a lake beach. In the far background, blue sky, then some trees on a grassy area which gives way to a beach ringed with sand, then blue waters of a lake.
It’s not bad as beaches on extremely hostile planets go.

Day 48: shoveling dirt

Day 48:

The biggest difference between mining a seam of rock deep in the earth and mining at the surface is there tends to be a lot more actual dirt on the surface. Plus, it’s almost all at your feet.

When I’m mining a seam of rock I tend to dig down to a point where I’m facing the rock as if I was facing a person, and then dig forward, tunnel-like. That way I’m not constantly bending down. I’m digging chunks out of a wall of rock with a pickaxe that I’m swinging at a number of angles, but most of them standing angles.

But the hole I’m digging right now is below my feet, which means with every strike I not only have to bend over (a LOT, my back would like you to know) but also scoop out what I dug immediately, and that’s a lot of shoveling.

I think today’s digging got me deep enough that I can dig straight ahead instead of down for a while. The seam was sizable, which is good, because the stone is valuable and as long as I’m still in walking distance of my cave house I may as well be “making money” off it.

No signs of The Company in the air or on the ground. Not sure if I’m relieved or disappointed. If they were here and I missed them, at least I’d know they were here… but knowing I missed them would be really hard on my brain.

Tomorrow I finish digging out this hole and then I keep digging toward the mountain.

Black and white line sketch of two large garbage bag sized sacks which contain rocks (rocks not shown). Labeled "My two rock carrying sacks made from cow hide. The cow was wild, a victim of a giraffe corgi."
Maybe making that wheelbarrow would be a good idea.

Day 47: Surface mining

Day 47:

Still working  on covering up signs that I’m here. I’m thinking that trees might help. From space they don’t really show much structure underneath them, especially the giant black oaks that are growing around the shoreline.

Alternatively I could cover everything up with dirt, free my animals, and pray I survive to the mountain.

My second entrance is about a third of the way to the mountain, so my plan to dig toward the hills is working, for some value of “working” anyway.

Meanwhile, near that entrance I actually found some andesite on the surface. I’m thinking during the sunny days I may just mine it outright. I can fill the hole with the dirt and gravel I’ve taken out of the cave… which coincidentally will clean up the cave a bit. (I’ve taken to making big wood bins to dump everything  into just to get it off the floor. Hard to do with a stone shovel, but slipping on muddy floors gets old.

Sketch of a room containing 7 large boxes, 5 in the back row, two aligned to the right in the front row. Labeled (clockwise from the left) granite, andesite, diorite, rock, dirt, gravel, more rock.
Good thing this is a big room. Bad thing it’s so far away.

Day 46: Nobody wants to reinvent the wheel

Day 46:

It’s getting harder to hide the evidence that I’m here.

OK, the fenced in chunk of field with the horses that are wearing saddles definitely indicate that someone is here. That alone is enough to get me fired from The Company if they’re not feeling charitable toward my situation. (On the other hand, I might have grounds to sue in this particular case…)

But I’ve now got a second entrance to disguise, and that’s where things get harder. For at least the next few weeks (well, maybe as short as “days” in this whacko place) there’s going to be a lot of loose dirt and suspicious sod near this cave entrance, because in order to reinforce it against exploding creatures, I’ve had to dig out a lot of the sod that disguised the cave in the first place.

I stripped off all the top soil, reinforced the cave walls with granite, and then had to re-bury everything because a big sinkhole lined with chiseled granite in the middle of a field tends to look, well, out of place. Human-made. Not the result of exploding giraffe things.

Also, by the way, I’d give my eye teeth for a wheelbarrow. I could probably chisel one out of the big trees around here, but then I’d have to reinvent the wheel and I’m not sure I’m up for that kind of delicate stonework.

There’s so many other just whacko things here I’m surprised I haven’t come across a wheel-bush or something. Maybe it’s up on the mountain.

Bad black and white sketch of the author's idea of what a wheel bush and an axel bush would look like. Essentially small saplings with wheels or axels at the ends instead of leaves. Labeled "things I wish for: wheel bush, axel tree".
Maybe a cappuccino plant, too.

Day 45: swampy and splintery

Day 45:

Today was clear, but humid. You know how it is after a rain storm, where the air hasn’t actually dried out even though all the water’s fallen out of the clouds? That was today all over. No matter where I went, everything felt wet, regardless of the blue skies and the sun.

I’m still finishing closing up that cave entrance in the back. It’s proving to be more difficult than I expected. I mean, I’m a miner, not a stonemason, though right now I’m wishing maybe I’d’ve gone into that instead of taking a twelve week course to “lose weight, gain valuable skills, and travel the galaxy”.

So yeah, rocks. Slippery when wet. Painful when dropped on hands. I’ve made some gloves out of leather, but they’re not exactly steel-reinforced crush-protection gloves, they’re more like don’t-scratch-your-hands-on-sharp-rocks gloves.

Then I realized that I was low on wood, and had to go cut a tree down, and by the time I was done breaking up the branches and cleaning that mess up,  the day was pretty much done.

I still wish I had a shower.

We have a big decontamination shower on the ship, in the high-gravity section. It had two jets from each of the walls, and nine jets total across the center. If you were put in the decontamination shower, it meant something went seriously wrong during the mission – exposure to radiation, biological hazards, something like that. I hated it. It was too much water too fast and it freaked me out. I only had to use it twice and I actually became kind of afraid of it.

Right now, I think it’s exactly what I’d need to feel clean again.

Black and white sketch of a shower stall roughly the size of a standard American bathtub, with shower heads on all the walls as described in the post. Labelled "The ship's decontamination shower. I have dreams about it now."
Also I want the shower to be very hot, stocked with perfumed soaps, and a massage therapist to be waiting for me afterward.