Day 80: Pressing matters

Day 80:

Those canes I planted? Like everything else here, they throw like gangbusters. After just a couple of days I was able to cut them at about knee-high and harvest the two meters of cane above that.

The very outside of the cane is thick and hard. I might find a use for it. Fortunately (much like the wood) it splits easily, so I’m able to cut it in half without too much trouble.

The inside is pulpy and sweet-smelling.

I’m going to try chopping the pulpy bits really fine, then spreading them on a stone with a ridge around the edge to collect the juice. If the juice is sugary, it should crystallize for me once its squeezed out of the pulp. And if the pulp is chopped fine enough and mixed up well enough I might be able to make paper out of it.

I certainly have enough stone to set on top to press the liquid out, that’s for sure.

line sketch of cane. First piece is a half segment with the center taken out. Outer four pieces are whole, multi-segment pieces. That's it. This one's pretty boring.
What I’d give for a food processor.

Day 79: Food

Day 79:

A typical meal for me is carrots, some pretty pathetic bread, and a fish.  In the morning I probably just gnaw on some stale bread. I keep some carrots on me to snack on throughout the day, and at night, it’s the whole carrot-bread-fish combination.

Sometimes it’s a carrot and fish sandwich.

No one would’ve convinced me that was a meal back before I landed here.

The biggest problem with this diet is that it is very heavy on fish, and fish are not easy to catch. So the last couple of evenings before the sun goes down (when it’s not so hot and the fish bite better) I’ve been fishing, but it hasn’t be overly successful.

I think soon I’m going to have to kill some of my duckens and cook them.

It’s one thing to kill something like a zombie that’s trying to kill me. It’s another to try to kill something that I’ve cared for. It’s hard. I don’t want to do it. But I tried eating no direct protein here (it’s not like soy power shakes are a thing) and I got really weak really fast. I need fat and protein and if I run out of fish I’m not going to have a choice.

Let’s keep hoping the fish come in.

Watercolor of a carrot and fish sandwich, with two brown slices of bread filled to heaping with white fish and orange carrot flecks. Like tuna mayo, without the mayo and with carrots instead.
In theory I can make mayonnaise. In practice I don’t know how. Eggs and oil I think? I wonder if ducken fat would work.

Day 78: Muggy

Day 78:

I don’t talk about the weather here much because it doesn’t change often. If I remember correctly, Serendipity is one of those planets that spins perfectly on its axis and has no seasons the way that Earth does. The drop point was planned to be a bit above the equator, so not quite tropical weather, but certainly warm and muggy by most people’s standards. The trees are deciduous style leaves though I doubt they fall since they don’t get a “fall”.

Without naming temperatures, since I lack a thermometer and my “hot” may not be anyone else’s “hot”,  most days are warm enough to walk around in light clothing, and it’s easy to break a sweat if working out side. Most nights are on the cool side unless it’s cloudy – not cold enough to frost or anything like that but certainly not my ideal sleeping temperature. The fire’s always burning in my cave house, just to keep the dampness and cold at a minimum.

Since I spend most days underground where the temperature’s relatively cool (except near that strange hot wall I’m not willing to dig through) I’m more often cold than hot.

It rains a couple days a week, sometimes during the day and sometimes at night.

All this to say that I spent a good part of today standing in the lakebed dredging sand to make glass, so my feet are freezing and my arms are sunburnt. It reminds me a bit of going to the beach with my family when I was a kid, back before we moved off Earth.

Black and white sketch. The star  (the planet's sun) fills all of the right side of the page. On the left side  a planet with a totally vertical axis and an arrow indicating the planet spins. Lines mark off the polar regions (near the poles), and temperate zones (next to the polar regions) and the center of the planet is just labeled "too hot".
This is what I’m picturing, anyway

Day 77: Reeds

Day 77:

I’m still exhausted from the mining I’ve been doing, and my body’s sending me signals that maybe I should slow down. (Those signals are things like bruises, and aching shoulders, and a smashed toe. Little things.)

I slept half the morning, then got up, checked on the animals, and took a walk.

I found some cane reeds down a ways, in the direction of the mountain. Not a lot of them, but enough that I took some to transplant closer to where I live. With the speed everything grows here, I should know in a couple of days whether the plans will live or die.

The cane smells sweet, so it might be sugar cane. Or it might be ok for making paper from.

I wonder how hard it would be to design a grinding wheel.

line sketch of five bamboo or sugar-cane like plants, with thick segmented stems and a mess of floppy leaves at the top.
They’re tall!

Starred Kirkus Review for the 2018 Young Explorers Adventure Guide

The 2018 Young Explorers Adventure Guide is out on December 1, and it includes a story I wrote called “The Smell of Home”. The book is aimed at middle-grade readers and higher (essentially 12+ ears of age) and has a lot of fantastic stories about setting off on adventure.

The book was given a starred review by, which is an Exciting Thing as they only star roughly 10% of their reviews.

I’d be lying if I said I thought my story was the reason we got the star, but I’m damned honored to have my work included in the anthology with so many fantastic stories.

I’ll make sure to post links when I get them!