(1) Juid

Juid groaned in discontent—a lengthy, pained groan of a man who had been unappreciatively and prematurely roused from slumber by circumstances which couldn’t possibly have been more important than a solid night’s sleep. The alarms, having been designed to alert the population of a potentially lethal scenario, had become so commonplace that they existed now as mere background noise to the cacaphonic soundtrack of Juid’s life. And Juid, like everyone he knew, was station-born, and so knew nothing of a life devoid of such constant threat. But his ever-adaptable human mind had long since accepted the dangers as inevitabilities—constants of his physical environment—which no longer invoked a survival stress reaction.

Management disagreed with this blasé assessment, however. Juid’s superior, indignant at his delayed response, opened the hatch to his quarters without announcement or permission, cursing as the eternally sticky handle caused a fumbled entrance and a painful cranial impact upon the bulkhead—justice served to a courtesy violation. Juid failed to suppress a grin, despite his state of sleep-depravity. Even through the chronic fatigue, and regardless of that fact that he was being summoned in person, he had already surmised that the problem was adequately severe, independent of the alarms (which were still screeching, Juid noted). His most astute conclusion was formulated upon the observation of extremely reduced gravity, at once apparent as Juid rose from the prone position, which in turn meant that the station’s rotational velocity had been reduced, which could only therefore mean that it had suffered an explosive decompression somewhere—or had experienced a collision with some foreign object (or both), which would also likely mean decompression. The causality chain was gradually coalescing in Juid’s fatigue-clouded mind. Either way, it meant that there was hull damage and needlessly wasted atmosphere. That would only lead to further resource rationing. Juid knew who would feel the pinch. It was a series of events that would conclude in no positive outcome. Juid groaned again, this time a groan of slightly shorter duration than previously, now triggered by emotional displeasure rather than from physical discomfort.

Get dressed. 50-39-56.” His manager left, rubbing his head at the site of impact. He was not in good humor today, although the blow to the head had likely evaporated any that would have been there to begin with at this hour. He also looked less fat in reduced-G, Juid mused as he left (quite a feat to become fat upon standard rations).

The station was mapped on a coordinate system. This was practical as it was rotationally symmetric, so the X-Y-Z, 3-dimensional field of reference applied seamlessly, measured from the ring’s center of mass (which was not within the station itself, as such a location would have no simulated gravity). Of course, the interior of the station was not nearly so homogenous as the coordinate system would have implied, being restricted only by rotational symmetry of mass. A more practical system would have included numerical designations at corridor junctions, in order to pinpoint impacted sections and more efficiently direct an individual through the maze. And it once did. Centuries of groping hands could never polish away the numbered plates bolted at every door, airlock, and intersection. But such information was lost to time, and unnecessary these days. Juid could navigate the station blind, as could everyone. It was the only home they had ever known, and they had had their entire childhood with which to imprint the spacial references to memory. Juid knew exactly where to go and how to get there, and only required those three simple numbers to tell him.

Juid opened the locker to his vacuum suit (a most utilitarian receptacle), upon which it gracefully fell in the low gravity to the floor in a disheveled heap. Juid had hung it up properly of course, but the low-G had apparently caused it to dislodge from its moorings. He picked it up and cautiously sniffed the collar, the way one does with full knowledge of the olfactory violation to come, and upon receiving the anticipated sensation, recoiled slightly at the familiar stench of his own concentrated body odor. It was his odor, yes, having finally triumphed over the suit’s prior owner’s, but still, he didn’t relish basting in it for extended periods. He gagged. Water rations always precluded the laundering of any exo-wear, forcing suit owners to make due with a myriad of toxic solvents instead, trading the discomfort of solidified oil for the ultimate health costs of long-term carcinogen exposure. Juid was certainly no exception. He wiped the inside with an industrial de-greaser and winced at the chemical fumes. Then, with his eyes properly burning and the suit’s lining mildly caustic to the touch, Juid donned the vacuum gear.

The suit was bulky, but was designed for interior, not external, maintenance. This meant that it had to fit through narrow access hatches. So, it wasn’t a giant fabric bubble, as the first suits were, but rather a compacted body suit, still thick with insulation and tear-resistant fiber, but relatively mobile. It was solid technology, relying primarily on physical pressure, rather than atmospheric, and remarkably still intact from Before—which was why Juid was not its first owner, nor would he be the last. Juid grabbed the helmet and exited his quarters. He would wait until the last minute to seal himself completely, thus minimizing the time he would spend inhaling the nauseating combination of aforementioned body odor and pungent chemicals.

In the hallway, business carried on as usual, as was to be expected. Pending death was no reason to cancel daily plans, and like Juid, the station’s populace had grown to become generally unresponsive to the frequent alarms. The only difference was that today people were galloping down the corridors like wild beasts (not that Juid had ever seen any such beast in person) because of the reduced gravity—an unintentionally comical sight. The few children on board could be heard squealing with delight as they relished the opportunity to literally bounce off the walls, oblivious to the severity of the situation. Juid had to dodge more than a couple. But, at least it made moving in the vacuum suit easier.

In short order, Juid arrived at his destination. As a general policy, bulkhead doors were to remain closed at all times. This was for obvious reasons, case in point, although the greater threat historically had been fire, not decompression. It was far more likely than an electrical malfunction in a high-oxygen environment would trigger disaster, rather than a catastrophic hull failure. But regardless the original reason, the present circumstances benefited from this practice. Although, had no policy been in effect, it would have still been de facto. All doors opened against the rotational force of the station, and so remained closed if not by policy, then by physics alone. They were originally powered pneumatically, saving the operator some effort, and although the majority of those pressure systems had since failed, the doors were still counter-balanced. A mere toddler could open them if so inclined. And even in sections where the weighted pullies too had failed, the doors themselves remained a modest 30 kilos under standard gravity. It didn’t require much material to hold back low atmosphere.

However, it was generally not possible to open a door against the pressure differential of 0.6 kPa. This meant that an airlock would need to be jury-rigged from the series of hatches. The improvisation involved gathering all maintenance personnel, cordoning off the hallway between the door to open and the next bulkhead door, placing a notice on the outside of this far door warning of deadly consequences (not that any casual passersby would be able to open it anyway), running a compressor to reduce the ambient pressure of this now dead space, then forcing the door with a most elegant too—a large crowbar (or in this case, a 2-meter bar of sharpened steel). The purge of this small cavity of air at reduced pressure was rarely more than a strong gust, and then behold! Access to the compromised structure. And the ventilation ducts were even valves, designed to close against vacuum. The station was a marvel of old-style engineering—mechanical failsafes independent of any electrical control systems. They were with certainty the only reason anyone could still live here at all. Computer systems would go offline through data corruption, and as their programming languages became lost to time as new generations failed to grasp their context, but the tactile world of mechanical engineering was rooted in universal perception.

Following the aforementioned procedure, Juid and crew examined the breach. In short—it was large. A small breach didn’t cause decompression, just a gradual leak. The station was riddled with gradual leaks, often plugged with nothing more than fabric adhesive. This job, however, required welding. Welding used valuable resources, so before repair work was authorized, scans of the damage were forwarded to management for approval. The photograph crew did just this. And then they waited.

In Juid’s experience, this was a worthy repair. Repairs that were not cost effective or of minimal impact simply remained sealed off—bulkhead doors closed eternally and forgotten to time, or until the next trade pod (if it contained sufficient materiel and an appropriate deal could be struck). But in this instance, the affected junction was heavily trafficked, yet the damage was not sufficiently large enough to compromise the hull’s greater integrity. This scenario belied a much larger problem, however. This particular type of damage was becoming increasingly common, and management was only denying the long-term implications. These exercises were simply not sustainable with the dwindling access to supplies. But that didn’t concern Juid at the moment either.

The station, aptly named “Lagrange 1”, resided at Lagrange point 1, which is to say it was locked into a comfortable position between the planet below, and its natural moon above…so to speak. The benefit to this arrangement was its permanence, and had been chosen with intent by the station’s original designers. The station would never suffer the fiery cataclysm of a retrograde orbit. It was, as all things within it, timeless in existence yet terminally ill. It would always remain here, even after it was no longer capable of supporting life, ultimately finding its fate as a fragmented mass of floating debris, sealed in relative position until the system’s star transitioned into a red giant.

Such had been the fate of Lagrange 4. Its former occupants had asphyxiated in the emptiness of space, presumably after their station had suffered an impact too severe to be recoverable. Or perhaps they had run out of compressed air, or scrubbers, or the power grid had failed. It was impossible to establish a timeline of events, or isolate a probable cause from the myriad of problems which may have arose, as any evidence to solve the mystery had gradually eroded from the constant barrage of orbiting particulates once no one was left to make the repairs.

Thousands of kilometers away, the inhabitants of Lagrange 3 had, out of their own survival necessity, sent an exploratory salvage team to Lagrange 4’s location after rediscovering its existence in their archives, and ultimately the location of all the Lagrange stations. This was centuries ago, and had marked the beginning of the earliest trade caravans. L4 was far closer to L1 than L3, but by the time all Lagrange stations had established communication channels and were in possession of operational shuttles, L3 already had a salvage monopoly in place, and since L3 was running the risks of salvage, and had formed the basis of the original trade systems, all other stations were reluctant to disrupt the balance and potentially compromise their already tenuous mercantile system. Unfortunately, this also meant that one station controlled the only source of materiel needed for repairs and equipment replacements. Increasingly, the cost of said materials made these repairs prohibitively expensive.

The tear in the hull, which Juid had now patched with an aluminum plate and sealed with a thermolytic chemical reaction, had cost them collectively a week’s worth or water rations. The giant spaceburg, which dominated half the station’s total mass, had been hauled in from the outer system during the stations’ construction, and served as the primary source of propellant, gasses (notably oxygen), hydration, and general sanitation. All the Lagrange stations had their own supply (excluding the former L4, who’s was notably—and suspiciously—absent), and it served as the only practical means of currency. But while their sheer size seemed eternal, like the salvage shortage, it was a dwindling supply.

It was a point that Juid was tired of arguing. Reporting concerns directly to senior management was highly irregular, and so Juid was forced to try to reason with his permanently apathetic direct manager. His manager surmised, correctly, that he would be long-dead before water shortages and escalating costs of supplies would spiral completely out of control, and while this attitude presented a direct contradiction to why management was so frugal with the supply, the mere fact that the system was working at all was sufficient reason to maintain indifference. Therefore, he was only concerned with his own immediate wellbeing, which primarily involved his tireless pursuit of any number of the diminishing population of vastly outnumbered women on station.

This last thought was bouncing through Juid’s mind as the radio clicked to life with his boss’ consent for the repair order. He enjoyed a mutual moment of amusement with his colleagues who all noted that they hadn’t waiting for permission.

They waited a bit so as to maintain the veneer of subordinate obedience, then Juid sent over a radio communication. “The repair’s done. We’re ready for a test compression, unless you want to check the work personally.” Final signoff always fell to him, officially, even if he knew little of grunt work himself, or cared at all.

“No need, go ahead and pressurize.” Juid may have been mistaken, but he could have sworn he had heard yawning in that response.

Whatever, he never had been a competent welder to begin with—part of his quick advancement no doubt (Juid’s turn to feel mild indifference). He walked to the nearest ventilation duct and forced the manual release. Air hissed its way through, slowly as it always did (another mechanically-engineered safety). Had he not been wearing his vacuum suit, Juid would have experienced the blast of stench firsthand from the accumulated dust which only now, after being subjected to a significantly faster stream of air, was freed from its duct purgatory. The crew would have to wait. Juid checked his pressure readings, noted the time, and made an estimate. It would be an hour at least. He glanced to one of his colleagues, who was doing a similar check. Through their gold-laminated faceplates they met an imaginary gaze, and the man shrugged. They both knew, and there was nothing else to do in the meantime.

“Might as well tell the engine crew to get started, Bob.” The status of the air pressure in this one junction wouldn’t impact the process of restoring the station’s rotational velocity. And regardless, this crew’s job was done.

“Yeah, okay.” Another yawn—this time definitive. Asshole.

A few minutes passed and then a sudden lurch shook the station. Equatorial thrusters were venting water vapor. Though he could no longer see outside, Juid knew that a month’s supply was being dumped into nothingness. Inwardly, he sighed. They would feel the pinch. He imagined as the station’s rotation spun the building cloud of ice crystals into a toroid.

Gradually, Juid’s feet grew heavy. The weariness of the job only now manifested with the return to normal gravity. But on the positive side, they would now all receive an ethanol ration, as was customary. Each repair job netted a little bonus, and Juid suspected that this was top management’s way of helping the proletariat forget the hard work, bad pay, and hazardous conditions (plus, giving people a depressant tended to quell their rebellious energy). Juid would have preferred an extra water ration, or a complementary suit cleaning, but at least he’d enjoy an evening of recreation. And in addition to the ethanol there was one more perk of the job. Tonight, management would send down some of the women for entertainment. It had been weeks since Juid had talked to one, probably just as long since he had even seen one, and there was always that small chance he could arrange for an official courtship. Hope was a great motivator.


I really like my indoor grow light basement setup.  With the average first frost in the region to be around 10/19, I’ve been revisiting the setup and considering what I’m going to be keeping inside overwinter.  And as I pondered the setup, I thought about how much easier things would be if I had a hose connected down there.  And as it just so happens, it’s only about 10 feet away from the main water line.

This portion of the basement is where the laundry machines are hooked up, as well as a utility sink.  The lines split off from here, feeding two external spigots, and there’s the whole house filter, the water heater, and the general myriad of lines for sinks and bathrooms.  To me, the mess of copper looks like the depths of some steampunk facility.

In the chaos, the main water line passes through two spigots.  The spigots are closed, with a central spigot which bypasses them–open.  It looks like a setup for a water softener.  I don’t know if one was ever installed, because the water here doesn’t need conditioning, but maybe it once did.  Who knows?  Regardless their intended purpose, it gave me an idea–could I just simply connect a hose to one of those spigots?

As it turns out, no.  The threads were much too wide for a standard garden hose.  But surely there’s an adapter, right?

Armed with this logic, I was off to Lowe’s to look at copper fittings.  I quickly discovered that the maximum copper fitting size was 1 inch.  Recalling how wide the spigot was, I gambled and bought a 1 inch to 3/4 inch reducer.  I hurried home to see the fruition of my project, but soon determined that 1 inch was too small.  Curious, why would they not make a copper fitting big enough to fit a copper spigot?

So I went to Home Depot instead.  But I ran into the same problem here.  None of the connectors were big enough.  Staring blankly at the wall of copper, a store employee took pity on me and offered to help.  I explained my plight, and he informed me that they don’t carry anything in copper bigger than one inch, but he could get me the needed size connectors in PVC.

I really wanted copper, but this project wasn’t for any high-impact application, so as long as it would work at all, I could live with PVC.  So, with two PVC adapters and a brass threaded hose connector, I headed back home.  I then attempted to attach the PVC to the spigot, and…it was too big.  What the hell?  I went up one standard size from one inch: 1-1/4.  Why wouldn’t that fit?  And it was only slightly too big, like 1/16 of an inch.  Was this spigot metric?

I stewed over this dilemma, and concluded that I would experiment.  So I wrapped the threads in a bunch of Teflon tape to fill the gap, cranked the PVC down, and filled the resultant void (due to the depth of the PVC threads) with a waterproofing adhesive.  I let it cure for 24 hours.  Maybe that would be sufficient.

It wasn’t.  Even though I didn’t turn the water on very high, it was still the main water line, and the pressure was too great.  The joint failed with a pop and I had to scurry over and shut the spigot.  Curses.

Okay, experiment 2.  I removed all the adhesive and Teflon.  This time, I was armed with self-fusing silicone tape–something designed to seal high-pressure pipes (which I bought on a whim while I was returning the first batch of connectors).  I wrapped the spigot threads with enough tape that it became an effort to crank down the PVC connector.  This stuff was supposed to adhere to any surface and be completely waterproof.  I let it sit for a bit, but it didn’t have any cure time so that hardly seemed to matter.  This time, I decided to test it without any sealant, since the sealant itself wouldn’t hold the pressure anyway.  I turned the water on, higher than I had turned it on with my last attempts.

And…it held.  Huh, maybe this silicone tape is magic after all.  I let the hose stay pressurized for a time, then shut it off and de-pressurized the line.  I refilled the gap with sealant, figuring it might still help by adding support.  And so far, it’s working as I had hoped.  I’m uncertain of this solution’s permanence, and somewhat unhappy with the inelegant and hacked solution, but time will tell.  And if it doesn’t hold up, then I’ll simply splice into the wash machine line instead.  I know I can get proper connectors for that at least.

Still, the irritation lingered, and I searched for an explanation.  Curiously, pipe fittings are not nearly as standard as I had thought, and the actual measurements are approximations which have changed over time.  So whenever this spigot was installed, for whatever connection it was intended, is no longer a current standard.  Sheesh.  Maybe one day I’ll try soldering in a nice ball valve threaded for a garden hose, but for now, I don’t want to risk compromising the main water line and having to call in a professional.

Why the hell aren’t pipes all standard sizes?  Another homeowner lesson.


Art (Part 2)

I thought some bladed weaponry would look good above the mantle.  Dad thought some full-size babe pinups would fit the space perfectly.  But ultimately, I somehow ended up with sunflowers.  I suppose pictures of the reproductive parts of plants is sort of like pictures of babes…roll that disturbing thought through your brain a bit.

Admittedly, I like sunflowers.  I wish I had grown some this year.  And I had been living in fear that the mantle would eventually be adorned with paintings of cabins in the woods, so I can live with sunflowers.

But it’s a lengthy stretch–99 inches to be exact, and Liz had acquired 4 individual pictures.  This would create a ratio that would show every slight deviation in alignment, so they had to be mounted with exacting perfection.  Fortunately, OCD can be leveraged to accomplish such perfection, so out came my tool kit and the drafting equipment (paper and pencil).

Okay…99 divided into 4 equal partitions would be 24 3/4 inches, so if I measure the exact middle, 49 1/2 inches, and the height is 40 3/4 inches, then the middle is…

…Also consider the width and height of the frames, and the locations of the mounting brackets, and the distance between…

I ended up with this nightmarish blueprint:

The kid drew the flowers in, I guess to complete the facsimile

At least the frames were light so I didn’t have to worry about mounts or studs.  Studs are never where they’re needed, and mounts always seem to have a 50/50 chance of ripping the drywall out.

One more wall decorated.


Pumpkins (Part 3)

As more pumpkins ripened, the kid asked to help with the harvesting.  Naturally I was happy that she wanted to help, and smiled as she donned her gardening gloves.  The vines have a lot of prickers on them, and freeing the fruit requires the use of shears.  It was then that I lamented on what has become of the fall activity of picking one’s own pumpkin from a patch.

Given the equipment required for the task, it occurred to me that picking pumpkins can be both (a) slightly uncomfortable, and (b) slightly hazardous.  I mention this because as I look back, I realize that visiting a pumpkin patch these days typically involves driving to a field, then either selecting a pumpkin from a pile of already-picked pumpkins, or (slightly more authentic) walking through the field and selecting a pumpkin that has already been cut (and sometimes appear to have been placed there manually).

Presumably, since people pay for this, they want it as comfortable as possible, and always want to achieve the height of satisfaction for the experience.  It would be one thing to go slog through the field only to find a few misshapen and moldy pumpkins, but if you were to pay for it first along with the wagon ride out there, then you become an entitled paying customer (and rightfully so).

And of course, there’s the usual concerns associated with sending a bunch of people out through your property with sharp objects.

The culmination to these concerns, therefore, is a watered-down and unauthentic experience, devoid of any proper character-building misery that enhances the elation from a successful endeavor.  Every pumpkin-picking trip is the same, and therefore never a disappointment, but also then never memorable.

But I have subverted the cycle of mediocrity in this one very specific instance.  The patch might have only been comprised of 3 plants, but it was real.  She’ll remember this.

Plus, I got 10 pumpkins, which retail for $5 each–for a plant that volunteered and required no effort to cultivate.  Sticking it to the man, in this case the evil corporate pumpkin racket.


The Weak Are Meat; The Strong Do Eat

Dawn broke.  With a deep breath, I analyzed the the thick morning air.  I sampled its nuances, sensing the fear.  Wildlife everywhere trembled in anticipation of the hunt to come.  I rose, eager for the stalk.

I’d like to say that’s how the day began, but I’ve never been a morning person.  When I was a child, it was my sister who woke me for Saturday morning cartoons.  High school fared no better, as evening extracurricular activities intruded upon homework and leisure time, and in turn brought about a later bed time, which naturally led to morning routine difficulties.  In college, I worked after class, often closing the department at 10PM.  After college, I worked second shift for years.  It is only recently that I began working normal hours, but the actions of a lifetime have driven deep habitual behavior, and I find my body very unwilling to change its customs now.

Instead, the alarm went off at my usual 6AM, whereupon I followed a standard routine to deliver the kid to school.  Then, after brewing a pot of coffee and loading the hunting gear into dad’s car, the ruthless caveman hunters that we were began our journey in the comforts of a climate controlled sedan.  I admit–modern hunting is definitely a privileged man’s sport, a far cry from its beginnings as a survival activity, and certainly a pretty pathetic claim at representing the planet’s apex predator.

Our destination was the Clark Lake Wilderness Area.  In years prior, we had struggled to find bountiful hunting grounds, and out of sheer chance, I had discovered this little alcove.  It was obviously set aside for one purpose–hunting.  It’s very design made this implication clear, having landscaping engineered to match the natural habitat of indigenous prey.  But more importantly, it was the only place we had tried in this region that had netted results.  So it was an easy decision to make.

Map courtesy of the ODNR

The road terminates in a parking lot on the eastern side of the lake, and this is where the large wooded lot resides.  However, if you look on the map above, the parking lot just west of that is in a clearing, and in that clearing is an isolated grouping of 3 trees.  The last time we hunted here, on the way out of the woods, with no kill to our bag yet, I saw squirrels in those trees.  At the time, I had yelled at dad to stop the car, and I leapt from it (while it was still moving) with my 20 gauge and ran across the clearing to get in range.  I managed to drop two squirrels with my single shot shotgun.  So this time, as we made our way back upon the old road, dad joked about that time prior, and suggested we check there first.

He immediately spotted 3 squirrels.  I, being unsurprisingly less agile than I was in years past, methodically laced my boots and donned my gear, figuring squirrels generally pay no heed to humans.  Of course, this false assumption was based upon my interactions with suburban squirrels.  By the time I was ready, these squirrels had vacated, save one, who scampered up a tree and hid.  So we waited.

Eventually, as we were giving up, I saw a flick of the tail.  Perhaps it was the extensive time I’ve had with that one weapon, or perhaps it was a trained muscle reflex, or indeed it was my ruthless predatory instincts, or all of the above; but I immediately dropped the squirrel with a single shot.

But the shot had missed the brain stem.  The unfortunate creature twitched for a time, until dad finished it off with his knife.  I winced as he pithed it.  But part of why I hunt is to remind myself what’s behind the meat we so readily buy.  There’s always a cost in suffering, and taking a personal hands-on approach drives this point home.

Moving on, we followed a deer trail, it was my turn to jest about a second particular tree that had yielded a squirrel last time.  Moments later, a red squirrel began running down that very tree.  I fired as he hit a patch of twigs, so I didn’t see the impact, but he fell into the mired jungle behind, and I got thoroughly soaked from the knees down trying to retrieve him from the brush.  The week’s rain and the evening dew had saturated the undergrowth.  But, two squirrels we now had.

An old man in his natural habitat

We continued to the main wooded lot and split up.  I note dad chose the easier path, whilst I got the jungle.  Between the blackberries, the garden spiders, the water, the humidity, and the rising temperature; I found the experience trying (I later referred to it as a Vietnam simulator, to which dad thought I was being overly-dramatic).  I did see another red squirrel, and I fired, but I was bogged down at the time and just slightly too slow.  He got to see another day.

Not long after, I heard a shot, and presumed correctly that dad had bagged a squirrel of his own.  I knew from experience that he moves painfully slow through the woods, but when I tried to slow my own pace, I discovered a cloud of mosquitoes had identified me as a mobile buffet.  Then I ran into another couple hunters, so there was just too much movement to hope to find anything else.  I tried to find dad.

Yet dad, despite the orange vest, always proves elusive, and I had to resort to modern technology.  But it’s not every day that someone sends a text to rendezvous at the dry stream bed.  Here’s another reason I hunt–the joy of practicing land navigation skills.  Whilst traversing wilderness, it behooves the adventurer to remember enough features so as to find the way back (sans-smartphone).  Thankfully, I’m still good enough at it that I knew immediately where he was.  And sure enough, he had a squirrel.  One’s a success, three’s a bounty.  Dirty and sweaty, we left for home.

And I’ll note that dad jumped in the shower right away, leaving me to do the cleaning.  But like the killing, it serves as a reminder.  Eating meat is a privilege, and requires a lot of unpleasantness first.

Squirrel reminds me of a really mild pork, and as woodland squirrels subsist on nuts and fruit, are probably of a much higher quality than anything store-bought.

A few hours in the crockpot yielded a tasty stew.  Even the kid ate it.  Liz–not so much.  Her culinary curiosities apparently have their limits, and eating tree-rat was beyond them.

Some celebratory bourbon and the old man was out.  Each time we hunt, I tell him when he’s old and useless I’ll just shoot him in the woods.  But I think the kid still needs her grandpa, so I’ll keep him around a little longer.  That, and then who would I go hunting with?

Next up, it’s wabbit season.