I’ve been away for a week, so the state of my garden yesterday was a much-anticipated surprise.

First, the positive news: eggplant looks good. Cucumbers look good. My jalapeno peppers have started getting fruit. The carrots are tall. The herbs are thriving. Zombie Strawberry lives on. The sweet potato vines have GONE INSANE. The limes are marble-sized and looking fine.

Then…there’s the rest.

Actually, the tomatoes aren’t bad; one fell over and they’re all bowed under their fruit, and the leaves look horrible, but the tomatoes are big and green and they’re in fine shape. My dead cucumber died all the way, finally; so did one of my sweet peas. It’s finally clear that the sweet peppers are just not going to grow under any circumstances. And the kale got green worms. KALE. You are the death of me. (And I, apparently, am the death of you.)

So I’m not doing so well on the “gatherer” bit, but this week I scored high on “hunter”. We go to the same beach every year, where we fish and net crabs and dig for shellfish and generally live on the bounty of the sea and canned pasta. I chalked up some kingfish, some blue crab, and some quahog. I do not think it all would have paid for the tackle I sent flying into the ocean, the squid-bait, and the gallons of bug spray it took to get out to the clam beds, but who’s counting? It’s vacation.

Oh! And I got two new hermit crabs! Big Unnamed died a while ago, so I picked up two to replace him: a largish one called Bruce II, who funnily enough moved into Bruce I’s original Batman shell, and a small one called Jennifer. Lest you wonder if I’m losing my geek cred, they’re named for the Hulk and She-Hulk. Of course. Jennifer seems sickly, and is missing a leg, but I’m hopeful.

Also: Aphids. Sky=blue, Pope=Catholic, bears=unconcerned with toilet facilities.

Triangulation: Last Contact is now available at B&N and Amazon in print, with e-versions coming soon. If you liked the previews, pick up a copy and be awesome.

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