Greetings from New Palin: How are you going to keep 'em down in the dome?

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By Dave Coulter

Rough Edges

Well, hello there Earthlings!

I apologize for not writing sooner, but we have been in the middle of planting time up here in the domes. It would be hectic enough for anyone, but when you consider that the entire workforce are geriatrics it's amazing that we get it all done. But we do, and we're looking to keep New Palin in tomatoes – and other valuable roughage – if I have anything to say about it.

It was an unusual season, if you can say that. Sure, we have seasons too, but they're less intense than seasons were back on Earth. And I reckon once you hit a certain age it all kind of blurs together  - whatever planet you happen to be on. But this planting season will be memorable if for nothing other than the news that Frank hightailed it over to the Chinese domes.

It's funny, but both the Missus and I felt that Frank was a little off his feed before he flew the coop. He's generally a cut-up, always saying something funny and slightly scandalous at the Garden Committee meetings. Of course, he was also the Treasurer, and he always delivered a monthly report about our debits and our credits and what not. He always seemed to have a widow  (or two!) sniffing around as well. But during seed-sorting time he seemed like he was a little lost in thought. A trifle distant you could say. Well, of course he was. He was fixing to skip town! A pressurized glass-domed town at that.   

It all must've started when the Chinese sent over a garden team from their magnificent domes for a visit. The Admins said it was a scientific exchange mission, but there is no way in hell the Chinese would want to swap for any of our know-how. They feed over 70,000 citizens (like kings) and export to the other Martian quadrants as well.  All we do is our tomatoes (nice ones, too!) and some other easy stuff.

Anyway, Frank and one of them Chinese garden ladies must've taken a shine, and he stowed away in their buggy – all curled up and hidden in a potato sack! Well, this caused an international ruckus. Even though it's Mars, they still honor Earth rules regarding immigration and such. So Frank is on the lam. He sent us a message saying they were gonna get hitched, and I guess the Admins on both sides aren't making too much of a fuss. Her name is Mei-Lien, which the Missus says means “beautiful lotus.” They're both pretty old, and what harm can two old gardeners stir up anyway?

That's what we felt before we realized Frank had made off with all of the Garden Committee's funds! It's true! All of our hard currency - all of those Jacksons, Franklins and Palins – is now missing! (He didn't get into the e-currency thank goodness) So anyway, here we are, all our hard money flown off to China in a potato sack. The Admins say we shouldn't worry, they'll get it back for us.

That cracked everyone up, let me tell you. 

I'm not sure if I'm mad at Frank. I can't blame him for wanting to get out of New Palin. It's not bad here, but sometimes a change of scenery does a person good. I hope he likes it there, with his Mei-Lien. Maybe he'll smuggle us back some Super Chinese Tomato seeds?  I think I'm gonna miss him.

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