Cures for the Human Condition

For a read-aloud of this post, check out https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Cures-for-the-Human-Condition-e1ariog

“Samuel Stupp didn’t expect many surprises inside his lab after a 40-year career as a scientist. But something magical happened recently: His research team at Northwestern University developed an injection that seemed to prevent mice with spinal cord injuries from becoming paralyzed… Furthermore, it signaled the body to produce blood vessels, which are necessary for cells to repair themselves.”

https://news.yahoo.com/injection-dancing-molecules-could-prevent-130000651.html

I am constantly astonished at how much great good human beings are capable of doing—if we put our minds to it. What we put our minds to being the keywords.

My eldest daughter received a degree in Chemistry last May and started interviewing for jobs right away. She soon started working for a laboratory in St. Louis that studies human sleep cycles, deciphering human genetics from fruit flies, of all things. As someone who occasionally suffers from disturbed sleep, I’m keen to find sleep aides that don’t involve drugs. I learned long ago the price people pay for “relaxing” aids in various forms and have chosen to do without. Strangely enough, I have discovered that when I am awake tossing and turning, there is usually a good reason. Something in my life I need to process. A problem I must face. A decision to make. The very discomfort I endure speaks to me—teaches me. And it’s best I don’t fall asleep before I deal with it.

Pain, suffering, and crippling realities speak to the human condition. And we need to find aids, remedies, and cures. It is a wonderful testament to the human race that a man like Samuel Stupp can do the research and develop a therapy to assist people in such trying circumstances. How many sleepless nights did he endure in the process?

In our world of pandemics, rising cancer rates, horrifying health conditions, I have to wonder when we are curing and when we are escaping from the remedy we really need. In the case of spinal cord injuries, the situation is pretty obvious, and Stupp’s brilliance lights the path to hope and healing.

But how many tragic conditions today result from putting our minds and our bodies in damaging places?

I recently learned from an experienced nurse that certain people have a predisposition toward weak livers and that those people are at a higher risk for liver breakdown. For them even a bit of alcohol and drugs are the fast track to destruction. In my own life, I know that television shows, movies, and music can play a large part in my mental and emotional outlook on a given day. The darker the storyline, the more chaotic the music, the grittier my world view. Treats and sweets in the form of drinks and desserts are fun and a wonderful way to gather people for a festive party, but cavities and diabetes last longer.

Last year at this time, I reduced my online presence in order to detox from negativity swirling through its forums. Though I have reestablished contacts, I have realized, more than ever, the need to constantly evaluate where I am putting my mind, my body, and my soul. If I can’t sleep at night, I need to figure out why and deal with it—not override it.

Writing short stories has been a healthy avenue for me to traverse the mountain ranges of our human condition. I may not discover a remedy, but I reach an understanding that helps me direct my footsteps once again on the path toward wholeness. In my story, It Might Have Been, a man slides from his present life into a version of hell he did not really want but had chosen. How many times do we slip and slide into a life we don’t want, we rail against, but in truth, we chose for ourselves?

I wish there were cures for paralyzed spirits, the tragedy of getting stuck in hate mode, pointing fingers like gripers and complainers, becoming people who are certain-sure of our own rightness and everyone else’s wrongness. Maybe someday, a researcher will apply brilliant insight from mice to men, leading destructive behavior toward constructive lives. But until then, we must decide where we put ourselves rather than longing for a cure that may never come.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey.

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/author/akfrailey

It Might Have BeenAnd Other Stories

https://amzn.to/2XXdDDz

Photo https://pixabay.com/illustrations/research-virus-corona-coronavirus-5297028/

Rise Above

For a read-aloud of this post, check out https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Rise-Above-e1aiog2

“SpaceX’s successfully launched four astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA on Nov. 10, 2021. They will arrive at the station Thursday evening. 

Known as Crew-3, the mission will mark SpaceX’s fourth crewed spaceflight and will ferry NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and European Space Agency Matthias Maurer on a six-month mission to the space station.”

I find it rather startling that anyone would want to get into a space ship, blast off Earth, and live on a space station for any length of time. Isn’t life precarious enough? Don’t we have problems a-plenty that need to be solved right here?

Yet that has never been the human trajectory. Rather like a seed that is not content to stay under ground, we must break through the soil of our ordinary lives and reach for stars and the possibility of alien life in a reality we can’t fully comprehend.

As I deal with the most recent trial in the form of my father’s death, I have to face the fact that part of me would like to take a ride to a far-off uncertainty than deal with complex, often unpleasant, experiences here on Earth.

Perhaps that is why I enjoy writing science fiction and enter a different world with problems that aren’t mine. It is also why I enjoy writing poetry. A poem can get to the heart of human experience without any actual bloodshed. It wiggles between the barbs of misunderstanding, flounces right past correct judgment, and digs deep into shared truth.

Poetry is in a class by itself, bucking the system from the get-go. Though not always considered classy, rhyming poems offer me more than common-everyday prose. I like their feel and sound. I enjoy the challenge of finding words to fit a theme. But most importantly, I like how poems mean something even when they appear to be hanging upside down from a tree branch. In a poem, I can’t really be wrong or out of style, stupid or ignorant. I’m simply seeing. Feeling. Living through words. Becoming more than just me in a we-centered communion.

Perhaps that is how astronauts feel while circling the Earth. They literally are “above it all.” They fly hi and see what they can see. Learn what they can learn. Like explorers of old, they take the human imagination into new territory. Writers attempt much the same. Reaching up on our tiptoes and then taking a leap into the air, which can’t possibly sustain us, we move from certainty into the “what if?” unknown. Though we can’t touch the sun or—as of yet—an alien hand, for a brief moment, we can see ourselves, our earthly existence, from a new perspective.

So, though I’m not heading out into space myself, I get it. Precarious as our lives may be, full of troubles aplenty, we’re also an amazingly strong, brave, inventive, creative, determined race of beings who can—on occasion—rise above.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/author/akfrailey

Hope’s Embrace & Other Poems 2nd Edition

https://amzn.to/3cn22X8

https://www.space.com/news/live/spacex-crew-dragon-mission-updates

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/astronaut-astronomy-satellite-moon-1849401/

Inside and Outside Time

For a read-aloud of this post, check out https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Inside-and-Outside-Time-e1a7kcd

“Time is not absolute, and time has no direction.” I get this discombobulating bit of news from the New Scientist, who base their conclusions on no less than Einstein’s general theory of relativity. In another step forward—or backward—scientists from Australia suggest that they have proven, at least theoretically, that time travel is possible. Okay, so here we go!

A time traveler from 2714 posted in August warning that aliens were due to arrive “tomorrow.” His timing was off apparently as none of his predictions panned out. So far. Another time traveler from 3036 (Live Your Lie—spelled creatively) warns that we’re going to have a power outage lasting five years on account of “terrors” and pretty much nothing on earth will be the same. Well, without washing machines, I’d expect so. And a time traveler from 2582 suggests that humanity will experience three days of darkness at some point in our future.  

So where does all this leave me, someone who has trouble managing a one-hour switcheroo involving Daylight Savings Time?

I know for certain that when I am tired and I have a bunch of stuff to do, time drags unmercifully, but when I’ve settled down with a good book in a comfortable chair, hours zip by faster than the speed of light. So, my internal measurement of time is certainly unreliable and perhaps was never meant to be trusted as an absolute value.

I’m just pondering here—but might it be that our human experience of time is not so important in the measurement of a determined number of hours, days, and years, but rather the experience that occurs within that loosy-goosy framework?

My father passed away recently at the age of 92 on November 5th, 2021. My brother passed away at the age of 58 on January 15th, 2021. And my husband passed away at the age of 53 on December 15th, 2013. My husband was the father of eight kids, the youngest barely five years old when he died. My brother was a much-loved pastor of a large parish when he passed away. And my dad had lost the grandeur of his academic abilities long before he passed. All lived for a time, experienced a great deal, and died without anyone clicking a stopwatch to say, “time’s up.” Their “Earthly timeout” appeared random and untimely.

We humans like to control things. Our lives especially. Makes a great deal of sense to me. Out-of-control lives conjure images of chaos and the inherited hell of undisciplined excess—the lie that we can manage ourselves no matter what. But time itself has never really been within our grasp. Only, as Tolkien says through the character of Gandalf, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

In my book My Road Goes Ever On, A Timeless Journey, I reflect on my life in the context of “my personal time”—minutes, hours, days, years given to me to use as I decide. When waiting in a traffic snarl or dealing with a long-talker, I may complain that my time has been “stolen,” but really, I own my time as I do my life.

Over the years, I have become ever more impressed by the boundlessness of time. My ancestors undoubtedly fretted over much the same stuff that keeps me awake at night, though they may have used different terminology to color their meaning.

Why am I here?

Do I matter?

How long will I have here?

Questions are a form of caring. And my careful or careless life and the use of my time say everything about who I am and what my life on Earth means—yesterday, today, and into tomorrow’s forever.

I believe in eternity—an outside-of-time reality. I don’t understand it nor can I encompass it here on our spinning Earth. But it makes a great deal of sense if Einstein and our modern-day scientists are right. Time is all around us—yet beyond us. We exist within its confines but are not confined by it.

Will aliens arrive tomorrow? Will darkness surround us for three days? Will technology cease to light our homes for five years? God knows. Which is to say, I don’t know. In much the same way that God is within, and yet, beyond me, so I accept my limitations in a boundless existence.

Time will tell…

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE  

Photo https://pixabay.com/illustrations/clock-time-management-time-3222267/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2166665-why-now-doesnt-exist-and-other-strange-facts-about-time/ .

general theory of relativity 

https://www.ladbible.com/news/technology-scientists-claim-theyve-proven-time-travel-is-mathematically-possible-20200930

https://www.ladbible.com/news/news-aliens-to-arrive-on-earth-tomorrow-to-start-war-says-time-traveller-20210810

https://www.ladbible.com/news/viral-time-traveller-from-3036-makes-chilling-warning-about-future-20210628

https://www.ladbible.com/news/weird-time-traveler-claims-world-is-about-to-enter-three-days-of-darkness-20210502

Fact and Fiction Live In the Twilight Zone

For a read-aloud of this post, check out https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Fact-and-Fiction-Live-In-the-Twilight-Zone-e19s0sa

As a child, I wanted to know who the “good guys” were as opposed to the “bad guys.” Angels and devils jostled for position while I searched for my place in the world. The irony is that the bedrock of my identity, despite far more mechanized systems and the honest recognition of hidden realities, is clearer to me now than ever.

Growing up, robots were a part of the fiction genre. Though from the 1960s into the 1990s some form of “robots” did exist, they certainly weren’t a measurable influence in my daily life. I never thought of them or considered them “real.” Today, I can hardly live without them. Since bots typically imitate or replace human behavior and more than half of all web traffic is generated by bots, I depend upon them in innumerable ways on any given day. From bot managers that protect my website to chatbots, social bots, shopbots, web crawlers, and others, I wouldn’t even be able to get the answers I “need” from the Google Universe if they didn’t exist.

Does my world now sit on a bot fulcrum? Good bots assist my search needs, but bad bots hijack human credibility and try to steal my credit card info. Bots are a fact of life, a fiction story that has come true.

Once upon a time, “facts” seemed measurable and trustworthy. Robots were controllable. We knew where they began and we ended. Or where we began and they ended. Or… But now there are days when I answer the phone, ask a question online, or interact on social media, and I wonder—Who am I talking to? What am I talking to?

Is it any wonder that human beings stumble over who—and what—we are in response to this brave new world of ours?

I’ve never considered myself a mere human being existing in a natural world. Perhaps it is my Catholic upbringing which, though not particularly well-informed, nevertheless kept my head tilted in the up position—staring at the stars for a glimpse of the beyond, the life I could not see and didn’t expect to truly comprehend. I have always believed that I am part of a supernatural reality. My existence here on Earth feels more like a temporary exile than a home-sweet-home.

 When television shows offered science fiction stories like the Twilight Zone, I was okay with that. As far as I was concerned, life here has always been a twilight zone. We see but a veiled reality, flashes of truth, splintered fragments of each other’s wholeness.

Before you cart me off to the nearest Shady Side for the Mentally Unmoored, allow me to say that I am at peace with bots as well. I find it ironically amusing that we have created mechanical assistants who like angels and devils assist or haunt every step we take.

Truth, for me, is not found on Google. Certainty does not revolve around my limited human identity. I started writing about my human journey in a series of posts as my husband faced the end of his earthly existence, dying from Leukemia in his early 50s, and while I raised my young kids as a single mom. My Road Goes Ever On, Spiritual Being, Human Journey is not simply a plaintive catalog listing, “Boy, life sure is confusing as heck!” examples, but rather the tentative steps of a person attempting to find her identity, her purpose of existence, her value as a human being—and something more—in a world ever more dependent on unfeeling, non-human, mechanized systems.        

During the years I wrote those posts, I experienced a great deal of pain and joy, disaster and triumph, but the person that made me, me, remained much the same. Now, I see that as a good thing.

I have gotten to know myself on deeper levels and learned to trust my intuition and judgment. I am a better informed, perhaps a more completely formed, version of myself. And happily, I accept our bot-run reality as just another facet of our current twilight zone existence. If anything, it shows, ever more honestly, that there is more to life than facts, and fiction tells the truth in a world that we cannot fully see.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/landscape-fantasy-fantasy-landscape-3128819/

Go Where No Man Has Gone Before and End up Lost in Space?

For a read-aloud of this post go to https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Go-Where-No-Man-Has-Gone-Before-and-End-up-Lost-in-Space-e19g6dq

I loved Star Trek as a child. I definitely wanted to go where no man had gone before and leave behind all that was scary and dreadful on Earth. The idea that humanity could overcome its worst self and evolve beyond war, poverty, and even family disfunction, enticed me into an imaginary world that I clung to with every fiber of my being.

Interestingly enough, one of the writers who set the stage for Star Trek’s success was Isaac Asimov, a prolific writer who wrote many of his most famous works in the mid-1960s. He is especially known for his robot books and the three laws of robotics: “First, a robot shall not harm a human or by inaction allow a human to come to harm. Second, a robot shall obey any instruction given to it by a human. Third, a robot shall avoid actions or situations that could cause it to come to harm itself.”

The concept of intelligent and morally directed “better beings” who would serve humanity, do no harm, yet be strong enough to survive in a dangerous world was also embodied, as it were, in the character of Mr. Spock, played so well by Leonard Nimoy. Vulcans had evolved beyond the messy emotionality of fear and the seven deadly sins. What I find fascinating half a century later is the situation we find ourselves in today. In the developing quandary of “Who am I?” seems to rise a “What am I?” confusion. Beyond the basic man/woman divide has leaked a host of messy alternatives. In a world of plug-ins and technological interactions, what defines us as humans?

Lost in Space, another 1960s cult classic, focused on a family that explored the edges of the known universe and got sucked into an unknown realm. Though no spaceship has (as of yet) been literally lost in space, the concept sounds eerily familiar in the first quarter of our current century.

Unlike Spock, Isaac Asimov, and a host of science fiction writers, I do not have a utopian view of humanity’s future. In Last of Her Kind, humanity plays a definite part in social and world breakdowns. More than one problem plagues us at a time, and solutions are never one-size-fits-all. But as the Newearth world develops from the remanent during the “lost years” on Lux, humanity is given a period of time to take a long look at who we are as a species of beings.

That reflective moment, lasting nearly a generational span, sets the stage for true growth, a “New Earth” where humans and aliens share the planet, though aliens have the upper hand. Strangely enough, humans seem to thrive under pressure, contemplate the bigger picture only when forced to, and learn the humility necessary for clear thinking after being knocked to the ground or while being utterly bewildered in space.

It would be pleasant to envision a time where humanity has shuffled off the old coils of monstrous pride, dehumanizing lust, outrageous gluttony, despicable greed, repulsive sloth, misdirected wrath, and blinding envy. But time and experience do not point to a character revolution where we all become as good as Vulcans (or even well-programmed robots) and lead the moral universe into a bright future.

The cohesive force that held the family together in Lost in Space was their mutual love. In Star Trek, deep and abiding friendship kept Kirk, Spock, Dr. McCoy and others moving forward despite every sort of trial and tribulation. Robots, no matter how well programmed, just aren’t there yet.

Newearth Justine Awakens, a novel about a cyborg—both human and robot—isn’t a story about a perfect world and evolved human beings. It’s about humans and aliens who, despite the hells of deep hurt, still dare to care and risk their security and happiness for others strengthened by something beyond the logic of pure reason.

Perhaps getting knocked down, lost in space, and having an identity crisis aren’t the best that humanity can do, but it is part of what makes us better than our worst selves or soulless robots. After all, we don’t have to stay down. And when we do get to our feet again, we may stand a little taller.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/spaceship-science-fiction-forward-3628969/

Off the Ground

A read-aloud of this story https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Off-the-Ground-e17r4p4

Brenda knew that she was awake and that her bed was off the ground. But that didn’t seem to change matters for the better.

With a loud thump, it landed on the floor and pretended like it had never flown in its life.

Sitting up didn’t seem to help anything either. It’s not as if she could get out of bed and investigate. The darn thing was now acting as innocent as pecan pie. Besides, she was too frightened to get out from under her thick covers.

She blinked, and the dark room came into focus. The clock on the cabinet glowed red digits warning her that she’d have to get ready for work in a mere four hours. If she didn’t lie down and sleep now, she’d be a wreck at work. Gosh knows, she didn’t need any sly looks from the high schoolers or their teachers who loved to catch any snippet of gossip and wring the life out of it.

Slowly, she lowered her head to the pillow, her gaze fixed on the closet door. If the handle disappeared from her line of sight, she’d know what was going on. Luckily, the only sight that demanded her attention was the back of her eyelids as they covered her concerns in exhaustion.

Morning came bright and early. The birds sang their merry hearts out and then squabbled in turn. Just like some people I know. Brenda hopped out of bed, remembered the nocturnal flight, and froze in mid-step. She peered at the scene, carefully analyzing the exact placement of each piece of furniture.

Yep. The bed had moved. Normally there was a walkway between the edge of the bed and the end table by her reading chair. Now, there was hardly room for a hand, much less a whole body.

She studied the dresser, the file cabinet, and the bookshelf. They all seemed in their usual place, though upon further examination, the file cabinet had parted with the wall by a good two inches.

Ah, ha!

Conclusion? Some strange force had been at work in her room last night.

Scampering to the bathroom, Brenda accomplished her necessary morning duties in a fraction of their normal time, skipped breakfast altogether, and ran out of her tiny house with her work satchel slung over her shoulder and her phone clutched in her hand.

Pounding along the leaf-strewn sidewalk, she texted with one hand. A skill she had learned from a student waiting to see the principal.

Jim, we have to talk!

Coffee at the Café in 5.

My sanity hangs in the balance.

Of course, Jim always had coffee at the Corner Café before work, so she wasn’t exactly discombobulating his schedule. But as he liked to peruse the want ads, pretending that he was looking for a property where he’d build his dream house, adopt a puppy, and find a charming wife, he always acted like he was too busy to carry his half of a conversation.

He liked to listen though and grunted or hummed in all the right places.

She bounded along the quiet neighborhood street until she got to the Dividing Line. The high school was on one side and the main university campus on the other. She worked as a secretary at the high school. Jim worked as a maintenance guy on campus. They often thought of exchanging places for a day and see if anyone noticed. But as they hated a ruckus of any kind, they figured they’d just imagine the scene it would make and be content with that.

The Corner Café catered to high schoolers and the college crowd, making it a mainstay for more years than anyone could remember. The fact that it was decorated in the fifties style with movie star posters glittering from the walls, made it attractive without causing competitive friction.

Brenda breezed in.

Jim slouched over a newspaper at the counter. A coffee cup and a cream cheese bagel close at hand.

Brenda nodded at Jamie, the waitress, who didn’t need to ask what she’d have. She knew. In her fifties with a shock of red hair, maybe natural, she meandered about the café and accommodated customers with the pleasure of someone who long since decided that she worked to live not lived to work. It was a truce that offered benefits. Never in a hurry, she always brought what you wanted—eventually.

Brenda slid onto the red-covered stool next to Jim. “I got the scare of my life last night.”

Jim scratched his cheek. “Hmm.”

“My bed rose off the floor and then thumped to the ground.”

Jim turned the page of the newspaper with expert care.

“I could have been killed! How about if I had been sleeping on the edge? I sometimes do, you know. I could have slipped off and fallen under one of the legs, and it would’ve punched a big hole through me.”

Jim slapped his cheek.

Got his attention him at last!

Jim flicked a finger at the headlines. “The Paws Place has gone out of business. And just when I was getting up the courage to adopt one of their critters.”

Brenda shoved the paper aside. “Didn’t you hear me? I might have been killed. And even though it was rather unlikely, I still would like to know what the bed was doing bouncing up and down last night. And the file cabinet, too!”

Finally, Jim looked her way. “You do seem a bit disheveled. Did you even glance in the mirror?”

“Was it a poltergeist, you think?”

Jamie sauntered over and placed a cup of hot coffee on the counter in front of Brenda. Then she slid a plate of buttered wheat toast with two little jam packets on the side.

Starving, Brenda ripped open a creamer and four sugar packets and doctored her coffee. Then she tore open the jam packet and looked around for a knife.

None in sight.

A speedster roared down the street.

Jim looked out the window. “That’s Prof Kilroy. Got a new red one and loves to flash it about town.”

Desperate to get her toast jammed, Brenda squeezed the jellied mess onto its appointed destination. She spread it with a finger and nudged Jim with her elbow. “What do you think?”

“Not a poltergeist. They’ve gone completely out of style. Now, back in the eighties, you could still get away with that sort of thing, but try it now, and you’d be laughed out of town.”

Brenda glanced at the wall clock and took two hasty bites, then talked around her chews. “Aliens?”

Jim shrugged. “Possible but still unlikely.” He stared down his nose at her. “Why would aliens want to play pogo stick with your bed? Or redecorate the furniture in your room?”

“Maybe they were just passing through, and their force moved things unintentionally.”

Jim scratched his head, took a large bite of his bagel, and eyed the last dregs of his coffee. “Doesn’t work that way. Anything powerful enough to make it to this world and stupid enough to hang around would have either conquered us already or been decimated by our transportation system.”

A distant bell rang.

Jim sighed, folded his paper, and offered Brenda a deadpanned stare. “The kiddos will want to know where their late slips go, and your principal will want the agenda for the teachers’ meeting.”

Brenda chomped down the last of her toast and chugged her hot coffee, burning the back of her throat. “And campus security will want to know what to do with the latest vandalized bicycle and where to put the tiles that blew off in the storm last night.”

Parting just outside the door, Brenda waved good bye with a composed smile.

Jim waved back and started across the street. Suddenly he called out, “What storm?”

Knowing that she’d never survive the day if she considered Jim’s remark, Brenda pretended she didn’t hear and ran into the school building, hoping that she wasn’t too late.

That evening, Brenda returned home, flung her satchel aside, unloaded her grocery bag, and headed to the bedroom with her mind made up. She wasn’t going to have her life dictated by some malevolent spirits or mysterious aliens. She pulled off her work clothes, dragged on a pair of rugged work jeans and a warm pullover to fight the autumn chill, and faced her bedroom furniture.

“All right now! I’m putting you all back where I want you, and I expect you to behave properly. I’m the one who bought and paid for you, arranged a place for you in my home, and keep you from falling into total degradation in the dump.”

With concerted effort, she pushed the bed and then shoved the file cabinet into their former positions. Satisfied, she clapped her hands. Her world was back in order, and all was well.

Until approximately 2:00 am.

The bed danced, and the furniture shook.

Brenda jumped out of bed and looked around. She had been having a strange dream about ocean waves roaring into a tsunami.

No ocean and no waves, but the floor was definitely vibrating. Perhaps the bed was not actually off the floor, but it had shifted from its assigned position.

She shivered.

The wind shrieked and pounded against the house.

Scampering to the window, she peered into the autumn night. The temperatures had dropped, and she could see leaves swirling in the wind.

Rubbing her arms, she sent a prayer to heaven for her heating system. At least the house was warm.

Then, silence and all was still. The wind settled down, and the floor becalmed.

With a weary sigh, Brenda climbed back into bed to snatch the last few hours of sleep.

In the morning, her hair uncombed and her shirt on inside out, Brenda slipped into place next to Jim at the cafe and pounded her fist on the counter. “It happened again last night! The whole house went on a rampage, and my furniture went where ever they wanted.”

Jim gave her a once over, pity flooding his eyes. He folded the paper and laid it aside.

In unusual efficiency, Jamie placed toast and coffee before Brenda like a lifeboat to a drowning victim. In the first intimidating act of the day, she stared at Jim.

In acknowledgment of the right thing to do, Jim nodded. “I’ll come by tonight and sleep on your couch. We’ll catch the culprit in the act.”

Relieved beyond measure, Brenda kissed Jim on the cheek before she inhaled her breakfast and headed off to work.

That night, Brenda got Jim settled comfortably on the couch with enough pillows and blankets to keep a petulant maharaja happy.

Since the temperatures had dropped below freezing, Brenda set the thermostat higher. It was an ancient heater that predated the civil war or close anyway, so she wanted to be sure that Jim wouldn’t think she was cheapskate and leave him to freeze during the night.

No chance of that as they both flew into the air at approximately the same moment when the house began to shake, rattle, and roll.

“Good golly, this house has more rhythm than the entire sixties generation!” He flicked on the table lamp.

Brenda scampered into the living room both scared silly and wildly exultant. “You see what I mean? It’s practically alive!” She was so glad that she wasn’t crazy that despite the vibrations making the couch skitter across the room, she actually felt amused.

The house settled down as quickly as it had erupted.

Jim plopped down on the edge couch. Or where it had been and promptly landed on the floor.

Brenda giggled as she helped him to his feet. “Gremlins or aliens, do you think?”

Jim snorted and headed directly for the floor vent. He peered at it, then demanded to see the furnace.

Confused, Brenda led the way to the miniature basement and pointed at the behemoth. “It’s been here as long as the house. Never causes me any problem. Just have to turn the dial a little more each year to get it to respond.”

Jim nodded, grabbed a metal poker off the shelf, and tapped the ductwork.

They tinged and banged in response, echoing throughout the house.

Brenda was charmed. “It’s like they’re singing. Do that again; it’s kind of fun.”

Jim snorted. “Ha! Fun you call it. You didn’t like it when they sang you awake the last few nights.”

Flummoxed out of any recognizable speech pattern, Brenda stared at the ordinary looking pipes that ran throughout her house.

“They’re all loosie-goosy—don’t you see? When it got cold, you set the thermostat to kick the furnace on, and so it did. And it set the duct work to singing—or grumbling—all over the house. Which set the furniture to dance on their vibrations.”

Embarrassment flushed through Brenda’s whole body. “Oh, gosh, I’m such an idiot.”

Jim smiled and tentatively placed his arm around her shoulder. “I wouldn’t say that. You’re a secretary who doesn’t know ductwork as well as a maintenance guy.” He led her back upstairs and nudged her toward her bedroom. “Get a blissful night’s sleep. Tomorrow is Saturday, and you can fix coffee and biscuits in the kitchen while I take look about and see what other wonders this house holds.”

Brenda stared at Jim almost as if he had begun to dance. She turned and headed back to bed. When she climbed under the covers, she knew the bed wasn’t floating off the ground. But her heart was.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For more stories like this one, check out One Day at a TimeAnd Other Stories

https://amzn.to/2YFtQ5r

For other books by A. K. Frailey see her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/model-people-woman-leaves-autumn-2596054/

Servants of All

Audio of this poem https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Servants-of-All-e17nu4k

Hints of pending change,

 Reminding wanderers of seasons’ range.

We think we know,

 Sun, rain, sleet, and snow.

Unthought of winds carry hellish storms to the door.

Thoughts crowd into actions—Reactions Roar.

Yet when a timid vine with blossom blue winds up the rail,

All blusters sail.

Stilled by soundless certainty,

Happiness meets joy in perpetuity.

The perfections of simple beauty—

A man’s able strength,

A woman’s gentle touch,

Children’s innocent play,

The frogs’ night chorus,

A deer feeding across the way…

Unexpected truth alters,

Our design

Our challenged wills falter,

Mysteries combine.

Warnings and hints of come what may,

Yet never is, as we say.

See the terrible and tremendous both,

For in honesty lies our growth.

Not gods with plans in hand or self-made giants we,

But servants of all, in humanity.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For more poems like this one, see Hope’s Embrace and Other Poems https://amzn.to/3cn22X8

For other books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/autumn-tree-leaf-forest-trees-4460724/

My Part to Play

Audio of this post https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/My-Part-to-Play-e17g8md

Autumn is just about here, and I am grateful beyond words for so many things. Even as local and world upheavals distress my soul, so I breathe a prayer and turn my gaze to tasks at hand.

What is my part to play in this maelstrom we call life with all its guts and glory?

I wear a number of hats throughout my day: mom, teacher, homemaker, mistress of a critter kingdom that ebbs and flows with old age, sickness, and new life. Two kittens, Cheddar and Bradley, have taken over the house, completely flummoxing our perpetual pup, Misty, who honestly believed she owned the domain. Surprise! There’s always room for one or two more, and she didn’t get a vote. I keep the peace by making sure that all are well fed and housed, though gluttony and sloth serve no one.

I also keep track of the bodies buried at our cemetery and track down gravesites for interested family members when possible. Sometimes, it’s mission impossible. That’s an unpleasant reality. We don’t always get questions answered to our satisfaction. Especially if there are imperfect records and no tombstones. Families beware, if you want great-grandkids to visit your grave, leave a tombstone and a map so future generations can find it.

Tutoring adult GED has been an unexpected pleasure. It’s a fairly straightforward task—helping someone learn the basics that they missed, for whatever reason, along the way. Makes a big difference in self-esteem and job opportunities. An act of kindness that echoes back long after algebra 101 fades into the mist.

I am still writing, publishing, and recently added podcasting to my regular daily do. Since I have managed a challenging schedule for much of the year, I am going to slow production in October. I will continue with Kindle Vella Homestead episodes and podcasting content, but I plan to revamp and, perhaps, reinvent my media approach, praying to God to make it a bit more effective. Marketing has never been my forte, so I am working with someone this time. We’ll see how it works out. Optimism is a tough choice, but the alternative doesn’t appeal much.

I finished writing the fifth novel in my OldEarth series, OldEarth Melchior Encounter this week and have sent it off to my editor and proofreaders. My goal is to get it published with live links before Thanksgiving. The operative word here is goal.

Rain is pouring from a grey sky, shivering the yellow leaves on the cherry trees, while our hyperactive kittens pounce on each other and attack my knitting. Though there is a great deal wrong in the world, there is also a great deal that is right. Focusing my daily goals toward what is good and beautiful, becoming less self-absorbed, and releasing anger and pent-up frustrations in healthy rambles and friend-centered conversations makes for a quality life. After all, despair doesn’t want a helping hand but hope does.

Blessings, Everyone.

A. K. Frailey is the author of 15 books, a teacher for 35 years, and a homeschooling mother of 8.

Make the most of life’s journey. 

For books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/fall-fog-forest-tree-trunks-path-3193305/

Homestead Parts 15 and 16

Audio of this post https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Homestead-Parts-15-and-16-e17g8me

It Was Not to Be

July decided that it wanted to make a name for itself before August elbowed its way to the front of the line, so the temperatures sky-rocketed in the latter half of July. It was weird to see empty fields where rows of corn and beans used to dominate the summer landscape.

Sure, families had planted gardens, but they were tiny compared to what I was used to seeing. What the winter would look like, no one could tell. I shuddered to think about the spring. Few people had supplies to last that long.

My zucchini was all but done, and only one giant sunflower lifted its head against the bright blue sky. The lettuce had bolted, though I pulled the last few tough leaves off the thick stems to add garnish to every meal. All the potatoes and onions had been pulled and hauled inside. I was rather proud of the cardboard boxes layered with my homegrown produce. I shifted the boxes onto a dark shelf in the basement where they were sure to stay dry. I planned to use lots of white onions when I made salsa. Just waiting for the tomatoes to do their thing and ripen in a big bunch to make a canning day worth the effort.

Feeling a tad lonesome, I let the oldest cat, Earl, into the house where he slept on the chair in the living room most days. His rickety old body could hardly jump the distance, and I knew there’d be a day when he’d fall back to the floor in cat disbelief. But for now, he was someone to talk to. Even if I knew full well that he was dreaming his last days away.

With the high humidity and heat, I didn’t feel terribly hungry mid-week. I had spent most of the day clearing out the back shed in the expectation that when Liam and the kids did make it home, we’d have to think seriously of getting a couple of cows and expanding our chicken run. We’d have to store hay for the winter and figure out how to grow our own feed grain. Other people were making adaptions—necessitating the use of every old barn and shed in the county. Wood and metal for roofing were going for a premium price. I had to make the most of what I had. And that meant clearing out the dusty space and shoring up the frame so it wouldn’t collapse over the winter.

Hot, sticky, and fearing the revenge the spiders would perpetrate on me for wiping out their webs, I trudged into the kitchen planning on nothing more than tomato slices and a glass of water for dinner.

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw a man sitting at my kitchen table. My first thought was that Liam had finally made it home, but then I realized that this guy was much too young.

“Jared?”

He stood up and faced me, not a hint of a smile on his face. “I’ve got bad news, Mrs. Oxley.” I swallowed and gripped the kitchen counter. I didn’t want him to tell me…

I Had a Spirit

Early August

The temperatures continued to zig-zag right into August, but a storm front promised cooler temperatures soon. At least, that’s what Ben said when he returned with Dana and Juan following at his heels like lost puppies.

I was too depressed to care if an arctic winter was in the forecast. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that I’d never see Liam again. That I had missed his last days, his last moments. His burial.

The tomatoes and peppers had ripened nicely, and with the pile of onions I had stored away, I had enough fresh ingredients, with bartered cilantro from a family in town, to make a decent batch of salsa. Luckily, I had stocked up on vinegar last year. The extra gallon came in handy with all the pickling and canning I was doing.

After washing the five gallon’s worth of tomatoes, I sat on the hardwood bench at the kitchen table and cut off the bad parts, and sliced the juicy red goodness into tiny pieces. Next, I worked on the pile of bright red and green peppers, and finally, I faced the dreaded onions. I didn’t need a reason to cry. I had plenty.

Flies swarmed the pots and dove into my face, adding to my frustrations. Hot and sticky with a storm front pushing the humidity into the unbearable zone, I worked mechanically. Focusing on one step at a time.

Grab an onion by the tail

Slice one side.

Peel.

Chop into rings.

Turn and chop into cubes.

Drop the pile into the pot.

Wipe my stinging eyes.

Repeat.

“You want some help?”

I looked up. There was Dana reaching for a knife and settling across from me at the table. Guess I didn’t need to answer. She could read my mind. Or so she thought.

I sniffed back stinging tears and lost my rhythm. I was supposed to be cubing, but I went to the sink and splashed water on my face instead.

After patting my eyes dry with a towel, I looked at my daughter. Why was I so angry at her? She hadn’t done anything wrong. In fact, she had done everything right. Found her brother. Made her way home. Gone off and looked for her dad. And found him. And buried him.

“Mom? You okay?”

I stared at the onions. I wanted to hate them. But I couldn’t. “No. Not okay.”

Dana stopped chopping. “Me neither.” She had dropped her head onto her chest and I could tell by the heaving action that she was either sobbing silently or about to throw up. Or both. Maternal instinct to the rescue, I ran over and…

For more of these episodes and others, check out Kindle Vella Homestead or

for other books by A. K. Frailey check out her Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/A.-K.-Frailey/e/B006WQTQCE

Let Yourself Go

Podcast https://anchor.fm/ann-frailey/episodes/Let-Yourself-Go-e17658p

Rather not. Jeremiah slid into his seat at the back of the lecture hall and prayed that the scrawled message on the board referred to a campus cult’s lack of original thinking rather than a preview of his professor’s worldview.

A tall thin spectacle with a man-bun on top, a tie-dyed shirt, bloomers-like shorts, and flapping bedroom slippers sauntered up to the podium.

I should’ve taken the online class.

A young woman, mid-twenties, long brown hair, wireframe glasses, small build but toned legs dropped her bulging backpack by the third empty chair to the right of him.

But then again…

The room filled to capacity and Jerimiah opened his notebook, flipped it to a new section, and tapped his pencil.

The young woman slid a recorder to the front of her desk, then leaned back and closed her eyes.

What’s this? A lazy beauty who gets through class by replaying the lecture when it suits her fancy?

Jerimiah shoved the thought—Wish I’d thought of it—far away.He rubbed his eyes. Between his mom’s recent liver transplant, the store downsizing and leaving managers like him in the dust, and the new graduation regulations, he’d come to think that the Universe was in a sour mood. He wasn’t too Sweet himself.

The professor started—digging into societal ills, cultural concerns, hot button issues, even picking on the front row students like lab rats who couldn’t escape the taunting labels expelled from his gut based on their hyperventilated one-word answers. “When you leave this class, you won’t know yourself! Kiss mommy and daddy’s straightjacket goodbye!”

Jeremiah dropped his head on his hands. “At least online I could’ve muted him.”

“What? And missed all this fun?”

Jeremiah glanced over.

Beauty, still leaning back with her eyes closed, appeared very much asleep.

“Excuse me?”

The professor sucked in a lungful for another charge. “How can you say you know anything—you believe anything—until you’ve heard all sides? I’m here to bring you into direct contact with ALL SIDES!”

Beauty sat up, a frown making her nose wrinkle in an alarmingly adorable fashion. “He’s a circle?”

The gut-busting laugh that exploded from Jeramiah made him clutch his notebook and pencil as he fled the room.

Two days later, Jeremiah hurried down the hall after his last class of the week. He had a ton of work over the weekend, his mom needed someone to fix her end table, which tended to send her books and medicines crashing to the floor by evening no matter how well she propped it up each morning, and he had an interview for a part-time manager position on Saturday. If he could finish the year with the stellar grades he started with, he’d be sure of a full-time position before the year was out.

Only one class stood in his way.

Beauty strode along with him into the library, her bulging backpack pressing her shoulders into a stooped position.

A million introductions flashed through his mind, creating a linguistic maelstrom, not unlike ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs on steroids. Lacking any rational brain cells to call upon, Jeremiah simply stepped in front of the pretty woman, halting her in her tracks.

She looked up and stared blankly.

“He’s a circle?”

Astonishing how long she could maintain that blank expression.

“In class? The professor promised to bring us in contact with all sides…”

Comprehension filled her eyes. Light broke over the mountains. Beauty smiled. Then the gate slammed shut. “It’s an English class! What’s he doing—social engineering?”

The puppy inside every man has moments when he desperately wants to run around in wild circles with his tongue lolling out and a wide grin encompassing his face.

The library would not be the appropriate setting.

“You free? I’m about ready for a cup of—” He shrugged. “You name it, and I’ll get one for you too.”

She laughed.

Three hours later, Jeremiah took the steps to his parent’s house two at a time. He stepped into the living room and caught his mom napping lopsided in a chair and his dad pacing in circles.

“Hey, Dad. Everything okay?”

His dad’s tear-filled eyes glinted in the afternoon light. “She’s slipping away, son. Won’t be long now.”

A day and a half later, Jeremiah finished the arrangements for his mom’s funeral Mass and then ran as fast as his legs would carry him into class.

Well into the first hour, the professor was in his element, extolling the freedom of thought that would lead to well-formed lives and true humanity. With pounding steps, he labored across his personal stage, excoriating the fools who marched in lockstep with old traditions, unmindful of the variety of options available.

Beauty slouched in her seat, one hand covering her eyes.

Jerimiah slipped into his seat and for the first time since his mom’s death, felt the crushing loss that he knew he’d live with for the rest of his life. Only the words of scripture, the hymns, and songs, the candlelight comforted his aching soul. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God…

“Let go!” The professor hammered the podium like a preacher swearing hellfire to the damned.

“Where? You only offer a void.” Beauty’s face glowered, anger and hurt glaring through her eyes.

His chin up and hand raised, the professor demanded obedience. “Open your minds!”

So low, Jeremiah barely heard her words, Beauty’s spirit screamed, “So, the wind can blow through?”

Snatching her hand, Jeremiah helped her grab her bag, and they hustled outside.

Beauty flopped against the wall. “I need that class. But I don’t think I can stand his rants for another day.”

Jeremiah nodded. “My mom just passed away. All I can think of is how much I wish I had her back—and he keeps screaming that I have to let go.”

Beauty’s eyes reflected from twin pools of grief. “I’m sorry.”

Jeremiah sucked in a deep breath and took her hand. “Perhaps we should take his advice.”

“Huh?”

“There are other classes.” He shrugged. “It might mean a summer school, but instead of this—”

“We can actually learn something.” Beauty grinned. “We’re more squares than circles, eh?”

His mom’s endearing smile before his eyes, Jeremiah nodded, took Beauty’s hand, and let go.

Books by A. K. Frailey

Historical Fiction & Science Fiction Blend Novels

OldEarth ARAM Encounter https://amzn.to/2KLhlsN

OldEarth Ishtar Encounter https://amzn.to/2OAkDQF

OldEarth Neb Encounter https://amzn.to/3iGqGlQ

OldEarth Georgios Encounter https://amzn.to/3v7w8oI

OldEarth Melchior Encounter (In Production)

Science Fiction Novels

Last of Her Kind http://amzn.to/2y1HJvg

Newearth: Justine Awakens http://amzn.to/2pq0vWN

Short Stories

It Might Have Been—And Other Short Stories https://amzn.to/2XXdDDz

Encounter Science Fiction Short Stories & Novella https://amzn.to/3dq6q5l

Inspirational Non-Fiction

My Road Goes Ever On—Spiritual Being, Human Journey https://amzn.to/2KvF3Ll

The Road Goes Ever On—A Christian Journey Through The Lord of the Rings https://amzn.to/3rtAy6S

Children’s Book

The Adventures of Tally-Ho http://amzn.to/2sLfcI5

Poetry

Hope’s Embrace & Other Poems https://amzn.to/3cn22X8

Photo https://pixabay.com/photos/man-college-student-read-a-book-4299342/