Times for Ice Cream


more-demand-for-ice-cream-with-functional-use-natural-ingredients_strict_xxlCornrows accented with bright beads crowned the tiny ten-year-old’s head which bobbed up and down to the beat of the multiplication table rap being fed into her brain via earphones that seemed to be swallowing her entire noggin’. Alexa smiled and sang sweetly under her breath along with the well-worn cd. Three times four is twelve, three times five is fifteen… Alexa listened to the cd each time she earned classroom reward time. She bypassed the computer, puzzles, library, snacks, Legos, and crafts in order to work her tables. She was often still listening to her tables when her grandfather would come to pick her up after school.

Each night, after supper dishes were cleared and homework was done, Alexa would stand before her grandfather and recite her tables. Multiplication, like all things having to do with numbers, baffled her. She could “see” the order and usefulness every time she solved problems with her “cheat sheet”, but that was…well…cheating- despite the fact that her teacher had made sure her right to use such a device was protected in her Individual Education Plan.

Her nightly performance was rewarded with hugs and ice cream before bedtime. Grandfather understood her like nobody else. People whispered about how “slow” she was and “wasn’t it a pity?” Grandfather never allowed such talk when he was around, but people at church often looked at Alexa with sad eyes and clucked about what would become of “such a child” without her grandfather.

Alexa worked all year long to memorize her tables. She sang them, recited them, and prayed about them. Grandfather stocked the freezer with a variety of ice cream and listened with patience each night as Alexa stumbled over her tables, missing this one or that, rarely the same one each time. Grandfather would hug her, fix her ice cream, wait for her to brush her pearly whites, hear her prayers, and tuck the tiny girl in.

One night, in early spring, Alexa took up her place before Grandfather’s chair and smiled a giant smile. She made a huge to-do that included a curtsy and a bit of tap-dancing with a twirl of her skirt and the rattle of her hair beads. Grandfather took it all in and waited for her to begin. The sprite began at the beginning: 1×1, 1×2, 1×3… slowly and deliberately, Alexa’s voice rose with each new set. Excitement filled the air, Alexa’s feet kept time with the rap that resounded constantly in her head. …12×8, 12×9, 12×10, 12×11, 12×12… She had DONE it! She had memorized and recited the entire 1-12’s multiplication table!

As she looked at Grandfather, her face froze in horror. The years of work, all through the 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades had come to an end. Suddenly, the nightly ritual was gone-just like THAT! GONE. Alexa crumpled to the floor and sobbed. Grandfather reached down, pulled the tiny child onto his lap and stroked her beaded braids. He whispered soothing little words until Alexa stopped crying.

When she had dried her tears and straightened her special twirly-whirley dress, Grandfather stood, took her tiny hand in his and walked towards the door. Alexa looked up at him with questioning eyes. Grandfather smiled and said,  “Let’s go to the Dairy Queen.”


Beth is a freelance writer from Grayson, GA. Her work has appeared extensively in The Gwinnett Citizen and several ghost-written local publications as well as on her blog. She is currently a video editor and content writer for NightGlass Media Group.  A Little at a Time first appeared on the Flash Fiction site, The Five Hundred and was published in the anthology, We Wrote a Book (2016).


A Little at a Time…St. Gemma’s Watch


St. Gemma Patron Saint of Headaches

It almost always came in the early morning, just when the skies began to awaken. The clouds that had made their way east through the night formed engorged and threatening gray blobs in the sky. Behind them would be the glistening wet streets and refreshed flora. Sometimes though, there would be destruction. Some of it collateral; some would remain unseen and misunderstood.

There was hardly anything visible to announce the arrival of a change, but the boy knew. He knew it as sure as there were toes on the ends of his feet below the covers. Just because he couldn’t see them in the dark and under cover didn’t mean they were not there. They were there, and he was also sure it would storm soon. He hoped and prayed it would. Without the wind and the rain, the barometric pressure would continue to drop while the pulsing, throbbing pressure in his head would increase.

He whispered a silent prayer to St. Gemma who had suffered so much more than he. Sometimes it helped to hold a little conversation with the Patron Saint. If anyone knew he conversed with the saints in the darkness before the storms, they might send him back to the psychiatrist. He concentrated, closed his eyes again and focused on relaxing. He waited in the dark for the storms to pass.

Teetering on the edge of darkness was the feeling that this one could go either way. He had stopped guessing and refused to budge until there was some indication that he would be safe in opening his eyes to the morning. Morning would come with demands to “get ready” regardless of how he felt. School was there to be reckoned with and the teachers had their expectations. Never mind the fact that, on such a morning, it took Herculean efforts to open his eyes more than just a slit.

He knew himself to be stronger than most. Sure, there were athletes with more brute strength, academics with more intelligence, and artists with far more discipline than he could muster, but endurance was something he knew of. It took a mighty dose of endurance to weather these storms. Finding the breakpoint, catching the wave out of pain, this was his specialty. To find the crack in the wall that would allow him to slip through was an art form unto itself. Allowing himself to relax and succumb to the powers that were far stronger than he allowed him moments of release. Each moment, mentally tallied on one side of the pain scale or the other told him whether or not it would be safe to take a peek.

The roaring of the storm began to give way to the gentler dripping sounds of raindrops on roses so he smiled a bit at the insistence of the kitten attached to the whiskers intently nosing her way past his tightly drawn covers. It was an indication that morning had broken…if he was brave enough to embrace it. Slowly, tentatively, he loosened his fingers from the cover’s edge, the light began to seep past his cozy armaments. Today, the storm would not take him prisoner; he was free to let the light in.


Beth is a freelance writer from Grayson, GA. Her work has appeared extensively in The Gwinnett Citizen and several ghost-written local publications as well as on her blog. She is currently a video editor and content writer for NightGlass Media Group.  A Little at a Time first appeared on the Flash Fiction site, The Five Hundred and was published in the anthology, We Wrote a Book (2016).

Young Writers…hope and creativity

#EncourageAYoungWriterDay – April 10th, 2016.

Rebecca Hope Harper

Rebecca “Hope” Harper’s visions of her world are forever colored by her amazing experiences. Watch for her full story soon.

As a writer in the public eye, I am often approached to read this piece or that. Most times, it is the young writer, the kid with a knack for entertaining who comes to me with arms outstretched and a downward glance just begging for a “professional” to read their work. Being asked to read a young writer’s work is among the most humbling of experiences for me. Behind the gesture is trust, fear, excitement, and hope.

Each work, each story has some back-story behind it. Imagination is influenced by personal experiences and it is those personal experiences that drive the writer to share their words. I have seen teachers struggle with the constraints placed upon what the school system deems “good writing”. For too many years, writing has been distilled into quantitative data points measured against the average. The idea that there is more to writing than grammar and spelling seems to have been lost in the quest for something to place into a graphing chart.

Currently on my desk is a phenomenal piece of word-art that is enhanced by the young author’s experience as a child-patient of the healthcare system. Afflicted with a condition that kept her in the hospital more than the classroom, her “skills” are nearly permanently deemed, well…”childlike”. But her imagination, her comparisons, her coping strategies, her dominance over the experience comes out in her passionate recollection of her years of medical care.

It is this work that will find its way into publication very soon to see what the reading public has to say about it. On its own, the work is a testament to how the school system failed her special needs, but in contrast, it is a work that shows her strength in overcoming the odds to continue living her life. Her words and her photos are like a window into her soul and I am humbled to have been allowed a look inside.

A Different Drummer

NG-dummersThe work we do at NightGlass differs in creativity from many other videographers…Now We Know Why! 
Turns out, it’s the MUSIC! The NightGlass creative team are all musicians!
A recently released scientific study by Vanderbilt University psychologists helps prove how being a musician makes a difference in creative professions. In the study, researchers found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking. Musicians are also found to use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person. The study goes on to also state, “The researchers also found that, overall, the musicians had higher IQ scores than the non-musicians.”

Well…the jury is still out on the IQ thing, but we know this for sure, a great story or message has a beat, a rhythm, and a tempo. As a creative team with music in our veins, we’ve got that covered. But please….no long division problems.
Read the entire article at: http://bit.ly/25KWAmv

GHS Rams: Commitment

So, here’s the thing…

Last week, Grayson High School finalized a very ambitious football schedule and social media blew up!

Amidst plenty of excitement over many of the players fielding offers from some very prestigious schools, there was some underlying concern that the team might be under more stress than anticipated. The questions about how to take on the schedule and find success were enough to garner some very tough stances from coaching, players, families, and the community. The resulting consensus indicated this community never backs down.

Coach Mickey Conn’s biggest fan summed it up very nicely by reminding the community of how long and hard the GHS Ram Football Team has worked their plan. Some of the kids in this class have worked it since they were 2 or 3 “throwing a football” behind the rec league stands. Make no mistake friends, Charlie Conn (Mickey’s dad) is right when he preaches, “Mickey has always been ready for any challenge that football has to offer!”

In case anyone needs a further reminder, the following article written for The Grayson Gazette in its founding year establishes that Coach Mickey Conn has never wavered from his plans or intentions for Grayson High School football.


Beth Volpert Johansen
Freelance Writer


To my editor on Valentine’s Day

To My Editor on Valentine's Day...When I walk into your suite, the ar

Not Giving up Facebook for Lent…

PopMoe_002My friend, Dick Moe said not to do it that way…

Once, a very long time ago, I met this really cool person. He was referred to as “Pop” Moe to all the cool kids, the athletes in my high school. Funny thing was, he would sit in the stands and cheer the marching band as hard as he cheered for football or basketball or anything else. I was in that marching band.  He just loved all of us “kids”. 

As an adult, I was selling real estate in rural Walton County, Georgia. This fella pulled up to my sales trailer looking for my developer. The man was selling building materials and he looked familiar. His first reaction to seeing a young 20-something woman-girl alone in a sales trailer in the middle of nowhere selling $60,000 homes? Protection, he thought he best drive through the subdivision on a daily basis to make certain the subcontractors held me in the highest esteem. He was “Pop” back in high school and he was “Pop” again when I sold houses in the country.

Then, as luck would have it, he showed up again as I began a lifelong dream of becoming a writer. First, with my own paper, The Grayson Gazette, and again, with The Gwinnett Citizen. I wrote up the lives of many people in about 500 words or less for years. He read each word and made sure I knew I was a treasure to him.

A couple of years ago, I floated the idea of “giving up” Facebook for Lent. His response was immediate. “Please don’t do that,” said Pop (Dick Moe). “I love to have a daily interaction with my community, I love the invasive nature of Facebook-it keeps us connected and that is what our Lord wants for us.” Yes, he said that to me.

PopMoe_001So, in honor of Dick “Pop” Moe, a man who has influenced my life since I was “a kid”. I will not “give up” Facebook during Lent. I promise to redouble my efforts to connect with my neighbors, my friends, my loved ones.


And Pop, you keep changing that sign in front of Faith Community in Grayson, GA. It is the best community message we have out there-don’t give it up!