Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Pizza SO Easy to Make, You Hardly Need Ingredients

Nephew Tim Who Reads My Blog:  this is WEINER PIZZA
Tim says, "Go easy on the mustard."

Dear Nick, Jake, Zach, Abby, Jonathan,

Okay, Real Quick!    

TODAY'S pizza crust recipe contains several secret ingredients -- likely dangerous -- because I ran out of flour. But the things I used to replace the flour created the most amazing, low-gluten, crispy, healthful pizza crust. So I must share my process.  


After I added water to two teaspoons of yeast from an industrial-sized canister I bought, in bulk, at a co-op, (it is the size of a Kia Sportage but more expensive) a scary thing happened:  the yeast and warm water formed a wet clot ...much like from an episode of House, only more grey. And pulsating.

So I consulted the BreadMaker Appliance Guide to see where I went afoul.

Using hostile tones, the Guide informed me that the yeast MUST remain dry, at all times, inside a flour-well that I was to make with my thumb. Then, much, MUCH later, I was to add water, but so far away from the yeast that it might as ‘well’ be located in Ethiopia (which is the birthplace of my new favorite barley which is cooked with its own edible husk, and is a wonderful substitute for broken pizza crust).

At this point, I was supposed to hit the BreadMaker’s START button so as to allow the marvels of mechanization to mix the water and flour – and very separate yeast – safely.

So clear was the manufacturer’s BreadMaker Guide that the coldest water possible was to be added to the mixture, I had to wonder what made me add warm water to the yeast in the first place.

Well. It was the directions on the Industrial Sized Canister itself.

"Measure warm water, 38 to 43 degrees Celsius (? uh oh)  amounting to four times the weight of dry active yeast into a container then add yeast slowly with continuous stirring until yeast is completely suspended using as you would Compressed Yeast."

Realizing too late this was written without punctuation in a French-Canadian accent (note the UK-style 'U' in 'contin-u-ous'), I recognized that I never needed to suspend anything but my crust-building activity.

But I especially didn’t need to compress my yeast until it approximated a Canadian metric measurement amounting to four times the weight of a Celsius canister. "Too late now," I said and dumped the yeast-clot onto the flour.

The proportions looked wrong to my mathematically-trained eye. That and the fact that the ‘dough’ fell more accurately within the “cake batter” category – which is how I recognized I had added only three, not four, of the prescribed cups of flour. 

Because that was all I had.

So I added a combination of Ground Flax Seed Meal, Whole Oats, and Whole Fiber Food Powder leftover from my Chiropractor-Prescribed Standard Process Purification-Shakes ... to amount to One Cup.  
Mommy's Dough Ball:  "The Color Purple"

That is when the 'dough ball' turned purple. (See photo)      --------- >>>>>>>>

So I read the Whole Food Fiber Powder Container for its ingredients and learned it is comprised of oat fiber, brown rice bran, carrot root, apple pectin, beet fiber, beet root, whole beet, beet root fiber, purple extract from beets, and beets, plus six grams of 'Proprietary Blend.'

I blame the purple on 'Proprietary Blend.'

The dough ball is rising now ... but not very high.  Actually ... not at all.  

I blame the Canadians.

I am baking it with homemade pizza sauce made of chopped tomato and my own Proprietary Blend of home-grown herbs -- ‘proprietary’ because I lost the tags that identify them, but I THINK they might be 'spicy oregano', 'peppermint', 'rosemary', and 'beet root fiber'.

My toppings will be green pepper, onion, garlic and tofu, then I am covering it in Fiesta Cheese Blend. (I know ...it was almost vegan)

I will use Douglas House O' Pizza Dough-Pulling Skills I learned from Zach and Abby when they worked there (I wonder if they’re hiring now. The restaurant, not my kids, although I do support nepotism and give generously whenever I can). 

If that doesn’t work, I shall employ a religious laying on of hands or rolling pin or Nick’s Nissan Maxima … onto the dough (covered first by sterile wax paper). Then I shall press the crust onto a clay pizza stone ... where it will rise while I recycle things at the dump because Oh Look It's Tuesday.

I will let you know this afternoon what happened!  So far, it looks like it's going to be delicious. I will make it again for all of us when next we are together (sans cheese for my vegans and the lactose-intolerant, avec coconut flour for the gluten-sensitive, and avec pork tallow for my carnivore).


Jake:  I love that you started this out with "Real Quick."   ?? 

Jonathan: Real Quick...let me transcribe the Dead Sea Scrolls . . . Then Isaiah begat Joshua.  Joshua begat Abraham. . . I'll call when I get off the pike to see if a call into Douglas House O Pizza is necessary.

Abby:  Dad if you’re calling D-HOP get their meatball calzones.  Yum!!

Zach:  Agreed, Abby, also try 'The Huxtable' named after my band.

Nick:  You’re using my Maxima to cook?  *Unsubscribe*



I decided to bake my pizza Real Quick and eat it myself, due to everyone’s support. SOO delicious there are only 2 slices left, which I am saving as apps for the cat.

Oh, the red vegan-looking discs that resemble pepperoni in the photo?  They're pepperoni.
The Most Delicious Thing My Family Will Never Eat

But they are turkey pepperoni. 

This is the most healthful, delish pizza ever even though it harbors dairy-style cheese and not the kind made from  nutritional yeast and cashews, and faux pork byproduct and not the kind made from pig or soy clots.

I am only sorry that it can never be made again.  Mistakes like this happen once in a lifetime.

By the way, unrisen crust – as unholy as this sounds – is far better than crust which has risen, Amen.  If everyone is very good in their email responses to Mommy, mayhaps I will replicate this crust for Passover, which I am celebrating in Rhode Island, upon my holy conversion.  Unsubscribe that.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

How to Make Statistics... I mean Fake Statistics... no, wait: How To TAKE Statistics (as a course)

Who Put the Moby in my Mobius Strip?

   Somewhere along the line, I’ve accumulated an unnatural number of graduate credits in Teacher Education.  Either 29 or 31.  I can’t recall.  
   Technically, this is enough for a master’s degree, but I don’t have one of those.  

   Whenever I am asked if I hold this credential, I explain, “Well, not that specific credential. But I do hold a Post Baccalaureate Diploma in Teacher Education.  With either 29 or 31 credits. I forget.”
    I intend never to acquire a master’s degree.  To do that, I would have to take a course called Research Methods.  I choose to allow those methods to forever remain a mystery.
     A couple of ex-principals and some offspring of mine regularly suggest I take this class to finish up.  My eldest recently said during an animated phone conversation, “Really, Mom? You still haven’t taken this class?”
   We were discussing his sister and a class she needs, Research Methods and Statistics, which I had advised her to drop.  Not only because I, personally, could not help her should she have trouble. But because she was overloaded at 19 credits, so she can take that course another time (a time located in another dimension, or one in which her mother finds gainful employment at Wendy's or the YMCA, to purchase her a tutor.)
    I explained this to Nick, very meticulously.  But he is not easily distracted.
   “Can we get back to you, Mom? You have all the coursework except this methods class. And a master’s credential is a marketing-tool you need.  Plus, Mom.  Can you deny that you have the time now, to take this course?”
    I’m quite skilled, through practice, at my counter-argument. It approaches performance art.  The live version starts off with a glance heavenward, then I stoically proclaim, “A piece of paper…” (here I pause dramatically) “holds … no meaning … for me.” Then I drop my head and hold up a peace sign, allowing my high-mindedness to ferment. 
   Nick has been living with his marketing-director-fiancée for a couple of years now.  In Canada.  All of this makes him impossible to 'sell.'
    “Hey! Mom!” he said in tones reserved for redirecting miscreant thugs caught in acts of home-invasion. “YOU … (dramatic pause) … are not … a hippie. You and Dad got married in a church – a sanctioned social institution using a paper license and a legit minister.  You took out a mortgage. You guys are so deep into The System, you practically define ‘The Man.’ You’re not part of The Solution, Mom. You’re pretty much The Problem.”
   He certainly was not going to persuade me to take research and statistics by calling me The Man. My God, I’m a registered Democrat.

     I wish my commitment to not acquiring this credential were grounded in idyllic hippie morality.  Like going bra-less.  Or sprinkling hallucinogenic fungi on breakfast bark.
   The fact is, I’m scared of math.  Specifically, statistics. 
   Now I realize that I use math, possibly statistics, each day of my life.  I roll the dice and defy laws of decency and probability by speeding on the interstate while talking on my cellphone without getting arrested (well, for the last six years, anyway).
    And statistical-discourse flows like fluent drool from my tongue.  I can fold words like ‘variable’ and ‘probably’ inside almost any sentence.   
   I even possess a rudimentary knowledge of what a rhombus is, (something round involving onomatopoeia, rhom, rhom, rhommmmm bu-bu-busssss, which is a sound used to start mowers.)
   Once, a small group of math students at my charter school found me so worthy of their respect, they made me a Mobius Strip for my birthday! I found it so elegant (another math term) I brought it to my jeweler to have him copy its shape and make me a broach, inlaid with twelve of my birthstones.
   As it turned out, he couldn’t ‘twist’ the shape correctly.  He ended up making me an infinity sign, which was fine, because – due to my respect for math – I am a staunch supporter of infinity.
   This pin catches peoples’ eyes all the time when I wear it.  I am constantly asked which cancer-cure I am promoting.  “All of them,” I say.  “This pin represents ‘immortality’.” (Due to mathematics, this is even correct.)
    One last point: I have committed to memory the first seven components of the mathematical configuration known deliciously as “Pi.” I say ‘seven’ because I include the decimal-point as a ‘component’ out of deference to math, because -- as even I know --without a decimal point, mathematics would be way less precise.
   Anyway, every March 14, my charter school celebrated Pi Day. As a humanities teacher, I had my literature students collaborate on a poem centered in the theme of Pi. One year the particular charter school I worked for was concurrently celebrating The Year Of Interdisciplinary-Pretense. (The theme always changed, depending on which theory the state’s Department of Education elected as that year's 'Best Practice' during beverage-intensive summer galas.)  -- flash --  Please read a sobering treatise on Best Practices at the link below, written by my dear friend Bill Calhoun, a physics teacher (physics is loosely connected to math).   
     So to participate in Pi Day while, of course, being an Interdisciplinary Team Player, I had my English students create a rap which they thoughtfully published on various bathroom walls located  throughout the school.

   “Three point one four one five nine
     gallops on our Number Line.
    To the right these numbers go,
     toward in fin it y they flow.
     Pi is awesome,
     not a fluke!
     Like pork pi 

  I was nominated for Interdisciplinary Blasphemer that year.
  Anyway, my son was not successful at convincing me that a course in Research Methods (which invariably involves statistics) would be worth it, in order that I acquire that elusive master’s credential.
   But guess what did convince me!
   A party for dozens of 14-year-olds, thrown by my niece and her parents for her birthday.

   This party supplied endless subjects for academic research, in every major discipline, with multiple opportunities to toss in statistics.  (I’m not even concerned with mathematical accuracy, due to extra-credit.  My working-title, “Field Fest For Forty Fourteen-Year Olds,” could earn up to ten bonus points in alliteration.)  But mathematically speaking, potential topics of study for teacher education were infinite. 
    I could present data on speech and language disorders by exposing a strain of language-pathology that renders virtuous adults speechless.
    For teachers of the performing arts, one party could proffer sufficient acting talent to launch an entire theatre department. 
   A behavioral science focus might explore juvenile sub-group conflict and gang violence.  Plus, administrators would appreciate the numbers I could run on the probability of needing security.  (Any existing Campus Security could become fiscally-efficient by making several arrests.)
    For teachers of business courses, nowhere but an adolescent party is economics more perfectly modeled. There is one girl for every boy: perfect supply and demand. And there are substantial party profits yielded by host and parents alike. I even invented something called The Law Of Exploding Marginal Returns. This happens when the birthday teen receives more than $600 in cash and prizes without lifting a finger to plan her own party.
   Exploding Marginal Returns also occurs when parents reap consumer profits:  80 pounds of leftover food, none of which they ever purchased. Fourteen year olds uphold a mathematical construct called ‘Bring Your Own Food …. and soda, chairs, CDs, a DJ, acoustical equipment, extension cords, boosting amplifiers with strobing optical effects, a power generator, pyrotechnical apparati, slot machines, bonfire logs, rocket fuel and colorful conversations that make chaperones go away.’
   For that state-mandated Interdisciplinary-Focus, I believe 14-year olds have found a way to combine Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs with Emerson’s Transcendentalist Ideal, the Pentagon’s Model on Fiscal Inefficiency, and Corporate Total-Quality-Management. Here's how: Teenagers recognize man’s basic need for food and sex at parties, then they 'rise to the occasion,' spend all of their parents’ resources on party-excess that makes them sick, resulting in a totality of chaos that impacts everyone to an equal degree.
    But the greatest potential for research applies to STEM school educators, specifically biology teachers, particularly at a vocational technical school. A 9th grade party is a walking clinical rotation. 
   Future nursing students can train in smoke inhalation, pyromania, first degree burns, menstrual cramps, electrocution, strobe light seizures, woofer-deafness, compulsive gambling, hysterical blindness and lacerations from airborne tacos.  ALL sustained by chaperones. (Although the boys at this party did require IV antibiotics when the girls gave them makeovers with cosmetics containing staph.)
   Fortunately, we have a huge family with several more 14-year olds whose birthdays are spaced throughout the academic year.  I already have a title-concept for one party in July: “Fudgicles and Hyperactivity in the Pre-Latency Child.”
   There is so much material here, I am thinking of proposing to an education professor that I do a thesis as independent study, in lieu of a Research Methods course.
   By the time I complete my thesis, I feel certain statistics will no longer exist. Or at least have relevance. ‘Math’ will be replaced by a computer app I’ll download to my Smartphone that will program itself to analyze the data I hire someone to extract from my paper.
   I am calling Nick now to let him know I’ve had a change of heart. Why, my master’s degree is only an irregular-heartbeat away --  so, power to the credential, man, right on. 
   Plus, I will sell my thesis to Abby for some semester in her distant future, when she must take research and statistics, quick, before she graduates. She’s a psych major.  (God knows, there’s more than enough material for psychology majors – here in this blog – for that.) 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

I Caught My Bistro Chair On Fire With the Sun

Dear Nick, Jake, Zach, Abigail, Jonathan,

   Apparently, we had a house fire upstairs that I just discovered at noon today.  
   Remember how at Christmas, the bubbling runoff from my cranberry pie ignited the oven and tripped the upstairs smoke-detector and we couldn’t get it to shut off?  Well, we forgot to slide the battery-pack back inside the alarm.   
   I know what you are thinking: ‘We TOLD you not to make the woodstove a blast-furnace by leaving the door open then distracting yourself with Netflix and other acts of unemployment.” 
   But that is not what happened. The fire wasn’t anywhere near the woodstove.
   The fire took place up in our sunroom, where the sun shines, apparently even during the winter solstice, when the sun’s angle changes, so that during today’s early morning of utter cloudlessness, its rays penetrated the magnifying glass I had impaled as a decoration inside a planter on the bistro table.
   I always wondered if those stories were true. The ones about little boys who use magnifying glasses to burn ants.  I thought it was an urban legend.
   Well, seeing what the sun did to a hardwood bistro chair-back, I don’t want to think what it would do to ants.  I’m sure they just spark up – snap – not even a puff of smoke.  Although I bet if you lit up a whole colony, it’d be an impressive Fourth of July spectacle.
   Anyway, I was watering plants this morning when I noticed the maple bistro chair was sporting six diagonal scorched gashes.  Each gash represented an ignition site made by the sun as its rays shone through the planter’s magnifying glass.  As the sun moved on in the heavens, the flame would lose its heat-source and sputter out, leaving a gash, then a new flame would spark up at the next ignition-site a quarter of an inch away.
   I suspect this is how the Incas first learned to tell time:  they set a piece of quartz in a philodendron pot, or papyrus, and as the sun passed by, the magnified rays would ignite a  maple block serving as the face of a rudimentary clock, and the flames would mark the hours as they progressed across its surface.
   Using the Inca method, I’d say we had about four hours of sunlight blasting through my plant décor today.
   I rubbed at the black slashes on our chair-back and my hands smelled like the outdoor fire pit.  In fact, now that my nose is attuned to this smell, the entire sunroom smells like a fire pit.  Of course, that could just be a brain tumor. 
   Do you think our house insurance covers acts of flammable home decorating? I say yes.  Isn’t the sun an Act of God?  (Although a magnifying glass is an act of Science – but Mary Shelley would remind us that the best transcendental thinkers of Great Britain hotly debated the nature of God and Mankind, of Science and Nature.  And didn’t Nature and God always win?  Ergo, my fire was an Act of God.)
   I am calling our insurance company now.

   Okay, so I just got off the phone with the adjuster.  In a heavy Confederate accent, she said, “May-um.  You have GOT to be kiddin.  Have you never heard of using a magnifyin’ glass to burn ants?” 
   I told her that was an urban legend invented by Spielberg, so she told me SHE used to burn ants with a magnifying glass.
   I explained I had a sociology degree and that two of my children were psychology majors, and that as far as I could tell, this was classic behavior of a psychopath.  “Burning ants is gateway-arson.  It's the stuff that hooks Serial Killers.”
   This is when she explained, “Sweetie, I’m sorry but we don’t cover acts of just plain dumb.”

   “Besides,” she added, “you have a HUGE deductible.  Your chair is not worth $5,000.  Why don’t you put the other chairs in the same spot so the sun can distress ‘em all equally?  From the photo you emailed me, I think a whole set’d look lovely.”
   So before I do this, I would like your opinion.  Please review my chair-back scorches, below, and tell me if I should do the same to the other chairs.

Sun-Enhanced Chair
 Mom  (aka 'Icarus') 

Jonathan:  Exciting fire news.  Can’t wait to see the carnage in person. (Did you slide the batteries back in the case yet?) Off to a meeting --
Jacob: After I got over the initial relief that something worse didn’t happen, I am laughing, picturing the tiny bright dot of super sun slowly tracking along the room. (Please slide NEW batteries into the alarm-case.) I have a teleconference --

Me:  Hey – you guys all have gmail. Are you noticing the gmail robots are analyzing our emails then sending what it thinks is appropriate advertising? It is now sending me ads for a FIRE SALE, a Glass Sunroom, a Gas Fire Pit, plus life insurance. (Also I can get Two-For-One on a battery-operated “toy” they’ll mail postage-paid in a discreet brown wrapper.)

Nick:  And that’s lunch.   *unsubscribe*

Me:  Wait, Nick, no one answered my question about scorching the other chairs.  :( I am getting a new family and asking their opinion--

Abby:  Mom, the refund expired on this family, so you’re stuck with us, along with your single scorched chair.  Do NOT scorch any more.  Please put the magnifying glass away, inside the buffet drawer, away from any light source, and go out and buy fresh batteries at a store so you know they are new.  Do this now.  I’m off to class --

Me:  Hey, Zach, I didn’t hear from you. What do YOU think?

Zach:  On the road, Ma.  Buy’g batts 4 U on lunch-hr. Will drop by Dad’s office, along w/Walmart, Pier 1, Target Employ’t Apps 2 keep U safe.  ;(  Z

[You know, Moms aren’t supposed to have favorites…  but I have to say, Zachary is always lookin out for his.  ;)  XOXO & <3 2 Z]

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Make Your Yard An Eco-Friendly Nature Preserve

Last evening’s unprecedented WE CANNOT PREDICT WHAT IT WILL DO winter storm did precisely what meteorologists predicted:  it dumped two inches of snow on my town.  This makes the meteorologists’ predictions 100 per cent incorrect, consistently, for the past three years. 

Originally, meteorologists said that their favorite computer model had forecast two inches of snow inside the Blackstone Valley Corridor, where I live. Then they reneged, noting they could not possibly predict what this crazy rainstorm-blizzard might do:  thunder-snow could turn to sunshine, causing potential droughts on the Cape and the Islands. There could be locusts, leprosy, Mayan Apocalypse Part II.

But the storm dumped precisely two of the originally-predicted inches of pure powder on my town. 

For my husband, this brought fanciful thoughts of shussing his way from the summit of Mt. Wachusett to my driveway, where he would segue from skiing to snow-blowing with imperceptible grace.

For me, my stomach growled.

When I woke up, I thought it was still snowing, but it was the wind blowing quarter-sized snow-puffs around our house.  As I examined the swirling flakes, I got hungry for the Pillsbury Dough Boy (his fool-proof crescent rolls always come out light and flaky.)

By the way, have you ever considered the etymology of the phrase ‘fool-proof’?  Does it really mean that even a fool can’t mess it up?  I only realized this today when I reflected on the Pillsbury Dough Boy, but that is not what today’s post is about. 

It is about deer.

This is a deer.  (Not the one in my yard.) 

Earlier this morning, all that puff circulated about like winged flake-fairies, then lighted on various landscape architecture out back (a heap of damp kindling and a broken backboard with rusting hoop).  It looked like some Bermuda Triangle Snow-Nexus had arranged itself into twisted snow towers at either side of the entrance to our woods.  

It was a bit entrancing in a scary way.  This opening marks the start of a trail that takes our wheelbarrow on a long journey to cords of wood stacked deep within the primeval darkness, nestled under a leafless canopy.  But now, it was offset either by snow-blanketed topiary from a British cottage garden, or two lions guarding a death-labyrinth from Stephen King’s The Shining.
Those entrance-mounds sort of reminded me of the snow-covered lawn jockeys that used to adorn the walkway of my family’s General Practitioner in winter.  This is why I no longer get flu shots.  Or maybe even a pair of fertility gargoyles that, in Medieval times, would guard our home from evil or virtue, I forget which. 

But as quickly as those entrance-guardians were formed, they vanished from a wind gust, revealing … kindling piled up, adjacent to a torqued backboard with hoop. 

The moment was gone.

But Nature Taketh and She Giveth Right Back because there, near those newly-naked artifacts, stood two deer.

Big deer.  Neither had a rack so I assumed they were either a lesbian couple or heterosexual, but the male suffered from ‘low-T’ or un-descended testicles preventing his horns from sprouting.

I was paralyzed with all this nature erupting in my backyard.  They were gorgeous. 

I looked around quickly to see if I couldn’t find batteries to load into the digital camera – (no) – then I scanned about for my cell phone (still in my car).

So I just stood there, mesmerized.

That’s when I noticed they had consumed the bottom-third of two evergreen trees we had planted years ago.  They were two of a total of twelve, designed to keep the soil from turning to spring mudslides that cascade into our neighbor’s pool.  The first time this happened, it was like living next door to the movie Poltergeist, only no caskets or skeletons bubbled up. 

These little landslides began the year we’d excavated to install a pool of our own, and the vast Mayan Burial Mound the installers created to ‘level off’ the backyard caused mayhem to race downhill into our neighbor’s yard.  We didn't think they were happy.  So we planted twelve trees to hold the soil.

Anyway, I found myself caught in a conundrum.  Was this not a rare gift?  A Nature Moment to relish?  Especially given that I had opted out of some cheap ‘Photo Op’ to enhance this blog.

Yet, were these two Acts Of Nature not foraging away our Goodwill Toward Neighbor, devouring landscaping for which we had paid more than $70 per tree?

They ate the bottom-third off of three more trees before I decided that their ‘special sculpting’ was quite enough, thank you, so I opened the slider and tossed them half a loaf of pumpernickel bread.

And like that – they bolted past the broken backboard and the damp kindling into the wilderness (and Route 16… to infinity and beyond).
Christmas Spike, 2013, after A Great Lopping

I realized I should have strewn my Ex-Christmas tree’s branches out there – as a deer offering -- to protect our landscaping investment, but how was I to know last year was a bad year for acorns, causing anorexic lesbian deer to eat my Landslide-Stoppers? 

Well, from now on I plan to keep a supply of pumpernickel bread on hand.  It is excellent deer repellant.

If that doesn’t work, I will take the Christmas Spike I created by lopping off all the edible branches that have now been composted, and place it across the entrance to the woods.  As a warning to deer everywhere.  “THIS is what all of our landscaping is like, so don’t bother foraging for succulent evergreen branches.  Go next door. The neighbors’ arborvitae is especially lush this winter.”

Not my neighbor's arborvitae (which means 'vital arbor' in another language)
Mmmm.  Arborvitae.  My goodness, nature is appetizing today.  Crescent rolls.  Salad.  Venison. 

I really have to post this, quick, and go make some lunch.  It’s nearly 1:30 already.     

Sunday, January 20, 2013

How to Write Like the Wind (then calm the storm with Gas-X)

   In the preceding post, I referenced a professor or two who toiled like crack-cranked elves on Christmas Eve trying to get me to stop writing first-person humor narratives.  Bless their hearts, they wanted me to expand my horizons.  Fiction, they believed, had a much bigger audience than truth glazed over by humor.  (You're like a donut, Carolyn -- we have to pick off the glaze to get at the meat, but all that's underneath is dough.  Try substance!  Try ... FICTION!)

My goal was to try short sentences, avoid lofty language or transcendent abstractions.  Here is my effort from 1994.  (It got an 'A' -- for 'Alright, Carolyn -- enough...')     

                         THE STORY OF JOE AND RIBBIT

  Once, there lived a little boy named Joe in a lakeside New England village with two parents and his pet frog named Ribbit.  Joe was nice. Joe’s frog was nice. Ribbit was also green.
   Joe was not green.  He was a Caucasian Protestant Boy, which means he was a white child whose parents took him to a church painted white. The church also had a steeple. A steeple is a tower with a bell inside.  The bell makes a ringing noise, “Ding, Dong,” to welcome people to church.  But only on Sundays.
   Inside this church, Joe could not go to confession. If he could, he would be Catholic. Catholic churches let people go to confession. Confession is a private place where priests and people talk about sin (on every day-of-the week).  Sins are mistakes that people make. When people are sorry for them, priests make sure God knows it so He can forgive them.  Oh, and Catholic churches can be any color.  But they are rarely green.
   This is a story about a boy and his frog.  It is not a story about colors and priests and different ways to worship God.  If it were, it would be an Abstract Story. “Abstract” means that big words are used to talk about bigger ideas.
   This can be bad, because ideas are not something we can touch. Ideas are like feelings. And feelings cannot be touched. They can only be felt.  But we don’t feel them with our hand.  We feel them with our heart, but not the kind that pumps blood. The kind that feels love, in our hearts, where God lives.  We cannot touch God, either.
   Uh oh. God sounds abstract.  We must move on to fiction.
   Fiction stories are make-believe.  They begin with words like “Once upon a time.” They are pretend. But fiction is only good when it sounds very, very real.  Isn’t that funny?
   People who read fiction want to believe that it is real.  So fiction tries to copy real life.  Real life is something that we can touch.  But we cannot touch a story.  We can only read a story. We can touch the book a story is in. But we cannot touch the story that goes from books into readers’ minds. Once stories enter a reader, they become the reader’s thoughts.  A thought is like an idea. An idea is something we cannot touch.  It is abstract, like a feeling.
   Uh oh.
   Joe and his frog Ribbit went to church one Sunday morning feeling happy in their hearts for loving God and each other and for being white and green in a church with a steeple bell that goes, ‘Ding, Dong.’
   Ribbit died.
   No one expected it.
   The minister thought that maybe Ribbit was very, very old.  He told Joe, “Joe, I think that it was Ribbit’s time. That God was calling him home.”
   Joe said his heart felt happy to let Ribbit go.  He said, “Ribbit liked to jump. And heaven is ‘up.’”
   Up, up, up went Ribbit, to go and live with God.
   The bell in the steeple broke that Sunday. But no one had any thoughts or feelings about this. Its time, too, had come.
   But Joe knew why the steeple bell broke.
   Joe was the one who broke it.
   If only he were Catholic, he could have confessed.
   But Joe kept this secret locked in his heart.  Not the kind that pumps blood.
   Joe needed to keep the secret there, beside his other secret.
   Joe killed his frog, Ribbit.
   It was an accident. 
   Ribbit died when Joe tied him to the clapper inside the steeple bell. He wanted to hear Ribbit sing his own name, “Ribbit, Ribbit,” inside the bell’s chamber. His echoing song would sound glorious and loud. Ribbit would make all the church people happy!
   But instead, the bell went “Ding, Dong.”
   Ribbit went, “Ribb—thwap.”
   Ribbit suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage. This means that he died without pain.  He never knew what hit him.
   But Joe knew.
   Ribbit looked pretty bad, swinging and clapping for twelve Dongs. By the time the clapper stopped, Joe could not pry Ribbit loose.  He finally had to pull, really hard on that clapper to yank Ribbit down.
   But the clapper fell off.
   This was all very bad.
   On the top step of the steeple’s loft, Joe laid the clapper down.  There, he tried very gently to peel Ribbit loose. But Ribbit wouldn’t budge. Joe noticed a putty knife up there in the loft.  It made a perfect frog-spatula.
   Finally, Ribbit was free!  Free to go up, up, up to heaven.  Up there from the steeple loft, he didn’t have far to go.
   Well, this story does not have a sad ending.  Because Joe was a lucky boy.  He never had to confess to the priest that he made the clapper clap Ribbit to death. Because Protestant churches don’t have priests.
   But Joe and Ribbit were lucky for a bigger, better reason.  This story is not real. It never happened. It is fiction. Make-believe. Artful fancy.  Without substance. It is moot, inauthentic, fact-free, an untruth. It’s fantastic fraud, deceptive whimsy, a thrilling bold-faced lie. 
   But somehow it makes readers feel and think and have ideas.
   Uh oh.
   Lies sound Abstract. Worse yet, lies are Addictive.  Once a lie gets in a reader, it becomes fruitful and multiplies, making readers clamor for more.  They are sick, ending-addicts. Many are in treatment. This forces lying-writers to think very hard until they get an idea for newer lies that end.  This is called ‘collusion.’
    Lying writers do this for money. If they do not make readers happy, they must take in peoples’ laundry and walk wealthy dogs.  Writers hate this kind of work.  Laundry smells. Dogs smell. 
   So writers finish stories -- to smell like writers -- and so lie-addicts won’t be left without an ending, hanging and swinging like a dead frog on a clapper.  Readers need ‘closure’ which is a circle, like a hug. It comes just before ‘The End.’  Let’s move onto ‘closure’ so Lie-Lapping Closure Lovers may escape this Fiction Bell.
    Joe wept for Ribbit. He pined for Ribbit. With his heart. Not with a tree. Pine trees often weep their sap. But pine sap cannot cry. Some boys think it’s sappy to cry, but pining won’t make boys saps. Only God can make tree sap.
   Joe was lonely without Ribbit The Frog.  Ribbit was Joe’s only friend. Joe had no one to play with.  No one to eat with. No one to sleep with. No one to tell about the secret in his heart. 
    Joe’s heart was feeling very cold.  Cold like a steeple bell. Broken like a steeple bell.  Coated and smeared with Ribbit the Frog, just like a steeple bell.
   At least Joe had something inside his heart. Or his heart would just be empty.  Like a Bell’s Stuffing Bag on Thanksgiving Day when we jam the turkey cavity ‘til its spine snaps and its neck spews stuffing like an exploding poultry volcano.  
   Joe’s heart was not only cold.  It was shrinking.  And Joe’s blood was feeling cold.  Joe was looking sick. In fact, Joe was looking green.  Joe’s parents called the doctor.
   The doctor said Joe wasn’t sick.  He was suffering from metamorphosis.  That is a big word that means Joe felt so bad about clapping Ribbit up to God that he was trying to turn into a frog. Then he could jump – up, up, up – to visit Ribbit.  Guilt is a bigger word than Metamorphosis.  So is Depressive Psychosis.
   By the time that Joe grew warts and slime, his parents were pretty upset. And so, they called the minister.
   The minister came to visit Joe.  Joe croaked and hopped away.  He knew the minister would look in his heart and see its smeary secret.  But the minister just saw gills.
   One Sunday, Joe’s parents carried Joe into church.  He fit inside a shoebox.  It was the first time Joe had been back at church since the Day of Ribbit’s Bad Clap.
   The church people gathered all around Joe. They formed a People Circle.  Joe looked up at them, then hid his face. He thought they were seeing his secret.  But all they could see … was Joe.
   This was very, very strange.  Joe didn’t look much like himself.  But the church people only saw Joe as he was.  Before Joe’s Very Big Change.
   To them, nothing could make Joe different. Not being green. Not having warts. Or a cold, broken heart filled with secrets.
   Joe smiled when he realized he was still Joe to them.  His blood began to grow warm. In fact, his little webbed hands started to sweat from the warmth and a lump swelled in Joe’s throat which puffed up really big ‘til his throat finally opened and poured out the song, ‘RIBBIT, RIBBBBIT.  CROAK.   NEEEEE-DEEEEP.  ROGGGGIT.  ROGGGIT. CROAKKK!”  Which means, “I broke your steeple bell when I clapped Ribbit to death, and I’m really very sorry!”
   And, Lo – the church people understood.  They were multi-lingual.
   Then the steeple bell, which was since repaired, pealed out a song for Joe.  It sounded glorious and loud.  It made Joe very happy!
   And the church people stayed in their big People Circle and they held each other and formed a big People Hug. And Joe felt the Circle and looked up at the Clapper and felt Closure flood the Cold spot in his heart.
   By the end of the service, Joe’s warts all fell off and he turned back into a boy. And he never again worried about locking secrets in his heart.  His Church WOULD let him Confess. It just didn’t use priests.  It had a Congregation.
   That is the secret of white, steepled Churches.  They are just buildings. With People inside, who love Joe just for Joe, who make Sin part of People. It’s a warm Circle Secret that brings people Closure.  But for Joe, the secret was too well kept.
   As for Ribbit, this secret meant nothing at all.  Ribbit was too dead to care.
                                                        The End