What I've Been Reading Instead of Cleaning My House

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hanging with Mr. Zager

I loved my junior high English teacher. Who doesn't love their junior high English teacher?

His name was Mr. Zager.

He introduced us to Truman Capote. He had a Christmas tree in his classroom because growing up Jewish, his mother wouldn't let him have one in their house. He had us sit in reverse alphabetical order because he always hated being last (I'm sure Ilene Ziff loved that about him).

Speaking of alphabetical order, did you notice something about my 29 Love posts for the 29 days of February?

  • A: Avocados, Alice-Grace
  • B: B-52s
  • C: Cannery
  • D: Dryer sheets
  • E: Elevators
  • F: Frances, Friends
  • G: Gremlins
  • H: Health
  • I: Ice cream
  • J: Jeffrey
  • K: Kittens
  • L: Loy, Myrna
  • M: Myrna (my sister)
  • N: Nigel
  • O: Origami
  • P: Pink
  • Q: Qatar
  • R: Rick (pet names)
  • S: Snow, Spring
  • T: Taxes
  • U: "Umbrella" song
  • V: Vashti
  • W: Work
  • X: Xerox copies
  • Y: Yelling
  • Z: Mr. Zager


Nigel and my kids say that I love yelling.

For the record, I don't love yelling. Just because I do something a lot doesn't mean I love it.

Every time I yell, I hear the little Dr. Phil that lives in the back of my head asking, "So, how's that working for you?"

Not well.

Maybe I should've given up yelling for lent. Instead, I gave up snitching chocolates from the candy bowl at work whenever I turn in my paperwork to the office.

I'm convinced that I don't yell. I'm just a passionate loud talker.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


I love Xerox. No, I'm not talking about my black & white cat who was a "copy" of her father, but the actual copy machine company.

Do you remember the days before copy machines? I remember watching my mother, Dot, typing out her piano recital programs on her old Underwood typewriter (you know, the ones that weighed 6,000 pounds and you had to type slow so that the keys wouldn't get all tangled up in knots) and then walking down the street to the local print shop. There a man would set up a machine about the size of a VW Bug in order to print out those little programs. It was an all day affair.

Remember those old mimeographs from school? The purple ink, the paper was always slightly damp and the whole class would be getting high smelling the copies? Oh, those were the days.

Does anyone else remember making some type of jello compound and then somehow transferring ink to the surface and making copies from that? Or did I dream that?

Now we can just get on the computer or run down to the local Kinko's and do whatever our little heads can imagine. It's so easy, so quick, so inexpensive, so professional looking.

But then again, are we making too many copies? You go to a class or to a meeting and you're inundated with papers. You glance at them once and in the trash they go. We spend so much time making these cutesy little hand-outs and fliers and I don't know about you, but I just end up throwing them away as soon as I get home (I don't throw them away in front of whomever made them because I know they're expecting me to stick them in my "scrapbook" and keep them forever).

Oh, Xerox, maybe I do mean my cat and not the copy machine company.

Whistle While You Work

I love work. Not the 'scrub the bathtub' kind of work, but the fact that someone would actually 'hire me' kind of work. What? You want me to hang around you eight hours a day and you'll even pay me for it? What a concept.

I usually pick my employment based on location (if I can't walk to it when my car is on the fritz, I'm not doing it), flexibility (can I rush out and pick up Alice-Grace from preschool when Nigel forgets?), and funny stories that may come out of it.

My job with the best stories is when I worked at a veterinary hospital in Los Angeles. Somehow I got elected to be in charge of the freezer full of dead dogs. I was always a little worried when the guy from the pet cemetery came to pick up Fluffy and he was decked out in full bio-hazard gear and I was digging through a pile of deceased canines with bare hands. What did he know what I didn't?

We also had a lot of movie stars come in with their pets. The most humorous was when Lou Ferrigno came in and my boss went on and on about how familiar he looked and asked him if he was a doctor at another clinic. What? How can you possibly confuse the Incredible Hulk for a veterinarian?

Of course, there's been some jobs I've hated and some jobs where they've hated me, but I'm always amazed when someone reaches across a desk, shakes my hand and says, "Welcome to the company."

If only my own family wanted me that much.

Monday, February 25, 2008

I know it's not the point of the story, but...

I love Queen Vashti. She was married to King Ahasuerus in the book of Esther in the Old Testament of the Bible.

The king was having a big party for all the men and Vashti was having a party for all the women in a different part of the palace. The king wanted Vashti to leave her party so that he could show off her beauty to all the guys at his party. She was busy having a great time with her girls, so she refused to come. Of course, this totally made the king look bad, so he made a law that the men will rule in his own house so that he could get rid of his disobedient wife.

Then, of course, Esther comes into the picture to replace Vashti (it doesn't say exactly what happened to her but I'm sure there's stones involved) and eventually Esther saves the Jewish people.

Now, I know that the point of the story is how Esther saved her people, but I can't help but love Vashti. Sure, she kind of ruined it for a bunch of women for years and years later, but I love that she didn't want to leave her own party just to be paraded around by her husband.

Vashti, you go girl.

Ella, ella, ella

I'm such a geek because I love that "Umbrella" song. It's not the tune, or the beat, or the singing, it's the fact that it's a song with the word umbrella in it! Who came up with that? Imagine pitching that song in a meeting: "I want to write a song about umbrellas. It'll be a big hit!" I'm sure that writer was thrown out of the room many times.

There's a hymn I know with the word "bubble" in it. Bubble? In a church hymn? Now that's a song that I want to sing! Too bad we never sing all the verses of it, so we don't get to the bubble part. I'm going to have to kidnap the chorister so I can take over the song choices and sing it.

I know most songs are about love and loss, but give me a good song about umbrellas and bubbles and I'm in heaven.

The taxman cometh

I'll admit it. I love doing my taxes. Maybe it's the bureaucrat in me, but I love filling out all the paperwork and looking things up in tables and figuring stuff out. I used to do it all by hand, but now I use a tax software program and it's so much fun! In fact, last year I did my taxes so early that the IRS told me that I had to wait a few more days before filing because they weren't ready yet. One year the IRS wrote me a letter saying that my figuring was wrong and that my return was actually $10 less than I thought. I called them up and made them redo their math while I was on the phone. Yes, I was right. They very politely apologized and sent me a check for $10. How can you not love that?

Spring, Sprang, Sproing

Though I love the snow, I also love the spring. It cracks me up when it gets up to 40 degrees and everyone's outside throwing footballs around in their shorts because it's so "warm." I know it's spring when I see the little crocus plants poking up out of the ground. This year I'm taking a whole week off of work to do my spring cleaning. What a renewing time. I love the spring!

Snow, Snow, Snow

I love the snow. For the last few years, we haven't gotten much snow at all. This year it's been snowing like crazy. It's great! We've been sledding tons and Frances even went skiing with her school. I always say that if it's going to be cold, there better be some snow with it. We were even thinking about moving north because of the lack of snow. Hopefully we won't have to move if it continues like this every winter. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Rick, help me, Rick!"

Once I went over to a friend's house and I noticed a goldfish swimming happily in a bowl. "Oh, that's Rick," my friend said.

Rick? Rick? Who names their goldfish Rick? Obviously, her five-year-old sister did.

I love odd pet names like this. Sure, some pet names are clever (like Yksuh, which we soon figured out was Husky spelled backwards) or witty (we used to have a cat named Xerox because she was black and white and a copy of her father). But I mostly love the wildly common human names that are given to pets. Now that's original!

My friend's husband names everything Dennis. Even his bicycle is named Dennis.

Oh, did I mention that Alice-Grace's dinosaur stuffed animal is named Russell? I love that.

Monday, February 18, 2008

I'd like to buy a vowel...

I love Qatar. Not the country, but the word. It's my favorite word for playing Hang Man. A "Q" and no "U"? This word is awesome. I especially like to mix it up by giving the clue "It's a country." They usually get the two "A"s and think Japan. Nope. Sorry! Give up?

Pretty in Pink

I love the color pink.

Shocked? Yes, I'm so not a froo-froo girly girl, but I love pink. Pink clothes, pink make-up (when I do wear make-up), pink flowers, etc.

My name is Lois, and I love the color pink.

There, I said it.

Want to see it breathe fire?

I love origami. Currently my children think that I'm the coolest mom ever because in church I make them those little blow-up paper balloon things. They are mesmerized while I make my folds and then their eyes get bigger and bigger as I blow up the paper to make a hollow cube. Magic.

When I was younger, I used to make origami lizards. No swans for this girl. Now I can't remember how to do it for the life of me.

Whenever I see origami, I think of my friend, Tu. Being of Chinese descent, people would automatically think that he could do origami. He would sit down and carefully make a series of folds and then crumple the paper into a mess and say, "Look, a dragon!" He then would pull out a lighter and say, "Want to see it breathe fire?" and then precede to light the paper on fire.


Always Making Plans for Nigel

I love my Nigel.

He's my best friend. There's no one I'd rather talk to. He completely supports me in all that I do. He loves me and adores me. He's always surprising me with thoughtful acts and deeds. He remembers things like the anniversary of our first date.

Mostly, I love Nigel because he can sense when I need him to take over. It's like together we make one competent person. We would make an awesome wrestling tag-team.

Everyone knows that he's a wonderful artist, but he's also a very gifted writer. In fact, he edits most of my posts and comes up with a lot of the more witty titles. I should have him guest on my blog sometime.

Sure he has his share of annoying habits (speaks much too softly on the phone -- his inability to throw away egg shells -- no concept of time and refuses to wear a watch), but then he more than makes up for it by cooking me a delicious dinner, checking the oil in the car, or making me laugh with his latest conspiracy theory.

Oh Nigel, I love you.

Mermaid Myrna

I do love my sister, Myrna.

I mostly love her because she does her own thing. I come from a long line of volleyball players. Volleyball is our life. We all play.

But not Myrna. She swam.

Swim? We don't swim. We flounder, we gasp, we thrash around -- we don't swim.

Myrna didn't just swim, she was on the the swim team, she was a life guard, she taught swimming lessons for years and years and years, she's a swim teach coach.

Why does she swim? "Because everyone else played volleyball."

How can you not love that?

Asta la vista, baby

I love Myrna. Not my sister (though I do love my sister), but the actress, Myrna Loy. Here she is with William Powell in one of the "Thin Man" movies. If you're a fan of crossword puzzles, then you know the dog's name is Asta.

Besides her great roles in "The Thin Man," "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" and "The Best Years of Our Lives," I mostly love her because while attending Venice High School, the art teacher did a sculpture of her. The statue was in front of the high school for many years ("Grease" was filmed at Venice High and supposedly you can see her statue in the opening of the movie -- I'll have to watch closer next time).

The best part is that every year the senior class would blow off Myrna's head and bury it somewhere. It was a big deal if you knew where it was buried. Eventually, the statue was surrounded by a big gate and now it's not there anymore.

Now that's love.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Meow, Meow, Meow, Meow

I love kittens, but I'm not too sure they love me.

When I was growing up, it seemed like we always had kittens around. If our cat wasn't having them, then people were leaving them on our doorstep. It got to the point where you were afraid to open your closet for fear of what you would find (our cat had kittens in my sister, Myrna's, shoes and once in my clothes hamper -- on top of my brand new school clothes).

I'm blaming it on the fact that it was the 1970s and there were no Animal Planet shows to instruct me on correct animal care, but I was horrible to those poor kittens. If I wasn't dressing them up in doll clothes, I was lacing them up in my roller skates and scooting them across the linoleum.

In full disclosure, the worst was when I used to eat a tuna fish sandwich and then put a kitten's head in my mouth and let it lick the tuna off my teeth. Ooh! I'm grossing out just thinking about it. What was wrong with me?

Just know that I have since worked a stint in a veterinary hospital, my cats are neutered/spayed and get all their shots and check-ups, and let's not even talk about tuna...

El Jefe

I love my Jeffrey.

Oh, there are so many reasons why. First of all, he's my only boy. Second of all, he looks exactly like me. Seriously, EXACTLY like me. We're twins (so you know he's one good looking kid). Third, he inherited my horrible speech impediment, so I have to give him extra loves. Fourth, he's so creative and detailed in his drawings, it's great (he even had a coconut falling on the head of one of the shepherds in his nativity picture). Fifth, he is the Lego master.

But most of all, I love Jeffrey because of conversations like this:

LOIS: Kids, who do you want for president? Do you want the African-American man, the lady, the old man or the man who used to be a preacher?

JEFFREY (all excited): Oh! Oh! I want the guy who used to be a creature!!!

We all scream for...

...ice cream. Who doesn't love ice cream?

I love ice cream, but I don't like to have it in my house. I believe that ice cream should be something special. You should go OUT for ice cream. It should be an occasion.

The highlight of my year is free ice cream cone day at Ben & Jerry's (I tried to convince Nigel to get a job there once -- I figured he was a shoe-in because of his beard and his propensity to wear tie-dye, then every day would be free ice cream day for me).

My favorite ice cream flavor is Chocolate Malted Crunch from Thrifty's Drug Store. It was only 25 cents a scoop (and the scoops were square -- SQUARE!) when I was little and it was delicious chocolate ice cream with chocolate chips and little white malt balls. Yum, yum. I wonder if they still serve it. I wonder if there's still Thrifty's Drug Stores.

I have a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream at 31 Flavors for Alice-Grace's upcoming birthday. We'll have to make a night of it.

At least you've got your health...

I meant to blog every day in the month of February about something I loved -- 29 entries (hey, it's leap year!). As you can see, I am WAY behind.

That's why now I'm going to write about how much I love good health.

I've been down sick with this dreaded cold/flu/anthrax/whatever it is that's going around that lays you flat on your back and makes my workplace sound like a TB ward.

Now I'm finally feeling better and I am overjoyed. There's nothing like being able to breathe deeply and not shivering with the chills even though you're wearing all your clothes and a coat to bed at night.

I can't imagine those people who suffer with illness or injury for weeks, months and even years. I have a stuffy nose for three days and I'm begging Nigel to smother me with a pillow.

Maybe it's the kick in the pants (or nose) that I need to realize how good I have it.

"Milk Duds!"

I love Gremlins. Not the little creatures that turn evil if you feed them after midnight, but the cars. My friend's brother had a Gremlin (OK, it was actually a Pacer). Such a groovy 1970s space mobile. The huge window in the back, the curvy lines, awesome.

I love weird cars. You know, the kinds of cars that would make my sister, Rena, duck in embarrassment for fear one of her cheerleader teammates might spy her.

My mother, Dot, would purchase her cars based on how many bags of manure she could fit in the back (you know, for growing corn on the roof of our house), so she always had a huge station wagon. Her station wagon could seat 12 -- for dinner. It was gigantic!

My father, Ardale, would purchase a variety of cars, but they were always decked out with so many Ham radio antennas that it was sheer terror driving under a bridge or into a parking garage (remember the infamous Westside Pavillion experience, Rena?).

Since we never pay more than $1.00 for our cars, they tend to have fun personality quarks such as only being able to turn right or the fact that you can only enter though one door and exit through a different door. I keep trying to get Nigel to hand paint our car, but he hasn't done it yet.

I must admit that I always smile when I see an old beater car that's two-tone rust and held together with duct tape. Now that's some people I want to meet! Even more so if they're driving a Gremlin.


I love my friends. I still keep in touch with most of my friends from high school. Of course, they're so awesome that my mother, Dot, would write about THEM in her Christmas newsletters instead of writing about ME.

I think that's why I had such a hard time in college. I went from having this huge group of wonderful friends (loyal, accepting, hard working, friendly, fun, smart, and best of all they always made me want to be a better person) to no friends at all. I had roommates (TONS of roommates) that I would hang around with, but not anyone that was a close friend. In fact, I don't keep in touch with any of my college acquaintances.

I didn't realize how much I depended on my friends until they weren't there. My high school friends made my school schedules for me, made sure I signed up for AP classes, got me to study, encouraged me to participate in school clubs and sports, etc. I wouldn't have survived without them.

Maybe that's why I eventually failed out of college. I didn't have that support group pushing me.

After I got married, I got to know Nigel's college friends. He has wonderful friends. In fact, I'm still close friends with the wives of his college friends. One more reason why I love Nigel -- his friends.

I googled one of my high school friends I had lost touch with and we began e-mailing each other. She gave me the best compliment. She said that I was "easy to be around."

I love that.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Feelings For Frances

I love my Frances. She's my first born, so of course that makes her totally awesome in every way. Everything she does is genius, every new milestone is a first.

She's also my only brown-eyed child. In my family of all blue/green eyed people, she really stands out (though her eyes are so dark that we can't see her pupils -- an important point when she would fall off the bed as a baby and we had to check to make sure she was OK).

She's my straight arrow. She makes us toe the line and is quick to point out if we're not following the rules. She's my enforcer of grocery budgets and the one who makes sure we say a prayer before driving in the snow.

She loves to sing, play the piano, dance, and draw. She's also super good at arithmetic, though it pains me to see as she gets older that she's starting to think that "math is boring" or "girls don't like math." We have to sneak it in to keep her skills up (she's a whiz at doubling fractions for recipes -- she also loves to cook).

The best thing I love about Frances? Her compassion. There's a boy in her class who obviously has some problems and every day is a struggle for him. He has the same last name as my family, so I used to jokingly tell her to be really nice to him because I didn't want to bump into him at a family reunion and find out that he's a distant cousin and she was mean to him. A few weeks later I got a note from her teacher saying that Frances always goes out of her way to help this boy out with his schoolwork and protects him when the other kids pick on him for being different.

Oh Frances, the world would be much different if everyone was like you -- and I think you will do your part to make it a better place.

Ode to Otis

I love elevators. As a child, they were forbidden. My mother, Dot, is incredibly claustrophobic and the idea of willingly going into a small metal box with the doors slowly closing on her was just too much. So for us, it was the stairs or the escalator.

Now that I'm older, I go on elevators every chance I get. You get to push buttons, they light up, you get a free ride, what could be better than that?

I especially like getting in a crowded elevator and facing toward the other riders and not toward the doors. It really creeps them out and there's nothing they can do or nowhere they can go. It's great.

Once I made my old high school friends drive me to downtown LA so I could ride the glass elevators that run OUTSIDE the Bonaventure Hotel. Fabulous!

Every time I go to Las Vegas, I want to ride in the inclinators at the Luxor, but they only let you on if you have a room there. Darn!

Now that I'm a mother, I'm scared to death of escalators. Ever carry a very wiggly baby on an escalator? I'm so scared of dropping the kid over the side. Now my kids beg to go on the escalator and I always make them ride in the elevator. I guess I am turning into my mother (now if I can just figure out how to grow corn on the roof).

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Hi, I'm Snuggle...

OK, I admit it. I love walking by homes while the dryer vent is spewing out delicious aromas of Bounce, Downey, or whatever other dryer sheets there are out there (I'm too cheap to buy them, so I have to live vicariously through others' laundry experiences). Is there anything that smells better?


So I just got back from the cannery. Don't you love the cannery? What an awesome idea. Set up a factory where people volunteer their time canning goods in exchange for the privilege of buying some of those canned goods (keeps the cost down, you help others, and you get stuff for you food supply in return). Brilliant.

Dry-pack canning is always tons of fun. Today I bought some dried onions (LOVE the dried onions), rice, potato pearls (yum), powdered milk (always nasty, but Nigel wanted it), dried refried beans and juice mix (I love their juice mix because you don't have to add sugar separately -- yes, I'm THAT lazy).

Wet-pack canning is sometimes fun, sometimes horrible. In past canning experiences, the most fun is being in charge of the mechanical pear peeler. Factory machines just amaze me. The horrible part is being three months pregnant and up to my elbows in raw turkey. I had to concentrate really hard to not have a "C Jane" moment.

I remember GEO's grandma talking about how much she enjoyed touring Welfare Square. I keep promising myself that I'll go there and take a tour. Maybe one of these days, but until then, I'll keep working at the cannery.

"Rock Lobster" Rocks

I love the B-52s. The bouffants, the crazy clothes, the silly lyrics, the danceable beats, all of it. It started when I was a young girl hearing the fabulous guitar riff from "Rock Lobster" wafting from my brother, J.D.'s, bedroom.

In fact, I love all happy, fun music. Sure, occasionally I'm in the mood for some super depressing song like "Girlfriend in a Coma," but that doesn't last long. Just play some B-52s and I'm bopping around the house, happy as a clam.

Nothing can get you down as long as you have a B-52s song in your heart (that should be a Hallmark card, shouldn't it?).

She's a keeper...

...the keeper of the gates of Hell!

OK, this is sometimes how we describe Alice-Grace. But I must admit I love her spirit.

While Frances and Jeffrey are obedient and good, they live their lives practically strapped to my legs, cowering at the world around them. Alice-Grace, on the other hand, can be found crawling on a complete stranger's lap to get a ride on her electric wheelchair. Wheee!

My other kids would starve to death if I wasn't there to wait on them hand and foot. Alice-Grace is an expert at pouring glasses of milk, getting ice-cream out of the freezer, and making herself bowls of cereal. Of course, she's also an expert at spraying Cheez-Whiz all over her head.

Alice-Grace is not only willing, but enthusiastic about folding and putting away laundry, loading the dishwasher and scrubbing the tub. Then again, she's also the one who makes most of the messes in the house.

Most of all, I love Alice-Grace because she faces life head on, full of adventure and with complete confidence that everyone she meets will love and adore her.

And of course, they do.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Holy Guacamole!

I LOVE avocados.

Growing up, I would just go to my friend's house and pick them off her tree. Rena and I would cut them in half, take out the pit, sprinkle some salt on them and just spoon out the creamy flesh. Mmm.

Now I'm horrified by the cost of them in the grocery store. What? I have to BUY avocados? And they're either rock hard or so mushy you can almost drink them.

When I go to a restaurant, I base my order on what entree has avocado in it. "Dog brains with gasoline sauce? That sounds horri--oh, there's avocado in it? I'll take that."

My doctor is always amazed by how high my HDL levels are (that's the GOOD cholesterol). I'm telling you, it's that all avocado diet.

That tree in Lehi's dream? I'm pretty sure those were albino avocados.