remembering Lois
lois hill
1919--1996
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Lois is dead. I got a call from Adrienne.  I was
expecting the call but it was still a blow.  It was
a big blow. Lois was special to me.

Lois owned a motel in Desert Hot Springs called
Miracle Manor. Ill get to the name. It was a
modest operation--7 rooms grouped around a
garden that overlooked a terrace area and here
was the pool, Jacuzzi, BBQ pit, etc—-and beyond
this the view—across the valley to Palm springs
with Mt. San Jacinto towering up behind. There
was an apt for Lois and a room for the
housekeeper. The apt featured a beat collection
of furniture and fixtures circa 1950--the coffee
house look--and there were some Lois paintings
banged out during her Franz Kline period and a  
vast collection of souvenirs and memorabilia
gathered during her travels. She was a great
traveler.

The clientele was a mix. Anyone could pop up at
any time. There were the rich and the poor and
the old and the young and the sick and the
healthy and the good and the bad and the ugly.

There were young kids who didn’t have a dime
she put up in return for some gardening or home
repair. There was the occasional rock
or movie star. I met Bette Midler there.

There was a feeling to the Manor. Your
perception of time was altered. The past and
future dissolved into the present  and you were
left with the moment at hand—-handed over to
Lois.

That’s why it was called Miracle Manor. Lois was
a guru type. She had a speed dial to a being
called Omra who had revealed himself (I think it
was a him) to her on a trip to South  America.
She rang Omra up and they consulted on the
best way to straighten you--or your colon--out.

I was from Buffalo--not a place where mysticism
flourished. In Buffalo the emphasis was more on
Italian shoes and football pools. But out we
came to hit the pool and baste in the sun and
dunk in the hot tub—preceded by a vicious
enema followed by a vicious massage--or one of
Lois's patented turbo-charged facials—while she
carried on a lively rap with Omra in their private
chicken talk lingo.  

There was something about this place that made
Los Angeles—the meat grinder--seem  a million
miles away.

I knew her 20 years.  My marriage  was in the
toilet, a divorce was pending and I was in dire
need  of therapy--not from a psychiatrist. A
friend told me about the Manor. I called up and
Lois answered and she said: you’ll be in room 2.
The door will be open. Do you need a bathrobe?

Why not?

I jumped in the car and hit the San Berdoo East
and in 2 hours I was in the room. There was the
robe on the bed and I threw on my Speedos and
jumped into the hot tub where I introduced
myself to a blonde who worked as the personal
chef to a movie star.  I sat soaking talking to the
blonde and drinking in the view and I said to
myself: this is the place. I was right.

That night there was a cookout. There was a
cookout every night. It was veggie one night and
non-veggie the next. On my night it was non
veggie. Lois was a guru type and she threw down
her share of vitamins and liver pills and
acidophilus pills and yeast tablets and so forth
and she shopped strictly organic, but none of it
excluded a good steak or vodka martini. Later I
got myself in solid by flying out sausage from
Scimes  on Elmwood Ave in Buffalo.

We ate and I was invited to view a psychic
surgery video

Why not?

Some guy from the Philippines who was a
journalist and had written a book on this subject
turned up at the Manor and  fed Lo the rap and
gave her his book. Lois and psychic surgery
were like peanut butter and jelly. She read the
journalists book and took off for the Philippines.
She  met a bunch of these people including the
top guy and invited him to stick his hand in her
stomach and remove some diseased material
that had been bothering her. She returned
feeling much better with this video.

This thing was an eye opener. Here is this
woman lying on a table. She is fully clothed with
her sweater pulled up over her stomach. Here
is the psychic surgeon. He has a burning look
and amazing hands. His hands were like
sculpture.  They were long and muscular with
this chiseled tapering effect at the fingertips
featuring a blinding manicure. He presses with
his fingers into the womans stomach. He does
this in a tentative way at first and then a little
more insistently. He continues to press his
fingers into the womans stomach until they
actually slice through and enter.

His hand is inside the woman’s stomach.

Now there is blood. It is all over the place. He
probes around inside the woman’s stomach for a
little bit. There is no anesthetic. If a guy can
stick his hand into your stomach why would you
need an anesthetic? The woman is lying there  in
a state of perfect relaxation with her eyes open
and an expression like she is trying to put
together a winning combo for her next lotto
ticket.

The surgeon  removes some  stringy black gunk
from the woman’s stomach. He sticks his hand
back into her stomach and removes more
stringy black gunk. He removes three or four
pieces of stringy black gunk. End of operation.
His assistant with a sponge wipes the blood from
the woman’s stomach.

Is there a scar or wound or gaping hole of any
sort left by the entrance into her stomach of the
surgeons hand? No. There is nothing. I sat there
with my eyeballs wobbling in their sockets.

He also did brain tumors.

The next day I am back in the hot tub talking to
a woman--an acupuncturist. She had 15 needles
sticking out of her head.

The subject was psychic surgery. I said I failed to
understand not only how this could be done but
the fact no scar or wound occurred as a result.

She said: “Do you know anything about quantum
mechanics”?

I said yes. I was interested in science and had
read several popular accounts of this subject.

She said: “All matter is composed of atoms. The
atom is the basic building block. What is the  
structure of the atom? It is  composed of a
nucleus of protons and neutrons and other
particles. Whirling about in orbit outside this
nucleus and at a vast distance from it are the
electrons. It is the distance between the nucleus
and the electrons whirling in orbit about it that is
the  key to the theory of quantum mechanics. It
means that matter--even elements of the most
concentrated type and heaviest mass at the high
end of the periodic table--is composed largely of
empty space. If you can visualize this situation
correctly and precisely analyze the pattern of
molecular distribution you can enter this space.
Do you see what I amgetting at”?

I said: “Yes. On the other hand,” I said, “I have  
never heard of a Filipino  winning the Nobel prize
for NuclearPhysics”.

I did a painting--after she died. Lois was in the
foreground. She wore shades and a big hat. she  
held the dog--Andre. There was the pool and in
the pool floating topless on an inflatable was
Vera--the model from Yugoslavia. At poolside in
a coma spilling over the sides of a chaise was
Jane--a 300 lb lesbian—and next to Jane was
Henry, a building contractor, doing a handstand
in his jockstrap. There was the table we
gathered to eat and next to it the grill, and on
the grill sizzling away a small mountain of
sausage from Scimes.  That was Miracle Manor.

How old was Lois? That was another mystery.
She was very cagey about her age. She was one
of those people who seem years younger
because of the vitality of their spirit. We found
out when she died. She was 76. She had the
kind of resume  you tend to acquire via sheer
longevity. She was a writer, a painter, a singer,
an entrepreneur. She was Canadian and lived for
a few years in Paris and Morocco where she
operated a nightclub with herself as featured
vocalist. She married once, to a businessman
who owned a car dealership in Los Angeles. She
wound up in ahouse in Malibu and it was here
her true calling was revealed: hostess.  

The husband had a drinking problem and the
marriage failed. There were no children. She  
moved to Desert Hot Springs and bought the
motel.

I got a call from Joe--a regular.

He said: “Lois is sick. She has cancer”.

It was the week before Thanksgiving. There was
always a big party for Thanksgiving. I went out
to pay a call.

She looked bad. She had lost weight and her
morale was down. She was trying but it wasn’t
there.  That was her great quality: her spirit.

There was a basket of cards and letters spilling
over and scattered here and there.

She said: “I’m getting some wonderful letters”.

I said: “You put out a lot of love Lois. Now you’re
getting it back. Thats how it works”.

It took a while--3 months. I went out a few
times and each time it was worse than the last—
for everyone. At some point she was confined to
her room. At least she was home.

I got a call from Adrienne and went out for the
last time.

They had her fixed up with a device strapped to
her hip and a self-operating implant  to squirt
morphine when the pain became too bad. The
intervals between hits were becoming shorter.

Adrienne said: “Lois, Jack is here”.

I sat next to the bed. She was wasted. She was
gone. She was skin and bones. She had no color.
Her saliva glands had dried up and her lips were
split and bleeding. She had jaundice and her
eyes were yellow. It was frightening.

I took her hand. I started to cry.

I said: “There is another Miracle Manor, Lois.
And in this other Miracle Manor we will all be
together”.

She died and the Manor  was sold--to an
architect and his wife. The architect was a 90’s
type--the post-modern type. There followed a
massive rehab that obliterated every trace of  
the beat 5o’s coffeehouse cool look. The place
was re-designed to within an inch of its life--right
down to the covers on the fuse box. It was a
good job--in the best possible taste. That was the
problem. The prices for the rooms quadrupled
and there was an attitude to go with. It wasn’t a
Lois attitude.

There was a service--well attended by family
and the regulars. Adrienne made a speech.
Adrienne was the protégé. She was devoted to
Lois. It was a good speech. She said the right
things.

I said a few words.

I said: “Lois had a gift. She had many gifts. But
her greatest gift was her gift for friendship. She
lived her life and invited us to come along for the
ride. In this respect she was an artist. Her
canvas was Miracle Manor--and on it she created
a masterpiece.”
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