Life columnist

Linda Braden Albert worked as a feature writer and editor at The Daily Times. She is now the editor of Horizon Magazine and a columnist.

The changing of the seasons used to mean a difference in temperature and which growing things I found out in nature. It still does, but an even more accurate account of the season has become which pests I end up fighting.

Right now, boxelder bugs and Asian lady beetles have taken up residence in my house. They are driving me insane. That’s not a very long trip anymore, and if I manage to survive without curling up in a fetal position and blubbering, it’s only because I’m afraid the blasted things will crawl on me.

It is quite disconcerting to be dive-bombed by a beetle while you’re sitting at the computer or in your recliner, minding your own business, and have that sudden realization that something is crawling in your hair. I’ve found them in my coffee cup — thank God, before I took a sip — in clean dishes, in dirty dishes, in the toilet, and crawling on the doors both inside and out. The ones outside want in, and the ones inside want out. Maybe they are of the cat-bug genus since this is what all the cats I’ve ever had loved to do. Of course, there’s no such thing as a cat-bug but there should be.

I try to coexist with all living things. It hurts my heart to step on a bug or otherwise send it to that Great Bug Paradise in the Sky, but this is getting old. The last straw was when I went out my back door on one of the warm days when the sun was shining and I got a glimpse of some jonquils blooming in the flower bed next to the house. Camera in hand, I opened the door and was immediately baptized with what felt like a million of those dadburn boxelder bugs that had decided to hang out at the top of the door in the warm sunshine. You know how you do the kung fu fighting dance when you unwittingly walk through a spider web? Oh, yes. If someone had been recording me, we’d be millionaires today. There’d have to be no sound with it, though, and if neighbors were in earshot, I do heartily apologize.

That night, I had the weirdest dream. I was sitting at the computer with the back door open to let the sunshine in, when someone walked around the corner of the house and stood outside the door looking in at me.

It was a child, not threatening in any way, just standing there. I was incensed at having the sanctity of my solitude broken by an intruder, and I was determined to frighten it away. Like an enraged gorilla, I started growling and roaring at the invader, beating my chest, baring my teeth, madder than I have ever been in my life. I actually woke myself up growling and making those animal sounds.

One of my friends makes a homemade pest control spray and I was lucky enough to find some on hand that she had given me last summer. I’ve been spraying the heck out of the bugs ever since. They’re still here, but not like they were.

On the other hand, I have another invader to address now. Once again, I was sitting in the den, working on the computer, minding my own business, when I caught movement out of the corner of my eye. When I looked, nothing was there. In a few minutes, more movement but I still didn’t catch what it was. Third time was the charm — it was a mouse. I screamed bloody murder and probably scared him as much as he did me. I think he started playing a game then to see how much louder I could scream after that, because he went back and forth from the bookshelves on one wall to behind some plastic containers heaped with “stuff” on the opposite wall, like a pinball ricocheting from side to side. Once I got over screaming, I started getting mad. Every time he’d make a run across, I’d give him a dose of his pedigree at the top of my lungs. Again, if there were any neighbors in earshot, I do heartily apologize.

I’m all about coexisting, but Roderick the Mouse better watch out. He’s going to be evicted, one way or the other. And his whole family who’s behind the scenes will be, too.

Now, where’s a good cat-bug when you need it?

Contact Linda Braden Albert with story ideas at

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