Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wild Kingdom

I'm not having a good week.

It started out all right. We went to the L.A. Festival
of Books at UCLA on Saturday. It was nice and cool--the
haze burned off quite early (toasting Mr. Thrilling to a
sexy crisp by the end of the very long day), and even the
madding crowd didn't irk me too much (although I have to
admit that if I wasn't there signing, wild horses wouldn't
drag me to the campus during the book festival. The mobs of
people and cramped booths do not make for the optimum buying

I signed at Book 'Em
and Crime Time, and it went fairly well
at both places, but Linda at Crime Time had
some mildly disturbing news: she was
VERSE OF THE VAMPYRE from Ingram. Both books
were listed as backordered and unavailable.


Of course there might be a mistake somewhere....

But not the kind of news that soothes a skittish author's soul.

After I'd finished my signings I thought I would lend
a hand at the MWA (Mystery Writers of America) booth.
Alexandra Sokoloff (THE HARROWING--great title isn't it?)
was manning the booth with me, and she had just slipped
off for a few minutes of well-deserved respite when
someone plumped down in the seat next to me.

"I'm going to sit down," announced a woman.

"Oh. Okay," says I. I thought perhaps she was feeling
faint. It was getting pretty hot by then. But she
proceeded to tell me about her cousin, a mystery writer
who she had met for the first time that morning and who
she planned to rendezvous with in The Mystery Bookstore booth.
After a minute or two I realized that she was not...quite

Alexandra came back and the lady pointedly ignored her while
continuing to occupy Alexandra's seat, staring fixedly at me
and then staring off into space. Alexandra and I sort of talked
around her--and then the lady tuned back in, looked at me
and announced, "It's time for you to go."

"It is?" I said.

"Yes. You need to go now. My cousin is coming."

Okaaaay. She didn't appear to be armed. (Yes, I did
double-check.) So I laughed. "Okay, Well, I'll just wait
till your cousin gets here."

This was not the right answer. She started muttering
to herself and I don't think any of it was flattering
to me. But about then one of the very nice people manning
The Mystery Bookstore booth came along and gently detached
her from the MWA table and moved her outside.

Alexandra and I compared notes on dealing with that
unpredictable animal, John Q. Public.

After the book fest, I persuaded Mr. Thrilling
to stop at Jack in the Box. This took some doing. Mr.
Thrilling is always in favor of cooking real food. This
usually works well because I am all in favor of eating
real food--especially if I don't have to cook it. But
sometimes I don't want real food. I want the food that
Jack built. However, I worked my wiles and got my
got my favorite chicken club salad, and then we headed
home and watched THE LATE SHOW with Art Carney and Lillian
Tomlin, which is now out on DVD.

This is a movie I hadn't seen in years, and I was pleasantly
surprised. It's a tidy little update on the screwball
mysteries of the 30s and 40s. In fact, as the Carney P.I.
character even says to the ditzy Tomlin dame,
"This town never changes. They just move the names around."

Both Carney (as an aging P.I. struggling to keep
his head above water--and retain a little dignity
while he dogpaddles into the sunset) and Tomlin
as a nutty clothes designer and talent agent and cat
owner) do a very good job--the success of the movie
depends entirely on these characters and our instant
affection for them. The plot is brisk
and reasonably tight--overall quite entertaining and
well worth a second look, if you haven't seen it
in a few years.

Mr. Thrilling and I don't have many ops for lolling about
on the sofa eating fast food and watching flickers (and even
occasionally dozing) -- in fact, these days it's rare that we're
even in the house at the same time -- so that was much
needed quality time together. Sunday I worked in the garden
mostly planting seeds and pulling weeds. I noticed
that there seemed to be a lot of bees in the wisteria.

I'm very proud of that wisteria. It took me five years
to coax it to flower--every time I look out the window
at those luscious purple flowers draping through
the whatchamacallit slats I feel like I've successfully
worked a magical spell. The garden is really
lovely right now. The roses are blooming as well
as the lilacs--gorgeous! And I planted them all!
I did it! Me!

But as you would expect with magic, there
are unexpected side effects. On Monday Mr. Thrilling
calls me at work with the news that there is a swarm
of bees apparently taking up residence in the drainpipe
beneath the library (right over the front door, in other

This is not jolly news for any homeowner--and for
someone who freaks out over bees as much as I do
(we must all have our little phobias--and bees and
heights are mine) it is really BAD news.

Mr. Thrilling waged war all day with cans of hornet
killer spray while I--Cassandra-like--waxed doom and
gloom over the phone and advised hiring professional
killers FAST. This is my solution for every problem,
but this time my reasoning was sound. But Mr. Thrilling
was convinced that he could win the good fight and by
the time he left for work he assured me the tide had
turned. So I toddle home and by the time I drive
up about seven o'clock, I can see that our winged
enemies are still buzzing around with the total confidence
of WWI aces--and renewed numbers.
I slipped in through the garage and peeked out the front door.
UPS had left a box--my long-awaited Malice book box!--and


Words cannot convey the hideousness of this moment.
Not that I didn't give Mr. Thrilling an earful
of them when he got home. I mean, think of
it: a furry quivery mound of bees all over my
precious treasure chest of books!!


So at last Mr. Thrilling arrived home with the reinforcements
(more cans of hornet poison spray) and by then I
was acting out the last half of the latest horror movie--except
that I eschewed the usual skimpy wardrobe. My view
was that we should abandon the house for the night and
think about putting it on the market the following day.
I was, safe to say, a wee bit stressed.

But Mr. Thrilling insisted that it was now cold
enough to really do some damage to his foe, so
out he went with his trusty spray cans. First he
liberated the book box (the man does share my priorities)
and then he emptied two cans of poison into the drainpipe.

And that's when the fun really started. You could
hear the angry buzzing through the walls--I mean we are
talking thousands of furious bees who had our name and
number and were dialing collect.

Again I pushed for abandoning the house and fleeing
to my parents or my sister's. Mr. Thrilling comes from
pioneer stock, and he was confident that the poison
would soon take effect.

So we waited while the bees buzzed like
all the electrical wiring in the place was
about to blow.

And then two bees appeared in the upstairs hall.

I again suggested abandoning the fort. Mr. Thrilling
suggested turning off the lights, which he said were
attracting the enemy, and retreating to the
downstairs to go through the rescued book box.
Apparently he thought distracting me would be
advisable--or even possible.

So we doused the lights and went downstairs
and, yes, I did calm a little gloating over
my Malice purchases (to be detailed in a later
post). We were about halfway through the book
box when a bee landed on my nose.

You heard me. A BEE LANDED ON MY NOSE.

Mr. Thrilling says there is no doubt about my
Irish heritage given the Banshee-like shriek that
echoed off the vault ceiling. He also made cracks
about my impromptu modern dance routine. Yes, he
was a barrel of laughs as he set about killing
the THIRD bee to infiltrate our sanctuary in less than
an hour. He just couldn't get over the improbability of
mine being the nose the bee would choose to land
on--it would never work in a book or a movie, he
assured me, because it would be too cheesey, too clumsy.

Of course if we had been filming a horror movie,
he hastened to add after I gave him The Look,
as soon as he laughed at me he would be eaten
by a giant bee.

"That's right," I said curtly. "You would be killed."

"I don't mean to laugh at you," he assured me,
trying to keep a straight face. "Really."


Anyway, that was it. I told him I was spending the
night in a hotel. It was nearly ten o'clock by then,
and I desperately needed sleep. Mr. Thrilling assured
me that spending nights in hotels with me was high
on his list of favorite things to do, and we grabbed
our night things and headed out for the local Marriot.
No Sleep System, but no bees either.

The next morning the bees were down to a few hundred or so.
Mr. Thrilling dosed them liberally with
poison--and soapy water--and by the time I got
home from work everything looked pretty normal
other than the carpet of dead bees over the lawn
and walkway.

So--feeling a little calmer--I braved the bedroom balcony
to water the plants. And I startled--the feeling was mutual
--the doves that hang out there lately. I noticed one
of the doves seemed pretty darned upset. She flew to the
chimney and kept cooing at me, and I glanced down at
the basket I was watering and realized I had just
watered a tiny, pale pink egg.

Needless to say I was as upset as Mrs. Dove at
this gaffe. I love those doves and now I've
probably destroyed their little baby dove. But
having watered it, there wasn't much I could do.
I went back inside and got a cup of birdseed for
Mrs. Dove in case she decided to come back.
I kept peeking out, but she didn't return to
the nest as far as I could tell.

But then when I woke up this morning both doves
were back on the balcony (in the wrong basket).
Mr. Thrilling went out and watered this afternoon
and said Mrs. Dove was back in the right basket
and she didn't move when he watered everything
on the balcony (which is lucky for him because I told
him NOT to go out there while she was there--whereupon
he asked to see my ID).

And she's out there right now--the wind blowing
like a hurricane and no shelter for that basket
at all if it rains--which it looks ready to do.
I'm afraid Mrs. Dove might be wasting her time....


Tori Lennox said...

Wow! You've had an exciting few days! Frankly, I wouldn't have been too thrilled if my house had been invaded by bees either.

heidi vornbrock roosa said...

I have doves too. They showed up last spring and I can't tell you how happy it made me to see them strutting around my deck railings again this spring.
When I was growing up, we had what my mother called a "purple plum" tree in our front yard and the same pair of doves (or maybe, eventually, their offspring) nested in it every year.
Yesterday, as I pulled heinous pillows (yes, I said pillows) of mounding weeds from beds I was too lazy to mulch last fall, I turned to the weed-riddled lawn and seriously thought about applying something quick and chemically-deadly to make my life easier. And then, the doves started to coo. I'm not about to mess with mother nature if it means they'll find a new home. So, after I finish my prescribed ten pages of writing today, I will be out there again, praying that two inches of wood chip will make my life almost as easy as chemical death for the rest of the season. I'm with you, Diane: anything to keep the doves happy.

Aldo said...


Very nice to meet you in person and have that wonderfully breif introduction from 'Mr. Thrilling'.

I wished I had taken a picture of the two of you on the steps for my blog...well, next time.

Jackie said...

Bees. Gah. Don't even get me started about bees.

You are much, much braver than I...

girldetective said...

Hi Aldo,

Very nice to meet you--and your son--also!

Heidi, there are now TWO dove eggs in the basket.

Jackie, Mr. Thrilling was the brave one--although maybe I deserve credit for being brave enough to share living quarters with him!

Coneycat said...

I love bees when they're doing their velvety, buzzy thing in the flowers at a safe distance.

Bees en masse, especially flying around my house, make me think of some of Michael Caine's less-stellar work, and all my goodwill goes sideways.

My parents have mourning doves that come and hang out in their yard. We love them, too!