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I wish I could tell you what he said to her.  It would be a better story if I could. You’ll have to forgive me this one.  It happened 14 years ago, which is unbelievable but true, and while that summer 14 years ago was memorable for many reasons, his particular words were not one of them.  But it will suffice for the purposes of the scene if I tell you that he was an unfairly dissatisfied customer and he was taking it out on my coworker rather rudely.

She, of course, being an experienced professional, handled the situation as best as it could be handled.  He left, not happy, but no longer yelling.  She took a deep breath and slid her hand under the counter where she kept something for these very occasions.  She pulled out a Cujo mask, glued onto a popsicle stick for easy handling, and held it up in front of her face.  She leaned over the counter towards me and yelled out at the top of her lungs: “AUGUST PEOPLLLLEEEE!”


This weekend is Labor Day weekend.  Traditionally, it marks the beginning of the end of tourist season.    And not a moment too soon, really.

Living in an area that’s heavily touristed gives you a perspective on human nature that’s pretty much unbeatable.  People on vacation are weird.  They are tense, yell-y, and unfathomably sick of each other.  They are frustrated because they don’t know where anything is, they are annoyed that they have to spend so much money, and, despite living in an age when every town is completely Googleable, they didn’t bother to look up the sights and now they have no idea what to do with themselves.  It’s true of everyone who visits our state, but the tourists of August are especially evil.

I don’t know why August People are the way they are.  It’s just true.  Anyone who has spent a summer working in this area knows its true.  Theories include:

They are on a vacation they cannot afford.

It is the height of the season, so everything is crowded and expensive.

Their children have now been out of school for two months and that family time that seemed so welcome in June is now…not.

Some combination of all of the above.

All I know is that August people can really suck the joy out of a day.

I’ve paid my dues with August People.  I’ve scooped ice cream; I’ve folded t-shirts; I’ve sold tickets.  I’ve given directions; I’ve explained the weather; I’ve made restaurant suggestions.  I’ve been yelled at; I’ve been hung up on; I’ve given math lessons to people who don’t believe I really did give them the 10% off that they were due.  I’ve been cursed at in French, had conversations via handwritten notes with the deaf, and attempted to demonstrate “seasickness patch” via pantomime.  Even now, when nothing that I do for a living is at all related to the tourist industry, I still spend a lot of time directing the lost, consulting on the best way to manage the take out line, and explaining for the 753rd time exactly what it is that lobster buoys are.  Hint: they are not merely decorative.

[Oh, stop it. You do too know.]

[FINE. They mark the location of a string of traps so the lobstermen know where they dropped their gear and each lobsterman has his/her own unique colors that are registered with the  state and I am NOT SAYING IT AGAIN.]


August is a long month, is the point.  We were having a little family walk through town one afternoon and we ran into a friend who was outside taking a breather before opening up his restaurant for the night.  “How’s August?” I asked, probably a little too jovially.  “August is terrible,” he replied, shaking his head.  “There is nothing good about August.”

So now it’s September, Labor Day weekend, and soon the August People will have taken their cranky, lost, perennially dissatisfied selves back home, where I can only hope their lighter, happier sides take over.  The fall is still busy with cruise ships and the more sedate crowd known fondly as the Newly Weds and Nearly Deads, who will keep coming in reduced waves through the end of foliage season.  There will still be days when the crowds make me twitchy and impatient and, of course, we haven’t even hit full-on RV season and its accompanying road rage.  But for now, I invite you to take a moment and wave with me as we say good-bye to that crowd that can bring out the Cujo in the best of us: the August People.

Here’s my to-do list from today, Sunday, the day of rest:

* finish take-home work [from the day job]
* clean kitchen
* clean bathroom
* grocery store
* transplant pumpkins and plant seeds
* budget
* finish article [from the not-day-job]
* make pizza dough
* organize paperwork
* write blog post

See where you are on that list, internet? Alllllll the way down at the bottom.  Sorry about that.  That’s kind of where the blog ends up these days, alllllll the way at the bottom of the list.  But Bubba’s been harassing me again, so I vowed that I wouldn’t let another weekend pass without writing something, anything, even if I had to skip both the budget and organizing paperwork to make the time.

I really don’t know how I will pull through the week without those two items, by the way.  If I wind up broke and on the evening news after being crushed by a stack of children’s drawings and old paystubs, I know exactly who I’m blaming.

Right, so anyway, here’s a quick, badly photographed of tour what we’ve been up to:

We spent a frightening amount of money on an enormous pile of dirt, which was unceremoniously dumped in our driveway.

Three year old included for size comparison.  Also because we couldn’t get her off the dirt pile.

We ostensibly are using the dirt to put in a garden.  Not in the driveway.  The garden is going further up the hill.  Because doesn’t hauling approximately 50 wheelbarrow loads of dirt up a hill so you can invest even more time and effort and money to grow food that sane people just get at the grocery store sound like a good time?  Yes, it does to us, too.

We also spent a day “helping” with a harbor clean-up.  It was “helping” instead of helping because we brought the kids, who spent all their time alternating stealing all the snacks and melting down.  Annabel also became quite enamored with the sea creatures who came up with the trash and were carefully collected to go back into the deep.  Here she is with her favorite, the tiny starfish.

See the purloined granola bar in her other hand?  That was her fourth or possibly fifth one.  I lost track after a while.

If you’d like to read the story about the people who actually helped instead of “helped”, click here.

Mother’s Day happened somewhere in there.  To celebrate, I forced everyone to go on a picnic at the beach because all I wanted was a chance to get a lovely portrait of my two children and freeze this portion of their childhoods forever in my mind.

That’s just about right.

To punish them, we had them forcibly removed from the home.

Admit it, you wish you’d thought of it first.

And finally, here’s what happens when:

1) You write a post about how much you miss the cherry blossoms in DC;

2) Bubba is your father-in-law.

That stick on the left there?  It’s a Japanese flowering cherry tree.  Because Bubba’s the kind of guy who, when you happen to mention offhandedly that you like something, will go out a buy you a tree.

(The stick on the right is a red maple.  It came free with the order.)

So that’s what’s going on here, in-between exciting bouts of bathroom cleaning and work overload.

Aren’t you sorry you’ve missed it?

Now, if you don’t mind, I’m afraid I’m going to have to go plant a tree in a giant dirt pile.  And then possibly go do the budget.  But probably not.

We are all still sick here.  All of us.  We are buried in used tissues, have gone through two boxes of Throat Coat tea, and occasionally engage in periodic family bonding moments where all four of cough breathlessly at the same time.

Who wants to come over?

Are you sure?


Because if you came over, you could see this:

Crocuses in bloom.

Now, this may be less than exciting to you because in your yard, like in every yard around us as far as I can tell, the crocuses have gone by. You are probably engaged in ooh-ing and aah-ing over daffodils by now. But me? I have this:

And that is all right.

Next gardening baby step: container herb garden, which I managed to seed in-between rounds of sickness-related moaning.

Wish me luck.  And health.  But mostly luck.

Okay, I waited until a little late in the day to take the picture and so the sun was pretty low and the shadows a bit sharp but… do you see?  Do you see?

We may be getting somewhere.

I do kind of think this makes me tougher than you.

And, yes, I could have gone outside to take the picture so the screen wouldn’t be in the way, but…would you?

Well, I don’t know how the rest of the month will go, but at least December started with a pretty sunrise.

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, November.

This sign has been at the end of our road all week.

A chipper!

And chainsaws!  Plural chainsaws!

Come on.  Who’s in?

You know you want to come over and help.

It’s gonna be BIG, BIG FUN, everybody!