Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The mother of all backhoes...

Approximately six weeks ago Dutch was up late, in bed, working on his laptop. When I look up from my book and sleepily peer over to see what he is doing, he closes the screen quickly, but not before I am able to read this snippet from an ebay advertisement:

At 18 feet this mother of all backhoe loaders will get any job done…”

“Dutch," I say, suddenly wide awake, "Are you looking at buying a backhoe?”

“I might be.”

“What for?”

He is quiet for 45 long seconds. Then: “Wouldn’t it be cool if instead of entering our driveway in its current location we could enter it ten or fifteen feet due north?”

Now I am the one who is quiet. Finally I say, “That would make absolutely no difference."

Silence. (Since marrying into a Dutch family I have discovered that silences are most often pregnant with meaning and may be interpreted in a myriad of ways, depending on the context. In Dutch's case, silence usually means either: 1) the answer to my question is yes and/or 2)he has already made up his mind and there will be no further discussion.)

"Dutch," I say, "You just want an excuse to dig up the yard, don’t you?”


"But what about Audrey? You know she's going to want to be out there with you?"

"That's the whole point. It will be good bonding for us..."

"Good bonding? Reading a book is good bonding. Or trimming the trees. Driving around in a backhoe is dangerous! What if she were to fall under the wheel?"

"You're so dramatic."

"Dramatic is one word. Seasoned is another."


Subject closed.

Several nights later I awake in the middle of the night to find Dutch sitting up in bed again, his laptop open. He is chewing his bottom lip the way he always does when he is concentrating… when he sees me he quickly closes his computer…

“Babe,” I say, “What are you looking at?”


“Show me.”

He sheepishly flips open his laptop and I am shocked to discover that he has been looking at… pictureson the internet... from a website called: Italian Villas dot com.

“Are you looking at property in Italy?”

“No,” he says. “I want to build a house.”

“A house? Where?

“In our back lot.”

“But I like the house in our front lot. We haven’t even lived here a year.”

“I know. But I want to build a house. I want to tinker.”

“If you want to tinker why don’t you build a tree-house?”


Fast forward several weeks. We are lying in bed... it is late… and when I say late I mean it is 9:30.

We don’t normally go to bed this early but tonight we are extra tired because Dutch has been in Los Angeles doing business… and I have been home helping Audrey do her business.

If you know what I mean.

I say, “Dutch, you don’t really want to build an Italian villa on our back lot, do you?”


I stare at the ceiling and imagine what it will be like to live ten feet from a construction zone. (We renovated our last house while we were living in it and swore afterward we would never do it again.) The sounds of a grinding machine, a nail gun, a chop saw, and a back hoe beep-beep-beeping in reverse all coarse through my brain like pebbles through a vacuum cleaner.

“Dutch,"I say, suddenly frantic. "Think about it. That would be so stupid.

Silence. Then, “You’re mean.”

It’s then I realize how attached he is to the idea. I am suddenly remorseful.

“Oh,” I say, reaching for him beneath the covers, “come over here…”


“But Dutch. Just tell me why you want to do it so I can understand?”

“I have four letters for you. In no particular order: E-R-E-F. You figure it out.”

“Hmmmmm,” I say. “REEF? FEER?”

“No. Keep guessing.”





“There are only 16 possible combinations. Are you really going to go through them all?”

“I’m tired, okay? I give. What is it?”


"And you call yourself a literary genius.”

Then several nights ago Dutch and I were sitting around a dinner table at a nearby restaurant… It was a business dinner and there were four other couples present. One of the wives, a good friend of mine, leaned over the table and said to me, “Sooo…I heard about Dutch’s latest purchase…”

My eyes widened to the size of saucers. “Dutch!” I said, loud enough for everyone at the table to hear. “You didn’t!?”

Silence. A wry smile.

“The mother of all backhoes???”

“…is ours.”

*And on its way here from Illinois this very moment on a flatbed truck.*


Daniele said...

Oh. My. Word. You are a better woman than I, my friend. (And you look beautiful in those "splendor" photos, too!)

The Who said...

No Way. I have the most "hilarious" grin on my face. This is totally awesome. And to think, right in your very own back yard! What you need now is to borrow my little boys so they can flip out at the fact that Scoop lives in their very own garden. It is all monsters and aliens with these folk.
You are an absolute vision, by the way. Classic and gorgeous. Stunning. You take my breath away.
And Evie too!! love, T

the davila family said...

Ha!!! I LOVE it! If you had boys, instead of girls, this would be the best idea your husband has ever had. I can't help but laugh at how cleverly God creates situations to refine us. You bring such honor to your family and your Lord with your submission and support as a wife. I hope to see your beautiful backyard villa one day. Or at least a new driveway! love....

Lindsay said...

OH MY GOSH!! You HAVE to have Brody over when we visit...he will PEE himself!!(right after telling you that that is a backhoe-loader and not just a backhoe) Extra lucky for you!! :)

HM Baker said...

Ah, Lindsay, you give me an excellent idea. I have always wanted to serve humanity... perhaps this is my chance! I can offer free backhoe-LOADER (thank you, Brody) rides o all the little neighborhood kiddies. Soon word will get out and all the little boys and girls in the greater Tucson area will start lining up at my door. Oh, how their mothers will love me!

Mom said...

Your exchange with Hessel is hysterical! Do men ever really grow up? The toys just get bigger!

Joseph Anfuso said...

This is hysterical! It really captures your relationship with Hessel, and with so much love and humor. I'm crazy about you both! And please tell Hessel if he ever runs out of tinkering ideas (which I doubt) I have plently of unused land at my place and would love to have a villa in my backyard :)

Jennifer said...

Hey Heather! I'm not sure if you are notified when someone comments here but for what its worth... I (stalker-ishly) searched all night for the "tractor" post...So glad I did...SUCH a great laugh right before bed! This is Jenni Harrell from Avenue BTW!