First came the beloved “Zipper.” A 50th birthday present for Bob, the speedy little motorized utility cart “opened up the back 40,” says Jill. Suddenly, projects in the far reaches of their sprawling 30 acres seem much less daunting. The Zipper made it easy to transport equipment, tools, supplies, lunch--or to return to the house for the forgotten bug spray. “Every place in the garden is only as far as the Zipper,” quips Bob. By extension, then, every place in the Seacoast (New England?) must be as far as Bob's car, because its license plate reads, "Zipity." (Jill's is Do-Dah.)
Heavy equipment satisfies Bob’s inclination to transform ideas into actuality, and allows him to be involved from beginning to end. It extends to him a certain superhuman power, enabling him to leap tall buildings with a single bound: “Sitting in a cab, the machine becomes an extension of yourself,” he muses. “With the lift of a finger, you can reach out and pick up a rock. You have so much control.”
Secondly, finicky creatures that they are, power tools repeatedly afford Bob the chance to take things apart and put them back together again. “Bob is the fixer,” says Jill. “He loves machines, even when they break.”
“Bob dismantled it and found that a tiny part had snapped,” marvels Jill. “He just fabricated a replacement piece from a little scrap of metal and installed it.” Problem solved, neighbor happy.
Being Mr. Fix-It is doable with small machines, but as Bob was to find out, it's not so easy with the Big Boys. Fifteen years ago a contractor friend parked a huge old excavator on the property for the weekend and told Bob to go ahead and use it. “In a morning I’d made a road!,” says an incredulous Bob. “I was excavating stumps with the flick of a finger. Sitting up there in the cab, I felt like a giant spider.”
The next time their friend left the excavator, Bob got into trouble. “I was way out in the middle of the woods,” he remembers. “It broke down, and it was very difficult for the truck carrying the repair equipment to reach it. I learned then not to borrow other people’s expensive equipment.”
Does Bob the builder now stick to backhoes, Zippers and the like, whose parts you don't have to be Superman to fix? Why, yes he does. ~ Lisa O'Brien