Everyone should have a hod carrier to call her very own. What is a hod carrier, you ask? Well, that’s what Dave was one of. The way he explains it–and he’s perfectly happy to explain it in the presence of bricklayers, who can be thick and scary–you have your bricklayers, and you have your hod carriers. And all your bricklayers do is lay bricks. Your hod carrier is the one that sets up the job, anticipates the needs, gathers the materials, makes the cuts, does the math, brings the rocket ship home, and makes everything work. So the hod carrier is the brain and heart of the operation, and the bricklayer is the meat.

The point is, hod carriers take care of all the little details in your life so that it runs smoothly and everything you need is ready at hand before you even know you need it. If your personal hod carrier is, like mine, particularly good, you can go through life assuming groceries magically appear in your refrigerator and toilets are always clean. The toilet paper replenishes itself, gas tanks are always topped off, the bird feeder is full, and the cat is never hungry.

Even now, after all these years, I have the sorry habit of thinking that if I have everything I need or want, it’s just because that’s the way life is. I don’t always give proper credit. But I do know to come to Dave for special requests. I think of him more as a multi-use all-in-one tool, with nothing missing but the little toothpick.

There’s the Extend-A-Dave, with which I retrieve objects from high shelves. It operates wirelessly, triggered by a pointing finger and pitiful whimper.  “Ennh ennh ennh,” I say, and point, and the crackers float down to the counter level.

And then there’s the Stompinator. The Stompinator has size thirteen shoes and it can compact an overflowing yard debris container into a solid wad a third the previous volume. Yesterday I chopped up a bristly conifer and jammed it in the container. A mass the size of an entire Christmas tree towered above the lip. The Stompinator wadded it up in a minute and pulled four extra conifers in on top of it. There’s still room for your softer weeds.

So there you have it: the Stompinator and the Extend-A-Dave, all in one easy tool. But wait! There’s more!

One time we spent an entire day yarding out hedges and vines and stickery bushes and shoving them into the pickup truck to take to the dump. Limbs were married together and thorny branches intertwined and the entire tangle of rejected vegetation howled with malice. It was a mess. Nothing, it would appear, would be pulled out easily. Because the situation was insufficiently dire, we also did this on a 95-degree day, which is known to be fatal to Pacific Northwesterners. Dave pulled the truck around to the spot we needed to disgorge our debris. “How are we ever going to get this all out,” I whined, plucking impotently at a vine and shouldering my rake in despair, and Dave handed me the rope from the tarp and said “Well, just coil this up for now,” and I did. I spent a half minute coiling the rope around my elbow and I stashed it in the cab and then I turned around and our truck was flat empty.

Dave had a plywood sheet in the bottom of the truck and strength not generally required of 21st-century men and he’d gotten himself in the back of the bed, lifted the plywood sheet up, and dumped the entire load in fifteen seconds. He busied himself for another minute sweeping the dust out, shut the tailgate, and climbed behind the wheel.

And that’s why he’s also called The Big Dump. Happy 34th anniversary, sugar plum, that’s the story I plan to stick to.