Spent the day in the patch of dirt where the new lawn will be, spreading the compost all around the yard. At first, the four yards of compost were set into one long pile toward the back of the patch.
I had to till up the ground to soften things up first. It's the biggest job my little 5.5 horsepower front tine tiller has ever seen. It performed pretty well, and I learned that this is a dusty job. I also went around the yard pulling roots (we have plenty of redwoods that border two sides of the patch), picking up rocks and pieces of old lawn, and generally cleaning up the area.
After the entire patch was loosened and relatively clean, I used a shovel and wheel barrow to spread the compost around the yard. It was a lot of manual work, but finally it got mostly evenly spread around. Then, it was time to fire up the tiller again and do a mixing of the nutrients into the soil.
Once that was done, I had to manually rake the area to level it out. One thousand one hundred square feet (335 square meters) is a lot to rake, but I got it as level as it was going to get for now. There is no time left this weekend to finish the job, so it will need to wait until next weekend, and I will spend some time during the week researching different grass types, how to lay down the seed, nutrient needs, etc.
At the end of today, the patch, now a much darker, richer color, definitely looks much more ready to be planted than it did just the other day. We're making progress!
Friend from college that I just re-hooked up with lives in Sunnyvale. He says they provide free compost to residents of Sunnyvale, Mt. View and Palo Alto.
He and I went there with the trailer and picked up another two yards of nice, steamy compost. Main differences were that it was free, but we had to scoop it into the trailer by hand (shovel). That took a long time.
Got it home and unloaded, and friend came by to help with the offloading too. Very, very nice of him. This is a long, hard job.
Hitched up the trailer early this morning so the whole family and I could run over to the landfill, where they also have a material yard, and pick up some compost, "soil conditioner" is what they call it.
The five by eight foot (1.5 by 2.5 meter) trailer holds an even two cubic yards (1.8 cubic meters). Heavy, but manageable.
More details on the back lawn replanting efforts this weekend. Rototiller is primed and ready to go.
Again got the chance to bike in. On the way home, I took a different route, one I used when I was first trying things out when the trip downtown was new to me. The Guadalupe trail runs parallel to highway 87, immediately next to it, in fact, so close that only a chain link fence and cement divider separates the trail from the freeway traffic.
As I was passing a Caltrain locomotive, just south of the Tamien station, watching the beast pick up speed on its way south to the next station and then Gilroy, I looked back at the trail just in time to see a three to four foot (90 - 120 cm) snake straddled across the trail pavement, slowly making its way from left to right. It was so close that I didn't have time to make out what kind of snake it was, and I was moving fast enough that there was nothing I could do but prepare to run it over.
I hit it at a clean ninety degree angle, with the soft thup-thup I normally feel and hear when running over a bump in the road. The trail in front of me was now at a slight downgrade, and figuring there was nothing I could do anyway, I just kept going, picking up speed, never looking back.
Not sure if a snake's spine is strong enough to handle getting run over by a bike moving about 17 miles per hour (27 kph), but I hope there was no permanent damage. It would just be a shame.
Learned just this afternoon that an older neighbor of ours passed away.
Luke was always seen taking his walks throughout the neighborhood. He would always stop and chat, share neighborhood news (and gossip) and generally be one friendly fellow. He was certainly in his 80s, but when you'd see him make his way around the blocks and speak with him, you'd think he was in his early 70s.
We knew that he was having some health troubles over the past year or so, he had mentioned that he was in the hospital for a week or so while they fixed him up. But I never got the exact reason he was in.
Today, we learned through the neighborhood grapevine that he passed away recently. Apparently, his gardener learned about it and shared the news with a neighbor, another gardening client. The news then quickly spread down the street. I looked at the obituary section in today's paper, and he was certainly mentioned: Lucas Cardenas.
The saddest part about this was that his mention in the obits was the smallest I had ever seen. It only mentioned his name and where and when the services would be. Absolutely nothing about his life.
After work, I took a detour home and visited the cemetery, a familiar place since my dad is there too. Saw his headstone, next to his wife, who passed, according to the inscription, in 1996. He had been interred just a few hours before, and his side of the stone did not yet have his date of death.
Luke, we only knew you from your wanderings around the neighborhood, and only about 10-15 minutes at a time. But it felt like I knew you a really long time, and you were a good friend, a staple of our corner of the world. We'll miss you, buddy.