A new lawn -- 07/07/02

This was the week of the lawn -- hour after hour of digging and hauling and raking and rolling and watering and laying sod -- in record-breaking heat.

Nancy and I are exhausted.

The lawn looks beautiful.

I worked a full day on Monday -- more than a full day, because I got in around eight and didn't leave until around six -- and used three vacation days combined with the July 4th holiday to take the remainder of the week off. Tuesday I was in the yard early -- with help from Nancy and Sean -- removing the last of the growth of weeds and the few remnants of the old lawn. It was brutally hot. Wednesday we were at it again -- all morning long (I started around seven a.m., Nancy and Sean joined me later on) with a mid-afternoon break as the heat and the humidity hit their maximum -- 98 degrees in Providence, breaking the old record of 97 set in 1949 (my thermometer showed 99 at one point) with high humidity yielding a heat index rating of 105. [Bonnie, I do not understand how you folks in Texas can put up with such heat day after day.] Nancy had to go to class later on Wednesday (a summer grad course: middle school curriculum) and I had to do grocery shopping for our 4th of July party.

We had invited all of Nancy's family who were visiting Rhode Island for the holiday to come over to our house for a cook out, to be followed by a visit to our local fireworks display. Nancy's mother stayed home as she wasn't feeling well, but we had Nancy's sister Janet and her husband and their two teenage daughters and their son (and his girlfriend), plus Nancy's sister Karen, and brother Jeff and his wife and daughter -- plus Sean and Jennifer. Wednesday night I cut up a bit over nine pounds of boneless chicken breast to marinate in spiedie sauce (a regional dish, from the Endicott - Binghamton area of upstate N.Y., originally lamb, but could be any meat -- chicken, beef, pork, venison -- marinated in an Italian dressing type liquid, put on skewers, and grilled -- I sometimes make my own but this time I used Salamida's State Fair Spiedie Sauce) -- and made a large potato salad (five pounds of potatoes, celery, onion, low fat mayo, salt, fresh ground black pepper, paprika, chopped chives) and a large pasta salad (multi-colored pasta, red, green and yellow peppers, celery, red onion, broccoli, oregano, basil, fresh parsley, low fat Italian dressing) and fixed veggies for dips. Oh, also various chips, etc. Plus I made a fresh green salad (romaine lettuce from our garden) and also had corn on the cob.

Thursday morning Sean and I worked on the yard some more, preparing the ground for laying the sod: adding more topsoil (or loam, as it's called in Rhode Island) and some peat moss and dehydrated manure, smoothing and leveling it to avoid dips and hills and holes, rolling it with a roller, spreading some lawn starter lawn food, and giving it a final surfacing with a light lawn rake. Around mid-afternoon I showered and began party preparations. People arrived around five p.m. (mostly from having spent much of the day at the beach, along with a gazillion other people) and we had a fine party -- we ate in the backyard, the sun angle and the oak trees providing refreshing shade -- and then drove into town a bit past eight o'clock. We found a nice piece of lawn in Old Mountain Field park -- no view of the ground displays, nor of the band that was performing a concert leading up to the fireworks, but an excellent location for the arial displays. The fireworks began around quarter past nine and provided half an hour of gorgeous flashing colors -- "bombs bursting in air" -- that, as usual, had the crown cheering and applauding and saying (as they do every year) "This was the best fireworks yet!"

Friday morning it was back to work in the yard. Fortunately, the heat wave let up a bit and the temperature was only in the high eighties on Friday and Saturday; however, that is quite hot enough! A huge flatbed tractor-trailer rig (I think that's an articulated lorry in England) brought three pallets of sod, each pallet holding fifty-six rolls sod, six feet long and eighteen inches wide... just over fifteen hundred square feet. Nancy and Sean and I quickly began laying the sod -- even though the worst of the heat wave was over, this kind of weather can kill sod in just a few hours if it isn't laid down quickly. It took us around three and a half hours. Sean's friend Troy stayed overnight on Friday night and helped us on Saturday morning. The Saturday delivery was another fifteen hundred square feet -- this took us longer because we had more cutting and shaping to do on that side of the yard, plus we were still preparing the area to the left of our garage when the sod was delivered. Sean and Troy put in a good three hours of work, then wandered inside to wash up and eat and relax; meanwhile Nancy and I finished the side yard. We had some leftover rolls, so we put them in the shade of some trees in the backyard, wet them down and covered them with a tarp. Several hours later we used them in the area where our rabbit hutch used to be -- this involved considerable work, swinging a sledge hammer, etc., to remove concrete-embedded gate posts, etc. -- but the results look good.

Nancy and I are both quite tired today. She's watching Wimbledon on television and I'm attempting to catch up with dozens of emails and reading journal entries and writing this entry, while dashing outside from time to time to move the sprinklers that are watering our new lawn. It is a very strange looking day outside, very cloudy, very overcast -- but that's not normal cloud cover, it's a cloud of smoke from the Canadian forest fires, quite eerie looking.

You can view some pictures
and some moree pictures of the lawn project and results.

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