The previous owner of my house was a “Granola Person” as my realtor called him. He and his wife were nice people who had great expectations for life in the desert. They were a live and let live couple. They went to considerable lengths to construct a raised vegetable garden with about seven 4′ by 8′ planter boxes and the whole thing was fenced to keep the rabbits and other vegetarian wildlife out. But, this is desert and you barely can get anything to grow, let alone a vegetable garden. So, the experiment failed and when I moved in the garden was deteriorating and filled with salt bush, tumbleweeds and trash. A large compost heap was baking in the desert sun and not really converting anything to soil. There were a few toasted sprigs of herbs of some sort…the last desperate attempt to grow something before the death of the garden.
I knew I wouldn’t use the garden. Instead, I wanted a Bocce court and saw an opportunity to salvage the garden boxes and convert the space and leftover lumber as the basis for my Bocce court. The project was a little bigger than I planned and my neighbor joined in the project about halfway through. We got it done in about five weeks — including spreading 8 tons of crushed stone for the surface.
My neighbor was the first person I met when I moved here. He knew everyone in the neighborhood and made sure I was introduced and he knew answers to all of my new-comer questions. He was retired and about ten years older than me and worked as a handy man for a number of widow ladies who had chores but no one to do them. As a handy man, he knew his way around a hammer and a saw and was a tremendous help in getting my project done.
The pictures show the general progress of the project.
We finished the Bocce court in early spring and began playing games every few days. It was a little difficult getting used to the surface. We would rake it and water it periodically to get the crushed stone to solidify a little more. The climate is so dry that we did not have to install drainage. There were some persistent critters who wanted to burrow into the crushed stone surface so we had to discourage them.
My neighbor was a member of two bowling teams and, although he was not experienced at Bocce, he was very hard to beat. He won three games to every one I’d win. Trash talk was his specialty…he had something to say with every ball thrown. We went even further with the fun and games and put in a horse shoe pit next to the Bocce court.
My neighbor took on one of his handy man jobs around the end of June and I visited with him a little at the end of a long day. He looked tired and didn’t have much to say. He died the next day. Heart problems ran in his family and his number came up without much warning. He was my closest friend after my move and made my transition go so much easier. I actually only knew him for about nine months but it seemed like decades. It is hard to say goodbye to a good friend and I miss him more than I expected. The Bocce court serves as a memorial to our friendship and he is always in my thoughts when I’m out there.