Tamping the soil got delayed due to the rain we've had the past couple of days. This rain helped transition temperatures from blistering hot to unseasonably cool in a snap. I can't complain, though. I'd much rather do yard work when it's cool outside!
Anyhow, we got a break in the weather and I got out there and tamped the soil. Tamping reduces the amount of soil settlement once the wall is built, which could cause the whole thing to topple. Then I dumped gravel into the trench to about a 2" depth, staying roughly level, and tamped again.
Since I'm not digging beneath the frost line, having gravel under the wall helps drain water and prevents frost heave.
I should also say here that I prepared for fence posts in a somewhat unusual way. I laid concrete blocks at the corners on top of the gravel, leaving room for the brick in front. I put one half-block (free from Lowe's) on top of a full block, aligning the cores and bonding them together with construction adhesive.
The 4x4 treated post will be placed in the core and backfilled with gravel, tamping as I go. Believe it or not, you don't have to set your fence posts in concrete. Having the wood against gravel rather than concrete or soil also provides better drainage and will hopefully extend the life of the fence. (Green note: LEED for Homes awards 1/2 a point for eliminating wood-to-concrete connections as part of Nontoxic Pest Control, so maybe there's something to this method after all.)
I have to wait to place the second set of these concrete blocks on the far end because I wasn't sure exactly where the end of the wall would fall. We don't want to have a cut brick on the end of the run. We 'll lay the first course of brick and then place the block at that end. The intermediate posts will be done after this step to ensure even spacing.
After the block was set, I laid a 2" layer of sand on top of the gravel, leveling it carefully. This provides an even base for the brick, and it's easy to accommodate small variations in the brick size by adding or removing sand under each brick.
That's as far as I've gotten so far. I'm working during the day while Clara naps. With the exception of one or two hours of digging, I've done this all myself while Tom's at work, including buying the materials. If I get the first course laid this weekend, I should have the rest of it done by the end of the week. Presumably if I take the time to do a thorough job with leveling the first course, the rest should go up easily.