Blog Archive

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

That's Abalone, Baby

Someone dropped off a fresh abalone at the Bower house not long ago. I asked John (my dad-in-law) if I could clean it, since he does it and I just get to watch. Like many men, he has trouble delegating tasks, especially to someone like me who has very little experience. But it only took a little convincing (and grinning) to win him over. He was definitely still "in charge" with his running commentary on my technique (or lack thereof).

So here's how to clean an abalone. Incidentally, this is also how to kill an abalone, since it is alive when you get it (or should be, I wouldn't eat it if it was dead in the shell). You can tell if it is still alive by poking it and seeing if it moves a little.

In the shell:

Removing it from the shell:

Removing the guts, or the “asshole” as John likes to say:

Slicing off the black flesh from the edges. John doesn't like to eat this part, but I always take these black scraps home to add to chowders:

Then we tenderized it (aka, pounded the ba-Jesus out of it with a special 2x4 reserved just for this task) until it became a bit softer. Remember that abalone is a giant muscle and it is super tough until you pound on it for a while. Then we took it inside to slice it into 1/4" pieces and took a meat tenderizer to it until you swear it is falling apart (making extra sure we get the edges soft). We dipped each piece in egg, then breaded it in flour and fried it in olive oil and butter until just golden brown. (Of course, what isn't good fried in butter?)

Admittedly, this is the only way I've ever eaten abalone and I'm sure there are other ways to prepare it. But since this method is soooooooooooo good I'm not eager to find other ways.

If you've tenderized it enough, it will be fork tender. We always eat ours with just a little salt and pepper and a big serving of garlicky pesto pasta. This ranks as one of Dave's favorite meals and I totally understand why. Abalone is mouth-wateringly scrumptious. No doubt about it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

At Long Last: Parasite Images

I know that not everyone is excited to see what my parasite looks like. When most people think of "parasite" they immediate think of gross intestinal critters you pick up from foreign travel that give you diarrhea. Luckily for me, that's not the kind of parasite I have (mine is not intestinal).

So I've actually gotten a few abdominal scans of the parasite over the last 2 months or so, but you couldn't really tell what it looked like. This most recent scan was higher resolution and gave the doctor more detailed information on the development. It has been confirmed that my body will release it in early August.

Here are the images in order.

This first one is from early January:
The second one is from late January:And the third one is the most recent:

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Home Baked Goodness

Our best weekends are spent working on the house together while something delicious simmers or bakes in the kitchen, filling the house with yummy smells. Last weekend I made raisin bread using my daddy's buttermilk bread recipe. My bread almost never bakes up quite like my dad's and I've always attributed it to my poorer-by-comparison kneading skills. But this time I just let it rise longer and longer until it rose up to the height I wanted and then baked it. I think it isn't my kneading skills that need improvement, it is my patience. The second rising took a lot longer than I wanted it to, probably because my oven wasn't warm enough.

I always hear people complain about how long homemade bread takes (~3 hours) and they use the time as a reason to avoid it. Or they wuss-out and use a bread machine (I totally think that is cheating, but I get so much satisfaction out of making things literally "by hand.") Making a batch of bread really doesn't take that much hands-on time; most of the the 3 hours the bread is just hanging out by itself in a warm oven rising. All you have to do is get it started then you mostly just wait around for the yeast. It is like doing laundry. You don't have to sit there and watch the machine as it works--you load the washer, do something else while it washes, then transfer the clothes to the dryer or the line, do something else while the clothes dry, and then fold them later.

Buttermilk Bread Recipe and Procedure
(Makes two loaves)
  • 2 cups white or whole wheat flour
  • 1 package dry yeast (regular, not fast-rising) or 2 1/2 teaspoons
  • 4 tablespoons buttermilk powder (in the baking section of the store)
  • 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup shortening (I always add more than 1/3 cup to extend the shelf-life of my bread. Plus it tastes better!)
  • 2 cups very warm water (~120F)
  • 4-5 cups all purpose flour (how much you need depends on humidity of your kitchen)
1. Mix first 6 ingredient in a large bowl (I use my KitchenAid stand mixer bowl).
2. Cut in the shortening until the shortening is pea-sized.
3. Mix in the water.
4. Mix in 1/2 cup of flour at a time (I use the mixer with my dough hook for this so I can save my arm muscles for kneading but it is totally doable with a sturdy wooden spoon).
5. Add flour and incorporate until the dough forms a ball and cleans the sides of the bowl.
6. Lightly flour a clean counter and knead the dough for ~10 minutes or until you can pull a piece of the dough and it stretches a few inches before breaking. If it breaks immediately, keep kneading. There are lots of good how-to videos on YouTube where you can learn how to knead if you don't know how to do it.
7. Wash your big bowl and dry it. Coat the ball of dough with some shortening or oil, covering the whole thing. Place dough in the clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.
8. Place bowl in a warmed oven--turn oven on warm (of the lowest setting) for a few minutes and then turn it off.
9. Let the dough rise for ~40 minutes, or until it doubles in size. You'll know it is done rising when you poke it with your finger and it doesn't spring back. Watched dough never rises! So this is where you go off and do something else for 40 minutes.
10. Knead it gently and quickly until dough becomes more firm.
11. Set enough water to fill a pie pan to boil while you form the loaf/loaves.
12a. For two loaves, cut the dough in half, and shape each piece into an oval/rectangle that is slightly longer than your bread pan. Fold it lengthwise and place into your greased pan. Pat it down so it touches all four sides of the pan.
12b. For one loaf you can just plop the ball of dough onto a greased pan that has cornmeal scattered on it--this will give you a giant country loaf. Or you can divide the dough into 3 pieces and braid them for a braided loaf--this will totally amaze your friends and they'll think you're a professional baker.Put pie pan in the oven, fill with boiling water, and then place loaf/loaves in the oven.
13. Let dough rise for ~30 minutes, or until the loaves have risen up above the sides of the pan. Obviously this point will be hard to judge if you're not using a pan so just use your judgement. This is the part that always takes longer than I realize. So if it isn't "high" enough for you, let it rise for another 10-15 minutes. Again, go do something during this time.14. Carefully remove dough from oven (don't set it down too hard or it can deflate). Remove pan of water.
15. Preheat oven to ~375F. I set my gas oven to ~380F.
16. Make an egg wash of 1 egg beaten with 1/2 egg shell of water.
17. Once the oven is at temperature, lightly brush tops of bread with egg wash mixture using a piece of paper towel. Those fancy pastry brushes usually tear the bread. Sprinkle with oats, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or whatever if you want. Score the tops of the dough with a VERY sharp knife or razor blade for decoration if you like.
18. Bake for ~35 minutes (two loaves) or ~45 minutes (1 giant loaf) or until the top is nice and brown. If you're not sure if it is done, you can take the bread out, flip it over and "knock" on the underside with your thumbnail. If it sounds hallow, it is done. Don't worry if the bread seems too hard--as it cools the moisture inside with soften the crust.19. Let cool completely before slicing.

There are oodles of variations on this recipe. Like I said, I made raisin bread by rolling each piece of dough out (after the first rise) and spreading 2/3 cup raisins, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon on them.
Then I just rolled it up, placed it in the pan, and pressed it down to touch the sides.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Research on my Parasite

Since learning that I have an abdominal parasite, I've done some research on my own and talked to others who've suffered from the same ailment. Right now the parasite is called an "endoparasite" (endo meaning "inside") and at this stage is it already causing some uncomfortable side effects. These are very not-glamorous and include lovely things like indigestion and irritabiliity. Apparently, after the transition to an ectoparasitic instar (ecto meaning "outside"), I can expect some months of sleep disturbance and frequent fatigue, after which things will gradually approach normal.

Recovery from this type of parasite is never really 100%, but after a while the remaining effects become my new "normal" state, so it isn't such a big deal.

The doctor assured me that I can look forwad to drinking wine and beer again in about a year, which is longer than the few months I thought it would be. I had assumed I could drink again once my body purged this thing out of me. The doctor said that I can if I really want to, but it is a good idea to avoid it for a few more months after that. She said that my body will react to the ectoparasite with engorged (and leaky) glands and alcohol will affect the glandular fluid and not allow the glands to drain properly (which can be painful and require manual draining...gross). Sigh. She also warned that if I don't carefully monitor my alcohol consumption, it could lead to starting the whole parasite thing over again.

Dave's parents have been very supportive, even giving him some time off from work to take care of me. He's put some of that time towards working on things around the house that will make it more livable as my condition becomes more advanced, and especially during the time that I have to deal with the ectoparasite. A note to my attached but unmarried friends: this is probably something that you wouldn't want to go through on your own!

Statistics suggest that a surprisingly large number of people don't really understand that this could easily happen to them.

Anyway, I had to reschedule my abdominal scan appointment for next week because I had to give a talk for my graduate group at the last minute. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Parasite Scan

So my doctor has ordered an abdominal scan to figure out the size of the parasite. I think it'll be just a sonogram, so nothing painful. But it should allow the doctor to determine the instar of the parasite (i.e., what stage of development it is in) and that'll help figure out when it will leave my body.

In case anyone is interested in seeing what this parasite looks like, I'll be posting the scan image after my appointment. So if that sort of thing grosses you out, you are forewarned not to look. I personally think it is fascinating...but I'm weird.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I Love Gmail

While I was checking my email for the 100th time last Thursday, I noticed that there was a link at the top of the page for the Gmail blog. One of their posts was about giving away free Gmail stickers--all you had to do was send in a pre-stamped envelope and a note, if you wanted. So I mailed off my envelope and a silly post-it note saying "Julie heart's Gmail! Keep up the good work!".

I got my stickers in the mail yesterday, along with a handwritten note. Aren't these hilarious?
I'm a little disappointed that I didn't get one of the unicorn stickers. Perhaps I should have asked for that one specifically. Anyway, I love everything about Google and Gmail--they don't take themselves too seriously, which makes me happy. Plus, Google and Gmail just plain rock my socks (I wouldn't be able to survive living away from Dave without Gmail chat or find my way around without street view on Google maps. Serisouly, I'm a Google addict.)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Not My Heart's Desire

I apologize in advance for the length of this post.

What was supposed to be a relaxing weekend with my parents turned into a crazy/scary weekend instead...

It all started when I was asked to watch my friend Kevin's newly adopted dachshund, Daphne. This darling is sooooo cute and a wee bit timid. She got along with our dogs just fine (like most pooches she was smitten with Potatoes--but who isn't?). Unfortunately, she still doesn't know or respond to her name, nor does she have her name or Kevin's phone number on her tags. All she is marked with is her HomeAgain ID number and a Yolo county dog license.

My brother-in-law came over for dinner on Saturday night and brought his dog, Missy Bean, with him. After dining, my mom and I scooted out the door for a movie downtown. Apparently, my BIL let Daphne out the front door when he and Missy left to go home. His instinct was to yell at her to get her to come back inside...which had the opposite effect. She became startled and ran away. Dave and his brother promptly jumped into the car to find her in the neighborhood. Luckily they found her a few streets away...but my BIL again yelled at her and cornered her and she would not come to him. Instead she ran off again. She may have very short legs, but she sure can run when she wants to!

And so began a very stressful 20+ hour period for our household. When my mom and I came home from the movie we immediately knew something was wrong: the garage door was left open, there were no humans in the house, Daphne's leash was by the door, and my cell phone was missing (I'd left it on the counter). I called Dave on my mom's cell and he told me what happened. I jumped on my bike and went out looking. No luck. Dave and my dad hey'd already been looking for 2 hours with no luck (my BIL had long since given up and gone home).

As you can imagine, I was completely freaking out--this was the first time I'd ever watched Kevin's dog and she was my responsibility. I felt like such a failure (I still do). After looking in the freezing cold for another 3 hours we finally gave up. Kevin's girlfriend had even come to help. Still, no luck.

Dave posted a "lost dog" ad on Craigslist using one of the many pictures we'd taken early that day. Our hope is that someone had found her and would check online. Calling animal control (issuer of the dog license) was useless because they will only help if the dog is a threat to society (like if it has rabies and is loose). And no one had yet reported her to the HomeAgain service.

After a night of absolutely no sleep for me, I got a phone call at 7am from a woman who runs a dog-tracking business using bloodhounds. She'd seen our ad on Craigslist and offered her services (for a fee, of course). Kevin decided not to use her until he and his family had posted a bunch of lost dog posters around and looked around the area some more. Finally we called her; she said she could be in Davis within 35 minutes. I made arrangements to meet me at my house with her favorite ball that had her scent on it in 10 minutes. First I wanted to make one last bike trip over to a part of the neighborhood that I hadn't checked since the night before.

I rode my cruiser (which doesn't go very fast) over to the N street co-op houses and stopped to ask a lady if she's seen a black weiner dog running around. She said no, and then her cute little daughter started talking to me about how she was making a mud castle. All of a sudden my heart started beating REALLY REALLY fast and wouldn't stop. I ended our conversation without making a scene and called Dave to pick me up. I honestly figured my heart would slow down if I could just sit down for a minute.

Then I realized it wasn't worth waiting so I threw my bike down, sat on the curb, and called 911. About 4 minutes later both Dave and the paramedics were there. The paramedic couldn't count my heartrate my hand (on my wrist) because it was too fast. They quickly hooked me up to an EKG, determined my heartrate to be about 270-300BPM (yeah...holy crap), and then told me to "bear down, like you're going poop." This stimulated my vagal nerve and reset my heart.

Then it was off to the ER for a few hours before being transfered to a hospital in Sacramento for an overnight stay. During this time my dad went with Kevin and the hound lady to track Daphne's scent. Because the wind was blowing it was a little unclear where she finally ended up--they actually lost her trail and thought someone had picked up in a car. In reality, she probably just turned around at that point she her trail seemed to dead end. Finally, on Sunday evening Kevin called me at the hospital to report the good news that they'd found Daphne at the cemetary, not far from where she'd backtracked. I have never felt such relief.

When Dave brought my parents to the Sacramento hospital that night, my dad said to me "now just because I have a heart arrythmia doens't mean that you need to copy me and get one of your own--I know you like do be just like me, but this is a little extreme." Har har har.

I think I was hooked up to 6 different EKG/heart monitor gizmos during this whole episode--and that means 10 electrodes each. I'm still finding gummy residue from all the electrode stickers they stuck all over my body. Luckily I had only one IV, and one was enough. That thing hurt like you wouldn't believe. There was just no way to sleep with that thing in my arm so I basically went 2 full nights without any sleep.
Until the nurse took the IV out, I had no idea just how far the IV tube goes into your arm. Look at the thin white tube that is pointing to the left...isn't that disgusting?
Before leaving the hospital I asked for a copy of my EKG but the nurse couldn't find it. I'm hopeful that Medical Records will be able to give me a copy when I go back to the hospital for a cardiology check up. Although I don't totally understand what it all means, it is clear that something was not right. The diagnosis was that I suffered from a supraventricular tachycardia and then in the ER from a re-entrant tachycardia (until my heart settled back down again).

I'm ever so thankful that my heart seems to have gone back to normal and that the paramedics got to me so quickly. Hopefully this was an isolated incident, but if it wasn't I now know how to reset my heart before calling 911 (and there is medication that can be taken and/or a procedure that can be done to prevent it from happening again). The cardiologist's orders were to avoid caffeine, over stressing, and major exercise. I don't know how to avoid stressing out so that'll be a tough one for me.

And just in case, my cell phone will always be with me so I can call for help if need be.

Jane Levie Update: On chemo, doing well

I sent this mass-email out last month and forgot to post it here.

Dear friends and family,

Since I'm sure many of you are wondering, I thought it was about time that I send out another update on how my mom is faring these days.

Her first 10-week chemotherapy round went really well and ended just before Christmas. Amazingly, the only ill effect she suffered during that time was losing most of her hair--she was never nauseous and never in pain. (Actually, right when her hair began to fall out she decided to just shave it all off. Ever since she's been wearing a variety of cute little caps we purchased at a local salon and wig shop.) Her doctor expressed his amazement at how well her body is handling the treatments.

The doctor performed x-rays again to determine if the chemo was working or not. He said that out of 5 units of improvement possible, it seems to have worked about 2/5 or 3/5 of that--so that's pretty good for a first attempt. Since it worked at either slowing the spread of tumors (or shrinking the existing ones...I'm not sure which) he decided to keep her on the same chemotherapy treatments for another 10-week session.

Again, her body is handling it very well and she's doing pretty good. The only thing we notice this time is that she seems to have lost a little more weight. At this point it is nothing to worry about because the doctor says she's still in a good range for her height. (Whenever I'm home in Livermore with her I try to get as many calories into her as possible. We make daily stops at In-N-Out for milkshakes...which I have to admit, I don't mind one bit!)

For the most part, she's back to her regular routines: she goes to movies and lunch with friends, goes to church on occasion, and even braved a trip up to Gualala and Point Arena this past weekend with me. She took me to see her family plots in the two rural cemeteries (for nostalgic purposes only!) and we hung out with my in-laws. I can tell she's getting back to her "old self" because she was excited to eat out all weekend and always ordered seafood. She's also resumed driving--in fact, she bought herself a very nice new car just after Christmas. (This is a BIG deal if you know my mom at all. But don't worry, it is still a Volvo!)

Over the holidays she obviously enjoyed having my brother home. They went to movies, hung out at the house, and he helped her shop for her new car. She and my dad have also started a little tradition of eating at their favorite Japanese restaurant every Monday before or after they go to chemo. The lady at the restaurant is always so happy to see my mom and loves chatting with my dad about living in Japan.

As always, my entire family appreciates the love, support, and prayers from you all.


PS. Attached is a picture of my mom and her handsome (no bias from me...) son-in-law during Christmas. =)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Parasitic Infestation

For the last three months or so I’ve been feeling “off.” After a few weeks of wondering what the heck was going on, I finally went to the doctor who confirmed that my ailment is real: I have a parasite in my abdomen. Lovely, eh?

The type of parasite is quite common—I forgot the name of the parasite (it was long and complicated) but the doctor said it is a result of a phenomenon called avianapis. Pretty obscure, I know. I figured Dave would be absolutely hysterical about this development, but so far he’s adjusting to it quite well. And this is obviously a very good thing for me, since I need someone around me who is rational.

The doctor was quite frank about the whole situation: she said that there are only two points in time during this type of parasite’s infestation cycle where it is likely to leave my body on its own, without medical intervention. The first point has already passed so now I just have to wait it out. Depending on how my body reacts to the parasite, I might be really uncomfortable or I might not notice much. We’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully my body will purge it naturally so I don’t have to undergo any scary procedures involving scalpels.

There are oodles of over-the-counter pills that I can choose from that will help the situation along. The pills I’m taking right now make me gag and often leave me feeling nauseous (which I absolutely loathe). My doctor said that nausea is a typical reaction to this type of medicine.

The good news is that most of my life can continue as normal: I can still work in the lab, do yard work, ride my bike, etc. Since I’m not contagious (I’m just a “carrier”) I can still cook for my family and friends, which I’m thankful for because we all know how much I love to feed people. I can’t, however, drink alcohol because it could ruin my insides. As much as I enjoy a glass of good wine, I’m not willing to risk it. Last year my friend, Brian, couldn’t drink for like 4 months while he was on medication—he survived all that time without ANY beer or wine. If he can do it, so can I!

Want to know something else weird about all this? I caught this parasite from Dave…my own husband. There’s a strong likelihood that he was bitten by something back when we traveled to Egypt and Spain two years ago.

Once I have done a little more research about this condition, I will post an update. And yes, I will include all the gory details just in case any of you find yourself in the same situation and want to know what to expect.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Excited for Tomorrow

This weekend cannot get here any sooner. Dave is on his way home (finally) after a GMAC meeting up in Gualala. And my parents will be arriving tomorrow to hang out with us for the whole weekend. I'm super excited about this because my parents haven't been to our house in a long time. My excitement is obvious if you peak into my refrigerator: I have 10 pounds of pork ribs marinating (destined for the smoker on Saturday), a big bowl of pasta salad (I made it ahead of time because it tastes best a few days after you make it), and plans for making tiramisu.

I was watching an old episode of Friends the other night and the Joey character was eating homemade tiramisu with all his sisters. Ever since then I've been craving it badly. I've never made it before, mainly beacause the mascarpone cheese is darn expensive. So I found a recipe online for making your own cheese for about 1/4 of the cost. If I buy the cream at Costco it will be even cheaper. Have you ever seen the half gallon cartons of heavy cream at Costco? They are like $5 but at the regular market a pint is over $3.

I'll post pictures and recipes later on for your viewing pleasure. And by "your" I really only mean Allison and my dad because I think they are the only ones who look at my blog anymore. I've not had a single comment in weeks. I feel so unloved. Just kidding...I know that if Potatoes and Ruby could read and type, they'd totally leave comments for me all the time. =)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Operation: Clean Paws (Part Two)

This past weekend we didn't make any progress on Operation: Clean Paws. Instead we went to the Bay Area, then worked on cleaning the house, went to the movies, and ran some errands.

On Friday we met up with my parents at the cardiologist's office in Oakland--I got to meet my dad's doctor (who I just love and trust completely with my dad's well being) and find out firsthand what the options are at the point in the diagnosis. You'll recall that my dad is in the midst of navigating a potentially very serious heart arrhythmia along with very high blood pressure.

My dad takes his blood pressure and pulse every morning, 3 times in a row for accuracy, with a home monitor. So when he met with Dr. Lee he presented him with several graphs of these stats (including 3 point running averages, highs, lows, etc.). The doctor just beamed when he saw this--he said he loves working with smart people like Doctor Levie who take control of their health like that. (I just thought it was dorky...but to each his own I guess.) You can tell he adores referring to my dad as "doctor," as when he talks to his assistant or nurse and says "Rosa, could you make sure Doctor Levie gets an appointment set up for 3 months from now?" And then Rosa responds, "of course, Doctor Lee, I will take good care of Doctor Levie."

When we got to Livermore we let the dogs run around the yards for a while while my dad and I took measurements of the area where he plans on setting up a greenhouse. Somehow we convinced my dad to eat someplace other than Emil Villa's for dinner. Our family friend, Gayla, joined us for delicious Thai food at Lemongrass. Since my parents have no idea what types of Thai dishes are good, Dave and I were in charge of ordering. (Thai is one of our top 3 favorite types of foods--along with Indian and Japanese.) Dave says that Thai and Indian foods are our achilles heal.) The food was soooooooooo good. We were amazed that my dad enjoyed his food (but he did point out that if he had to choose he'd choose EV or Hanabishi instead--I guess you just can't teach an old dog, or dad, new tricks).

The rest of the weekend was spent at home in Davis, which was nice. Dave was supposed to help his brother rototill his yard on Saturday but he never materialized so Dave wasted much of the afternoon waiting around (I was napping since I didn't get much sleep at my parents' house the night before--2 dogs and 2 humans on a full sized bed does not work. At 4am I ended up moving to the floor, which was better). That was the only real opportunity to work on the yard the whole weekend. Oh well. are some pictures of the rest of what we did the first weekend.

A year and a half ago we installed gutters along the west side of our house. For some reason the previous owner only had them on the other side, leaving this side to collect water all along the foundation (which is really, really not good when you have a slab foundation and expansive soils). To divert the water away from the house, Dave dug a tench so we could bury a drain line under our soon-to-be gravel path:
Here you can see the nifty green pop-up emitter on the right--the water will drain to the flower bed along the fence:
Next we needed to remove some concrete near the water connection so we could lay a water line (and power line) for our soon-to-be trash can hut and landscaping alongside the driveway (for an eventual sprinkler, sprinkler valve, and hose):

Here I am digging the trench under the fence to the front of the house. We did not make that hole in the fence to aid in my trenching--that was courtesy of our darling Potatoes who dug his way out back in the spring while I was at school. He's now an indoor dog while Mama is not home:
And here I am being distracted by a very cute baby girl. Ruby was very unhappy being inside and away from her mama so we finally let her outside to "help." Have you ever seen anything to precious?

Hugs for Mama:
Kisses for Mama:
In the trench with Mama:
(I cannot tell you how much she melts my heart!)

Ok...back on topic: we finally got the water pipe and electrical conduit laid, primed, and glued. I'd never done this type of thing before and Dave had to teach me how to do it. I have to admit that I loooooooooooove it when Dave teaches me things like this. It makes me fall even deeper in love with him (I know that's so cheesy, but it is so true). =)
My parents are (hopefully) coming up to see us this weekend and we're hopeful that we can get my dad's help with this project. We have to test the water line, run the electrical, bury the pipes, lay the wooden siding for the paths and then finally start tamping-down the aggregate base. That's a lot, I know. But it will be worth it (I have to keep telling myself that).