Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Biscotti Weekend

I'm a bit late with this report, no explanation other than that it was December. Biscotti Weekend is my annual pilgrimage to New Jersey to spend a weekend with my nephew, D, while his parents bake biscotti, Shelley, and work, Terri.

The weekend started with a mostly uneventful drive to New Jersey. The only moment of excitement was when a particularly impatient driver decided to pass me in the left hand breakdown lane on I-95 in Connecticut.

Having arrived fairly early I was able to pick D up from school. Once we'd gained access to the house, we turned our attention to fun. We played a couple of games, D shared his "Egypt book", and treated me to a magic show and we read some Harry Potter.

WrestlingSaturday morning I accompanied D to wrestling practice. The wrestling room teemed with boy energy. Even the little guys are quite serious about the training. The older boys help the younger ones with their warm-ups, then the group splits into three age divided groups.

I was most impressed by the balance that the adults manage to convey a serious, tough guy attitude while still being nurturing. At one point one of the boys in Ds group got accidentally poked in the eye. After making sure that he was going to be okay the coach got the attention of all the boys. He lifted the boy who'd gotten poked onto his shoulder and had the other boys give him a round of applause for receiving the first "eye poke of the season". While he had the boys attention he reminded them that wrestling is a contact sport and they would get poked in the eye, and mat burn, but that they were "tough" and could take it.

We spent the afternoon working on our project. Each year I arrive with supplies for D to create a surprise for his parents. Last year he suggested that we make houses this year. He was still interested in that when we talked in November. I put my thinking cap on and finally settled on creating a wooden "gingerbread" house. The design was based on my gingerbread house cookie cutter set with simple joinery. I included gingerbread men, trees, and candy decorations.

PaintingDs friend G joined us for the project assembly. After gluing together and clamping the walls of the house we spent an hour or so painting the decorations.

SandingWhile we were painting D decided that some of the pieces were too rough. So we pulled out the sand paper and the boys spent some time fine tuning the parts. While they were at it we had a conversation about sand paper grits. At one point D told me, "this is pretty rough I think I need the 100", which made me smile.

GlueThe roof of the house is designed to be removable. So, the walls were covered with plastic wrap before the roof parts were glued and clamped on.

Clamped up.


FunEnergy ran short so none of the decorations got attached to the house while I was there. Despite that we ended up with a pretty nice result.

Saturday night Shelley and I headed off to a folk-singing gathering which was great fun. Sunday morning I headed off to meeting (Shelley is a Quaker)with Shelley and D. Shelley was on baby duty so attended meeting by myself. The Princeton meeting house is a wonderful space. Built in the 1700s, it is a small stone building. On the first Sunday in December with snow falling outside the windows it was magical. The crackling of the fire was the only sound as I joined the other worshipers sitting in silence.

The snow, and ice that joined it made the drive home difficult. I only slid once, coming down a hill in Katonah, New York, after which I drove with much less speed and much more caution. Traffic through Connecticut was thick, and there were quite a few cars off the roads. The turnpike, though also full of cars, was a welcome site not only since it meant that I was nearly home, but also because the roads were in better condition than those I'd driven on earlier in the trip. I arrived home safe and sound several hours later than it would have taken me in clear weather. Based on this trip a new condition has been added to the Chelles, or is that Shelleys, (our names are pronounce alike so out loud it makes sense) driving rules - no trip will be started when a Winter Weater Advisory or Watch is in place for any of the states to be traveled through.

The driving rules were enacted four years ago when I drove into a blizzard on the way to New Jersey at the start of Biscotti weekend. On that trip it took me 5 hours to get from Newark to Princeton (normally less than an hour) because the roads were covered with ice and traffic was moving at a snails pace.

All in all it was a wonderful weekend and I had a great time.

1 comment:

Shelley said...

Thanks for this fabulous report... we love this tradition!