Standing behind our mom and her supremely delectable black forest birthday cake.

So much has happened during the past weeks, and it’s obvious that I’ve been neither a dutiful nor diligent e-scribe. The catch up will have to be done ticker tape style:

…Easter bonnets turned out well, but lacked staying power. (They see-sawed for about a half hour and then began an early disintegration.)

…I failed to do justice to a vigorous baseball game between fathers and sons during the Little Fox Farm trip in an earlier post — they really rocked!

…Have had precious time to catch up with great friends — FR, PC and Mikey (the boys kept the guards at the Met on their feet);  and part of the great crew in South Africa: MA (the artist behind my just-unveiled Twitter profile pic); CG, BW and Cameron (who is destined to tower over me before he reaches a double digit age); TS (it’s been ages!), AB and MC (oldest and treasured); a surprise visit from and most recently this weekend, EW. Regretfully there were near misses too — LG, EA and RNN.

J and C on McDougall Street, the epicentre of chessdom in New York.

But all of this is but prelude to the best thing that’s happened in recent weeks: a two-week trip back home to South Africa to celebrate my mom’s 80th birthday. We made it a fortnight of fun — with a week of walks, cooking together (including  the end of a life-long wait for my mom’s infamous sponge cake!), enjoying our piano that’s been restored to a sonorous thing of beauty. This was followed by a weekend of non-stop partying… really. Dinner, lunch and lunch.

Finally, we topped it off with four days in the Cape and a mix of friends there, lounging with spectacular views of the storms and sunshine over Walker Bay, wandering about the garden to spot the emerging fynbos, lots of reading and even more napping in the winter sunshine. Evenings were cold, providing ample opportunity to fire up our coal stove and be impressed by how well it (and the new wall heaters) worked.

Sadly such excellent things come to an end… at least until the next milestone birthday… and back from winter to summer.

Here, we literally took the plunge and joined our local swimming pool. It’s been barely two weeks and the decision is already paying dividends with pool play for all and Calvin growing in comfort and confidence in the water. Thanks to Uncle D, this weekend we all got to hang out at the Village Chess Shop — C and I playing a game while Jay checked out the chess set offerings here and across the street at more tony rival Chess Forum. We exited with C’s first chess set.

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