competing on Saturday

I like playing Pokemon. Of course, I like lots of other things too, so it isn't always—often—a priority. Also with competitive play still only slowly starting to come back after the pandemic, there aren't as many chances to get in there with the card game. And while our local store runs monthly events, I ended up having to judge for the last one rather than playing. So I was eagerly looking forward to the tournament this past Saturday, and with a careful eye on the metagame developing after the new set released a couple weeks ago ordered cards to make some fun new decks. When Saturday's mail arrived without the most important parts of the order, I was thrown into despair and ready to skip the whole thing. But Zion—now part of our family team—was still eager to go, and was bringing a friend along, so Harvey and I packed up the same old decks we made last month and headed to the store. And I'm glad we did!

two lunarock decks facing off

who expected the lunarock meta?!

Not only did we have a great time with a fine bunch of folks who are obsessed with the same dumb thing we are, Harvey and I both finished first in our age divisions. It wasn't a super-competitive group, but it was still rewarding. Zion, who took down the last two events in the Junior division, was third this time, and his friend was fourth.

Most of the folks there were long-time players—it was especially nice meeting up with a family we had spent some time playing with before the pandemic but hadn't seen since. One junior was new to the scene, though, and besides being the only girl in the room she also wasn't entirely in the know about what makes a good deck. She came in with lots of energy and enthusiasm, but when the final round finished with her fourth straight loss she looked ready to give up on Pokemon entirely. I didn't want that! I had brought a box of spare trainer cards (in the distant hope that we could borrow the missing cards and put together the deck I had hoped to have) so I gave her a bunch of those, and then gave her one of the packs that I got as prizing. Hopefully that makes a difference, and we'll see her again at the next event. Because playing Pokemon is fun!

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moments from the week

the boys sitting on a rocky outcrop in the woods

quiet time in the woods

Moments from the past week.

Zion, Elijah, and a friend digging potatoes in our garden

digging for gold nuggets

Zion and a friend swimming in the pond

water is still nice

Elijah going down a hill head first lying on a long board

a little blurry because he was moving pretty fast

my hand holding a red bell pepper we grew

we've done it at last

Elijah standing on a bridge looking at some slight rapids

on the Concord in Lowell

the boys and friends sitting around a fire

friendly fire

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what a waste

It's a good thing we managed to celebrate our year of Park Day when we did because just two weeks later we arrived at the park just in time to witness the playground's destruction.

Zion, Elijah, and a friend looking at the ruins of the Varney Park playground

just rubble

The town of Chelmsford in their wisdom wants to replace one of the last of the awesome wood playground with something "safer", never mind what all the people who use it now think. We watched the excavator smashing down the structure, and DPW crew cutting up the plastic slides with a circular saw to make sure nobody else could use them (and a member of our group had asked!). Well, I didn't watch for very long; it was too sad. Instead I focused on having a good time at the park regardless of the destruction.

And we did great! We had balls, and hockey sticks and rollerblades. We had a long board. We had snacks. And of course, there's the lake, and even the sub-70° weather couldn't stop a hardy group of us from swimming. As I look back on it, in the short term at least the playground "renovation" dramatically increased the danger level for the kids in our group. Besides walking all over the piles of shattered, nail-filled wood after the workers left, they also climbed on (and fell from) railings, swung eight feet up on the chain-link gate of the basketball court, and zoomed headfirst down hills on the long board (that's the only one that was my idea... I zoomed the most). There were some injuries. But don't worry Chelmsford, nobody plans to sue. And we plan to keep meeting at that park, playground or no playground!

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rocky rest

The last time we were in the Middlesex Fells it was a major hiking expedition. And there was a time before that when just the boys and I explored for a few hours before going to dinner with friends, but I don't remember exactly when it was and I can't find it here on the blog. Both of those times we did lots of walking, and the woods felt giant. Yesterday we were back again, and this time with bikes. And we managed to get a lot further in a lot less time!

Harvey and Elijah coming out of the woods onto an overlook above Spot Pond

running out of woods

In the end we only went about two and half miles, but it was over varied enough terrain, and we made enough stops, that it felt like a real adventure. Plus we went up some serious hills. There was also a high school cross-country meet going on, and we were able—in one case were forced to—stop and watch a couple of the races.

Among all the delights of the outing, my favorite was our stop at a rocky outcropping that's actually in Stoneham's Whip Hill Park (which was our entry point to the Fells). With our eyes on the adventure ahead we barely glanced at it on our way in, but coming back tired and a little ahead of schedule for our next engagement it seemed like just the spot to stop and rest. Especially since it came with a ready-made chair.

Zion sitting on a big natural chair in the woods

the throne of a mountain troll

Besides sitting, we also climbed and explored and found a scattering of feathers where a bird had been killed. Only I have no idea what kind of bird: black and yellow and spotted? Zion and Elijah made crowns with the feathers, to go with their rocky throne.

Elijah with yellow and black feathers in his hair

one of the kings

We never managed to climb the cliff itself, despite some serious attempts. But on the other hand, Harvey didn't knock Zion off to his death when he threw a shoe over the edge and hit Zion on the head, so we can count that as a win! And as much fun as all the biking and moving was, it was also delightful to stay in one spot for half an hour or so in a beautiful spot in the beautiful late-afternoon light. The outdoors are pretty awesome!

Elijah and Zion relaxing in the late-afternoon woods

peaceful

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professional work

Now that the porch project is mostly done, we have professionals working at our house to fix up the rest of it and get it painted. My feelings are mixed about it, partially for reasons beyond the scope of this post, and partially for some pretty mundane points. The work is kind of loud and distracting, it's hard to find room to park our cars, and I can't hang out laundry to dry because of the dust from the scraping. On the other hand, there's something magical about having someone working on my stuff without me having to put any effort into making it happen! Not something I get a lot of in many other areas of my life...