On Saturday, we got a tree from Home Depot. Why is it that when you're at a Christmas tree lot, everyone except you seems to be carrying around perfect, gorgeous trees, and all the trees not already claimed are sickly and brown and lopsided? Even people coming in after us would waltz right past and magically snag another perfect tree out of the haphazard pile. We finally settled on a somewhat small tree with some gaps in the branches, figuring that it was a manageable size and would have room to hang ornaments. It's a perfectly decent tree, but it won't make anyone envious. The needles are nice and green, and we got charged $22 instead of $37 (the only $22 trees were Balsam firs, which we didn't like, and we definitely got a Noble fir, but it was still $22. I'm not complaining). We got the tree home, which wasn't as difficult as it has been in past years, and set it up in the living room. That evening, we put on lights and garland, but that tired me out so much that I was sick of tree decorating and we still haven't put on many ornaments. When I was a kid, my mom did the lights and we didn't have any garland. Of course, the way we do lights, it only takes an hour, where my mom twined the cord around every branch to set every little bulb to best advantage, so it's not all that much work, but I still don't really enjoy it. I like hanging ornaments. I've already hung the fish ornaments, but that's all. We'll finish the rest tonight.
So on Sunday, yesterday, we didn't get up particularly early or make any particular plans. I planted my pansies in the morning before I showered -- the Antique Shades pansies are really beautiful now that they're blooming. I threw out the sickly blue ones, alas; they would have gone really well with my new coral plant, but I didn't want to risk spreading the creeping goo around. I did keep the flambe pansies, because they were so compact and healthy and green in their little six pack, but I plucked off all the blooms that were beginning to show brown spots. I hope that will be enough. The black pansies and joker pansies, for all their beautiful blooms, don't have the best foliage, but I'm hoping they'll settle in and get healthier with some regular care.
After breakfast, we thought about doing some caches, and came up with one near the zoo that can only be completed on Sunday afternoons. I've been wanting to go to the zoo for a while, so I was in favor of that one. We also printed out another cache not far from the zoo, figuring that we could probably do that one in the dark after the zoo closed. We're closing in on a hundred caches, so perhaps we should've looked for a cluster of five or six, but we were getting off to a late start and I really just wanted to go to the zoo.
The afternoon cache was interesting; there's a cluster of 'international houses,' little buildings each representing a different country, in Balboa Park. We've seen them before, but never gone inside, because they're only open on Sunday afternoons. This cache made us go into various countries' buildings to get clues that added up to the final waypoint. Inside each building, there are plaques and pictures and timelines and objects from the country in question, describing its history and culture. A man at the American house gave me a little red bow, which I put on my jacket. There were a fair number of people milling around, and quite a few dogs (also with holiday bows). We saw a tiny chihuahua puppy that our cats could've beaten up. The final cache was in a little palm canyon nearby, and we were the second finders (probably because of the time restrictions for completing it). It might have been nice to look in the houses a little more, but the zoo was closing in less than two hours so we headed over there.
Instead of our usual tactic, which is to walk to the far end of the zoo and take the aerial tram back to the exit, we took the tram out to the far end as soon as we arrived and walked back from there. This gave us plenty of time at the far end, which we don't see quite as often. The polar bears had 'snow,' as part of a special holiday zoo thing, but it didn't seem to interest them enough to keep one from sleeping and the other from pacing. It's depressing to see animals pace even at one of the most progressive zoos around. It makes me wonder, sometimes, whether zoos are a good idea at all. Are we doing a good deed by keeping the last of whatever creature in captivity here, if it's miserable in its tiny habitat? Is life to be preferred to extinction no matter what kind of life it is? I wish all the captive animals could be in huge open spaces like the Wild Animal Park. It's not the plains of Africa, no matter how hard it tries, but it's not so bad as a cage and I don't think any of the wildebeest are pacing.
We moved on to the diving duck aviary, and the animals there at least seemed happy. One duck kept swimming around underwater. We're usually rushed when we reach that area, so it was nice to have more time.
We also saw Hua Mei, the three-year-old 'baby' panda who is inexplicably still here. There was a huge publicity blitz about saying 'goodbye' to her this summer, since she's going to be sent to China, but here we are in December and she hasn't left. Since it was almost closing time, we were able to just wander in by the panda exhibit without waiting in line. She was active, too, doing somersaults and climbing on her big log jungle gym. It was much more exciting than watching her sleep.
After the zoo, we made a quick stop at the second cache we had planned; it was a microcache hidden in rocks by the ocean. Found it without difficulty. So there we were, at 5:30, out of cache printouts but still not ready to go home. We looked in the GPS for nearest waypoints, and found one on Coronado. Without a printout, we didn't know what kind of cache it was, and we didn't have any hints, but we headed over anyway. It was on a wide, sandy beach, but we found it quickly once we scanned around for good hiding spots. By then the moon had come out, and we walked down to watch the waves crashing on the shore. We didn't check for bioluminescence, but when we got home we read a log from just last week saying that somebody had seen it. Perhaps the moonlight was too bright, but somehow that doesn't seem worthy of complaint :).
By then we were hungry, so we went to Fuddruckers and had gigantic and wonderful hamburgers. Slightly too gigantic, actually, but I survived. In the next room, there were Klingons having some kind of award ceremony. We never figured out exactly what that was all about. Following dinner, we walked to Target and got a tree skirt (and why is it so hard to find a generic regular tree skirt, fuzzy and red with a fluffy white edge? these mostly looked like tree sweaters, or tree quilts, or tree scarves).
So we found an acceptable tree skirt, and we went home, and I hung a couple of ornaments just so I could say I planted pansies and decorated a Christmas tree on the same day. We logged three caches, which is pretty good for a non-caching day (nine more to go!) and we had fun at the zoo. And unless Ken was seriously faking me out, I am pretty sure I am going to get at least one Christmas present.
So I am happy.