Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Tattoos - Art You Wear

I know there are many varying opinions about tattoos.  I've actually lost a friend because she found out about the one on my back.  She was quite religious, and told me that the marking of my skin is a sin.

That is her opinion, and I am fine with that.  I do not believe in her religion.  I have my own very strong beliefs in God and we will leave it at that.  What really amazed me, though, is that this woman sneered at the meaning behind my tattoo.

My mom died December 21, 1998.  It was a very difficult time in my life, but even more difficult when I realized her things had been picked over before I could choose a keepsake to have of hers.  There was a very specific box with an intricate, tribal design heart laser etched into it.  Of course, it was gone, and I was heartbroken as I knew the meaning behind it.  I realized later that she had left me a gift that would keep giving on a quarterly basis, and I can't thank her more for it.  It's gotten me of some tight spots before, but none more so than when I came here - a large part of that gift was also from my friend Sledge, but mom's gift paid for the rest and more.

So, back to 2000.  I had worked for many months from memory to redesign it for a tattoo*.  When I finally had the design where I thought it would work, I set out to find a parlor.  I cannot stress how important it is to do your research on these places!!!  In most states, you can look to see if they are registered and if there have been any complaints against them registered with the board.I was young and new to town, so I picked one I drove by a lot.  It looked somewhat clean, but when I learned the guy's name who did my tattoo was "Chief," I should have run.  I gave him the pic I had designed, he didn't seem too pleased by it but he transferred it to my back and started going.  It really didn't hurt that much, except when he crossed my spine, it burned.  He showed me at the shop when he was finished, but the lighting was bad and my skin was pretty swollen, so to me it looked ok.

The next morning, I cried.  He had messed up my design so badly that it looks like a kindergartner did it.  I've been wanting to get it fixed forever, but haven't known where to go.  It will be my next project after tomorrow's.  I also want to add the wings I had purposely left off the original design for when I finally felt her soul fly free.  Now that I am here in Alaska, I've felt her move on and so it's time to add her wings.

I did my research on this next tattoo pretty thoroughly.  The computer age has made information much easier to find, and I soon found myself at The Hole Look, as they were the highest recommended from Yelp, Yahoo, and word of mouth.  Unfortunately, they are SO good that they are booked out until the end of August for new appointments.  What I found really impressive is that the owner was more than willing to refer me to two other shops that were just as good and well-respected.  I chose Primal Instinct based on the awards they had won and some of the examples they had posted.  I usually prefer to keep these things a secret until after they are done and I can post a pic, but the tattoo will be of various-sized small-medium hearts that start at my big toe, wind up the side of my foot, and end at my ankle.  They start out pink, turn to aqua, and then purple.  They also won't have a black border, they will just have color.  What that means to me is that my heart is finally lifting.  I'm finding happiness and love in my life, so this is a way to show it.  There's no limit to how high I can go, but financially I'm choosing my ankle :).

After getting mom's tattoo fixed, I will be getting two more, but I won't give them away yet.  They have very strong significance and are both for the loves of my life.  I can't wait to share them with you alll!  Pics of tomorrow's will go up on Facebook tomorrow night as I'm having it done in the late afternoon.

By the way?  Every one of my tattoos (current and future) are hearts, and I design all of them.  I love having a theme and I love hearts!

*here's the kicker - mom hated tattoos :).  I know how much she loved irony, so I knew the tattoo would give her a big laugh in heaven :)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spring/Summer 2012 in Alaska; Part 1

I have to say I've never been quite so happy in my life.  There are some things that are troublesome - Faith has had a bit of a hard time adjusting; my agoraphobia has gotten worse over the last few weeks, and the damn sun never goes down =/.  I could totally handle the darkness.  Constant daylight (even with blackout shades)?  Hell.  My sleep patterns were bad before, but now I'm all kinds of confused!

As the snow melted slowly around May-ish, I began to question the people who said spring and summer in Alaska are amazing.  Everywhere there was mud and muck and bare trees, and the roads were like going 4x4ing in the woods.  Then, seemingly overnight, the grass greened, the leaves magically appeared on the trees, and everything was clean again.  It is so beautiful here that I don't have words to describe it, even in Anchorage.  The temperature doesn't get much about 60-70 (above 65 and people start complaining about the heat - love it!), and at night it rarely falls below 50.  I am in heaven with the temperatures and feel comfortable pretty much all the time.  Well, there was that weekend in Talkeetna, but that's coming up in a minute.

Richard has shown us so much of the state already.  In May we went to Homer, where we rented an amazing cabin with a stunning view of the inlet and the mountains across the way.  Unfortunately, I was so in awe of everything that I managed one whole picture, and it's quite sad looking:

But you can see the mountains at least.  They are MUCH closer from the actual cabin, I hate how pictures make things so minuscule.  In any case, here is the cabin's website with better pics :) - http://www.alaskancottages.com/.  I was disappointed that the only land-bound animal I saw was a snowshoe hare.  I saw lots of seal and otter though on the spit.  We enjoyed our time there immensely :).

In June, we made a quick trip to Talkeetna and Denali Park.  We once again rented a cute cabin in the woods that I loved, but the mosquitoes were fighting for ownership of it, so we spent our time indoors.  Here are my pics:

Well, this is Richard's actually.  He braved the swarms of giant killer mosquitoes for this shot....

And this is the inside, Faith's bed/couch. Upstairs was our bed.

It had a very hippy, groovy vibe and I LOVED it. It was called the "Moonflower Cabin."

We ventured into Talkeetna and I was totally unprepared for the hoards and hoards of cruise line tourists that had invaded. It's a lovely little town, very historic as it was the original starting point for climbing Mt. McKinley. Most of the original buildings still stand, and are cute, kitschy little shops now. Another thing I wasn't expecting was the 77 degree temperature and 1000% humidity. I had dressed for typical Alaska summer days (jeans, tank top, and light top over it), and I was drenched in sweat immediately, It felt like 100 degrees did back in Grants Pass, but with ridiculous humidity. We had lunch at a neat old restaurant/inn and browsed a few shops, but the heat got to us and we went back to the cabin. I immediately took a shower to cool down. We hung out at the cabin, had sammiches for dinner, and just enjoyed the light breeze through the (screened) windows. Upon arriving in our bedroom, we realized only one window had a screen....meaning there would be no moving air. I swear, it was 90+ in that room all night. We slept with wet washcloths behind our necks and wet towels in front of the open window to try to cool the air, but we were miserable most of the night.

We left rather early the next day for Denali, which was a 3-ish hour drive from Talkeetna. We passed some beautiful tundra, and mountains so high that you couldn't see the tops through the clouds. Unfortunately, the little "town" (more of a hotel with shops built around it than an actual town) was also stuffed with cruiseline passengers, but we had a mission. We were going on a 3-hour 4x4 adventure, driving our own jeep! There were only two other groups coming with us, so we had a 3 jeep caravan following our guide. Ironically, the road we were on was the one Christopher McCandless (Into the Wild) took to reach the bus he lived and died in. No, we didn't go to the bus - it's about 18 miles from the main road, and crosses a medium and very large river. We did, however, go "muddin," as the road was rutted and we went through several streams. I felt like I was back in my redneck days, working at the mill and spending the weekends in the hills! We went into one scary area called "the bobblehead" where you drop into a hole literally the size and depth of your jeep and climb back out, only to be jounced through deep ruts for quite a few yards. We giggled and screamed and had a grand time :). We met a guide who was very knowledgeable about Chris McCandless (or Alexander Supertramp as he renamed himself) and had himself hiked out and camped in the bus. It was a nice stop, then we turned around and did it all again! By the time we got home that night, we were all feeling sore and stiff, but it was a blast and totally worth it. Here is the company we went with - http://www.bestofalaskatravel.com/alaska_day_tours/pages/denali_jeep_safari.htm.

Some of the very few pics I got from Denali:

Richard at the wheel, keeping us in safe hands :) 

 The guide telling us about Chris McCandless

This was a fun one!

Since then, we've been enjoying the cool Alaska summer, going to movies and exploring excellent restaurants (my favorite is the Spenard Roadhouse!).  I'm not sure what trips we have ahead, but I know winter is creeping up soon.  I'm ready!  I love every season here :).