To get it out of the way and quell any raging curiosity, despite a bit of nerves but lots of support and great advice from friends like Gil, Inky, Crystal, and the Tattooed Knitters' Group on Ravelry, I did actually go through with the tattoo this afternoon (much to the surprise of a couple friends).
I absolutely LOVE it! We (the artist, Chrissy at Copper Coffin, and I) decided on all black because of the fine lines rather than trying to work color in and potentially ruining it. I really love the simplicity of it - her initial design was really gorgeous (you can see the remains of the stencil of it a little in the pic - I was THAT close to getting that one!), but a lot more complicated and curvy and in the end, I just couldn't do it. We had to go back to the drawing board for about an hour before we settled on this one (based on an image we found online) but once we hit on it, I was totally ready. And, before anyone asks, I won't say it was the most pleasant experience of my life, but it didn't really hurt, either. On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a "what was that?" and 10 being a "omg, please kill me now!", it was about a 2.5. It got slightly higher than that only once or twice, but never for more than a second or two, but Gil's suggestion of "ceremony" helped. I'm super happy with it and can't wait to show it off! Several of my friends have teased me that tattoos are addictive, but it took a year of pondering and almost another full year to be absolutely sure of what I wanted, so while I'll never say never, I'm not forseeing another tattoo in near future. I love this one, it's exactly what I wanted, and another image is going to have to stay in my head for at least that long again to make me want it.
In my quest to amuse myself when not on base, and also because I've been researching some of the local history (the local library has some really good books), I took myself on a low-cost ($5) field trip on Tuesday. Inspired by some pretty pictures of the place from a book on local ghost stories (one of the main reasons I'm looking into local history), I decided to head south and see Mission Santa Barbara up close and personal:
Mass is still held there certain days of the week, and you can tour the cemetery with its super old grave markers in both English and Spanish (which, of course, is something I had never really thought about before), but most of it is now a museum and really interesting. I learned, for example, that the girl that the story "Island of the Blue Dolphins" (which I sort of vaguely remember reading in early grade school, but am more familiar with it because it was one of our Outreach shows last year) was real and was taken from San Nicolas island to the mission to be cared for after she was "rescued". (Considering she died from an illness seven weeks after her rescue, and she had survived something like seventeen years on the island by herself, not sure if it actually did her any good, unfortunately.)
The gardens were small, but I saw this plaque and thought Mom would like it:
"He even said that the brother gardener ought to reserve a place in a corner for a beautiful small garden where he put all kinds of aromatic herbs & flowering plants so that they, in their season, might invite all men who looked at them to praise God. For every creature says & proclaims "God has created me for you, O man!" - St. Francis of Assisi
And despite the ghost stories, I found it a very peaceful place to spend a lovely sunny afternoon. I took tons of pictures, but one in particular has something interesting. This is a picture of the original central altar of the mission. It has been restored, but it is kept off to the side of the main chapel (which is quite lovely, btw) in a small alcove for preservation reasons. It is the only thing in the room and takes up about 85% of the space. There is no glass around it - visitors are kept back by a simple velvet rope across the doorway. Flash photography is not allowed. I took three pictures of the altar from the same angle, but only one had this white splotch on the right side.
Not being any kind of photography expert (if it's more complicated than point and click, it's not mine), it's got to be some lighting thing, I'm sure. But I did think it was interesting that it didn't happen in any of the others.
No real knitting news. I'm working on the third square of the second strip, and Baby S saw me working on the Twizzle scarf with TKD Grandma between classes on Monday and decided that he "want to knit!" He climbed up next to me and I'd wrap the yarn around the needle and let him pull the new stitch off the old needle. It was pretty cute - he was in one of those rare cuddly but still happy moods that are so sweet to be around. My knuckles were hurting a little this week, though, so I put down the knitting and picked up the Noah's Ark cross-stitch for a few days. I almost have the current page of the chart finished!! Only, um, seven more pages to go...yes, it's HUGE, for a cross-stitch project!
Picked up a couple new pairs of slacks that actually fit and have all the paperwork ready to start working on base on Monday. We're going to get my computer access taken care of during drill this weekend (hopefully, anyway), and the guys at the unit seem pretty happy to hear that I'll be there more frequently. It sounds like I'll be splitting time between the building the 216th is in and 11777 (Eleven Triple Seven), which is the main operations building on base. It will be nice to have a real schedule, a real (if temporary, but they're working on that) job, and be around some new people!