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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Amelia Island Artists Workshop
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell
http://www.sandrabaker-hinton.com
http://www.ameliasanjongallery.com
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

Something you can do for the soldiers serving away from home during the holidays, (sponsored by the Xerox Company).  Go to this site www.LetsSayThanks.com , pick out a card designed by an American youngster, add your message (you can do your own or pick out one).  These will be sent to a soldier currently serving in the Middle East.  You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.

We have a new house guest.  A most interesting one.  I found him outside my door the other day happily eating my Butterfly Weed plant.  I had planted these plants just in hopes I could attract such a visitor.  Only once before have I seen one of these fellows and I had left him outside.  He disappeared that day, probably eaten by one of my Anoles.  This time, knowing more about them, I clipped off a branch of its host plant, put it in a cage for such such things and watched as it happily ate his way around the container for another day.  Then last night this wonderous event happened.  I had left him that morning doing more of what he did best eat and... well you get the idea.  I came home from the gallery, checked on him and he was hanging from the top of the cage by his back end in kind of a lifeless form.  I called my other caterpillar gathering friend, Sandy, and asked if he was indeed getting ready to do his "change-o, change-o" act or if he was sick.  She said not to worry, that this was just the next stage.  This morning it had indeed done this magical metamorphosis.  If you click on the links just below you will see a fast version and a longer version of what transpired in my living room while I slept.  What a miracle life is!!!!  (A Monarch Butterfly is about to become a reality right before my eyes.) 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKjG1vm5F84&NR=1    ,   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FiPX1NAxt40&feature=related
 
 
I am thankful for my experiences from the many trips I am making to the beach, to check on my very slow turtle nest.  Lets hope that Santa doesn't beat them here.  Sometimes, it is the morning, and I am greeted by the sun glowing on the water making it shine like a new quarter.
There are always new things to see and I am thankful, and appreciate the little things in life, and can be thrilled with just a small little shell with a pretty color or a bubble reflecting my own image back at me in shimmering irridesence or that I can be excited by a pretty pattern that the tide has left for me to discover.
 
With the anticipation of turtles hatching and the drama of each day as it passes, (now 78 days and nothing happening), I am often on the beach in the evenings now with stethoscope in hand to be able to listen for sounds of the telltale scratching of the hatchlings digging to the surface.  It sounds like firecrackers popping starting out low, building up to a loud strong volume then fading out to nothing as they go into another rest period.  We do have reason to believe they are still growing, just slowly because of the cool weather.
 
More napping birds with heads tucked underneath their wings and resting on only one leg.  They look like a pair of bookends.
 
With late Fall we are finally getting some much needed rain but I have been lucky and not encountered any at the same time I need to be out there although I can see the showers off on the horizon.
 
A buzzard rides the thermals just above the nest.  We were scheduled to excavate the nest on Wednesday.  The good and bad is that we do know the nest still has viable eggs in it with the bad being that we lost one baby in determining that fact.  We thought the nest had gotten too cold since it was already into past 70 days.  As directed, I broke open an egg to see if the embryo had died or if it was just an infertile nest.  When I opened the egg, I found a live embryo.  It was a very sad thing to feel responsible for a turtle not making it but once the egg is broken into they cannot survive if they were not ready to hatch.
 
Our seasonal color change has been pretty and is what seems to launch our Christmas Season.  I have stopped looking for Fall color because it just doesn't happen until we start hanging our Christmas garlands.
 
One of my "middle of the day trips" and I smiled when I saw this very serene couple, sitting all alone on the beach side by side sharing a quiet time each reading their favorite book.  I noticed that the canopied chair the wife was using did not protect her face from the sun which had moved low enough to shine underneath but she didn't seem to notice.
 
I love these shells and seldom find a whole one.  Even though it is a bit banged up I happily tucked it into my pocket.  I usually get back to the gallery with a damp sandy pocket bottom to contend with all day, at least the sandy part.
 
With a lot of the dune vegetation turning brown the blue green of our prickly inhabitants are much more noticable.  Our version of the thistle is one of its more prickly citizens.
 
My boardwalk Gopher is often out on warmer days.  He is a very smart tortoise as he has dug his burrow in such a way that he has a front porch at his disposal underneath which he can get into the shade or out of the rain should he need to.  The tunnel he calls home extends back under me, as I hurry to get this image.
 
One of my favorite shrubs this time of year is this one.  I see them blooming and think they are very Christmasy with their bright green and red colors.  I think it is called a Turk's Cap but I am not sure.  This is the full bloom look not just a bud.  My friend and former artist neighbor, Patricia, does not like them because she thinks they always look incomplete as if they just can't quite make up their mind to bloom.  But I want one in my yard and think I will stop one day and ask someone who owns one if I can get a sprout. 
 
I am thankful I live close enough to walk over and enjoy the Ritz Carlton, my neighbor to the Southeast, and the lovely holiday lights and decorations they so freely share with me, their neighbor to the North.  The drive way up toward the entrance is ablaze with lights.  Bruce kept saying all the way over how lucky we were, unlike our neighbor, (and my potter) Chris, who sitting at home, watching ballgames, eating snacks, and drinking holiday spirits, while we got to walk to the Ritz, and join an intimate gathering of mere thousands.  (As you can tell Bruce is not much for tradition and would have much rather joined Chris but he was a good sport.)
 
It's their annual community event of lighting their Christmas tree.  The anchor is on the side of the giant Gingerbread Pirate ship which is the center piece of their lobby during the holidays.
 
I was almost too late to get to see Santa.  I climbed up on the stage to get this shot.  The crowd was overwhelming and the hot chocolate was gone but I did snag a cup of hot cider.  Thankfully it was a very warm night so the hot drink was desired more for the sugar than the heat.
 
The Christmas tree was very pretty with multi colored lights this year.  I think last year it was all white.  It was a fun time and the fireworks were off to a good start then a quick finale with not much in between.  I guess the Ritz is also feeling the economic pinch but we were all thankful for the special gift they give to the community.
 
Thanksgiving morning was off to a foggy start as I leaned against the squirrel feeding tree looking for a certain little squirrel girl as the birds on the nearby hanging feeder took turns getting their own Thanksgiving dinner.
 
I told Debra that it looked like we had a Thanksgiving tradition going now with two Paella years in a row.  The head chef starts the process with the chicken and sausages (can't remember the name, I think it's Chorizo, which she had shipped in from Spain.  The taste was great so worth the extra effort to get it.
 
Chef number 2, Christopher, was on hand to keep the order of the ingredients going in at the proper time.
 
Last year I gave a step by step of each part of the process and figured if you wanted to know how to do it you could go back to last years story just like Debra did who had left her recipe in Chicago.  Of course it is one of those dishes that can be varied as this year no crab claws but added artichoke hearts.
 
We applauded them for a job well done as the timer clicks around telling us it is "time".
 
The table looked very elegant.
 
And this was one beautiful Thanksgiving dinner, with the colors to make any artist's eyes happy and thankful even before letting my tastebuds in on the act.
 
We had some drop in company in the form of Bobby and granddaughter Amanda for a bit of dessert.  Such a cutie as she showed us her newly-graduated-to training wheel equipped bicycle, instead of her tricycle.  She blew us a goodbye kiss as they headed back home.  I am thankful for friends who care and share.

(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature, and island life. Thousands of hours have been poured into them and it has even become necessary to enlist the services of a paid email service to send out the large numbers who now receive them. So, with the current economic situation if you are able to make a small donation to help ensure the continuation of the stories it would be greatly appreciated.)



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