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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
Amelia Island Artists Workshop (for workshop schedules)

Reminder; Second Saturday, and the Artrageous Artwalk come early this month!

Perhaps we'll see you here the evening of the 8th...

Another year has slipped away and the smells of the New Year's Day Southern tradition of black eyed peas, greens, and pork roast, (I don't do Hog Jowl), are wafting from the kitchen and are just about ready; only waiting for cornbread to bake.  I look back on the last week and realize why I slept so late this morning.  I was just plain tired.
A good bit of energy was expended trying to make sure our early gift from nature, Charles the Monarch, ate well enough to survive getting to a warmer climate.  Most of his kind had left for Mexico by the first of November, not sitting around munching milkweed leaves in their caterpillar stage.  This was the dining room table where Charles was free to hang out during that time.  Although he flew some he never left the room.  The big attraction was the window or the rather-too-hot, cut glass light over the dining room table.
Christmas Eve and nest check was chilly and a bit windy, so I did a quick check while my momma-in-law waited on me in the car.  The Wax Myrtle berries were all decked out waiting for Christmas, a gift for the birds.
As usual, the turtle nest sits unchanged.  It has been way too cold to expect any activity; if that were to happen, personally, I think it would be a true miracle, akin possibly to something of Biblical proportion, but we will continue to check it according to the Wildlife people's directive.
Feeding a butterfly is something which led to a lot of experimentation.  We tried apples, oranges, every kind of flower I could find blooming in the yard and at Lowe's Garden Center.  The middle of the record-breaking early cold spell was not your best timing, Charles.
I enhanced this flower by spraying it and Charles with a fine mist of water which got him interested in feeding.  His proboscis is extended into this flower which also had a bit of sugar water in it to add some additional interest to his receiving enough food to survive.
Shelia, my Mother-In-Law, was with us the week of Christmas, and I think that watching Charles was one of the highlights of her trip.  Probably even out classed a trip to the Ritz to see their Christmas lights.  It was very cold most of the time she was here, not what she expected.  She refused any outdoor activities; and one thing about our island, the interesting things are very often outdoors.
I even managed to entice Charles to eat from the same hypodermic syringe that Shelly used for her bottle.  By spraying him with a bit of water to get him licking his legs, he would then find the sugar water in the syringe.  It was fun to visibly see the sugar water in the tip go down right before your eyes.  I thought it a success to have him drink with his straw like proboscis more than the whole tip full.  Actually I think semi-training a butterfly to drink from a hypodermic syringe was a success.
On Tuesday after Christmas it was time to head to Orlando to deliver Shelia to the airport for her trip back to Chattanooga and also the destination I had picked for Charles's return to nature.  As we prepared to leave I had to prepare Charles for the trip.  Underneath the flower bed of blooms was a shallow dish of sugar water.  Once in Orlando we spent almost 5 hours for Shelia's plane to be ready to fly to Chattanooga, it was the week of the big blizzard and a very cold in the south also.  Orlando's Sanford airport had never had to de-ice a plane before.  So the whole day was in flight delay mode as the plane then went into snow territory and back again before being ready to go to Tennessee.  Son, Eric, in the meantime was sitting in the Chattanooga airport waiting to catch Shelia's plane back to Orlando.  I was on the phone giving him updates on the status of the plane so that he and the others waiting on the flight would know when to leave the airports "only bar" to proceed on through security.  I was beginning to feel like an airline employee.
 Next day I tagged along with son David as he paid a visit to one of his best friends and work cohorts, Davy Jordon's place of work.  "Wavy" Davy was working for Heather Henson, daughter of Jim, in her puppet studio.  I love to see the product of so much creativity just laying around these warehouses.  This was part of a puppet show which had a very dark subject.  There are many moving parts to this creation.  This was a puppet show about a very sad real-life story about two brothers, one physically handicapped and his caretaker brother who was a "collector", who could not throw anything away.  As a result the house became so piled up with newspapers and "stuff" that the only way the caretaker brother could reach the handicapped brother to take him food was to crawl through a tunnel he had made through the stacks of "stuff".  In the end both died because the caretaker brother was trapped when the tunnel collapsed on him leaving the other brother without food or care until he died.
I think I am inspired to start cleaning house tomorrow especially paper-work piles!!!! 
Watching these two very creative people interact and discuss their craft is very interesting.  Here Davy was showing David some puppets he created for a Christmas Nativity story.  They were talking about the merits of using magnets to provide a pivot point for the movements which would allow for less wear and tear on the joint and also allow you to quickly detach the rod and reattach to another place just though the touching of the magnets.  A new development in the world of puppets.
I found this laying around, a discarded prop from another show.  It was very 3-D and would make a great art wall piece. 
As we headed out to have lunch, Davy pointed out the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus Train, which was parked on a side track near his workshop.  We got out and walked down the train cars just to check it out.  What I saw made me better feel the real lives of the circus people, the Roadies.  We really didn't see any of the people but saw bits of their lives as we strolled down the tracks.  A hibachi and folding chair outside one car, plants and personal pieces of someone's life in a window, and a Christmas wreath on the train car door with a child's new Christmas bike.  Yes, these are real people leading real lives with families and all, not just a make believe clown face in an act.
While in Orlando the Baker clan had a reunion with cousins which we don't get to see very often.  Cousins with lots of children from the New York area.  We got together at Margaritaville which was so loud my voice was about gone on leaving, from talking over the din.  In the crowd was the oldest offspring down to the youngest and one in the oven due to emerge come Spring.  Brother-in-Law Bill had 4 daughters but has been surprised with daughters who have produced some 9 grandsons so far with #10 coming soon.
By watching the weather closely I had calculated the best time to release Charles.  Thursday was the warm up day with several warm days and nights to follow.  After managing to feel that Charles had eaten enough to make it for a while I set out to find a suitable place to set him free.  My idea was that probably the area around the Disney Village Shopping area in Buena Vista would be the best place.  Trying to find the proper environment of flower beds, water and not so much TRAFFIC was a challenge.  Because of the below freezing temperatures, even in Orlando, the only flowers were Pansies, Snap Dragons, Petunias and Geraniums, more cold hardy flowers, which I am not sure were the best nectar flowers, but, it is what it is.
Once there I thought maybe I should drive around and see if I might find a better place.  After I decided there were no accessible flower beds on the Golf Course Road I had taken, I pulled into a tiny, almost dirt, unmarked road in which to turn around.  Upon my tires touching this path, which led to the dumpsters, I found myself in a matter of seconds confronted by a police patrol car and no less than two others within seconds of arriving, as I left.  I was informed I had tripped an alarm by turning into a restricted area.  I was afraid that Charles and I would be in the same cell there for a while.  The airport needs to hire the Disney Police and do away with the TSA.  We would be a whole lot safer considering the degree of security they have going for the "Disney" dumpsters.  After almost getting arrested I decided the publicly accessible area at the Village was still the best spot.
After a bit of exploring the best place seemed to be near the restaurants which had the biggest variety of flowers as we tried several different beds, blue, yellow and even red ones.
I finally settled on this dense bed of small blue pansies which had droplets of water left and I added some sugar water drops also to help out in the transition.  I reluctantly left Charles who was not as enthusiastic as I had hoped about being in the wild and seemed to prefer sitting on my finger to climbing around on the plant life.  But I had to decide that his survival would depend on his own natural instincts kicking in.  It would have been better if he could have been released two days before but the cold weather was just too severe.  Life is not always perfect, is it?  Now Charles the Monarch lives in the Magic Kingdom, rather fitting.
It was great to be back on Amelia Island even though New Year's eve was very eventful; two friends , which we had introduced a couple of years ago, were having a whirl-wind small wedding, pulled together in two days.  Everything went perfectly without the frustration and tension that seems to go along with those usually over-planned wedding "events".  I am for simplicity and a relaxed atmosphere, particularly where weddings are concerned.  I had introduced the couple so it was a "must" to attend.

Afterwards it was nice to get a last minute invitation to hang out and cook hotdogs at some other friends' house.  We all surrounded their outdoor fire pit, with some of our closest friends both human and animal.  Trotter, one of their three Chinese Crescents, -"rescue dogs", was providing a warm lap for Mary his human mom.  I enticed Cody and China to take turns keeping me warm.  It was a 3 dog night even with the fire.
After the busy week I had been through it was nice to put my feet up to the warm fire and just relax.
Nothing like a good fire and the equipment to roast three dogs at a time, (wieners, not my lap warmers), and good friends to see the year out with.
The New Year has arrived, and along with sleeping late we were treated to a visit from our own little girl.  Bruce grabbed the camera to update the family album.  Shelly, we have found, goes through a more cordial time between families.  She is free of the responsibility of young children and she is not "yet" pregnant with new ones.  She is more like the old Shelly we knew.  She will even run all the way to our patio to greet us, looking for her pecans and peanuts.  Nothing for feeling like you are loved for what you have.  Bruce says that he can almost hear her telling the kids, "I know they are kinda big and funny looking but that's my parents".
After hiding some of the nuts, she settled down to eating some of the cracked ones.  Don't you love the new copper "pearl like" necklace I just got in.  Had to give it a trial wearing.  It is in perfect condition and a very hard piece to find.  As soon as they come on the market they get snatched up.
I can sneak in a mommy kiss although I don't reach out to touch her with my other hand while she is eating as she becomes defensive and will growl at you.  It is best not to mess with natural instincts in wild animals.
Our family sends you greetings and best wishes for the best year possible in 2011.  
and congratulations Shawn and Ann...

(Please take a moment to consider:
These photo-stories have always been offered completely free, to simply share the wonders of nature, and life on the Island. 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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