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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)

It is with a very sad heart that I relay the message about Luna, the Bald Eagle chick, who took her first flight with TV cameras recording the event, which I sent last week, had died.  I don't know the circumstances, or if anyone knows what happened, but for all the people who followed her life from the courting and coupling of her parents to their nurturing of their only child, I express my sadness at this sad turn of events  Such is nature...
 Countdown to Sea Turtle Season and early rising.  It begins May 1.  Beaches all over Florida, where there is nesting, will be patrolled each and every day by volunteers who collect data and mark nests for monitoring.  A worthwhile and interesting project.  I am reading a book called Tracks in the Sand, Sea Turtles and their Protectors, given to me by another turtle person.  In it, the person who is the subject of the story is a long time "Turtle Lady".  Since this is a story about the Turtle people rather than the turtles, the comment was that turtle people, when asked about why we do it, don't ever call it, "a spiritual bond with the beach", or anything like, "The sand is a confessional", or refer to the sky as stained glass; instead they only smile, use words like "duty", and "fulfilling".  They will tell you that from that first moment they saw the first nest emerge, they were addicted.  And so it is. 
 

At the Farmer's Market on Saturday I thought the goodies in this booth so cute that I just had to show it off.  You can see their phone number and website in the middle bottom photo if you need to put in your Easter order.  They will be at the market on Saturday.  Remember it is the last chance for your purchases since there will be no Farmer's Market during Shrimp Festival the following week.
They are The Red Queen Cakery and their motto is that they "Support Frostitution".   Their prices seemed very reasonable.


 We have carted this birdhouse with us all the way from N. Georgia partly because of who made it, and partly because it was just such a cool design.  It has weathered many storms, -even some mild hurricanes, with time being its biggest enemy.  The old fellow who made it did it out of his love for Bluebirds.  He even came out to install it in the perfect spot, (all for $20), which from our bedroom window we watched many, many seasons of Bluebirds grow up and leave.  It was originally built with the perfect diameter hole, a base which inserts into a steel pipe making it removable as well as a removable top.  This way it could be taken down and cleaned and also you could take the top off enabling you to look down into the nest and see the babies once they were hatched.
 
   It is very pretty real estate if you are a bird looking for a home.  It has a nicely patinaed cedar siding that withstands years of abuse, and is firmly planted on a sturdy pole, relatively inaccessible from the ground, and is beautifully landscaped with an in-bloom Jasmine twig which stubbornly keeps reaching out to it.  It is a bit of a fixer-upper with the too-wide front door, compliments of a squirrel which had thought about nesting there.  Adjustments can be made to suit the tenant.
 
It sat birdless down here for several seasons then finally we got a pair of Chickadee's to set up housekeeping after we moved it into a more open space.  Chickadee's are fun birds to watch.  It will take them all day to get their fledging chicks out and flying.  They bring them out one at a time, teach them the ropes, then bring out the next student.  Last year, low and behold, we saw bluebirds working in the box.  Unfortunately they were only helping themselves to nesting material which they took with them to another location.  I kept intending to patch the too big hole so that it wasn't too big, but just didn't get that old "Round Tuit" given me in time. 
 
This last week I was thrilled to see one of my favorite little birds, the Carolina Wren, busily building a nest, showing that in these troubled times a fixer-upper can be desirable.  The too wide front door was blocked with yard leaves for now and will just add to the ability of the kids to exit. 
 
For birds which often build in a flower pot I would think the security of solid roof and walls and some protection from snakes which often seem to prey upon the bounty of their nests so often, this would probably be like accommodations at the Ritz.
 
With the leaves all properly arranged, the bird is off for more nesting materials.  I am told that a Carolina Wren male will build more than one nest and then when he attracts a mate he will let her choose which nest they will use.
 
...with the nest almost built he is declaring it, himself included, to be on the market, and he is singing his own praises.  "Available male, good credentials as a homebuilder".  Wrens make a lot of distinctive sounds, but to me the most distinctive, which I clearly remember from hearing the couple who used to nest in a birdhouse outside my office window, was the distress call when Mr. Sneaky Snake came calling, which he always did at least once a year.  I instantly knew the difference in the alert that was sounded when Tigger the Cat was prowling and when the snake was stalking.  I am hoping these wrens will decide to become long-term tennants, because the ones in Georgia stayed in their house all year long, huddling together to sleep and stay warm in winter time.  Very desirable tenants.  For now the nest sits in ready position and once in a while I see one of the wrens stop to check it out but so far no nesting has taken place.
 
I got a little different view of the sunset's reflections as the day my girl guests left I had two nights of speaking engagements in a row.  This one was aboard a small cruise ship which comes into town about once a month.  From the upper deck I could watch the sunset as my captive audience found their way up for my presentation.
 
It was a pretty nice sunset but definitely not a ten on the scale of great sunsets.
 
Having just finished two commissions, which you have not yet seen, I have started another very large one and another one a bit smaller.  This one is 4ft by 5 ft so just getting the canvas covered with paint all over is the biggest part of the early challenge.  Once that happens then I can get on with turning it into a decent painting.  This one is for my brother's office in Anacortes, Washington.  The office is in a replica of an old Cannery Building, a very important part of the waterfront in the Northwest.  Thinking the building itself is not that interesting in shape, I am focusing most of my attention on the water and the interesting fishing boats from that area.  You can watch it grow with me.
 
I have seen our little green boy Lewis Lizzard a couple of times.  I am pretty sure it is Lewis because he got so used to me sticking my hands in the terrarium with him that he doesn't flee in terror when I come on the scene.
 
It looks like he is shedding again or else he has had his nose in a spider's web.  The first day I got him he had a spider webby nose.
For now though, our other wild child, Shelly Squirrel, is MIA.  We have not seen her for almost two months.  It was time for more children and we expected her to turn up eventually, as she usually did, but she never took this long.  The Asplundh Tree trimming crew spent a very, very long time working the area along the road very near where her nest was located.  We even commented on how long it was taking them to do that short stretch of the street.  As defensive as she was, where her children were concerned, we think she may have moved them to another location, even further away.  You will be among the first to know if she shows back up.  We sure do miss her visits, and not a morning or afternoon goes by without our going out to call her name, making sure she knows she is still wanted.
 
Another Day's progress on the Northwest painting.  I have the drawing and have also blocked in shapes for yet another commission painting which will be the last before I start on another Koi piece.   I am excited about doing the Koi painting as it will be a different shape, long and narrow and a shape I think will be fun to do.  I have always wanted to do paintings of Koi fish but have been hesitant because I didn't want them to look like what everyone else does, since it is a common subject for artists.  Now, I think I have a more unique technique going, and won't feel I am copying anyone else.
 
Outside my studio backdoor I was treated today to a special treat.  Felix, who rides his tricycle around selling goodies, pineapples, peanuts (slightly overcooked), his mom's home cooked goodies (very good although not sure they are not store bought), and playing his harmonica at the various restaurants and street corners was joined in a rendition of "You Are My Sunshine", by an opera singer who was dining in the patio out back, who had just sung a very nice rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star...
 
...all for the benefit of this cute little butterfly princess who was entertaining herself by climbing up and down my back steps while her parents finished their breakfast.
 
More progress as I added some color to the clouds and painted the sky for a third time.  The water is beginning to flow into the bay.
 
At the end of today, the clouds were repainted once again so they didn't look too stormy, and the water continues to take shape.  More to come as we all wait to see how it comes out. 
 
This is the blocked-in shapes of what will become the next commission piece.  Can you guess what it is going to be???

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