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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)

Wonderful new metal sculptures just in, and at reasonable prices, by artist Jonathan Bowling from North Carolina.  Very primitive welded pieces using found objects.  Fun things.
As the month clicks away on the calendar, I am still up to my eyeballs in Monarchs.  Making sure there is food enough to feed them is a daily ritual.  Cleaning the terrarium with this much usage also becomes a necessary chore.  Its good I have that distraction to take my mind off one of the worst months I have ever had in business here, as I am still wondering when we'll bring in enough proceeds from the hordes of folks in town to cover extravagances like rent.  Hordes? -LOL, as they say on Facebook.  Or, and "damhikt", perhaps the throngs are just carying out their innocent "ifuee", (Don't worry those are not off-color, you just have to know your web lingo!

Thanks to the History Museum's offer of a small supply of Butterfly Weed from their Butterfly Garden, I have been provided with enough food to feed them.  Cleaning is done depending on the condition of the container. The lid has to be carefully lifted off as now Caterpillars are attaching their Chrysalis to that section also.  Bruce has to assist.  I lift all the plants out with their Caterpillars still clinging to them, remove dead leaf debris and bare stems, wash the containers, refilling with fresh water, then replace the plants with the still eating caterpillars.  I remove the paper towel flooring, clean that area, and replace.  I reassemble as quickly as possible (it all takes about 5 minutes) because Bruce is standing in the wings holding onto the precious cargo.  But the reward is to sit at my desk and watch this kind of miracle unfold right before my eyes.  This one's image was captured just seconds after bursting out of its Chrysalis; it now waits on that big fat body to pump the fluid inside into the wings to inflate them.  A lot like pumping up a bicycle tire.

The wings quickly expand, in a matter of minutes.  Then it hangs in place for a couple of hours, I let them decide when they are ready by watching to see when they start moving away from the empty Chrysalis.  When that happens I carefully put my finger in front of them and they climb on board and are ready for transporting outside.  Usually they will just hang on their new plant perch for a while before heading up into the sky and away.

I have had one Gulf Fritillary Caterpillar and he seems to have done alright except that it seems it has taken a very long time for him to grow into any size.  I am not sure if this is normal or something lacking in his food source that may have interfered with his development.  I have kept it in a separate holding tank.  It only eats Passion Flower.

Even though the Monarch does not change colors it does shed all or parts of its skin during growing.  It then eats the skin as this fellow is doing.  Because I wasn't seeing the skin fall away I wasn't aware of this changing until Lisa pointed it out to me.  I keep learning things as I go along, as with all of life.

Looking like a brilliant stained glass window, this one catches the backlight from the morning sun.  They seem to like the small trumpet-like blossoms of the Rosemary plants, so I usually set them on it; so if they want a snack before hitting the road it is readily available.

Another girl's day out with Adrian catching her first big fish.  I have learned from her also that it is better to handle the inside of that mouth with a rag to prevent the blood loss I was having from each fishing trip as I reached in to remove the hooks.  The smell of human blood on the bait may have been more enticing to the fish in the creek but the sore fingers for days afterward was something it will be nice to avoid.  An artist must protect the tools of her trade.

Its twins!!!  It was fun to get up to check the terrarium, and see that we had two, a boy and a girl.  This gives a good chance to show the difference in the sexes.  The top one is a male with the thin black lines and the black dot on the back wing which interrupts the middle line.  It looks like someone tried to erase a spot on the hard black like with a dirty eraser.  The bottom is a female, with her thicker black lines and NO thick spot on her back wing lines.  Next time you can tell the difference too.  In the beginning we had mostly males but now the numbers have shifted and it seems that most are females.

The twins I freed by setting them on the New Zealand Tea Tree which is one of my favorite plants.  It blooms all winter.  They are difficult to get to grow but once established are very hardy.  Very pretty small blossoms which can vary with the different plants from a softer pink to a dark burgundy bloom.

I told you that the color would dramatically change on my Sumac.  I just love the brilliance and the way the low winter sun makes it glow as it changes from yellow green to vibrant orange-red.

As I sit at my desk this is the view, and the bright spots of color give me a nice break in the dark greens of the Oaks and brighter green of my shrubbery and the hanging gray Spanish Moss.  It does literally glow when the sun gets on the other side of it just like the butterflies wings did.

Another evening when I take the time to catch the Marsh sunset.  The colors are possibly slightly exaggerated by the camera in the intensity of the blue in the sky but doesn't it give a great contrast to the yellow and orange of the sunset itself?

It's hard to decide in such a scene whether it needs a tighter view, giving the pretty cloud effect, or the wider angled total picture.  I thought I'd just give you both and you can chose your favorite.  It seems like the "Mare's Tail" formations have been most prevalent lately, probably because we have not had the big rain containing clouds, which we need.

One of my overnighters had made it to the window and seemed to be gazing longingly at the world outside.  Her daydreams were soon fulfilled as the sun quickly warmed that outside world up enough for me to feel better about turning her loose.

I took the opportunity to take one of the not so clear photos of this scene and play with it with the new tools on my Picassa.  Usually I don't do that but this can give me some good ideas for a painting as my mind is shifting to wanting to do a big butterfly painting.

Well it looks like our thorny looking Gulf Fritillary is entering another stage in the transforming life of a butterfly.

On Sunday morning I had another set of twins waiting.  One a few minutes ahead of the other.  That is fun, and since I have the day off to fool with them, I can move them outside and keep an eye on them.  Its a drizzly cool day outside so I will not be tempted by the sun magnet in my posterior to be drawn outdoors for any significant amount of time.

When the rain started I moved the first that one I had taken out to the flower bed, and the second one, when it was ready, to a Mexican Petunia plant just outside my back door but underneath the eave in the dry.  They hung out there all day.  As the day wore on, I was in for more surprises as two more emerged.

WOW!! What was two is now four, and I decide that with the weather so damp and chilly I would just let them overnight on the dining room table since I had seen in them no interest in flying, such as exhibited by the outdoors couple.

Playing with my new toys I take this butterfly photo and turn it into a monochromatic concept for painting.

This female latched onto the one male in the group and was really going after him.  He was smaller than she was so I was afraid she would hurt him.  I moved her 3 different times to another part of the plant but she would always go back to him.  Bruce said "they are too young" and I say "when life is as short as theirs you are probably just born ready".

Outside, with our wonderfully warm winter, I find the signs of awakening and hormones starting to get ready for nesting season as Monday was a wonderful sun-shiny day.  It was evident in the love song of our little Carolina Wren as he sang for his soul mate.  Lets hope they once again nest in the birdhouse that was their home last year.

What I thought was a leaf stuck on my outside screen was instead this very amorous set of unusual moths involved in what must be construed as a lover's embrace.  There is probably a lot going on underneath that spread open wing that might be too risque for polite company.

The Florida Green Anoles are awaking from their winter slumber.  This one seemed to be wondering about the origin of this evidence of the passing-by, pardon the expression, of one of his own kind (the black spot with its white tip which has dropped off).  You can always tell Anole droppings by the white dot on the end.  This one was still in a slow mode as he sat in this one spot even when I put my finger toward his head all he did was open his mouth.  If I had only had a dead fly it would have been a first step in reinforced training to eat flies from my hand, but you can't find a dead fly when you need one.  I was even pretty sure I saw Lewis Lizzard, since he was not fearful of me, but was more grown up and a beautiful bright green color.  Good old Lewis, he was fun to keep for a while.  I would hate to think of him being kept captive forever though.  He seemed to be having a good time running around the front porch where I first found him lying, that cold day, when he was still in hibernation mode.  I had thought him dead but after a few days he revived.  But that's another story already in the archives; if you want to do the research and find it.

Lets hope that winter has gone, at least for the time my mom, Aunt Helen, brother Mike and Sister-in-law Denise are visiting me, till the end of the week.  The Northwest has been cold, damp and snowy for my brother, so they are certainly ready for warmer weather.  Here's to fun, family and Spring.

Work is beginning on two more commissions, one which will not be so difficult (I hope) and another undersea one which will be large and a challenge.

(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. 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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