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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)

"Note to everyone";
It's that time again!  2nd Saturday = Artwalk, and of course, our usual fun party.  There are also some new additions since last month's gathering.  At least one is amazing...

As Summer is devoted to the Sea Turtles, Fall and Winter moves into what has become Monarch Season for me.  

There is some overlapping in Fall, with the last sea turtles waiting for hatching, and the beginning of the Monarchs' southern migration.  I am told that not all Monarchs leave our area, which could account for our late, late continued hatching of these fairy-like creatures.  There is much I don't know or understand about their life cycle, and I am not sure anyone has it all figured out.  There is research offering various theories such as "relay teams" making the migration rather than the same butterfly starting and ending the long migration journey.  I am content to play my small part in their life events, observing, helping where I can, and appreciating the magic that I see in their transition from egg to caterpillar; then the radical squirming and twisting dance ending with the transformation into a Chrysalis; culminating with the most amazing part of all when this beautiful winged form emerges ready to start the cycle all over.  I prefer to just consider it magic and not worry about the science.

Just like the Sea Turtles, Monarch's lives are mysterious but special.  One with a very brief life span and one with a life span that can extend beyond that of those who devote their lives working to save them.  It is not often that we have this many butterflies emerge in one day, yet before long I think it will happen again.  They look almost as if an explosion of blooms had happened on the Butterfly Weed.

This beautiful pair seem to almost be doing a ballet as they explore the new world of being outdoors with freedom, air currents, and the smells of nectar from the nearby flowers.  The one closest to the screen is a male.  Distinguished by the two dots on the second bars of his back wings.

The Fall colors have been very enduring with the Red Maples having reached their colors, then the red leaves of the Virginia Creeper, but none happening in unison so that you could get a real splash.  Finally today as I sat at my home desk the outside Sumac where I get my most vivid Fall color is just now at its peak and it is January 1.

Not much has been has been exciting enough to photograph because mornings are a rush hurrying to get into work in the mornings and then working until it is too dark for sunsets.  The best chance at getting color in my life is in the form of my last load of the Light Catchers I make and the paintings on which I have been working.  With the multitude of colors from which to chose with the glass and the paint I can create color even when the days don't give me time to observe it in nature.

The fish are back biting at my favorite fishing hole but days off and the best tides have been elusive with only a couple of chances to fish.  My last trip was with friend, Fran, even though I thought I had be best spot, it seems she actually got the best one this time, catching several, while I only caught some in the kindergarten stage of life.  But I can create some pretty cute guys in my studio. 

Not quite the season for Jellies in the ocean but a few new ones have floated into the gallery.  I have a glass blower friend in Southeast Tennessee who lets me use these scraps he discards from his glass blowing process.  He is the only one I know whose by-product is these swirly twisty glass form that I can use for fins, tails, and Jelly tentacles.

Christmas snuck up on me as deadlines came and time to quickly get creative with trying to come up with gifts that are special but not costly.  I ran across this photo of my eldest son tucked away in my old treasure storehouse, which I had forgotten about.  Time to pass it on.  I reconditioned the photo as best I could, matted, framed, and one present taken care of.  Eric is the tall young man in the white outfit in the sea of blue. " Bones" was his nickname because he was so skinny.  He was the drum major and his high school competitions were Band Festivals, and although taking place on the football field, were not the kind of "goals" which his former Little All American football star dad would have preferred, but that his mom liked just fine.  What mom wants people beating up on their kids.

Speaking of offspring, our adoptee, Lacy continues to pay her almost daily visits.  Bruce holds his breath, (hoping for a dry run), as she trots across the computer keys for nut treats which are kept between us forcing her to maintain a semi-personal relationship with us.  In every other respect she is wild.  We humanly and selfishly hold on to some privilege as adopted parents.

Lacy came by to open Christmas presents on our lazy Christmas morning; we opened the door so she could indulge in her gift of a bag of peanuts.  She doesn't really like them that much but has this compulsion to hide and store food for a later day.  The peanuts fit the bill for being highly portable and are held in the mouth easily.  It is very funny watching a squirrel position a nut in their mouth to make sure it is in the best possible position to ensure not dropping it.  They will try it on both ends before deciding on the best way.

A living Ornament.  The day after Christmas brought another magical Monarch moment but also cold temperatures outside with near freezing temperatures at night.  When night time came and our butterfly was still hanging in the same place as he started out the day I felt sorry for him and brought him back inside to spend the night.  The Christmas tree seemed to be a good perch.  

Another night I brought him inside and the wreath on the door was where he spent the night.  Finally it has warmed up enough to leave him outdoors.  Hopefully his was a good, though likely short life.

Since I was in Tennessee for the traditional Thanksgiving Eve lighting of the tree at the Ritz Carlton I never got to see it lit.  I was just exhausted.  I fell right before Christmas and sprained my ankle.  I am not sure why, but fell like a tree on the den floor, lucky to not have broken my ankle.  I believe that, in retrospect, that my bad knee gave out on me causing the fall.  On the night after Christmas Day my knee which was already showing signs that the round of shots taken last summer were not working reached a peak.  It locked up leaving me unable to bend, straighten, or put my weight on it.  

After weeks now of crutches, injections, and doctors offices it looks like I am headed for the long awaited knee surgery.  I am just waiting on an appointment with the Orthopedic Doctor to confirm to what extent.  I believe we have postponed it as long as we can.  As my doc had said its like buying the last set of tires you will ever buy for your car you want to put it off as long as you can.  I believe we have done just that.  

I did go to the Ritz yesterday on a mission to spread the word that whales were swimming by right in front of the hotel.  For the first time in days I "crutched" myself to the car and went to the beach to "see the whales".  If you don't know, the Right Whales come to our area about December to have their babies.  They travel from Nova Scotia, their Summer residence, which has very similar conditions as our winter water.  They have their calves and then head back home around March.  I got the word that they were within viewing distance of my closest beach.  It was not a spectacular sighting with no breaching of the big guys, but just to know that you were actually getting to see these wonderful and very endangered animals was very special treat.

I am not sure what I was seeing here but think it was the tip of the tail from a side view since they don't have dorsal fins and their tails are horizontal.  It could be a side fin. The Northern Right Whales are our most endangered of the whales with only about 350 of them left in existence.  They are watched by the New England Aquarium who monitors their migration as well as rescue efforts when they become entangled in ropes and are in other distress.  They also keep count of all the new births.  It is the rarest and most endangered cetacean in the world.  To be able to actually see one or some with your very own eyes was very exciting.  Each and every whale is identified by the unique (to each whale), callosite, large white patches on their skin in the head area.  These callosites are caused by large clusters of "whale lice", an unpleasant thought, but these patterns are necessary in identifying and tracking each whale and their reproduction rate.  

Although these whales are smaller than the Blue Whales, the largest whale, the male Northern Right Whales do have some other attributes which are "world" record breaking, beyond any other mammal in the world.  I leave that to you to do your research.  These magnificent animals are docile, do not run away from boats, and also float when dead therefore they became the favorite target for whalers and were called Right Whales because they were the right one to kill.  

We are the ultimate in old folks now being in bed by 11 New Years Eve, setting the alarm to wake up in time to see the ball drop.  There were spectacular fireworks across the street at the Ritz, I could tell by the huge sounds from them.  For me to miss the Christmas lighting decorations and the fireworks when they are two blocks away is downright sinful but I did.  Maybe next year will be easier to navigate.    Plan ahead, a new resolution.

I will keep you informed as to what is happening with the knee.  I have had to miss part of two weeks of work because of it already since Christmas. The town is dead with absolutely no business after the first few days of New Years.  January blues this year for sure.  It has picked up a bit this week and maybe tonights Second Saturday evening will perk things up.  So come on in and "make my day".

(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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