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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)

[Current Knee Report is at the bottom for those who want to know "how it went".]

The weeks leading up to the knee surgery were non-stop with too many things to get finished while I could still walk.  The timing worked out perfectly for the surgery and to be able to do, so much.  In fact I started looking forward to the surgery as a good excuse to just sleep for a few days.  With all the pain pills that was almost the case.  I am a little bit obsessive compulsive when I get an idea in my head of something I feel I want  or need to do.  I became concerned with the cleanliness of the house since the plan was for me to come home, instead of the rehab center, and risk of infection is one of the top hindrances to recovery.  What worried me most was the 10 year old carpet with 10 years worth of dirt in it.  I knew Red Oak flooring was lurking underneath.  I had gotten the idea to rip out the carpet where I would mostly be hanging out and had started the project earlier tearing up, cleaning and re staining about a 1/4 of my office.  With some much needed help, I seized the opportunity for a strong backed worker to take it all up.  Needless to say there were many horrifying surprises underneath, with 10 year old sheetrock dust, and paint splatters left by workers who worked without drop cloths because it would be covered up, and someone who was glue gun happy and wanted to be sure not an edge of the padding escaped being stuck in place. With a bit more help, I managed to dissolve and remove it all, and scrape up almost every paint splatter in every room but one, then re-stained it.  I just wanted them clean and sweepable,  I look back now and can't imagine I actually did all that, but when you look at a big project a square foot at a time, what seems impossible becomes possible.  Like the ant who moved the rubber tree plant, I had High Hopes, high apple pie in the sky hopes, and, -oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.  
In the middle of the floor project and family reunion came the yearly Sea Turtle Training.

The yearly, statewide Florida Marine Turtle Permit Holders Meeting which works out to be the FMTPHM for short.  It was a meeting of lots of alphabet soup participants, FWC, Sea Turtle Conservancy, and what seemed like an endless list of other organizations known by their shorter acronyms until in your head they all began to spin around.  Sea World had very generously extended an invitation to  the Sea Turtle Conservancy & FWC to have the conference at their facility near their new Turtle Trek adventure.  

As with all the theme parks everything is first rate especially the landscaping.

Sea World takes care of a lot of Florida's Sea Turtle Strandings, injured or sick sea turtles.  We were given a back stage tour of their rehabbing facility.  Since we were not to take photos my camera accidentaly got one blurry image of one of the 20 Ridley Sea Turtles, a very endangered turtle, which had been air lifted in December by the Coast Guard from the Northeast.  Warmer than usual Fall waters had lured them into staying too long in the Cape Cod Bay, when a sudden drop in water temperatures caused them to go into "Cold Stun" and washed ashore needing rescuing. Their rescue was on the National News at the time.  The Ridleys are our smallest and rarest of the Sea Turtles.  There are two kinds, the Olive Ridleys and the Kemps Ridleys.  They are recognized by their very round caparace.  While we were there they brought in two more large Loggerheads for treatment, one of which we were able to see.  It was all draped  in wet towels and not in water because of it was not able at that point to float on its own, but we were assured that it was stabilized.

There was a party afterward on a large patio overlooking what was the top side of an underwater viewing area inhabitated with a variety of sea creatures which included some Sea Turtles which cannot be released because of their disabilities, along with Manatees, and fish.  With a group of turtle enthusiasts you will find most everything in the form of jewelry, t-shirts, and anything which has turtles on it.  These were very cute back packs.  We were given 2 drink tickets which the bartenders were ignoring collecting so the Sea Turtle Conservancy may have blown their whole next year's budget on a big bar bill that evening alone.

We watched the Manatees as they slept on a shallow ledge above the deeper part of the aquarium exhibit.

Every once in a while one would float up for a breath of air since these are mammals they can only stay submerged so long.

A week away from surgery I had to do more walking than I planned on doing.  By now along with the Flamingos, I was ready to close out the evening.  They all seemed to be getting their evening bath and preparing for beddy bye, ready for that chattering group of humans to turn the lights out.

Of course there is always a show off in every crowd.

The flag and the SeaWorld Lighthouse bid us a goodnight.

Next morning everyone was ready to get down to the serious business of learning the new stuff about Sea Turtles, from new rules, lighting, studies, data, and the list goes on.  This is what 400+ sea turtle volunteers look like, all wearing their own area T-shirts, chattering and comparing notes about their last turtle season, which, as it happens was a huge success statewide from the Panhandle all around the state's coast line all the way to our Northeast corner of the state.  Lots of reports about the Southern part of the state and not so much about us on the NE coast  We need to apply for more grants for studies up here I guess.  

I thought these light fixtures in our meeting room were very interesting and carried the Sea World nautical theme into the room.

Sea World and other sponsors of the meeting provided much food to be shared at the morning and afternoon breaks as well as a great build your own taco lunch.  More colorful turtle shirts.

More Sea Turtle jewelry and shirts.

....tote bags and Sea Turtle Volunteer shirts to show off...

...a great embrodrary job with three of the five sea turtles we have on our Florida Beaches.

The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch, Inc. was well represented with a good group of my fellow local turtle buddies.  I even see a couple of my T-Shirts on the Hertiage faction, Charlie and Dottie, of the group.

I shared a table with this fellow who had a rather interesting shirt.

The morning session found our large duck pond busy with different duck action.  This group seemed to be listening to the Duck on the left relate some long winded story from the night before.

My goal had been to lose 5 pounds prior to surgery but I fear with a family reunion and this meeting that was not to be.  Morning, noon, and afternoon we were stuffed with lovely goodies to fill our tummies.  There were always healthy alternatives but with chocolate around one can't resist a chocolate fix.

It was also snack time for the duck buddies and I think I got a life time supply of duck photos in those two days.  Loved the patterns in the water on the left side of the photo.

An interesting bit of landscaping was done with a large piece of driftwood and various "Air Plants" growing on it and Bromelaids below for a consistent look and easy to care for garden area.

I think this was my favorite duck.  His pretty blue beak and perky stiff tail feathers suited his energetic personality.  I even got a video of him taking a very lengthy bath.

Of course nothing has more beautiful colors and patterns than our Wood Ducks.  They are one of the few ducks with claws strong enough to allow them to perch on tree limbs and nest  in hollow trees.

This fellow was pretty interesting also.  There was signage with pages identifying each duck and it country of origin but I had enough to absorb just learning about turtles to worry about anything except getting some interesting photos of pretty birds.

I thought this duck with the rich burnt sienna head and the tiny pattern in the gray feathers that resembled a Guinea Fowl was unusual and would make a great duck painting.  It's head looks like it has been carved out of wood and polished to a fine finish.

Inside the meetings we heard reports from many different groups working with Sea Turtles on the work they were doing.  We saw many before and after photos with this one obviously being one of the befores of one sickly sea turtle which had been rescued.

The Sea Turtle License plates are a big part of what pays for the studies, and work efforts put forth by these many organizations.  If you don't have a Sea Turtle on your tag please think about getting one.  It goes for a good cause.  Georgia and Florida both have them.

We learned about some of the high tech things being used to find out more about Sea Turtles and how they live, where they go, and patterns in their life cycles.  This device tracks the depths to which they go to forage, the one draw back is that they have to retrieve the device to extract the information on the chip.  It was interesting to listen to them talk about trying to solve the problem of how to adhere this tracking device to a green Sea Turtle whose Carapace has an unusually slick, almost oily surface.  It was a lot of trial and error before they came up with an aquatic glue that would stay and not damage the turtle.

One of the plants which I don't see growing up here much is the White Bird of Paradise.  It grows much taller than the prettier (to me) orange one, more tree like.  It may not be cold hardy enough for our weather but I have an orange one outside that has survived several winters.

At a place like Sea World one never know when they will encounter some odd critters.  This Aardvark and its handler came back and forth several times.  Part of something going on in the next area from us.

On the Sunday before surgery which had been postponed until Tuesday I was able to put some more time in on the hotel mural.  I added several more critters, added more colorful pillows, a pelican, a Gopher Tortoise, and a replacement for the big basket of grapes with one filled with shells, coral and driftwood to add to our local feel, and even a larger Sea Turtle swimming in the pool.  My thanks to the Amelia Hotel at the Beach for providing me with the room at the Hilton Suites at Sea World, in Orlando, making it possible to attend the Sea Turtle Meeting... so a reward for some of the work I have put in over there.  

It has now been a little over 4 weeks since the surgery and I am still recouping.  This is not a surgery for sissies, although it is harder for some than others.  My biggest problem is that I was allergic to the good drugs and had to take a very expensive, (and not covered by insurance), alternative one which cost over $230 for one prescription so I was determined to not have to refill it.  Without the better pain killers my progress was slower than it should have been.  You must take pain meds before each therapy session.  With lots of work I progressed to the point that I could bend my knee 120 degrees yesterday, meaning I could be released from therapy.  I still have lots of work to do and lots of therapy to do on my own but I am on the way to being recovered.  I thought I would be out of bed and back to work in a couple of weeks.  That was certainly not to be.  I know Bruce has felt like an indentured slave, keeping the gallery open then coming home do the home chores, like washing clothes and preparing dinner.  I am finally getting to the point where I can be of help.  I had a group of ladies, my angels of mercy, who kept the gallery open some days while the surgery day and my exodus from the hospital, and also took turns staying with me during the first week and a half when I was not supposed to be left alone.
I continue to progress after the surgery but it has been tougher than I imagined it would be.  I think it is different for different people.  Some have less some have more pain involved.  I had a torn meniscus as well as a cyst to remove in addition to the knee replacement.  I was not as strong as I should have been, you know to busy to excercise.   It is hard work with lots of therapy each day for a long time.  The therapist says I will know when to quit.  I will be going to the YMCA to use their stationary bike several times a week,  in addition to my daily regimen.  I am going to try to get back to the gallery some next week on a part time basis (hopefully).  We will see.  Everyone asks me what I am going to do for my birthday Friday (one of those big ones with a "0" on the end).  Except for going to eat lunch with my sis and a couple of girl friends I won't do much except hibernate.   I have become quite the hermit.  I have taken some back yard photos I will be sharing in my next story and Bruce even took me for a walk on our anniversary, Tuesday, on The Greenway.  I was unable to walk far enough to get photos of the baby alligators but maybe next time.

So, you see, I have not forgotten you guys but sitting too long on the computer makes one get very, very stiff.

(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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