The seasons come and they go but without the weather change my brain
does not seem to wrap itself around them. I can
look at the calendar and see that the days have moved on into
October but mental knowledge and heart felt change is not into my realm
of reality. Until that first cool Fall like day comes does it
finally become a reality. The acorns are falling, what didn't
get blown down in the Hurricane, but then that jumps us ahead of the
story. Only with cool enough weather yesterday for windows open
and a middle of the night call for a
blanket does the realization that it
is once again time for the Save the Turtle T-Shirts orders.
I will be getting order
forms out to you by tomorrow. It will be Christmas soon....wow I
really can't believe that. I am also back working with
a good Fine Art Printing Company, Raven Images, who can make
prints on paper and on canvas of any of my paintings but
before it got gone to a new home I had them scan the painting itself so
the images would be first rate. I am working on the first one now
and I will add paint strokes to the surface to make it look more
This is the painting for this year's T-Shirt and I think it is one of
the prettiest yet and one reason I decided to do the T-Shirts once
again. I just couldn't resist. It is a large painting done
on canvas and is 36 x 48. It is now for sale and would make a great
addition to someone's home. It is $2800, (about $1K less than I
have always priced this size and type!), if you would like to
consider taking it home with you.
With September came the beginning and the end of lots of things.
The ending of life as a gallery owner; beginning a new business
venture as a studio artist, -but it also
meant squirrel nesting season was in full swing. Every since Lacy
disappeared we have missed having
one special squirrel to come visit. Jimbo was very special for a
while then went totally wild as expected. Little Danny Boy still
comes by to
ask for his daily pecan handout but he was never one to jump on your
and socialize in any other way than his obsession with pecans.
was pregnant again and I am sure the fellow up the street killed my
sweet little Foxy (and probably Lacy) who was my most special current
one to come visit each
morning as she ran for her pecan fix, climbing up to get it,
but suddenly she no longer came. That void made me wish for a
little girl because, as sweet as the boys are, they do love you and
leave you pretty quickly answering the call of the wild. Then one
day I happened to see a notice on Facebook which had been posted only
minutes before, "I have this little squirrel I found on the ground, I
am going to put it back down and it will die if no one wants it."
I said bring it to me, and in about 15 minutes this special
little girl, Pippi, was in my gallery. She was not this large
course, but was a tiny little gal with her eyes still closed. She
was the only one for a while. She would go to work with me every
day and Eva Marie, of Fern and Dina's, would sometimes borrow
her for a while.
I was quite happy to have just the one little girl on which to dote upon with all my attention.
We were still doing Turtle Patrol the first of September, but had only a few nests left and they were hatching off quickly.
The days went by and the Humane Society called and within a span of a
few days my squirrel family had grown to two more little
squirrels, both little boys. Although my intentions
were to only raise the one it is hard to turn down these sweet little
babies. Pippi was older,
but like most little squirrels they are all very accepting of each
other. They became instant snuggle buddies. Squirrels
are very camera shy, with the click of the shutter they start ducking
The warm days of summer continued into those last Sea Turtle Patrol
days. Someone who had visited our beach left some unique sculptures to make our morning ride more interesting.
They must have had to look for a while to come up with this many
rocks on our beach. This empty beach across the jetty is where
our pier used to stand. We surely do miss it.
was an especially interesting sculpture because you had to place
yourself just in the right position to see it like it is in this photo.
The leg was not attached and was even sitting a distance away
from the body. It was only, visually, from this spot that it became
one sculpture. I thought that was especially clever to do it this
way. It was certainly intentional as you can see the leg is
placed in a fabricated rock stand to make it stand up.
Since the very beginning of the season I had only one set of live
hatchlings to photograph and they were not from the excavation but from
the top of the nest left over from a second night's emergence, happening
it was excavated. This was the only rescue
to come from one of my excavations. That is good for the
that means they all got out on their own and were healthy and strong
for their swim out to sea. Little did I know that this would also
be for me the last Sea Turtle of the season. Events began to
quickly with the approaching super storm Irma moving toward Florida.
of the impending weather, these little guys with their mischievous ways
would determine my fate for the next serious episode in my life.
When it became clear that Irma was going to impact us in some
significant way I had to choose whether to go or to stay, even though a
mandatory evacuation means you are supposed to "go" and was in effect.
I had at that time 5
squirrels including Old Man. Bruce had committed to going to an
evacuation shelter in Callahan to maintain communications to Nassau County's Emergency Operations Center as part of
ARES, (Amateur Radio Emergency Services).
I had meant to go with him, however no wild animals were allowed,
and even domestic animals had to be housed in another building.
Can you imagine Old Man sequestered with a room full of dogs.
He would never have recovered mentally. I had a couple of
invites to stay across on the other side of the river, but both were on
the water. Because staying alone with all my big trees around me
was not appealing, I decided to go stay with my sister on the North end
of the island. And so a plan was put in place. Sister
Susan, and I decided to weather out the storm together, which worked
out well except for a few hitches. Bruce had left on Friday to
the shelter for the impending hurricane and I was left to make
here at home.
Bruce had boarded up the house and thankfully a
painting sale gave us the security of having some money to store in
supplies. The house was stocked with water and food if an
extended period without power should be the case, I was ready. I
spent Friday and Saturday getting the house cleaned up, bags and food
for the stay ready to go, and trying to think of what to weather proof
inside the house, what to take and all those critical things. I
arrived at my sister's on Sunday afternoon, a drive of about 5 miles
but it seemed like the preparations were for a much longer trip. When
I got there we backed the car in as far as it would go up next to her
garage door, knowing that her driveway would flood to a certain degree,
and we proceeded to get all the babies moved inside with their
hurricane store of
food. I had acquired a new squirrel
on Friday from a lady who found her in her garage. We knew she
been without food and water for at least 24 hours, maybe longer.
named her Irmie. She was the first of the hurricane babies to
come. Light as a feather it was not long before she quickly
body weight. So we were set to wait out the storm to
Storm prognosticators had kept moving the track further
West which meant we would not be hit as hard as originally forecast.
However with this massive storm it was impossible to say anything
which would be an absolute. As it turned out the storm went up
just inland from the Gulf Coast and on to the panhandle of the state
which was good for the West Coast and
decreasing the overall power of the storm, but still it was rougher on
than we were hoping. Sunday afternoon after I arrived, Susan and
I piled up in her
bed and watched 3 JAWS movies in a row in preparation for rising water.
The storm was
to move into the area later that evening. That was the last power
Susan was to see at her house until Monday, a week later...well except
for a brief two hour period the day after the storm which was only a
cruel tease. Monday
morning with daylight we could begin to see what had happened during
the night and was still happening with wind strong enough to make
white caps in the
The winds from the storm increased all Sunday. This followed a
of wind from a Nor'easter which had already blown the waters in,
building up along our shore and up the rivers causing a lot more
than ever before in many areas. We were surrounded by water.
However, the house in which I had originally meant to go ride out
the storm would have meant that my car, even though it would have been
parked on what was
considered high ground would have been ruined by the high water.
My instincts had guided me in that decision. My car was
older but very low
mileage and in perfect condition. Because of the age it would not
have been replaceable with the same quality by insurance.
The wind had really been hard during the night. More so than I
was aware as part of what had awakened me from a troubled sleep had
actually been a tornado, which had torn through just four houses up the
street. Across the street on the
house under construction, the roofing sub layer which had been finished was almost all blown off.
And yes, that is the construction site port-a-let laying in the
water in front of that truck. That made us feel good, (not!), about wading
in that water. The wind died down somewhat but
was still blowing very hard and the rain was still pelting down..
With daylight and some relief from the torrential rains I could see
to me was a startling sight just across the dune beyond the neighbors
house across the street. It was high tide and that is the ocean
with mountainous swells making visible salt spray just beyond those sea
oats on top of the dunes.
What would have happened if that water had been a few feet higher
and the already compromised dunes from storms the previous year and the
recent Nor'easter had given away? The next time you decide to
take a short cut across the dunes or decide it is OK to play in them
even though the signs say not to, this is the reason. Those dunes
are extremely fragile, all that is there to protect us from the raging ocean at times like
My car had a only a few inches before it would have been harmed, even backed to the max.
My sweet sister had taped the tail pipe closed for me just in
it rose any higher. I was still pretty handicapped from the
broken leg as I hobbled around her house looking for a telephone
signal. Miraculously my phone was still able to get some kind of
reception when no one elses would. We were keeping it charged
with the car charger
downstairs in her garage, which had about 2" of water.
Some of the damage from the tornado up the street.
As Alan, our fellow storm refugee, found out as he waded up the
street after things calmed down and the wind and clouds lifted.
He took my camera as I was unable to wade or walk that far.
Mr. Paul's house which had received damage from last years storm
once again had the siding stripped from its sides from the tornado.
Power lines were down with two downed power poles.
The roof from the house next door to him had lifted off and was now in the
street. Fort Clinch State Park begins where the pavement ends.
This house is the second house down from Fort Clinch State Park's
boundary. A nice, but now severely damaged one.
This same tornado had moved across the island and had downed a
1500 foot swath of trees inside the park area which runs parallel
behind this street. It is still
a mess of twisted tree trunks there but some of the trails
have now been reopened normal activities have mostly resumed in
the park. The damage to our
Sea Turtle final 3 nests was total; however, we still had a
successful Sea Turtle season with a final nest count of 40. Our
girls had laid early and high
for a good season with higher than normal egg count in most of the
nests. The Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch had only one nest
survive and it was too damaged with water probably to hatch, with a
count of 39 nests washed away during the storm. The
remaining nests all over the state had a high
mortality rate. The Archie Carr Refuge, which has the most Sea
Turtles laying there than anywhere else in the state, lost a
its total Loggerhead nests and half of it's Green Turtles by the time
all over. Greens lay later in the season than Loggerheads.
The good news is that several of the nests they thought were lost
did end up hatching and some of the Momma Loggerheads came back to lay
even more nests. The Greens have also came back to lay another
500 nests so
far. So it would seem the turtles have a way of making up for
these losses. It will be interesting to see how the overall stats
up with previous years when we attend the yearly meetings in the
On Monday as the winds subsided, and people began to venture out of
their homes to survey the damage, my phone began to
receive messages of baby squirrels found which which had blown
out of their nests. Through some miracle, they managed to survive
the horrible rain and wind onslaught from the night before. Many
squirrel moms were found dead, dying trying to protect their young.
This was tiny Stormy who was found in a pile of debris by
Melissa. She waded through thigh deep water to get her to me.
I slept with Stormy on my chest because she needed to stay warm enough without electricity to
The next day Bruiser showed up to become her heating pad.
With Bruiser his whole nest had blown down. Inside
his carefully constructed nest he had been totally protected.
The person who found him initially tossed the ball
of Spanish Moss aside thinking it debris. They had
heard a chirping
sound but just thought it a nearby bird. The next day as their
dog started stiffing the ball of moss and the chirping really got loud
they realized there was a baby squirrel inside. When the rescuer
the still over knee deep water to bring him to me I
made the statement that this was the fattest little squirrel I had ever
seen. He was like a roly-poly ball, probably an only child whose
mother had given him all her nourishment.
Calm had finally entered our watery world, but the very slowly receding
water still left us stranded another day. Stores of ice laid in
for the storm kept the squirrel milk cool enough to keep feeding the
ever increasing band of squirrels I had acquired. Wednesday
afternoon I received a call from one of the Park Rangers whose mom had
found a baby squirrel. So I said bring him on. My very
spotty telephone service had let me miss a lot of messages via Facebook
about squirrels, but I had about all I could handle, and would have
been hard for me to turn them down. Nervous Nellie was a special
case. She was terrified and wanted nothing but to hide in a towel
and be held. Even though she was about as large as my older
squirrels and already had her eyes open, she was still nursing and
was hungry. I tried her in with the squirrels more her
age but she was
very frightened of them. Then I laid her down in
the babies basket while I fed them little ones. As I laid them
back into the
basket she seemed to have no problem with letting them cuddle with her.
Nellie became the nanny for the babies, never leaving the basket,
only becoming visible, when I got her out to feed. By Wednesday
afternoon the water had receded enough to drive through but it
wading to get to the house. I continued to stay at my sister's
until Bruce could come help me with my ever growing
menagerie of squirrels and my debilitated left leg. The prospects
of going home to the mess there was not what I wanted to face alone.
It was Wednesday night before
Bruce was able to leave his shelter duties.
Through neighbors I had been assured that although the tree
debris was substantial, there didn't seem to be any damage to our
Thursday morning we packed up and headed home. Lots of tree
damage and what appears to be grass is really a yard totally covered
with twigs and leaves blown off the trees. Lots of work ahead.
Our neighbor across the street was really wonderful and spent
most of the afternoon assisting in getting the front yard under control as the piles
of tree limbs began to grow along side the street. John is the
pastor of the Church of Christ on 14th Street and one who puts his
message of love and caring for others into his actions.
My new neighbors recently constructed plastic fence miraculously was able to get by without a scratch.
Very large tree limbs were broken off everywhere in our yard, but except for one non
important tree in the front yard, we lost no other trees and
nothing damaging had hit the house. We lost a lot of the immature
acorns which gave me concern for the future food source for our
It is hard to know where to start when the debris field is so huge but
first order of business was to get the boards off the house as they
make the house dark as a tomb inside.
Sweet little Bruiser was still like a tackle on a football team so his name was fitting. He was as sweet as he was chubby.
Feeding time at the zoo was always a challenge. Everyone wanted to be the first to get
out for their much loved milk. Pippi, our first, was
easy to spot from the others with her very gray fur compared to the
others with its more reddish brown tones. We have quite a large gene pool going in our yard.
It was a relief to see that my two outside squirrels, Little Danny Boy
and Little Bit had made it through the storm without harm. Little
Bit was a nursing mother so it seemed she had been able to keep her
babies safe through the storm. I searched the yard to make sure
that there were no little ones down in it.
They do so love their milk when they are little and would eat until
they popped if you let them. Weighing them almost daily helped
determine the correct amount for a feeding.
Bruiser in all his glory...quite a handful...literally.
Back to the park to survey the damage there. We had lost half and
sometimes all of another set of the major dunes. With the tide
out the beach is very wide. Shells of the largest size I had seen
on our beach had washed in so it was a sheller's paradise.
The river side had really lost a lot of dunes, but the debris on the beach was
not nearly the massive amounts of the previous year with Matthew.
With seven little squirrels I finally turned my bathroom floor over to
them as I cannot stand to leave them confined. I put the open animal carrier the older ones slept in and the
open basket in which Nellie, Stormy, and Bruiser slept all in the floor.
The second night I came in to check on them and when I lifted the
very soft blanket cover off the basket I found all seven had decided
to snuggle up together...what a mess of squirrels. Tiny little
Stormy is somewhere in that blend.
Pippi is on the end with her gray fur and the little one in the middle is Irmie I believe. They learned climbing
skills on the towel bars as I pinned towels in place on which to
The Turtle Trot had been canceled because of the approaching storm, but
a less formal one was put together a few weekends later so that
the tradition would live on, especially since this year's was to honor
one of the great losses of last year to our local turtle world with the
death of Doug Stuber, one of the sweetest and most knowledgeable men
on the Amelia Island Sea Turtle Watch team. My painting is held
high over the heads of the Team's members assembled for the run.
My new studio has given me much more time to be productive and the
paintings are being produced with a number of them involving Sea
Turtles. The new space has given me time to actually put together
a series of paintings involving different kinds of Sea Life.
This one of emerging Leatherback babies was started pre-Irma and
finished after the storm. It is only 12 x 12 inches but has a lot
packed into it..
Shortly after the storm another Nor'easter blew into town. It
still seems unreal that the pier we loved and used so long is now no
longer part of this view. Piles of sea foam are churned up by the
wind; shellers and sharks' teeth hunters are out in full force trying
to find a new treasure washed in by the rough seas.
Several Sea rescues and even a death at the island was attributed to people not
heeding the red flag warnings and going out into the rough water,
getting caught in a "rip tide", and carried out to sea.
We have had lots of driftwood wash ashore and great care still needs to be
taken by boaters as floating logs and wood just under the surface of the
water can be a real danger.
Stormy and Bruiser continued to go to work with me and the others were
large enough to go outside in the outdoor cage to get ready for
release. Nellie had finally gotten comfortable enough with them
to become part of the gang.
In the end I brought Pippi back in as she just felt she was special being the only child for
a good while. She was not comfortable with being just part of the
gang. When I would go out she looked small and lonely as she would be setting
off to herself just waiting for someone to come get her.
Most recently we had some of our dearest friends come for a visit.
Orie had grown up next door to us and we shared a childhood with
her and her brothers since our move when I was in 4th grade. I
always try to get a haircut from her when she is around. She
worked with my Aunt Helen for many, many years in her beauty shop and I
still like her haircuts best. Helen outlasted Orie, who retired
first. Aunt Helen lasted well into her 80's as a beautician. We
had a great visit with Susan's
daughter, Nicki, and the Grands. This is cute little Everly
know our Fall Branch friends.
Since I never get into the photos I made an exception and let someone
else hold the camera for a change and so that when you do see me you
will still recognize me, although this was pre-haircut.
The Turtle Trot painting, "Turtle Ballet" is is the largest of the paintings I have been able to complete since
moving up to Fern and Dina's Art Center/Gallery.
"Waterways" was almost finished when I moved. It is 24 x 36.
"Rough Seas" was a repaint of an old painting which I liked but was
then totally not something I would ever sell here. It is no longer
Starting a new venture and getting my feet wet again, my first "start
from scratch" painting called "Fossils", has already sold.
Using some of the same visual design with the netting I set out in a
new direction with more Sea Critters and things
that might get caught in a seine net pull, like we used to do when we visited Cumberland Island. I love the colors of
the Blue Crabs especially.
is the newest to be finished, "Sunday Brunch". Called that
because Green Turtles are Herbivores and this one is selecting its next
seaweed meal. What I am doing now is taking the Sea
Turtle drawings I had done for the Turtle Trot painting and am putting
them into a single portrait type of painting of each of the turtles.
They will be done so that they can be sold individually or as a
group that will work together, a triptych, as in the end there will be
three of them.
And so the journey continues into my becoming
what I have always wanted to become, but problem is getting the time to
keep up. The first 4 of the squirrels have been released. The
second batch will be harder to separate myself from as they are a bit
more special in different ways. I cannot imagine even surviving that wind
and rain they survived. I knew when the storm was coming that with squirrel nesting season in full swing there
would be many, many squirrels displaced or killed during the storm. So
many babies which needed rehabbing that the numbers in the shelters
were staggering and who knows how many were raised by individuals like
me. Soon the time drag of the squirrels, except for Old Man will
end and hopefully soon I will have days where the ankle is not swollen
and painful at the end of a day. Maybe I can regain some of my former
energy and drive. But for now as a very wise lady once said, "It
is what it is and it ain't what it ain't". Acceptance is hard for
me especially when it is physical limitations dragging me down.
to all of you who have managed to find me at the new location.
Please come in to see me and visit anytime. I have new photo greeting
cards ordered since I was almost totally out, the possibilities are
good for a successful, less stressful life with the new space as soon as
I can catch up on the moving and startup expenses. The prospects promise a
brighter time career wise.
At a time when life is slowing down for most I am excited about
gearing up for more exciting stuff to happen. I want to be like
Loa Sprung who at 95 is still painting daily and finding new ways to
express herself. She recently said to me "have you tried alcohol
inks? I am so glad I didn't die before I discovered them"...so I
recently bought some "alcohol inks" and will soon get to finally try