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Amelia SanJon Gallery
Sandra Baker-Hinton
218A Ash Street., Fernandina Beach, FL 32034
904-491-8040,  904-557-1195 cell

We've rounded up our Top 6 choices from the 2014 Tour de Turtles logo contest.  {Mine is number 6} The winning artwork will be featured on hundreds of event t-shirts and invitations. Visit our Facebook page to vote for your favorite choice by "liking" the photo. Not on Facebook? You can email your vote to Lexie at Below are samples of the finalists. Head to Facebook for a better look!
 It would be wonderful to win this but unfortunately the way the photographs are shown on Facebook the one that shows up first and biggest is getting the most likes.  Mine is on the bottom and does not even show up without your looking for it on most postings.  I would appreciate your voting for mine if you like it before May 1 for my painting.

As you know I love my island and like to share it with friends.  This year through the miracle? of Facebook I reconnected with lots of old friends, especially my old students who found me and are now on my Friends list and I send up prayers and laugh and cry with them when life does its twists.  It can be addicting and also has to be kept under control.  One person I reconnected with, Susan Davidson Drake (who used to baby sit for my kids) and became very interested as she talked about her children, one a missionary, I think, in Africa, anyway she makes trips over to Cape Town to visit and see her Grands.  I was most fascinated with her story of her other daughter, whom I thought also lived in Africa but come to find out she is in Thompson's Corner, Tennessee.

Haley and Mike had adopted 8 African children so I assumed they lived over there also.  When I heard the story:  a civil war, in far away Sierra Leone, destroyed families, a dead father, and a mother who gave them up because she could not care for them, with only the request they be kept together I was very touched.  Through a family at school who had adopted a child from an orphanage there, Mike and Haley, heard of their plight.  This seemed like an impossible thing to think anyone would take 8 children at one time.  Mike and Haley became concerned about this family and felt that it was them who should bring them to a real home.  And so it finally happened as last March, after 3 years of red tape, bribes, corruption they were able to bring all of the children came home to Tennessee.  
When I read about them from month to month as they experienced first one new experience after another in their new country, at school, playing soccer, giving peaches in school, I began to think that wouldn't it be great to bring them here for a first beach family vacation.  Vacations were kind a thing they did not figure they could manage again.  
A great family with very sweet, appreciative and excited children about their new land, plus their very accepting two original boys, have agreed it would be wonderful to visit here.  I first threw out the idea to one of my Facebook groups a the local Amelia Island Fernandina Beach Network, I was overwhelmed with the people who said, let's do it and offered help in meals, tickets to do lots of things, and now we are ready to launch it in a more serious fashion.  We have found a beach house, not fancy, definitely not the Ritz, but it is steps away from the beach.  The view is amazing and their mom says they are used to sleeping in an orphanage so they will not mind piling up a bit.  We can rent it very cheaply and with the bribe of some of my prints to decorate the walls with I think we can come up with the money for that.  We will need some more to give them gas money and to stock the fridge, etc. but I have faith it will happen.  This town has such a big heart even though we fight and fuss over issues we are a family and will pull together.
If any of you want to pitch in we have opened a bank account and have a couple of hundred dollars already and the offer of numerous meals, things to do, and all kinds of offers even photographers for their beach portraits, and the list goes on.  The bank account is at the CBC National Bank in my name and called The Jones Dozen account so drop by there or send to me a check.  Make out to me aka Betty Sandra Baker-Hinton and put The Jones Dozen on it.  I can't wait to have them see the ocean for the first time.  We tentatively have June 8 as the arrivial day so hope we can pull it all together before that.

Much of my afternoons this past month have been filled working on this painting which is almost done only a few modifications and it will be finished.

The pink on the Roseate Spoonbill needs to be toned down somewhat but that is easy with paint.

We have had a new family enter our critter menagerie.  I am pretending they are just squirrels with slick tails.  There are five, 4 youngsters and momma slick tailed rat, I mean squirrel.  My husband is concerned about me showing you rat family as so many people find them repulsive.  Having had geribels and hamsters as well as Guinia Pigs as pets I know that this type and size rat if often made into pets and although I do not want them multiplying around my house I do not find them repulsive as I do the big Wharf or Marsh Rats which are 5 times the size of these guys.  To me they are interesting but know that they could quickly multiply into a very un-nice situation.  However, they live underneath the house, but so does a good sized black snake, so I am sure that Madam Sneaky Snake will eventually solve the problem as nature takes its course.  It's hard to resist a little one looking in the glass door to see if you are getting ready to put out sunflower seeds even if his tail is slick.  They sneak out and grab a sunflower, only to be chased away by the squirrels, but they get their share.  There was some serious thrashing around in the wall (sometime after this photo) was taken, where there is an opening underneath the tub but not into the house, and I am thinking that Mrs. Snake woke up hungry.  Since then I have only seen but two of them.  Guess they were either chased away or Mrs. Sneaky Snake invited them to dinner.

I had to make a mandatory trip to St. Petersburg to the Florida Wildlife Commission headquarters to take a required course for turtle training, which I had missed when it was taught closer to me.  I had missed it last year because of the knee surgery and it was a "must" that it be taken every two years.  I had two snafus in scheduling and missed important meetings, so as a result I am now using my Google Calendar religiously but with trepidation because I don't trust Google any further than I can throw them, to not abuse the power they have with their Internet dominance.  While waiting for the meeting my chauffeur sister and I decided to eat at a very nearby restaurant, which was part of a small airport, with some very interesting planes for hire.  We watched as unusual helicopters and old planes take off and land while we had our burgers.

We have a local artist whose signature style is to do 6 things alike and one different.  When I spotted these sailboats all lined up with a motorized boat in the mix I immediately thought of Char Bachman.  Before I could work out the focus one of the upright sailboats tipped over and spoiled the whole composition.  Ode to Char anyway with 6 of one kind and an odd one.

Another flight out for a short, but paying run.  The prices for the ride were really very reasonable, I wondered if they weren't just covering the cost of the gas because the pilot loved to fly.  With Sea Turtle class over, we made first leg of the return trip back to Orlando by midnight and a bed at son Eric's, and had a lovely time following one of the golfers, son of a friend, around the golf course of a major pro tournament, The Arnold Palmer Invitational, the next morning.  Busy, busy, and blisters on my flip flopped feet, we were able to work out a very complicated schedule as I dropped off sister Susan at the Sanford airport to fly off for a visit with our mom and Aunt Helen, then I drove her car on home.  WOW, talk about touring Florida on a dime we did it, but we are both qualified now to work with Sea Turtles in Florida.  Next year no snafus allowed because I got my Google Calendar now.

Back home, a trip down to the Marina to catch some famous visitors always gives me an excuse to visit the Brown Pelicans which hang out behind Atlantic Seafood waiting for a hand out.  They seem to relish posing for the camera, probably thinking it is part of their job to earn the fish scraps they get everyday from the market.

The visitors were the replicas of The Pinta and The Nina.  Nice to be able to see up close what small ships they were to carry their crew so very far.  The most asked question was "when will you have The Santa Maria with you", and the answer is "never".  The Santa Maria proved to be a big dud of a ship, too big and cumbersome to operate very efficiently, so it was scrapped along with any desire to recreate her.

The complex rigging was interesting and had I not been too tired, and busy to stay for some sunset photos, I could have gotten some great shots of the setting sun behind all this, but it is what it is.

The American Flag was a new addition from the one carried in the 1400's.

The black finish was a black tar application to protect and waterproof the ships but makes them look very pirate ship like.

While down on the dock I like to check out the barnacles and oyster shells growing on the dock pilings which to me are a very pretty pattern of life on such an unexpected place, until you realize this is a perfect place for them to grow.  The dock as it raises and lowers keeps this section of the shellfish worn down so that they make very pretty colors with the fresh growth and all its purple colors that would not show if they were not constantly being replaced.

Below me a Cormorant does his diving thing catching dinner.  They are difficult to photograph as about the time you get them in focus, they will dive, and then predicting where they will resurface is as chancy as winning the lottery.

The space was shared with a Pelican who was also crusin' for a meal.

A trip to one of our State Parks was a nice day for a Volunteer Appreciation Day for State park volunteer workers.  I rode over with a couple of the Park Rangers from Ft. Clinch.  O'Leno State Park was a very pretty park with rocks which we seldom see in our coastal areas. The water in the river was overflowing its banks with several days of hard rain prior to the trip.  But today it was a great day.

This park was on the banks of the Santa Fe River, about 10 miles north of High Springs, Florida, and is a very unusual river in that it goes underground then resurfaces a couple of miles away at River Rise Preserve State Park.  This is a fairly common occurrence in this area of Middle Florida which is honeycombed with limestone caverns filled with water.  It is part of the reason for the "Sink Hole" problem you may have read about.  This water, part of the aquifer system from whence my drinking water comes from, sometimes has too much water removed and an empty cavern is the result that may not be able to support the weight of the surface and collapses, taking what's above it with it.

I was able to meet up with some old plant friends on the trip.  It is very different terrain than our area with rolling hills and horse farms that give you the feeling you are in the horse country of Kentucky, except for the palm trees of course.  One of the cave divers who is exploring and helping to map the underground caverns that are part of this underground river system was in attendance at the meeting.  Crossing the suspension bridge built by the CCC workers in the 30's I found the wild Azalea's that used to bloom in the forest behind my home in N. Georgia.  

The Dogwood trees were in full bloom, also a tree I only see on occasion in my area, but was common in the woods of this part of Florida.  I am told they do not grow as well in areas too near the ocean.  It was nice to see that they were not infected with the fungus that caused ours in North Georgia to develop very brownish deformed petals.

This interesting biologist who specializes in insects was our guide on a shorter trip than planned because of the high waters.  He was a very knowledgeable, funny fellow who had a whole lot better balance than I could ever have had.  He stood on top of this rock talking for about 15 or more minutes.  He is going to help me identify the kind of wasp that is eating my Monarch caterpillars.

These Palmettos looked like water lilies, floating on the surface of the high waters.

The Native Azaleas liked this location near the water and added some nice color to the scene.

The replacement mate search for our Little N. 14th Street Osprey (Little Girl? we're not really sure) hasn't happened, we don't think yet, but the right to the nest was won in a big claim dispute with a couple of other females.  We see her sitting with another Osprey nearby but no one has witnessed any mating activity just yet.  Yesterday she was on the nest by herself, just sitting and looking around.

This cute little yellow breasted Warbler was having an argument with the bird he seemed to think was living inside the glass of the window, not realizing his was only an inner struggle with himself.  Reflections are sometimes a hard concept for the animal world to comprehend.

These two birds were funny to watch.  I'm sure it was part of the mating process, but this poor bird looks like he is pleading for a second chance for some serious misdeed but is being stonewalled by his gal friend with her very haughty stance.  When I posted this photo the bartender at the Palace Saloon (and also one of our City Councilmen) stated that he had indeed been a bad boy at the bar, but all was forgiven, and everything was smooth sailing now.  Funny little town with a sense of humor and we love it.

Then it happened all of a sudden...Spring burst forth with all the sweet smells and glorious, but short lived, beauty of the azaleas plants in front of my house.

I have three colors, white, pink and the more intense pink red color for contrast.  With another chilly few days it was still bearable and wonderful to know that any threats of freezing weather were behind us.  The season for growing and blooming and nesting and new life was upon us.  Sea Turtle Season is soon to come, and a promised trip to the Alligator Farm to check out the activity there, after missing a whole year with the knee surgery last year.
Spring, sweet Spring, my favorite season because it means winter if over, except for Summer which is my favorite because of Sea Turtles, and Fall which is my favorite because it is such a wonderful long sweet time of mild days and cool mornings and no air conditioning, and sleeping with the windows open.  Of course Fall loses it favored status because I know that it gives way to winter which will eventually be sure to follow.  If it sounds like I dislike winter, you darned betcha I do.

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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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