Monday, May 22, 2017

Photo Essay: Yoga With Baby Goats

So, goat yoga is a thing now.

And while I'm usually one to buck trends instead of following them, I'll admit I was intrigued.

I've never even liked yoga very much when I've done it—and I certainly don't fit into the stereotypical Southern California "yoga lifestyle." I'm far more comfortable with a camera slung around my neck than with a yoga mat slung over my shoulder.

But I decided to go anyway because, you know, baby goats.

It was my first visit to Sunny Cabana Farm in the Inland Empire own of Perris, and the timing was perfect because new kids had just been born a week before.

And signing up for a yoga class was the only way I knew to go visit them.

I'd even planned on doing some of the yoga poses, convinced mostly by photos I'd seen on the internet showing newborn kids perched atop the backs of yogis doing child's pose. For some reason, I desperately wanted a baby goat to stand on my back.

But now that I've done my sun salutations with goats, I've walked away with just one, bubble-bursting impression: It's all a lie.

More accurately, it's a setup. It seems that the only way you can get a goat to stand on your back is to have someone pick it up and put it on there.

And since those little wobbly legs aren't strong enough to keep them there on their own, they're likely to slide off.

All those goat yoga photos that make it seem like the goats are actually doing the yoga with you? They're posed.

And the people who go to goat yoga? All they want is a souvenir photo like that of their own.

And certain people of a certain gender and a certain age are particularly aggressive about getting the perfect shot—not just once, but over and over and over again.

I mean, I get it. I'm an avid photographer as well. But I'm rarely in my own pictorials.

I'd rather focus on the subject matter at hand—which, in this case, was the most adorable herd of sweet, precious, affectionate does and their kids.

So, I waited until everyone else was done passing the babies around the yoga circle, even as they wriggled to get free and bleated for their mamas.

I scooped up a baby goat of my own—but it was one that seemed like it wanted to snuggle and immediately collapsed into my arms and nuzzled my neck, collarbone, jaw, and chin. It sniffed me as I whispered sweet nothings into its floppy little ear.

And I let my camera hang from its strap so I could enjoy the moment, inhale this tiny creature's breath, and feel its hoof digging into my chest.

I don't have any photos of me holding any of those bundles of joy, but that's OK. It's a moment I'll remember because I fully experienced it, and I don't need to prove to the world that it actually happened.

Those goats will never be as young or as cute as they were that Saturday morning. And while I hope that there will be more week-old floofs in my future, I made this visit count.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: A Goat By Any Other Name
Photo Essay: Hiking with Baby Goats
Photo Essay: Making Soaps with Goats

Friday, May 19, 2017

Photo Essay: The Bunny Museum Strikes Back

I've always been more of a generalist. I know a little bit about a lot of things.

My father was the same.

My uncle was like that too.

And while I admire others who also have a wide breadth of knowledge, there's something to be said for someone who picks one thing and just goes with it.

I developed an affection for cute pigs sometime in high school or early college, but I was very particular about it—I didn't like (or want to collect) just any pig. It was only certain kinds.

But friends and family picked up on my small and highly curated collection and began giving me porcine gifts without regard to my particularities of taste, until I finally got maxed out on pigs.

For some people, it's horses, or cows, or yellow chicks, pink flamingos, black cats, and other such spirit animals.

For Candace Frazee, it's bunnies.

Candace is the founder of The Bunny Museum and has the honor of owning the Guinness Book of World Records' largest collection of rabbit-related items.

In it, there are bunny angels...

...clown bunnies... bunnies...

...creepy bunnies...

...and even marching band bunnies.

There are the long-eared...


...and Easter varieties...

...that come with all sorts of outfits, personalities, and interests.

The Bunny Museum doesn't discern between plush bunnies, carved bunnies...

...cookie jar bunnies, or even dust bunnies...

...but probably the most important part of the collection are the actual, living, breathing bunnies—whether they're of the taxidermied / freeze-dried sort, locked away in a glass case...

...or the cherry-nibbling variety that's free to roam the floor of its warren until such time that it will join the others in the case.

Candace had been running her museum out of the Pasadena house that she lived in, until she ran out of room and had to relocate her collection of 33,000 items to a more commercial-friendly space in Altadena.

The love for rabbits that she shares with her "honey bunny" (her husband Steve) doesn't seem to show show any sign of waning. In fact, with every day that passes, and with each gift of each of those days, the museum gets closer and closer to its goal of one million bunny items.

So, I'm either really missing out on something when it comes to the rabbit world, or Candace is really missing out on the rest of the animal kingdom.

But there is one way to get her to make room for some other critter, be it a Hello Kitty or a Mickey Mouse: Dress it up like a bunny.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: Hoppy Holidays from The Bunny Museum
Trinkets and Treats at a Victorian House Museum
Photo Essay: The Spirit of Christmas Kitsch
Photo Essay: Valentine's Day In A Vintage Victorian

Monday, May 15, 2017

Photo Essay: The Tragedies That Befell the Pioneers of Lone Pine

For a place that's only got a couple thousand people living in it, Lone Pine has got a lot of cemeteries.

There's the Mt. Whitney Cemetery with a couple thousand internments, a population that continues to grow as more people die and are buried there.

Across the street from that, there's the mass grave of the dozens of Lone Piners who perished in the massive Lone Pine earthquake of 1872.

And then there's Lone Pine's first and oldest burial ground, now referred to as the Pioneer Cemetery.

It sits behind a wrought iron fence just outside the corner of the current boundaries of the Paiute-Shoshone Indian Reservation...

...with Mt. Whitney's snow-capped peak looming in the distance...

...and the early settlers of Lone Pine buried down below.

The first burials here date back to 1865, just a couple of years after the first white man built a cabin in Lone Pine and the white settlement was officially started (getting its own post office in 1870).

Those first bodies were those of Mrs. McGuire and her nine-year-old son Johnny, who were killed in Haiwee, in the last of the so-called Owens Valley Indian Wars (during which Owens Lake also became a massacre site of nearly 40 Paiutes).

Those buried also include members of the Diaz family, who emigrated from Chile in the 1860s and operated a successful cattle ranch—that is, until the 1872 earthquake shifted the Owens Valley by 20 feet and opened up a natural spring that filled the basin, turning the ranch into a lake.

The ranchers ended up selling their water-logged ranch to the land-thirsty officials of the LADWP.

Among the interred here are also the founders of Lone Pine, Charles Begole ("the father of Lone Pine") and Albert Johnson, who were two of the first pioneers to climb the highest peak in the lower 48, Mt. Whitney (a feat they shared with a third man, J.J. Lucas). At the time, they called it "Fisherman's Peak."

The rest were farmers...

...who'd come out West from all over the country...

...members of the Lone Pine Fire Brigade...


...and young men who hadn't gotten a chance to make their mark on the world...

...leaving behind only the markers for their graves.

The Pioneer Cemetery was the main graveyard for Lone Pine until 1884...

...and burials continued until 1914...

...but it wasn't the only place where the pioneers of the Eastern Sierras could've been buried.

Off of Narrow Gauge Road... the old Lone Pine train depot... can still find the so-called "Depot Cemetery."

This plot of land was supposed to replace the Pioneer Cemetery—but instead, it became a stopover point for those who passed away and needed to be buried during wet spring seasons, while the water table was too high at the Pioneer Cemetery.

The dead would be temporarily buried here—as a kind of holding area—until they could be exhumed and reinterred at the Pioneer Cemetery later in summer, once the water table was low enough to allow for digging and burying.

But for some reason, a handful of bodies never got moved—either to Pioneer Cemetery, or to Mt. Whitney Cemetery (which became the main burial ground when Pioneer filled up).

One of them—a woman named Ana V. deCastro—had been living in the mining community (and now ghost town) of Cerro Gordo alongside other Mexican immigrants and workers from Chile.

Another—a man born in Sarajevo—died of "unnatural causes."

Or, so says his headstone, in engraved Serbo-Croatian.

No wonder the Lone Pine area is considered "very haunted."

For more on the Lone Piners of days gone by, check out Cemeteries of the Eastern Sierra.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: The Death Toll of Tombstone
Photo Essay: A Fake Cemetery (with Real Headstones)
Photo Essay: Manzanar, The Wartime Japanese Prison Village