Category Archives: Portraits

Portrait of Joel

Years ago, Joel, along with his wife, Chemaine, were in the habit of taking in animals that needed homes. Consequently, they then founded of Forever Wild Exotic Animal Sanctuary. Located in Phelan, California, USA, it was established in 1997. Joel loved managing this establishment and everything that went along with this task. However, he noted, “it’s hard and it’s rough, and I often feel like pulling my hair out, and that’s why I have so little of it.”

Joel always had an interest in animals and he claimed, “they are my whole life.” Joel’s grandparents had a pet store where they used to sell exotic animals. They stopped selling them when they realized people were not caring for these types of animals properly.

Joel loved all the animals at Forever Wild and could not say which was his absolute favorite. He had a certain affinity for the cats, and aside from them, he had a special fondness for the new Black Bear named Honey. Honey was a year old at the time of this posting and Joel said she could potentially grow a little bigger, maybe up to 250- 300 pounds, “a pretty good size for a female.” I asked if the Black Bears were rare; and Joel said, “they are all over California; there’s a good population of Black Bears in California.”

Forever Wild did not breed any of their animals. The animals had not been DNA tested, so without knowing their genetic background, “there isn’t a benefit to breeding them to help the species out.”

Joel also believed that breeding the animals in his menagerie would be like “the pound breeding dogs.” His sanctuary was a place where animals could live out their lives. Most of these animals were not wanted by someone, were not cared for by someone, or were confiscated. They had nowhere else to go.

The animals all looked happy, until the food was on it’s way, and then of course they were very anxious to get their meals. Joel and his staff gave the big cats enrichment programs, so that they wouldn’t pace back and forth, bored and miserable. There were gigantic balls in some of the cages for the Tigers. The lion, named Wazu, was roaring the whole time I was there; he had a gorgeous loneliness with him.

I was jumping around with glee and excitement to be around these animals. The day that I was at Forever Wild, I got to hear a lion roar and tigers purr.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Joel with a Capuchin monkey named Baby G

Joel with a Macaw Parrot named Big Bird

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Wordless Wednesday

Portrait of Bob-1

Bob was the owner of the Souza Family Vineyard, in Tehachapi, California, USA. He established The Vineyard thirteen years prior to this posting and The Tasting Room five years after that. Bob and his wife started their business when they took a Sunday drive and saw the Cummings Valley Road ranch for sale. He realized that he was eleven-ish years from retirement and decided to buy the property. Upon retirement, he started from scratch, that is, got into the wine business himself, that is, without any help or advice from experts. He said, “I dug holes in the ground and put the plants in the holes.”

Bob was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. When he was in junior high school, his parents moved from Boston to the Los Angeles area, where he mostly lived in Chatsworth, California, USA. He graduated from Notre Dame High School, in  Sherman Oaks and attended Los Angeles Valley College, in  Van Nuys, but quit to go work in the business sector. He was an insurance broker for 41 years.

Bob primarily sold retail out of his Winery. Sometimes he did wholesale transactions with local markets. He used to sell wholesale to restaurants in the area, but those restaurants either went out of business or changed ownership, so he stopped doing that. He did not have the license nor the inventory to export. Besides, he preferred retailing his product himself at his little Winery.

It was such a pleasant nice place, with a beautiful view. The customers seemed more like guests and were all happy drinking wine, having cheese and slices of apple. I could see why he didn’t want to sell his wine anywhere else but from his little bar.

Bob’s Bar

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

A view of the he vineyard through a vine.

Wine racks in retail store/tasting room.

Portrait of Carrie

Carrie worked the wine tasting room on the weekends at Souza Family Vineyard in Tehachapi, California, USA. She was originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, specifically from Walnut Creek , California, USA. She went to high school in Delano, California and attended UC Davis, Davis, California, USA majoring in Communications for her university studies. At the time of this posting, Carrie was 27 years old.

Carrie came to Tehachapi because her boyfriend was a facility engineer for Lockheed Martin. They lived in the Bear Valley Springs area of Tehachapi. Carrie liked to be outdoors, and liked to ride horses. She had two horses, a quarter horse Arab and a Mustang she acquired thorough Bureau of Land Management Wild Horse and Burro Internet Adoption, which she called a “BLM Mustang.” She also had three dogs: a German Shepherd Husky mix, a beagle mix and a a Golden Retriever mix.

This is my 50th posting. I’m really glad I was able to have such a beautiful portrait for this Jubilee. I’ve been wanting to get a portrait of someone with a wine glass at a winery that looks like something that could go in a magazine, an ad for a cruise or an ad for a winery. It seems I accomplished that goal.

It hasn’t been easy to do this every day. Taking the pictures is fun; I like doing that. But doing these write-ups and editing them towards perfection is the hard part and I don’t like doing it. I also don’t like having to do it every single day. But I committed to doing this so I’m going to keep going for the full 365 days. Thank you for staying with me.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.


Portrait of James

James was a really GREAT and smart boy. I enjoyed snaping his portait because he took directions very well. At first, the prop in front of him was either sticking out of his head or leading from his elbow and it didn’t make for good composition,. I asked him to move until I got a good pose with good composition; he worked with me well, patiently and exuberantly

James was 11 years old he from Torrance, California, USA. He was in the fifth grade  and interested in baseball and Taekwondo. He wanted to play the trumpet at some point in his life.

James also liked internet gaming, Star Wars and Legos. He owned Star Wars Legos, even thoughhe didn’t hae a favorite Lego set. His father described him as, “a kind and bright kid.”

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Frances

Frances lived in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, USA, but was originally from Pink Hill, North Carolina, USA. She came to California in 1961 with her husband who was transferred by his employers, Harding-Williams food services, a restaurant chain that no longer existed at the time of this posting.

Francis was a registered nurse who worked in hospitals or in employee-health for the commercial sector. Her career included time for Kaiser Permanente and also for DuPont USA, at their Dacron plant. Frances was a charge nurse once in her career, but did not enjoy it, I think because she was a quiet person and didn’t like the responsibility of having to tell people under her what to do. But that’s just speculation.

Frances had three three children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. She had a wonderful life. She looked forward to having fun every day in her future.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Portrait of Rene

Renee worked at the Indian Point Ostrich Ranch, which unfortunately will be closed by time you read this. The Ranch was located in Tehachapi, California, USA. Rene, a staff guide, was very proud of their celebrity ostrich, Ralph, 25 years old, who had been on the Discovery Channel several times now. The lifespan of an ostrich is about 75 years. The owner had Ralph since he was a hatchling.  I didn’t get a picture of him, but I did get one of his current mate, below.

Rene had been, “on the Ostrich Ranch, off and on, for maybe about 2 years.” Renee enjoyed giving tours, which included Ostriches’s of all ages, Incubating Ostriches and Juvenile Ostriches. She loved working with the birds because “it’s not often that you get to see the largest bird in the whole wide world with the largest eyes.” She gave tours and when she told people about them they said, “Oh my!”

Rene was not originally from Tehachapi, but from San Gabriel Valley, California and she had a second home in Mammoth Lakes, California because she was an avid skier. She had been a professional project manager before she retired and dabbled in the theater. After retirement, she moved to Tehachapi and came to work at the Ostrich Ranch. “It’s the perfect retirement job,” she said.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Rene with a nameless Juvenile Ostrich

Rene with Ralph’s current mate, 20 year old Peggy.


Portrait of Izac

Izac and his family came to visit the Mountain Spirit Center at the same time as I was there taking pictures. His Dad showed him how ring the zen bell by swinging the beam (see below.) We all noted that the bell tone was very relaxing, then I researched:

The 大鐘 Ōgane (1) is the largest bell used in the monastery, it hangs underneath a specially-designed structure. The heavy swinging beam (2, 撞木 shumoku) is used to strike the bell. It is this bell which reflects the spirit of the Buddhist temple. The ring has a peculiarly soul-pacifying effect.     SZÓTÓ ZEN SŌTŌ ZEN

Izac was a seven year old from Tehachapi, California, USA. Isaac liked playing Minecraft, and with Legos, and going to the park. He obviously liked Batman (notice his cap); his favorite Batman villain was Joker.  “Batman is my favorite,” he asserted, “because he has a battery ram and he has a grabble hooker so like when he’s far away, he can like hold the grabble hooker and then he can like get up where no one can go.”

For those of you who are not familiar with Batman:

LEGO Batman with Grappling Hook

Izac likes the cartoon Batman a bit more than the live action version. Both he and he Dad were surprised to find out that the actor, Mark Hamill, who was Luke Skywalker in Star Wars, played the voice of Joker on the cartoons.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Buddhist Prayer Bell

Portrait of Karen

Karen was from Friend, Nebraska, USA. She came to visit her son and his girlfriend in Tehachapi, California, USA. I met her at the Mountain Spirit Center, a Kwan Um School of Zen Buddhism, as she was enjoying the view and taking pictures of the gorgeous site (see below.) It was the embodiment of ZEN, that is, it was extremely relaxing. Please read the link to learn about their lifestyle and philosophy of sustainability and environmental concern.

Karen was a manager at  Walmart for 13 years. Karen was a quiet and shy person and I really appreciated that she let me take her picture because usually people who are as reticent as her don’t let me take their picture.

Since I started doing this project, I have asked many strangers to let me take their portrait and post it on the internet. The majority say no. You can’t imagine how many people don’t let me photograph them. Or maybe you can. The ratio is minimally one lets me take a picture to every three who don’t. But it could be even bigger than that.

The day I  Karen, I snapped this moment in Karen’s life, I went to a meeting in Mojave hoping that I would get to take pictures of several people. I thought I’d come out with a minimum of three pictures. But it ended up I got no pictures at that meeting. So I went driving off into the desert, and then into the mountains and that’s how I found Jason-3, Milford, Karen, and Izac.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Hills of Pine Canyon, Tehachapi, California

Portrait of Milford

When I met Milford on the main road, in the Pine Canyon area of Tehachapi, California, USA, he was driving his tractor to repair potholes caused by the rain. Milford lived in the area for 33 years and owned his John Deere 2305 4WD Compact Tractor for 10 years; he praised its performance (see below.)

All the roads in Pine Canyon were private roads. The residents maintained these passageways without government assistance. It was typical in a wet year for the roads to get soaked, so the people who had the means to do the work would volunteer. There was a group of people who helped, but sometimes too many showed up. In that case, there were conflicts. Milford did not consider it pleasant to work when too many people showed up. See the big smile on his face. He was working the road alone that day.

Milford was a retired Aerospace machinist. He was stationed as a civilian in both Mojave Airport and Edwards Air Force Base, participating in flight test activities.

After retiring from Aerospace, Milford worked at Billingsley Veterinary Clinic, a large animal veterinary hospital close to his house. He assisted the veterinarian both with Road Calls and In-office visits.

The best part of the job, though, was that he got to ride his Arabian gelding to work. He would park his gelding in a stall, give him treats during the day, and then ride back home after work.

Milford believed that his horse learned more that year and became a better horse because of the regular routine and the discipline. Milford didn’t think that he could have tamed him as well without the regular, everyday regimen.

In addition to his horse, Milford raised goats. His wife had nothing to do with the livestock.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Milford on his John Deere 2305

Portrait of Jason-3

Jason worked for AT&T and on the day I met him, he was sent to do some repair work at at Alta Wind Energy Center  part of NRG Energy, in Mojave, California, USA. This location is also known as Mojave Wind Farm,  and it’s one of the largest wind energy projects not only in California, but in the world.

Jason was happy to be out in the desert because he came from Bakersfield, California, USA, which was “gloomy, cloudy and nasty looking.” When he got to the main offices, it was sunny and pleasant.

Jason had worked for AT&T for 22 years, straight out of college. He was hired and got on-the-job-training. At first, he worked in the office, doing customer service, but was the type of person who didn’t like to be inside very much.

Eventually, Jason was accepted into the technical aspect of AT&T and was trained for field work. That made him very happy. Again, he was in an on-the-job-training program, but this time, he got to be outside, and he he got to travel around his office’s district.

See the pictures below to see what it looked like by the wind farm on that gorgeous day.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin © 2016 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.

Electrical Substation at NRG Site

Transmission Wires at NRG Site, Wind Turbines in the Background