Spotlight: Pajonica (Jon)

By Sharon Brown (Sharon) on May 8, 2016

We're turning our Spotlight this week on a very talented English gentleman who just happens to make his home in Japan. I know you'll love reading about our friend, Pajonica. We've known him since Cubits first opened its doors in 2010 and he is not only very talented in many areas, he's also a gentleman, a kind and gentle man, in every sense of the word. Let's get to know Jon.

This was to be a Spotlight that Nancy (nap) would bring to you but she had to be out of town for awhile and we thought we needed to publish Jon's story as quickly as we could.  Sometimes he gets busy with other things and disappears  for awhile, but sometimes there are tsumanis and earthquakes and  floods  and we panic when we can't find him.  But soon he appears and is with us once more and we become thankful for him all over again.  When you hear about all the things he's involved with you will understand.  But I like to give credit where credit is due, so the very first part of his interview will be between Jon and Nancy.

Jon to Nap:

"Hi, Nancy, Where to start?  I was born in South Devon in SW England shortly after the war, a truly wonderful place for a kid to grow.   Devon is so pretty with rolling hills and green pastures. I attended a small village school of about 70 pupils and lived in a tiny house/cottage with a small garden, my mother was the gardener of the family and taught me all the names of the plants and trees.

I was just a scruffy kid who's passion was fishing and just being out in the countryside. At eight years old I visited my grandmother, a tiny woman of little over 4 feet in stature but with a huge personality, I loved her. She gave me and old guitar that I loved to play with, not play!

At nine years old my father lost his job on the railway and we were forced to relocate to a small town in East Anglia where we lived on a farm with relatives. At first, I hated it with a passion but grew to enjoy life on the farm. It was a dairy farm with what seemed like hundreds of cows though in reality perhaps 30 or so. Worst job was getting up at 5am to get the cows into the field then mucking out the cow stalls, I will never forget the stench and the flies.

We were now in the mid-50s, Rock-n-Roll and my interest in my ole guitar surfaced,  by then I had learned 3 chords E-A and B, enough to play most popular songs of the day. With a few friends, we formed a skiffle band, me on guitar, Brian on a tea chest bass and Mike playing a washboard with a cowbell attached to one corner, what a dreadful din!

As I entered my teens, the farm went bankrupt and we moved to London.

I had a hard time adjusting to big city life but as a teenager, it had some advantages. Folks talked in a manner I found hard to understand, they lived in "owzes" and birds "ad fevers". Japanese is easy by comparison! The kids at school made fun of me and said I spoke like a pirate, oo-arr, and so I did. I had to learn this London lingo fast.

London in the 60s, quite possibly the best place in the whole world for a teenage lad to be, music, fashion and most importantly, Girls! I began guitar and singing lessons after school and formed a new band, actually earning money in clubs and pubs around London.  It was all about girls then, the young man's imperative. Then the inevitable happened, I got married, ultimately ending in divorce.

Life goes on.

Eventually, I met someone special. We were at college when we met, I was a nerd studying chemistry she was an English language student. She was Japanese and came to England to learn our language. I first saw her in the college library and tried to speak with her, quickly realizing her English language ability was somewhat limited, to say the least.

As time went on we gradually became friends, I realized I was falling for her but kept quiet as she was so much younger than I.  Knowing in my heart that one day she would return to her home country, eventually, I plucked up the courage, sat her down and told her how I felt. I was astonished when she said she felt the same way. 

In 2004, she took me to Japan for a holiday and to meet her friends and family. I loved Japan as much as I loved her and asked her to marry me.  In 2006, we did just that, moving to Japan shortly after. 

Ten years have gone by, now we have two wonderful boys, real gifts from God. 

Unfortunately, I have no photos of those days, all lost in various moves and life changes. I came to Japan with a guitar and little else. 

It was here  that Nancy had to leave and I began working with Jon for this article.

2016-05-08/Sharon/628ac7 2016-05-08/Sharon/cee69e

Cherry  blossoms  blooming in Japan this spring.

 

Sharon:  Jon, ten years ago you came to a new country, a new language, a new culture. What did you find to be the biggest hurdle you had to get past? Was it the language? You not only had to learn to speak the language but even the alphabet is in symbols you needed to learn in order to read. Are you still learning?

JON:  While it is true I came to live here 10 years ago, I was no stranger to the Japanese language and culture. I learned a great deal from my wife who had spent 6 years with me in the UK. On arriving here I was armed with the knowledge of hiragana and katakana though kanji (syllabary, a basic of the Japanese writing system) is very much harder to learn. I was able to communicate at a very basic level by learning some important phrases, parrot fashion. I made tons of mistakes but the Japanese don't seem to mind or even mock. I did learn however that no matter how well you speak their language or how long you live here you remain an outsider, a foreigner, a gaijin. That actually turns out to be an advantage in that people expect you to be different and I am.

I guess the initial period sorting out paperwork and legitimizing myself, gaining my drivers license and things of that nature were the first hurdles I had to jump as nobody at all speaks English, especially out here in the sticks.

Initially, we were living with friends in Narita but when my wife became pregnant with our first we needed to find alternative accommodation and so the next hurdle was finding and buying a house. A mortgage was not an option as they will not lend to foreign people.  With limited funds, we had to buy cheap. I paid around $25,000 for this house in need of total restoration, a hurdle I'm climbing to this day.

Sharon: Jon, about all the creativity I see in every word you write, everything you build . . .

I try to write the way I feel, not looking to be clever, seeking out clever rhymes. My attempts at poetry are written in a few minutes as the thought enters my head.

My wife is the true artist, my soul mate indeed

Sharon:  Write, Jon. Write for us. I love your words!!! I really would love to focus mostly on your writing. Do you think that would be good? I'm a writer and you are impressive because I feel your words. It takes a lot of talent for one to make me feel the written word.

Thank you, dear Sharon. I've never thought of myself as a writer and always envied those such as yourself who write so well. Your kind words are to me as a fellow musician complimenting me on my musical ability, or as a master carpenter complimenting my carpentry. I now go forward with some confidence in my ability to put something of interest to others together.    

Sharon:   And coming from you, dear Jon, your words to me are uplifting and inspiring and give me so much self confidence. Thank you.  But you mention carpentry, perhaps you want to talk about carpentry first and we can end our interview with your poetry and music.  That might be more appropriate. You do have a tremendous amount of  lovely poetic thoughts but I know as well you are an extremely skilled builder, want to talk about that? 

This goes way back to my childhood, as we lived in the countryside we repaired and made most things for ourselves, grew our own food too, I was always the kid that wanted to know how everything worked. At 5 years old I was into clocks, I loved to take them apart and put them back together again, just to see what made them tick; there was no greater gift I could be given than an old clock, broken or otherwise.

Later we moved to a farm where there was some serious fixing to be done daily, I enjoyed fixing and making things which remained with me my whole life.

As a young man, I did several night school courses relating to building and automotive skills, even though by day I was a lab rat, Mom's fault, I was just nine when she bought a chemistry set at Christmas. Oh joy! I became a nerd.

Sharon:  Did you ever do anything in the work field with your chemistry knowledge?

I worked in a lab workng with printing ink color formulations, really boring work!

Benzene, organic chemistry, hydrocarbons. organic pigments and mineral pigments.  Fuel, paints, dyes, plastics, shampoo, detergents the list goes on, pretty much the foundation of the modern world. There is a lot of stuff to know just to make a printing ink with the right properties for a particular application. Then comes something of a black art, color, more akin to alchemy than chemistry. Yes, now we have computers to do a lot of this work, not so much in my day. Old school skills that are rapidly disappearing.

2016-05-08/Sharon/b6d375

And you asked about music.  As you know I play guitar, I am often asked to play at various social functions though nowadays with a deteriorating voice and carpel tunnel syndrome it is becoming harder and less enjoyable. I still play for at least 1 hour daily, it's something I just have to do. None of my children have the slightest interest in playing an instrument as yet though I do have a guitar that they can pick up at any time, It hurts at first to play guitar which is ultimately what deters many people. Perhaps in the future, they may, if so I'm ready to teach them.

I currently have 4 guitars, 3 of them acoustic and one acoustic/electric. I am not fond of electric guitars as I play fingerstyle, influences are classical, flamenco, folk, blues and jazz and of course rock.

You asked about Japanese food.  Most I like, some I tolerate and some I hate, then again I would say the same about food from my own country. I have mastered the use of chopsticks (Hashi), and am often complimented by Japanese people who are surprised to see a westerner using them well. Most Japanese homes don't have ovens as most of their food is boiled or fried, I imported an oven and we make cakes and roast dinner as well as Japanese food. Food is just ingredients, one can prepare it in any way you like.

Sharon:  Perfect again. There's rhythm even in the list of ingredients/terms you list in the first paragraph. You probably have a rhythm when you talk as well.

What is the one most difficult thing you had to change or to learn in order to feel comfortable in your new country?

What kinds of games do your boys play? Do you play with them?

Akira my eldest loves football, you call soccer, he plays for a local team and quite definitely has talent, I always hated football as it was a thing my father played.  Dragged me off on a Saturday to watch him and his crowd while I sat outside the pub with a lemonade and a bag of chips. I remember once I was chased by a goose, yes I was just 3 years old and the flipping goose was bigger than me, my dad and his friends thought it funny but I was scared, scared to death. It took many years fo me to enjoy soccer, my English heritage. it's ok as I realise now my father was so wrong on so many levels.

My new country was not in any way difficult, just different perhaps, yes, of course, I had to adapt, if nothing else I am adaptable. A quality perhaps necessary for my situation. I believe I was meant to be here, so where else could I be? This is my place, the place I want to be.

Sharon:  Where do you go, what do you do to relax?  

Easy question, I play guitar and go inside my own head. safe in there.

Sharon:  Got any plans for your new garden? 

2016-05-08/Sharon/60b4292016-05-08/Sharon/dd2aee2016-05-08/Sharon/7f6a8c

I'm working on the garden right now going right from scratch shifting tons of soil to create the levels and layout I want. There is such a lot to think about.

Sharon, you also asked about the earthquake of March 2011.

Events of the past day or two in Kyushu have reminded me of just how terrible these large quakes are. For two days now the TV has shown little else other than the utter devastation caused. I know first hand from my own experiences of 2/11,  and it is not all bad. Yes thousands lost their lives, homes, livelihoods, friends, possessions including myself and family and yet the thing I now remember the most is people's kindness their compassion and generosity. Oh yes, of course, it was awful but those things you move on from, leaving something very special, faith in humanity, our ability to pull together in a crisis, somehow making the world a better place to be.

Some of us worried frantically during the  stroms, the tsumani, earthquakes,  unbearable acts of nature knowing that Jon and his little family were very nearly right in the middle of it but  in the end they were safe though as with all  huge nature events there was loss and extreme clean up.  Here are pictures during the rebuild and following:

2016-05-08/Sharon/a0be4b2016-05-08/Sharon/65df64  

And Jon and his boys

2016-05-08/Sharon/f3828c 2016-05-08/Sharon/369487 2016-05-08/Sharon/30cb9b

 Now a few of Jon's poems and music . . .

Sharon,  I just wrote this I thought you may like to read it:

There is only the now, as the past flows behind us like an evaporating stream
The beginning of our life a distant dream. 

We know of nothing before our time, other than of the history books of times past.
Some are true and some are false. If there were a future book, how long will my life last.

What happens when we die. Is it the same, as before we learned to cry.
Nothing, heaven perhaps, a cloud on which to sleep forever as the world goes by.

Where was I before I was born, was my soul created at the moment of my birth or
was It there forever waiting for a turn, or a soul used many times waiting to return.

Will I be food for worms and decompose for Earth to reshape and reform, eventually
to be reborn.


*****

I have converted one of my poems to song, it is played as a moderate rhythm and blues.
Entitled, I'm Glad to Be Alive.

E////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////E7
Ten pins on a bowling alley an that balls a coming fast
A/////////////////////////////////////////////E///
if I should fall I’d hope to be the last.
B7///////////////A////////////E
Till then I’m glad to be alive 
E///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////  
Our tenacity’s the thing... that stands us on our feet,
A//////////////////////A7//////////////////E
Chipped a little scraped perhaps, not beat.
B7///////////////////A//////////////E////
Till then yes, I’m glad to be alive
E/////////////////////////////////////////////
An when that big ole ball arrives
E7///////////////////////////////////////////////A///////// A
knocks us to the bowels ..... of the machine ......(down octave)
///////////////////////////E////////
Where none of us survive.
B7/////////////////A///////////E//////
Until then I’m glad to be alive


A song made from a poem I wrote. If you play a guitar/piano/banjo whatever you will work it out.
The chords are made to be simple though my version is a little more complex. Think rhythm and blues or transpose the chords to D or C and ignore the sevenths and play country style. Finger pickin good! Change it, arrange it, just make it yours. Though I wrote the lyrics  Big Grin

******

More of Jon's poetry...

A dream.

I had a dream last night,
of a garden so big and bright,

alas, I can't recall it all,
for dreams are fleeting things, as I awoke to tell.

A place where square tomatoes grew
And all the grass was combed and blue.

Vines of gold twined interlaced in colors
I never knew.

All the leaves were square yet, round.
The bees and butterflies abound.

They sang as if angels had found, a way to make an earthly sound.

A square cloud drifts gently by as I gazed into the sky
to block the sun, but it past by.

Then I awoke into the light, remembering little from the night.
Jon

******

I stood and watched the stars fade as light filled the eastern sky.
The very first to see as sunrise filled my eye.
I turned away to see long shadows, dancing in the morning breeze.
The very first to breathe the air this morning gave to me.

I stood and watched the sunset gold, giving way to pink, then grey.
Feeling I had lost forever, yet another day. 
I turned away again, seeing long shadows slowly fading.
Giving way to darkness shades, I could see the milky way.

The stars were beautiful this night, they showed me how to see.
The wonder of our world, so fragile and dependant, on all that we can see.     

******
 
Bored on a rainy day!

It’s raining cats and dogs
Just listen to the sound, as each and every drop
Drills holes into the ground.

My hydrangea has been flattened
As if by gigantic hoof, I have the photograph
If your looking for the proof.

Spilling from the roof into every vacant spout
The waterfall cascades, and leaves me with no doubt
The rain will never stop. It makes me want to shout!

But wait here comes the sun to chase the clouds away!
The rain has stopped to leave us this beautiful day 
steam rises from the soil the air is filled with mist,
which rises to the sunlight forever to be lost.

*****
Jon, thank you so much for sharing with us.  You truly are a multi-talented man.

Sharon you are just too kind.  *Blush* Unfortunately I don't have the means to record sound files at this time.
I will leave you with some more of my poems.

If there were no winter there could be no spring
no summer to follow nor autumn to colour no
bird to sing, no tree to blossom or joy to bring.
No snow to enchant us or play in.

No grape from the vine to bring us good wine.
No blossoming meadow or fruit from the hedgerow.
No food on the table for us to dine.
O winter is forever divine.

So don’t complain of cold and rain, there’s a reason for winters chill an endless cycle never still.
An incredible world of life sustained 
Jon 2007

*******

Maybe in a thousand years

Maybe in a thousand years or a thousand more,
we’ll learn that peace and harmony’s a better way than war.
Destroy and hate, they’re different, is all we understand,
people of different faiths or that hail from other lands.

Through ignorance and bigotry, we blindly follow our
fathers hate, that histories legacies create.

JH . 2007 
 
*******

I look about

I look about at all I see in wonder of nature’s diversity.
The tiny ant the graceful bird the majesty of trees. When seeing I’m reminded that we are part of these.

We view this world as ours, to plunder and pollute, exploiting it’s
resources with very little thought.
A Jewel in the cosmos, given a life gift from its star,
driving Mother Nature’s engine bathed in light from afar.

Our world created all life including humanity,
but know that if mistreated it may take life from thee.
Someday mankind may be replaced with another animal or race
Inheriting our legacy, an exhausted lifeless dirty place.

JH 2007
=====================================================

These poems are the authors original works and subject to copyright laws.
They may not be reproduced in any way without prior consent of the author.

March 2016 Jon..
It's better than 5 years since I've written any serious attempts at poems or lyrics, life got in the way.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A low rumble more felt than heard beyond the range of human ear yet alarming, before I could utter a single word. 

A soft shaking began rising to a terrifyingly violent force as though an angered demon had awakened beneath the house. 

Alone with two petrified children, no power, gas or water, no communication to reach
their Mother I was afraid then.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The feelings of those moments have never left me.

Fragments of my child remain in my soul,
like particles of food left in my bowl

The stains of the negatives are still there too, traces of lovers and loved ones lost bear faint hue.

And yet the meal was delicious, the color and the flavor, 
much to my delight. All because life’s wonderful and colorful and bright

We are made of many parts, complex in our interpretation of love and tragedies by our inner sight.

Creativity is G
od's gift to us, the tools, musicians string or painter's brush,
The music and the paints are us.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Like skittles in a bowling alley
I know the ball is coming fast,
if I should fall I’d hope to be the last. 

Our tenacity’s the contraption that stands us on our feet,
Chipped, a little scraped perhaps, not beat.

Until that big ball arrives,
knocks us to the bowels of the machine,
Where none of us survive. Whistling 

Jon  Big Grin

*******
 
How does the centipede coordinate its legs
A question that has baffled me,
an answer so it begs.

Dozens of appendages to control,
commanded by it’s brain.
What legs to move to twist and turn
with purpose to sustain.

With just two legs I sometimes trip or fall
Yet the amazing centipede never does at all.
 
******
 
The land is gray and concrete clad,
the oceans full of trash.
The airs we breath polluted,
contaminated with our ash.

The need for money drives it all,
to make the plastic thing to throw,
Not caring for a moment where it all will go.

How will our grandchildren think of us?
To think how much we cared for them.
By doing nothing to preserve the earth and leaving only dust.

 
Sharon:  There was a break in  my creative link  with  JON, it  happened after the tsumani and subsequent earthquake that  hit Japan in 2011.  Much of his poetry was originally written and stored away in  the Attic of our Writing Cubit.  Other writings are fresh from the past couple of months.  No matter  when he wrote them they are all fresh and true and straight to the point.

He had much  restoration to do to his home following Nature's horrendous surprises and there were years of work ahead. Work that he accomplished alone.  Here's the link that will take you to his cubit  to see pictures of not only the restoration but also to see the new room he added  onto  his  home.  Singlehandedly, he designed and built the room and did the restorative work.

His Cubit:  http://cubits.org/diycomfortheserious/

The new Room:  http://cubits.org/DIYcomfortheserious/thread/view/79648/

A Renaissance man, our Jon is, a master of many things and we are so lucky he shares his creativity and talent  with us.
2016-05-08/Sharon/b09268

The last photo is my gorgeous Lady Banks rose just beginning to flower.
 
It's all getting very close to completion, there is the guttering and associated rainwater drainage.

After this is all complete I'm (here comes the list) going to restore the balcony, replace all the guttering and downpipes on the entire house, repaint the house, build a wood deck adjacent to the extension, create the garden with a pond feature. Oh! and forgot the repairs to the main roofs that were damaged in the earthquake. That ought to keep me busy and out of trouble for a while.  Big Grin Oh! it all makes work for the working man to do.  Whistling I and a good few others can't believe I still at 68 have the enthusiasm and the strength but I do so I will continue. I'm a one man band, here everything you see here has been done by me alone apart from the occasional lift from my DW. I love and live to work! It's what floats my boat. You wanna know how to do it? Spit on yer hands, roll up yer sleeves and go!

And about Jon's Cubit:  
        
The sad thing is so few people seem to want to benefit from this cubit. No, we don't do videos, guess we could , were we asked to. I created this cubit to help those who wanted to do stuff themselves, just ask a question and I will answer honestly if I don't know I will tell you, I will research on your behalf and try to come up with a solution.
Nothing is ever perfect first time round, neither is this cubit, but this cubit is not for me, or anybody to show off, it's for you and the small or the big things we do. All are welcome from putting on a plug to rewiring a house. 
Nothing is for sale here, I promote nothing at all,

And what's next, I said,   Ahhhh, of course, the garden.  Here are Jon's plans:
2016-05-08/Sharon/e2e4b1
Jon, what a great story.  It isn't often we meet someone with the talent and the creative ability to do so many things. It's no surprise that you keep right on designing and building and writing  lovely music and poetry, they keep us going,  keep us involved,  keep us happy, all of  them.

Getting  to  know you has been a gift, one that I'll long remember.  Your boys are wonderful, bright eyed handsome little boys.  I hope they know how fortunate they are to have been born into  the home they have,  to have been given to such special and loving parents. 

It's been such a pleasure to spend  these evenings talking with you.  More than anything I respect  and feel the  depths of your poetic words.

More than I can say, thank you from my heart.   You are an incredible man, Jon.

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About Sharon Brown
I am a retired Art and Humanities teacher living in western Kentucky. I love writing and art with equal measure, but I also have a passion for nature and plants.

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Who's Who Spotlight articles feature personal interviews and photos of individual Cubits members, sharing with you their talents and expertise in a variety of areas and interests.

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