March 5, 2010 by Joseph E. Najera

Sear reader: I am starting to put my writings together in book form. I have already posted some of them. Here is page 1.) 

I am 62 years old now,

 and I am drifting in and out of moments.

I am not sure what they mean,

what the silent muse is trying to show me.

I see imaginary moments

 that never happened.

 I see other moments too painful to imagine.

I see the weary face in the mirror, that tired old man with the graying and thinning hair.

The questions and doubts that I have battled throughout my time still haunt me.

Will all my sins be forgiven?

Are they even forgivable?

Will I ever be worthy?

Will I be remembered?

Countless, never-ending plagues of angst.

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The Land of Calafia by Joseph E Najera

(Dear Reader: This the opening to my father’s collection of posts. I am putting them into the Kindle format. I invite yo to read them all.) 

The Land of Calafia

    September 28, 1542, was the day Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo entered San Diego Bay. On that day they became the first Europeans to set foot on The California shores.

   It was not until 1769 that the Spanish decided to settle there permanently. This is when we hear of Father Junipero Serra and his quest to establish a series of missions.

   The plan was to establish their Spanish presence and to “civilize” the local people and convert them to Christianity. The series of missions, presidios and pueblos extended from San Diego to north of San Francisco, at Sonoma.

    Almost at the same time, Emperor Peter the Great ordered the exploration of the North Pacific. They over hunted their own country of fur bearing animals. Peter the Great looked to the Pacific Northwest as a new source.

   It was a conflict in the making.  The United States was not even a country, yet the people on the east coast were already taking an interest in the west coast.

    Welcome to the whirlwind.

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A Tale of Nena the Fairy by Carlos Najera

   I was five years old.  El Paso del Norte was by now a distant memory. The Imperial Valley was such a long way from here.

 We now lived in a Mexican neighborhood. The people here were descendants of the Spanish, Sonoran colonizers and were called People of the Country. Many lived on the farms or in the original township of El Rio.

   I say original because El Rio was there before Oxnard was established, a place by the river crossing of the Santa Clara River and the King’s Highway, El Camino Real. It was established by Simon Cohn in 1875. He called his place New Jerusalem. It consisted of a general store, corral, and eventually a post office. Eventually the place was called El Rio because, well, that is where it was. Oxnard was established a short distance away and became the dominant city, but that is another story.

   All my life I have awakened before sunrise and have gone out to inspect the world. One day I was walking down the street very early. Two boys lived in the next block. They were bigger than me and they enjoyed knocking me down and kicking me in the ribs. I did not enjoy that a bit.

   As I said, I was walking down the street, very peaceful and minding my own business when I heard the boys from the next block running after me and yelling threats.

   Since I knew what was going to happen next, I started running. I do not know how it happened but I found myself running through a strange neighborhood and those guys were catching up to me.

   I heard a voice that said, “Hurry! Run this way!”  I did not see anyone except a dragonfly, and she was saying, “Hurry! Run this way!”  She was flying in front of me. She guided me through a door in a wall.

   We went in but the boys could not find the door, so they did not enter. I could see and hear them but they could not see nor hear me. After we entered through the door we left the boys outside of the wall.

   The dragonfly sat upon my hand. I took a closer look. I could see that it was not really a dragonfly. She was a tiny, graceful and delicate creature with a human shape. She was a fairy!

   “This is the fairy garden, I live here sometimes.”  She said. “I like the rivers. I love the water. It reminds me of my homeland, the Green Isle.”

   She spoke with a strange accent, but everyone around here had an accent.

   She sat on my hand and guided me along a path. It was very beautiful here. There were many trees and flowers. We climbed a hill and I rested against a big rock near a river of clear water. It was then I noticed, “How is it that I climbed a hill when this valley is a flat plain?”

   Other fairies were flying all around me. So many, all of a different color.

   “Hi! Boy!” They said in their sweet gentle voices. I could see the smiles on their transparent faces.

   “Hi! Carlitos! Hi! Little Charlie!” They knew my real name and my new American name.

   I leaned over a brook to get a drink of water. It was clear and sweet and each time I took a drink it tasted like a different of sweetness.

  The birds and the fairies sang throughout the day. Sometimes they sang together their gentle fairy songs. 

   “This place is not my home, but it will do until I find my destiny.”

   “Destiny?” I asked.

   “Destiny is the place where we are meant to be.”

   “Do I have a Destiny?”

   “Aye me laddie. It will take your entire lifetime to seek and find Her.”

   A tear fell from her eye. “She is elusive. Not everyone can nor will find theirs.”

   Nena sat on my hand.  A tiny tear fell on my palm.     

   “That tear is me pledge to you. I have been with you since you came into the world. I was dancing on the big river when I heard your Mum cry out. I had to see. Such a wee child you were, and then they gave yee the name, the name of another lad I once knew so many years ago. I have followed yee ever since and I promised me self to keep yee safe.”

   I remembered the fighting in the streets back in Ciudad Juarez. There was a flash of light that made me turn my head and avoid a bullet.

   “Aye! Tha’ was me, and there were many another times.  I can hear your voice and you can hear mine. I will ne’er be far from yee. That is all yee need to know.”

   The magical music I heard was like a lullaby and soon I fell asleep. I do not know how long I slept but when I awoke I was lying on our front porch.

   I am an old man telling you this, and I do not know when my time will come.  I have never really seen her since that day, but I know she has never been far away.

 

 

 

 

 

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Works in Progress by Joseph Najera

It has been a while since I have entered a new post, but that does not mean that I haven’t been busy.  I have mentioned on previous occasions that I am a member of a co-op art gallery in downtown Los Altos, California.

gallery9There are about thirty members and we rotate, take turns being the featured artist of the month. It takes about two years to have this opportunity.

My opportunity to be the featured artist is coming up real fast this August, 2017. If you are in the Bay Area during August, I invite you to drop in and see what I have been doing.

I have been preparing for this showing for the last two years. Usually I have been a three-dimensional artist. When I my last show I only had three pieces for the wall. Since then, I completed a lot of projects for the walls. That has been my emphasis.  I have been working six days a week, for as long as my energy can stand it.

Here are a few photos of what I’ve been up to. Let’s take a look. I have discovered Fairy Lights. They consist of extremely small lightbulbs strung out on very thin wires. I like the way they look, especially hanging down the wall.

aaaaaaaaaaI usually use a clipboard and graph paper to plan a project. I love curves. I have spent many hours experimenting with my compass. You will notice that my final project doesn’t always turn out the way I planned. That’s what makes it art.

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Curves are simple but the possibilities are infinite in number.

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Through the years I have become more comfortable using a torch. I wanted to show you how I put things together. This is how the design turned out.

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You cannot tell, but the circle I used below came from a wine barrel that I used as a planter in my backyard. The wood rotted away but I found a use for the hoops. Again I used Fairy Lights.

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Below is another project I made using a wine barrel hoop and some Fairy Lights. I think the lighting was better when I took this picture.

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I am using a smooth, fine grain sheet of plywood. I am able to plan a design here. I made the circle with a nail and a string and using what I learned in high school geometry class I was able to draw the diameter and radius.

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At this point I had no idea what the end of the project would look like.

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Working on the pieces continues. It took a while but I finally made all the pieces for the design.

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I used rivets to connect the pieces. It is often so much easier to weld the pieces together, but I like the look of rivets. It ties me to an older date in time.

This project took over eight weeks. The rains came. We had a good rainfall this season. I used a picnic table to lay out the design. Everything became rusty.

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It took a week to clean the pieces up and remove the rust. We were getting a lot of rainfall as I said, so I moved my board to my garage.  I centered the wine barrel hoop and began assembling my pieces.

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Here is the beginning of another design. I drew it out on this rough sheet of plywood. Once again I am using simple curves along with the Iron Rose design. My father created the Iron Rose and I like using it. You will not see this design anywhere else.

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It was late afternoon when I took this picture. I covered it with a tarp to protect it from the rain. All the pieces are made, so now begins the careful assembly of each piece.

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Here you can see my clipboard with the design on it, and the actual design. If you notice the end product is still different from what is on the table. I didn’t like those pieces in the center so I removed them.

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My wife says this reminds her of a spider. I’ll leave whether you agree with that or not, up to you.

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I do not always work with wrought iron. Around Christmas season I like to make Table Deer. They are easy to make and you are welcome to try making one on your own.

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That is my hand on the left. The one on the right took several months to carve out. Maybe some other time I will carve a foot.

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I picked up a tree branch outside, cleaned it up a bit, and made a candleholder out of it.

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Once again you’re welcome to make one of these at home, or, drop by Gallery 9.

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I am not a hunter. One of my cousins loved to hunt. He passed away a few years ago but I received a box of antlers from him. The candleholder and the handle for that knife from the same set of antlers. I have more antlers. I need to take time and think about what I can do with them.

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Every once in a while, when I work in the backyard, I trim the trees and save the straight branches. If they feel strong enough I turn them into walking sticks. Near my house is Cunningham Park. There is a lake there, waterslide, a skateboard park, picnic tables, and lots of Canadian geese. I go there and fill a bag of their feathers. They are all over the place, I just picked them up.

This design is not what I intended. It is similar to one made a few years ago. I started out thinking it would a bouquet of iron roses. Everyone who sees it, says looks like a tree. Okay. I will go with that and call the Tree of Life.

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I like this simple design. It holds an ornament or anything else you want to display. I try to make several for the Christmas season.

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I like this  design for a candleholder. I also like working with leather and beads. I tied an acorn at the end of this string.

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This one of my latest projects. My father’s family is from New Mexico and I was thinking about that when I made this. It is based on the state flag of New Mexico.

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It is not a rule, but traditionally wrought iron projects are painted black or white. I painted it red to match the official flag. By strange coincidence I have a yellow wall that again matches the state flag of New Mexico. The circle is hand made. If you look close you can tell. You didn’t know that until just now.

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This is a project my father made. I cannot remember exactly when, but it must’ve been over 50 years ago. This was a hanger. It held up a sign. I think I still have that sign. Now I’m going to have to clean out the garage until I find it.

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I use my father’s project to make this thing. It is not an exact copy but close enough for you to see similarities. I do not like it and I may change it. The center of this design does not match. Look at the string and draw and imaginary line straight down the middle. What I would like to do with it now is separate it, divide it into two halves. If I hang them on the wall with some space in between my imperfection should be less noticeable.

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It is nearing the end of June. I must be ready with everything by the last week of July. This candleholder follows the basic pattern that I like and have been using for a while.

I welded it together. Although I am becoming more comfortable welding, it is still not a work of art. In other words, I wrapped the main stem in leather. This way I have hidden most of my ugly welds.

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I mentioned earlier the term rivets. Here’s one close-up. To fasten two or more pieces of iron together, it is actually steel, I need to drill a hole through the pieces.

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As I am getting closer to the month of August I am finishing up other pieces that I have been working on.

Once again, I would like to invite you to Gallery 9 this coming August. Come by. Say hello. Thank you very much.

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Fuzzy Math by J Edward Najera

I do not like to get involved with political topics. I have friends and family on both sides of the issues. However, I have a few thoughts about what I see happening.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” This observation by Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás is often quoted and it is completely appropriate when trying to keep up with current frustrations happening in our nation’s capital and up and down the east coast.

“This is a madhouse!” Screams Charlton Heston In The Planet of the Apes.

Here’s the problem as I see it.  On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Candidate Trump stated he would deport all undocumented immigrants from the U.S. He would reverse President Obama’s executive orders on immigration.

Trump is quoted as saying: “We’re going to keep the families together, but they have to go.” The opposite is happening already, as I write these words in March of 2017. ICE agents are waiting at schools to round up parents and are tearing families apart. This is a nightmare I do not want to think about . . .

The Department of Homeland Security estimates that 11.4 million illegal immigrants were in the United States in January 2012.

One estimate of the cost to gather these immigrants and send them back would take about 20 years and cost the government between $400 billion and $600 billion. That amount just about matches the defense budget of 2015.

$598.5 billion. This sounds like “fuzzy math” to quote another president.

“I do not want to say harsh words against President Trump. I respect the office.”

I believe I said that.

 

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Blinded by the Light by Joseph E Najera

I was born on November 28, 1947. I was told much later that I ruined Thanksgiving dinner that year by popping out of the oven about the same time as the turkey. There’s my parents, about the time I came into the world.

My early years were in El Centro, CA. It is in the Imperial Valley, Southern California. The border towns of Calexico and Mexicali are a few miles away. There are miles of farm lands on both sides of the border made possible by the complex system of canals fed by the Colorado River.

I don’t have too many pictures of my mama and me. She went to the hospital shortly after this. She was in there so long that I didn’t even know her. I thought my aunt was my real mother.

In the Imperial Valley, my father, and I suppose many other people, stepped outside to enjoy the cooler evening air of a hot summer night.  I was just a toddler but I remember. He would stand or sit on the front porch. I guess I followed him around like a puppy. He would light his pipe or roll a cigarette and count the stars until he was too drowsy to stay awake.

I wondered as I looked up at him (and to) him, what was he thinking? He had lots of things to worry about. My mama was in the hospital with TB, fighting for her life. Sometimes he would come home from work and find the door wide open and nobody home, including myself.

Our family was falling apart and it must have been too much for him. Eventually he took us to our godparents. My two sisters and I went to Port Hueneme, CA to stay with my aunt and uncle.

My brother went to stay with our grandmother in Oxnard, CA. My father stayed behind and worked. He spent everything he earned on paying the hospital bills.

That year I was born, 1947, that time I was still inside my mama, brought things to the desert skies before our family fell apart.

North of the Imperial Valley, in the Mohave Desert is Edwards Air Force Base. Seven UFO sightings were witnessed by dozens of officers and pilots. This became known as Project Blue Book Case Number 50.

Sightings continued since then. Some of these sighting were caught on film. There is a report that in February 1954 President Eisenhower visited the base and met with extraterrestrials. I do not know if the story is true or not, but the story is out there.

There were 832 UFO sightings throughout the U.S. between June and July of 1947. There were over 1,500 for that entire year.

In the same July, came a report from Zacatecas, Mexico a rancher found a UFO. He entered the cockpit and found two small men wearing silvery clothes.

Near Nashville, Tennessee, a man saw a UFO land near him. Two little men came out and greeted him by sign language before taking to the sky.

Andrew Cherry from Edinburgh, Scotland waited at his usual bus stop close to St Johns School in Baileyfield Road. He saw a disc shaped object hovering above him. It glowed orange and he could hear a humming sound. It did not stay long. It was gone in seconds.

Fishermen in the Mediterranean Sea reported a sighting.

And of course, there was Roswell, New Mexico.

There was also my father. He saw the lights. Some of them streaked in silence across the sky in a matter of seconds. Others flew directly overhead and made 90° turns without coming to a stop or making a sound. He never said what they were. He only reported what he saw.

We were standing on our porch steps, I was looking at his silhouette. What must be the thoughts he was thinking?

Eventually our family was reunited. We moved to Silicon Valley and my brother and sisters grew up there and went our own ways.

Throughout his years my father would step outside and gaze at the stars before turning in. Was he thinking deep thoughts or thinking about his worries?

Or, was he waiting for the lights?

 

 

 

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The Quest by J E Najera

Many years ago on a family outing to visit the relatives in Oxnard, my family took us to the Ventura County Courthouse.

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My father led us downstairs to the Ventura County Museum. This was old news to my siblings but being the youngest, everything was an adventure. There were lots of stuff to see there about the old days, including things about my father’s family. This was why he wanted me to go there.

In that crowded room, my father led me to a display. It was a model ship. It was much like one we had at home when I was very small. It was magnificent in its miniature detail. Then I noticed the caption. “Made by a 15 year old Mexican boy Carlos Majera.”

They spelled our last name wrong, but that was not the issue. Now that I am an old man, I wanted to see it again. Here is a photo from an old newspaper clipping.

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Sometime in the 1960’s I believe, my cousin Rex Winters made an effort to correct the spelling of our last name. I appreciate his effort on my dad’s behalf.

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Here below is a photograph my father took. It must have been right after he finished making it.

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Milady and I took some time off to go down there and find that boat. We finally made it to the new Ventura County Museum in the city of Ventura. It is a fine place to visit and I would like go back and spend some more time there.

However, no boat. The people there had no idea what I was talking about, but they did tell me about a place in Oxnard a few miles away that specializes in model ships. Off we go. Eventually we found the place. The Channel Islands Maritime Museum. They have a website, and here it is: http://www.cimmvc.org/

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Here I am standing in front of it. Milady and I stepped inside and immediately it has become one of our favorite places on this planet.

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Near the entry of the museum is this famous painting. The staff there were quite proud of it. so proud in fact they replicated the painting on their front window.

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They have many other wonderful paintings on display throughout the museum, but what caught   our attention were the many model ships on display. In my quest I thought these people might know where my father’s model ship was. I told them my story and they were kind enough to call the Ventura County Museum and some other places to find out what happened to my dad’s model. In the meantime, we walked around.

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We found this magnificent model of a turtle ship. I was amazed by the detail and the meticulous care that must have gone into making this. The original turtle ships were from Korea. Their word for these was Geobukseon. I have no idea how to correctly pronounce that. They were used during the Joseon dynasty, that is from the 15th century until the 19th century. It is recognized as the first armored ship in the world.

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The ships are on display inside glass cases. We were there at that particular time of day when there was a lot of reflection.

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It took years to make some of these models. Each piece was made by hand. If you have been reading some of my other blogs, or have visited my Facebook page, and everyone is welcome to, you will know that I work with iron. I am a member of an art gallery called Gallery 9 in downtown Los Altos, California. I appreciate the effort that has gone in to make each of these models.

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I am in deep respect of patience involved in dealing with the lines or ropes just in this small part of a much larger ship.

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What a wonder!

 

There is a section of the museum is dedicated to the memory of Edward Marple. There is a picture of him towards the back working on one of his projects. You can see some of the tools and equipment that he used. The ships he made were on display here in this museum.

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Here are some of the supplies he used.

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Here is another view of his workbench.

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Both  ladies that work inside the museum  were very helpful in trying to help me find my father’s boat. After several phone calls and more than a half hour of their time, they found someone who remembered my father’s model ship. With this I have reached the end of my quest.

It turns out that the ship was sold by the County Museum sometime in the 1980’s. They told me that it was falling apart so I guess somebody wanted to repair it. I do hope she found a new home.  I would like to think that she is in someone’s living room to this day.

Thank you, Carri Reid, and the other helpful and friendly staff members. I know I will be back there soon.

 

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