I stored the memory for future examination because I knew that someday it would matter. —Genie Zeiger, How I Find Her
Fulton Street, with St. Ignatius Church, oil on panel, 1988
I painted this picture during the first months I lived in San Francisco. The city excited me, and I ran out with my paintbox at every opportunity.
Twenty years later, I passed St. Ignatius with a little boy beside me. He asked what happened in that big building.
Daddy: You remember I told you about church? Some people think a big person made us and the world. They go to church to say hi to the big person.
Daddy: They call the big person "God."
Max: "God?" That's a yucky name! That's a trash can name, "God."
I want to acknowledge the terrible events in the larger world this year: war, earthquakes and violence we all are concerned about. If I ever discover something intelligent or helpful to say about them, I will. Meanwhile, my silence is motivated by respect and a desire not to interfere with those who try to help.
Max completed high school in the spring. Parenthood is harder than I could imagine when I started. Graduation was no time to relax and appreciate a job well done. We immediately launched into the stress of helping Max choose his college and begin his semi-adult life.
As I wrote last year, we returned for a winter visit to the University of North Dakota at Grand Forks.
Grand Forks looked pretty in the snow.
Not North Dakota
In the end, Max chose a school closer to home, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Arizona. He is doing well there. Misa and I struggle to adjust to the new situation. Max was close to us all the time for 18 years. Now he's like a satellite that signals regularly and passes overhead once in a while.
We managed a family vacation to the big island of Hawaii over the summer. I first saw the island in 1992 and returned with Misa in 2001. The place changed a great deal in that time, and so did we. It was a trying week in paradise.
One bright spot, we enjoyed a brief conversation with our old friend, local radio host Tommy "Kahikina" Ching. We informed him that the blonde guy and Japanese girl he saw 21 years ago were back with their giant Hapa son.
JP & Max 2022
Kona moon shining so bright
Smiling at you right out of the sky
Heard you whispering wonderful words of love
Promising that we'll never part
Kona moon she knows it all
So why deny your kisses so sweet. — A. Gaspar
We took one more short trip to Catalina Island, to celebrate our 20th wedding anniversary in October.
Misa and I are old. Do not believe the deluded souls who claim "60 is the new 40" and similar nonsense. Our bodies malfunction now, and some of our malfunctions can't be fixed. The Stoic philosopher Lucius Seneca (c. 4 BC – 65 AD) wrote about the infirmities that accompany age, in a letter to his friend Lucillius Junior, procurator in Sicily:
Come, did you not know, when you prayed for long life, that this was what you were praying for? A long life includes all these troubles, just as a long journey includes dust and mud and rain.
Max helps paint a picture, 2004
And yes, the Eternal Picture continues. I work on it nearly every day. Often the first thing I do is recognize yesterday's work missed the target and scrape it off. That's the special moment when I receive a deeper vision of the world. To welcome the backward step requires practice, and I have a wealth of practice. I don't leap for joy, neither become discouraged, but remember the words of dear T.S. Eliot:
the way up is the way down,
the way forward is the way back. —The Dry Salvages
Christian Music from Africa kept me going this year. I discovered these two fine performers in Kenya, Rozinah Mwakideu and Audiphaxad Peter Omwaka—who performs under the stage name "Guardian Angel."
Please stay in touch. All the best to you in 2023.