Holiday Letter, December 2017

Underwood Holiday Letter – December 2017

The leaves are raked, the fountains drained, the east wind has swept the back drive clean, and we feel prepared for winter. The ice of last year was a strong incentive to get moving before it hits again.

In September we got the house re-roofed. This remedied persistent leaks and caused Jer to exclaim, “The roof is so beautiful.” His marveling is akin to a dentist admiring our gums, beauty being in the eye of the speaker.

Our house with new roof

Another of our annual projects – smothering the yards in lilies, hydrangeas, daffodils, tulips, begonias, brown-eyed susans, roses, iris, daylilies, coreopsis, and hosta – was universally admired.

And on to our travels:

At Joshua Tree National Park

In February we drove to Tucson, visiting relatives in Sacramento (where June bought a fine pair of hiking/desert boots),  seeing friends in Mesa and Tucson (where we made a new face-to-face friend from the Internet), and exploring three national parks: Pinnacles and Joshua Tree in California, and Saguaro in Arizona.

Tucson and the Saguaro were grandly exotic (we were serenaded by the phainopepla  every morning).

Phainopepla (from Wikipedia, photo by  Lip Kee Yap from Singapore, Republic of Singapore)

Alas, we realized that hiking and clambering over boulders no longer suited our joints.

On the other hand, Jer did not grab a saguaro or a cholla to steady himself


The Casita, our home in Tucson

We never tire of the desert, so we went home via Utah, Great Basin National Park, and U.S. Route 50 across Nevada, the latter a long fascinating ride through multiple Basin-and-Range iterations.

One iteration along Route 50

In July we took a short trip to Bandon, Oregon, along the coast, where the cold and wind kept us huddled inside. In late September our friends George and Kit Szanto flew down from British Columbia, and we drove to Ashland. On the way down, we took them to Oakland (Oregon) where Tolly’s Restaurant, a fine kitschy eatery has been joined by Coco’s Grill and Bar. Two places to eat in this city of 900 save travelers from fast food and monotony along Interstate 5.

Scene from Ashland

After a hiatus from painting, June has begun AirSpace, three-dimensional art works made of wire strands, mesh and spherical objects and hung from ceiling hooks.

From the AirSpace collection

Jer contributes to Wikipedia while June makes art, and we take long daily walks together to see sights and get the stink blown off.

June, Jer, Sam, Jan

Sam, our grandson, is now a chemist at Forrest Technical Coatings and lives in Eugene with Emma, a chemistry student at the University of Oregon. Rick, our son-in-law, builds things and climbs mountains. Jan teaches Spanish at Portland Community College and joins Rick on hikes, climbs, and trips to exotic places.

Jan and Rick’s cat, Edward, Prince of the Household

Another of June’s AirSpace pieces

At Saguaro National Park

Looking south from the Desert Museum in Arizona

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10 Responses to Holiday Letter, December 2017

  1. Hi June & Jer! Like others, we really look forward to your holiday update. Your travels give me wanderlust, and are very inspiring. That casita is fabulous, and your photos of the expansiveness of the desert are lovely. We just booked a trip to Joshua Tree, and will try to keep up with Senna on those trails & boulders! Also love your new work, June. Very ethereal! Will you have a show soon? I’d love to see it (and you!) in person.
    Warm wishes for a healthy & happy 2018!
    Jen (& John & Senna)


  2. Ruth says:

    Love the AirSpace art, the photos, the adventuring! I’ll pass on the ice. Happy New Year!


    • June says:

      I should think you would pass on the ice — you have enough of your own right now. Not to mention some difficulties getting around on it.
      We hope your 2018 is much better than your 2017 — and ours too, in the national sense. On the home front we are pretty contented (although we are trying to chase down a leak under the sink today, so it’s not all pretty pictures –snort–

      Happy New Year to you and yours!

      June and Jer


  3. Anne Prahl says:

    Thank you for documenting your lives so beautifully. It is something I look forward to every year.


  4. Nancy says:

    Wonderful! What a fun and interesting way to have a Christmas letter. Beautiful work, June. My love to you over all these years and they have been many even before you two were married and had our pizza reception at my apartment with delivery by Jer. Love and hugs. Nancy


  5. june says:

    Thanks so much, Kristin. We loved the Casita, but didn’t get to renting it early enough this year (others seemed to have loved it also). The birds were fabulous there because it was right next to Saguaro National Park East, so they had lots of protection and room to roam. But the Phainopepla was definitely a fav — he lighted on a bush outside my window every morning. Tucson and its parks and wildlife areas are well worth visiting if you ever get a chance.
    Hugs, and take care,


  6. snicklefritzin43 says:

    What a lovely look back at your year, June and Jerry. The casita in Tucson looks like a good home base to spend time. My time in the southwest has been limited over my lifetime so I always spend long periods of time looking at photos of that wonderful area. That bird is so grand – not sure if I have heard its song, but will go to birdnote and see if I can find it there.
    May you have a fine holiday season and a beautiful year ahead.
    Much love and appreciation,


    • June says:

      Kristin, I replied to the wrong person on the blog, so thought I’d let you know, in case you wanted to recheck what I said. Happy New Year to you and may 2018 be better than the last.


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