Paw Umberger gave space for inspiration

My grandfather, Homer Blanton Umberger, was born and raised on the family farm in Wytheville, Virginia in 1897. The land had been given to his family as part of a land grant from the King of England many years before. My grandfather lived on that farm, the Reed Creek Poultry Farm, all his life. He married Margaret Dean and had one child, my mom, Marjorie Dean. She married my dad, Maitland Wassum. More than 120 years later, my mom and my brother's family still live on that...

A salvaged salvage trip: part 5

God leads us home That night I was praying that God would lead us to a tire store that could help us. I looked up Merchant’s Tire and Auto and was relieved to see they opened at 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning. They were across town. Would the tires we had manage to hold up under the load of barn wood and get us there? Would they have the required tires in stock? We prayed as we set out that morning. A little while later, we pulled into the lot...

A salvaged salvage trip: part 4

“I’d buy a flashlight…” Walmart. It was ten minutes to eight. The auto center closed at eight. Could they help us? The manager looked at the truck and examined the tires closely. If he could get the ticket in the system before eight o’clock, they would do it. Timothy was a young man working the register in the auto department. I thanked him for the help he and his manager were trying to give us. He looked at me and said, “That’s God. I’ve seen him turn folks down.” “Are you a...

A salvaged salvage trip: part 3

Please get us off the highway, Lord! I could see on my phone that we were a little more than a mile south of the Glasgow exit, so we prayed that God would get us safely off the interstate and I proceeded to drive very slowly, emergency flashers on, toward the exit. We finally made it and pulled into an Exxon station. We thanked The Lord for His protection. No one was on duty to help, but a man the station clerk had me call said he would send...

A salvaged salvage trip: part 2

My cousin Eric on his family's farm. The 1905-era barn is behind him, along with the pile of wood to be salvaged. In the distance are the gorgeous green rolling hills of Giles County, Virginia. Deep in the mountains The ride started off well enough, but a small omen of trouble ahead came when the passenger-side windshield wiper came loose during a heavy cloudburst as we made our way west in I-64 out of Richmond. Hannah remained calm and collected as I pulled over under...

A salvaged salvage trip: part 1

Demolition of a rear section of this barn provided a variety of wood for sculptures. The trip begins On Friday, July 10, 2015, I set out from Hanover County late in the afternoon for Pearisburg, my mother’s hometown in Southwest Virginia. Along for the ride was my oldest daughter, Hannah, 11. My cousin, Eric, had told me that he was tearing out part of his family farm’s old 1905 barn. He is trying to save the barn from being pulled down the Giles County hillside...

Wooden sculpture of Jonah in the whale

Wires & wood

This Salvaged Messenger sculpture shows Jonah in the belly of a whale. Whether it was a whale or a fish, as some translations say, Jonah was hard at work praying to God. And who wouldn’t be praying in that situation? What’s your whale? What are Salvaged Messengers? Salvaged Messengers is the name of a series of sculptures created from found and reclaimed wood — wood that was destined for the the trash heap or the fire. That’s the “salvaged” part. Each sculpture is imprinted with...