Snowman family at dinner

Plastic peace?

Artificial, plastic trees. Artificial icicles and artificial snow. Maybe even artificial smiles amid the stress of the holiday season? And all of it with the goal of somehow generating genuine peace. But all the plastic, and glitter, and presents in the world can't conjure up peace at our dinner tables or in our own homes, much less for the whole earth. There is someone, though, who is able to bring real peace. Angles announced His birth more than 2,000 years ago with the proclamation, "Glory to...

Photo of Ruby and Will Price holding the toddler Stephen around 1968 or '69 in Pearisburg, Va.

Remembering a wise & creative grandmother

Handmade doll furniture by Ruby Price My Grandma Ruby would have been 112 today. Born in 1907, she passed away just weeks before our first child was born in 2004. I've shared a little about her here, where I discussed the handmade furniture she created from scraps of wood for my mother to use with her dolls. In honor of Ruby Cox Price Johnston today, I want to share some of what I wrote for her memorial service 15 years ago. When I remember Grandma, I remember sweet iced tea....

Inner beauty

Use the slider to see inside the geode. The rock you see above is a geode. Geodes are hollow formations, often roughly spherical, that become filled with mineral deposits through water flow and other natural processes. This geode was given to me by a good friend of mine from California. He and his family used to camp out west where they collected these rocks, which don't look like much on the outside. But once he was back home, he would cut them open to reveal the amazing crystals...

photo of Patti Jones on her family's farm with the black walnut tree

The old black walnut tree

I recently traveled back home to visit my mom for a few days on the family farm in Wythe County, Virginia. I love that farm, which has been in my family for so many generations. The living monument that has stood guard over the farm all these years is a huge black walnut tree. In its younger days, it served as a property marker. In recent years, the graceful old tree has offered a place to hold countless family picnics. And to every generation, the tree has offered...

Image of Girl with Balloons, a sculpture in wire and cut paper on driftwood.

Fall & fairs

See "Girl with Balloons" in the shop The State Fair of Virginia is underway as I write this. The Fair, maybe as much as anything, is a metaphor for life. Along its avenues and amongst its attractions you can find emotions from across the spectrum. Joy. What child hasn't thrilled to win a prize at one of the carnival games? Patti Jones' "Girl with Balloons" recalls the simple joy of things like balloons. Wonder. The sights of the Fair from the top of the ferris wheel. Disappointment. The...

"Fishing with My Dad" wire and paper sculpture

What are you fishing for?

See this in the shop As the summer winds down, school has started, or will soon start for students and families everywhere. There's a rhythm to a new school year, isn't there? The relatively relaxed pace of summer seems to reluctantly give way to the regimen of academic and athletic schedules. New books to read, new project deadlines, practices and games, and of course, the ever-quickening march toward Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and Christmas all take the place of slow, long days of sleeping in and staying up...

Image of Dandelions for Mom, a sculpture in wire and cut paper on driftwood.

Dandelions for Mom

Our moms have sacrificed for us, believed in us, and loved us unconditionally. When we were little, we tried to return that love as best we could with small hands offering small gifts from big hearts full from a mother's love. That's the inspiration for Patti's sculpture, "Dandelions for Mom." Patti says, "I wish I had a dollar for every dandelion I gave my mom. I would be a very rich lady! What is it about a dandelion that a child cannot walk by it without picking...

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 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...