Monday, April 25, 2011

The End of an Era.

Today marks the end of an era for one of my very favorite places in town.  The Wilkes Antique mall is closing shop today.  My heart aches at the thought of it.  In the past week I’ve been 3 times just to savor every last moment of nostalgia I could muster before my days of meandering through the dust and treasures is no longer permitted.  I hate it.  (Hate is such a strong word.  My Mom barred the word “hate” from our house growing up, and I’ve kept her rule as my own my whole life, save times I can find no other word to describe my passionate disdain for something.  In this case it fits.)
I don’t know much about the history of the Antique Mall, other than it was owned by a man named Joe Campbell.  A quiet, strong, fascinating man.  Not terribly friendly, but exceptionally knowledgeable where antiques are concerned, and exhaustive in his research when it came to pricing antiques.  If you’ve ever tried to “talk him down” on a price, you know what I mean.  He knows the value of something and he’s nearly relentless in negotiating.  I like that I suppose.  Being so sure of something that budging on price, even a little, is a no-go.  I like that about God, especially. 

The Antique Mall was 20,000 square feet of stuff.  Old stuff, wobbly stuff, sturdy, bigger than big stuff, dirty, clean, new, weird, smelly, warm, cold, valuable, you get the picture, stuff.  And I loved all 20,000 square feet.  Finding the Antique Mall was a godsend for me.  It was home away from home for me.  I’m not sure, in an absolute sense, why I loved the mall so much, and why it meant so much to me, but it’s been a lifeline for me since I moved to North Carolina.  Maybe in writing this, I’ll figure out why. 

Growing up I spent a lot of time with my Dad’s sister and brother-in-law, my Nana and Uncle Bud.  They were flee-marketers, and yard-salers.  My sister and I spent weekend after weekend at our local flee market with my Nana and Uncle Bud, running around and watching them sell junk.  Their house was filled with all sorts of oddities that they’d buy and sell.  It was neat, mysterious, and sometimes creepy.  They had a stuffed iguana that to this day makes me cringe when I think of it.  Gross.  Anyway, junk, as I used to think of it, was their passion.  My Nana loved milk glass, and had so much of it spread throughout her house.  And she loved glass frogs.  She loved all sorts of different, quirky things.  But most of all, she loved me.  Her hugs were so strong I was sure they’d steal my life if they lingered a second longer.  I remember finding it hard to breathe when she hugged me, but even still, I hated to let go.  Her hugs were a safe place for me.  She used to bite my ear and kiss my face, and grimace when she didn’t approve of something.  She was a fireball to the core.  A picture of strength, perseverance, and love, and a bit of a rebel.  With that said, perhaps now you can imagine what happened to me the day I found the Antique Mall.  It was a moment of translation for me.  It was familiar and strange, warm and uncertain.  One of those, the lights are on but nobody’s home moments, when you seem to be stuck somewhere outside the realm of time, where past and present become seamless, worlds collide, confusion comes, and an instant later, clarity.  Only an uncertain clarity, if that makes any sense.  If I’m being honest, it broke my heart.  I entered with great caution during my first visit, moving with no real direction or intention, but as my feet went forward a part of my spirit began to perk up.  A part of my soul began to cry.  It was very usual.  I found milk glass right away, and bought it.  That was an easy sell.  It reminded me of my Nana.  It was white and clean.  It made my eyes shine brighter.  I fell in love.  I’ve since bought  many things from the Antique Mall.  And every time I bought something I found myself so grateful for the life that used to cherish my new find.  For my stranger friend who was passing his/her treasure down to me.  I know there is a story, good or bad, attached to the things I’ve accumulated, and each story, albeit untold and unknown to me, is precious.  I will value the old.  I am intrigued by its history.  As its new owner, I promise to honor it (in a semi-serious way).  I mean, let’s not get carried away here, I will take care of it and enjoy it for as long as I own it.  I will try hard not to break it, but if I (or my girls do), it’s okay.  We loved it while we had it.  That is honor.
I suppose I should mention that my Nana passed away about a year after we moved to North Carolina.  It was tragic.  The Antique Mall and I found each other during my Nana’s battle with cancer.  I held onto the Antique Mall in a semi-unhealthy way for a time.  For awhile it was a coping mechanism for me.  A place where I could wander for hours on end, looking pleasant on the outside, but kicking and screaming and writhing in pain on the inside.  I’d move through 4 floors of antiques, pounding my spiritual fists in disgust and rebellion, so angry at cancer.  I’d buy a piece of milk glass, finish my fit, and be done with it.  I’m still angry about her death.  I didn’t know I was, but as I sit here writing I am overcome with a bit of indignation.  Death is an ugly, dirty, rotten thief.  Here again, I will use the word, hate.  I hate death.  (I have peace and rest in my heart because I know I will live in Heaven with Jesus (and my Nana) forever -- I had a dream where I saw her in Heaven -- but I am nonetheless disgusted by death.  I will fight forever against death with prayer.  It’s all I can do.)
(Wow, maybe I should take time to write rough drafts for these.  I get so carried away, moving in directions I didn’t intend to go.  Oh well.) 
Anyway, I’ve never experienced a building so jamb-packed with beauty, life and character like the Antique Mall.  It was filled with so many things just waiting to be swept up by someone like me.  It made me an antique lover.  I hope, for my husband’s sake, that I don’t become obsessed.  I mean, my house is only so big, but like my husband likes to say when I bring home something new, “You bought more milk glass…because you can never have too much milk glass.”  He’s right!  (wink, wink.)  I mean, to be fair, I have passed on many a milk glass.  I haven't gone totally milk glass crazy.  As it turns out, I don’t buy it anymore as a way to hang on to my Nana.  It's not a coping mechanism anymore.  My heart has been healed.  I miss my Nana, but I know death is only a short interruption in our time together.  Now I buy it because I honestly love it.  It makes me happy.  It’s beautiful.  Maybe it’s genetic.  Who knows?  I hope my girls have an affinity for milk glass, otherwise there will be a big milk glass estate sale when I’m 100 years old and ready for Heaven. 

Before I go, I want to share something that Joe Campbell, the mall’s owner, told me shortly after we met.  I asked him once why he likes selling antiques.  He said, “I’ve done so many different things in my life.  I’ve had stores and restaurants.  I’ve sold real estate.  I’ve built houses, and now this.”  I asked which, of all the things he’s done, was his favorite and he said, “I don’t know.  None of them.  I guess I’m always the most happy doing whatever it is that I’m doing at the moment.”  I cried.  Isn’t that it?  That we be the most happy doing whatever it is we’re doing at any given moment.  He’s got it figured out.  That’s how my Nana was.  That’s how I’d like to be.  I’m trying my best. 
Thanks, Antique Mall, for being my friend for so long.  I will miss you.  But as it goes, change is inevitable.  This morning I was sad about losing the Antique Mall, and just now I’m content.  In its barrenness, life will come.  Joe will move on to doing something else that makes him happy, even if he has to fight for it.  He’s fit for the fight.  He’ll do great!  I pray the building will be transformed into something new.  It helped me become something new.  It deserves the same.     

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Anniversary House!

The house my husband built turns one-year-old this week!  Happy Anniversary house!

One year ago we moved into our house.  Our new house is a good stone's throw away from the cabin we used to rent, so we basically moved next door, country-speaking.  Our house is a treasure to me.  Probably ordinary to most, but to me it's magnificent and perfectly dreamy.  From it's concrete floors to our apple green door, it's nothing short of Trask.  You can see Josh and myself everywhere you look, from the perfectly straight walls (thanks, babe), to the quirky interior design, to the lovely girls who leave their marks everywhere, it's Trask city.  I love it!  It's extra special because every bit of it, (minus the air conditioning, insulation and sheet rock), were done by my husband.  From the plumbing to electrical, to the sticks and stones, it was all Josh.  And Jesus!  And a few brave friends that helped out, and blessed us along the way, (thanks Whitleys, Strombecks, Davis', Pettys, Austins, Websters, Williams, Roberts, Christensen's, and Phillip Lowe too). 

Building a house is a lot of fun...and a lot of hard work...but mostly fun, or hard work, or?  I don't know.  It's a good balance of both.  It's tricky business.  A game of balancing budget with desire, practicality with imagination, and time away from family (for the sake of the family) with time with family (for the sake of "the work can wait until tomorrow").  It's a walk of deeper faith, and great victory.  Kris Vallaton once said, "Vision gives pain a purpose."  I agree wholeheartedly!

April 2009 Construction began!
April 2010 We moved in!
April 2011 Happy One Year Anniversary!

Construction, especially when it's the construction of your own house, is so fascinating.  I loved stopping by our new house to see Josh, and to discover something new that wasn't there the day before.  The girls and I planned many picnics for Daddy and us.  We'd bring tablecloths and towels to sit on so we could eat properly.  (I am, Jenny Trask, after all.)  We'd picnic and swap stories with Josh.  He'd tell about his project in progress, and we'd ramble on about our everyday girl lives, as only girls can do.  From nail polish, to loose teeth, spiders we had to kill on our own, to appointments, bills, jokes, and life, the construction site heard it all.  It was the bones of our new house, so it was only appropriate to acquaint it with Trask life before it actually got to house us.  And the land.  We beat life into the land, or rather, a new, unfamiliar, rowdy, ruckus-y kind of human life into it.  We'd romp around, picking out our favorite trees, throwing rocks, rearranging pine cones and acorns, and even trees (that was the saddest part).  I'm not a tree-hugger, per se', but I am a tree-lover.  I deeply hated the crisp cracking sound of a tree coming down.  It's painstaking and devastating to hear/witness.  I still cringe at the thought of it.  I hated that part.  The only comfort I could find in clearing trees was that maybe, just maybe, they were prepared for it.  Like what if they purposely spent their whole lives protecting the place we'd someday call home.  Like, maybe they knew of us before we knew of them.  Who says God doesn't speak to all of His creation?  Who says they didn't agree to laying down their lives for us?  (Fantastical and fairytale-like, I know.  This is the world I live in.)  I even wrote a children's story based on trees being cleared so a house could come in.  (Maybe I'll share it with you someday.) 

** Nature lovers, please refrain from commenting on my simplistic take on clearing trees.  I am as green a girl as they come.  I love trees and I hate to kill them.  Period. **

Whoa.  I digress.

Anyway, here are a few of my favorite building moments:

The foundation.  A house without walls, ready to hold all of our hearts and dreams.  Claire, Avery and I are in the lower left corner picking out the perfect place for our hand prints.  Notice the concrete finishers eyeing us.  (This is one of the fun parts about being a homeowner.  They can't say, no.  It turns out we're the boss.)

 I also loved when the actual house started to take shape.  The beginning of walls.

The girls did their fair share of building too.  Avery especially loved to build with her Daddy.

And just like that, a house came to life.
This is the day I almost passed out.  Pregnant (did I mention I was pregnant during this?), with 2 little girls at home, and I find my husband like this.  I ordered him and our brave friend, Brian Webster, to come down immediately.  They disobeyed.  We have a roof.  Thanks Brian.  Thanks babe.

Another favorite:  The day they dug our well.  I was like a little kid.  So fascinated!  A huge truck lifted off the ground by the force of an enormous, person-sized, drill bit.  The drill bit wrestled with the earth for hours.  Grinding, clanking, clamouring and pushing through layer after layer of long established, precisely placed rock in the ground, and then, finally, water!  Life!  And a giddy Jenny!  It was thrilling!

Sheetrock.  I could finally see the size of rooms.  (Josh could imagine it all along, but not me, so needless to say, this was very exciting for me.)  I was immediately hanging pictures and arranging furniture in my mind.
And then the snow came.  Josh took time off to play.  And when the freeze froze the fun, he trekked through the snow, back to the new house to work in the cold.  No time to waste, Noelley Belley was on her way.
And even though he worked and worked, and worked and worked, Noelle beat him to the finish.  This is me a few days before Noelle was born.

Noelle Elizabeth arrived 7 days shy of her due date.  Daddy took time off.  :-)

  We moved in 25 days after Noelle was born.  

Now that we've lived here a year it feels like we've lived here forever.  This is my home.  I am satisfied and in love.  Our house isn't a "dream" in the sense of stature.  It's a dream in the sense of us having something we didn't have any right to have were it not for the grace of God in our lives. 

So, happy anniversary house!  Thanks Jesus!  And thanks Jim!  And a BIG thanks to my babe! 


PS:  One day a Miranda Lambert song came on the radio.  It's called, "The House that Built Me."  Josh happened to be in the car with me when it came on.  I told him that this part of the song reminded me of us...

"Mama cut out pictures of houses for years
From 'Better Homes and Gardens' magazine
Plans were drawn and concrete poured
And nail by nail and board by board
Daddy gave life to Mama's dream"

I cried.  Josh said, "Aww."  I'm sure we kissed.  I'm so grateful!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alively Photography & my friend, Nicole.

My youngest daughter, Noelle Elizabeth, turned ONE on March 24th.  My friend Nicole Roberts, of AlivelyPhotography, took her one-year pictures. 

Click on this link for a peek:

If you scroll down far enough on the home page you can see some of our family pictures that Nicole took this past November.

I think her work is stunning and beautiful, and not just because she photographs my kids.  I think you'll agree.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Oh, I don't know.

Well, here I am.  Blogging, Jenny Trask.  This feels so stark, so new, and kind of scary.  Like, what if no one cares about my blog, or what I have to say?  I did ask myself that question.  Well, half-heartedly anyway.  I guess the mere fact that I'm sitting here writing to you means I answered in the realm of, "It's okay.  I don't care."  I mean, I suppose I do care if no one reads it, but here I sit nevertheless. 
Why blog? Why now?  Because I have high-speed internet now!!!!!!!!  That's why!  I've been hidden away, out of the grasp of high speed for 3, count them, 1-2-3 years, and just like that, an answered prayer, breakthrough, and high skippity speed internet.  WOOHOO!  It's so exciting.  You really have no idea.
Writing is comparable to breathing to me.  I am a writer by design, but by that I have no intentions to draft formal essays, impeccably edited, and sophisticatedly presented.  Yawn.  Boring!  I think instead I'll write to breathe.  To share.  To laugh.  To take some of what my poor husband has to hear, and let you have it instead.  (Who are you, anyway?) 
I am a terrible journal-keeper.  For me, journaling (in the legacy sense) is a way for me to document my life for my kids.  It's G-rated, kindergarten speed, and piled high with sugar, which is okay...because it's meant for them.  This is meant for me.  For the sake of being random.  I suppose if this sticks around I'd like to save it and give it to my kids so that they can see their Mama, just being me.  (That's a good idea.)  But, when they're bigger, of course. 
Quick run down on me.  I have a husband.  He's a genius and so handsome.  His name is Josh, or "babe" as I like to refer to him.  I have 3 kids, all girls, plus one in heaven.  Their names are, Claire Lauren, Avery Grace, Noelle Elizabeth, and baby Hope (respectively).  They're a dream.  They're magical, mysterious, priceless, and on loan to me from Heaven!  Thanks God!  Speaking of God, I am a Christian.  I love God.  I love my life.  I love my family.  I love my dog (Honey Bear -- a boy dog, with a girl name...I know.)  And I love my friends.  I'm hidden away in the foothills of our great big world, and I love that too. 
There.  Phew.  Formalities done. 
I previously mentioned that I love to write.  Please don't hold me accountable though.  I will purposely maintain a standard of grammatical inadequacy for the sake of freedom.  This is a blog, for heaven's sake.  Not an essay.  (See, I'm still giving myself permission to let loose.)  I won't go back and check for spelling and cohesiveness until I'm done rambling, which by the way, I'm excellent at.  Ask anyone close to me.  My sister, my friend Nicole, my Mom, my husband (bless his heart).  Anyone.  They'll tell you.  I can talk it up like nobody's business.  Most days I say way too much, and all too often without really thinking about what I'm about to say, before I say it.  Which reminds me of the John Mayer song, "Say What You Need to Say."  I like that song.  I like John Mayer.  I'd also like to be more tactful with my words, more thoughtful so as not to offend.  I'm working on it.  Jesus, help me.  :-) 
Well, I guess that's it for this entry.  I need some Sun Chips, and fast.  Did you ever notice how loud those bags are?  Good grief.  I'm all for recycling, but wow, loud!  And my daughter is napping.  I'll have to go far away to pop open a bag.  So far today I've had half a cup of hot chocolate (the instant, bad-for-you kind), a cookie, and the crust off my daughter's peanut butter and honey sandwich that she's having for lunch today.  Oh, that's another thing.  I love nutrition.  Can you tell?  Haha!  No, I really do.  And now I'm rethinking the Sun Chips.  See, this blog is good for all sorts of things, including accountability.  Quinoa.  Yes, I'll have that instead.  I promise.
Before I go, I will say, or rather advise you (anyone there?) to buckle up for my blog.  It could be wild, or terribly boring, but either way, safety first.  :-)  And please stop by now and then, if you want.  Unless you're a weirdo.  In that case, thank you kindly for reading, but please sir or madam, move on.
Okay, well.  That's all.  Maybe I'll be more deep next time.  Maybe I'll sing you a song.  Random.  See.