Friday, April 20, 2012

i capture the castle

Yesterday. Full sun, glittering sky. It started off with truly solid creative intentions. I got my coffee and was about to head back to my studio (the living room floor) when the car changed direction & went bound for the mountains. (New Jersey does have them!) "Just a wee drive on the ridge," I said, "then I'll go back." Up Skyline Drive I chugged. Hiking sign & the entrance to the trails caught my eye. Car stopped. "Just a little stroll," I said, "and then I'll go back." Beyond my coffee & journal I wasn't equipped for a hike. Think ballet flats. But I had finally dug up a decent map of the place and I had read intriguing things about a beautiful lake and an abandoned mansion nestled in the interior of the forest. And the mood was right, which made the usual gear & other requirements seem dispensable. Off I went. "Just to the lake," I said, "and then I'll go back."

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The lake was indeed beautiful and I reached it easily -- though I had to stick to the map and color coded trees like gum. Some parts were flat and easy to navigate (old roads) but others I would have never known were trails if they hadn't been marked. This was not a place I wanted to Get Lost -- I just wanted the challenge of getting to the lake.

And now, with my ballet flats doing a surprisingly deft job of handling the minor rock climbing, I felt committed to keep on trucking. The vibe was good, and I didn't want to leave without finding the castle. Here it got tricky -- the ruins were up on a bluff and I wound up turned around a few times because there was not much of a path; it was essentially a matter of moving up and over rocks, hoping I'd keep seeing white marks on the trees, and hoping I wouldn't run into any unfriendly animals. Up and away I went from the lake.

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And just when I thought I really was lost, I popped up over a stone wall and there it was, in the middle of nowhere.

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This is the shell of the old Van Slyke Castle (also known as Foxcroft), built in the early 1900s, then passed along through family hands until it was sold in the late 40s, then abandoned, and eventually torched by vandals in the late 50s. (more about the history of the house here and here.)

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I felt alone here in the most wonderful way, like a little girl in a fairy tale. It brought back every story I've read about children living in castles or stumbling upon hideaways -- The Secret Garden, The Velvet Room (which I just finished on Beth's recommendation), I Capture the Castle -- and I slipped into another universe while I wandered around the ruins, imagining the fancy parties and conversations and family dramas that took place here a hundred years ago.

Two hours later I was finally ready to go back to the studio-floor, satisfied and whole again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

empire state of mind

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With my mind fried from the move and the graphics card on my computer fried from overuse (or doodle abuse?), I checked out of life for a decent chunk of past week and did some low-tech, old fashioned wandering (and sneezing, thank you allergies), around the city. Here are fleeting glimpses of Midtown, Central Park, the Hell's Kitchen Flea Market, the High Line, Chelsea, West Village, Greenwich Village, Brooklyn and wherever else I ended up (I took a few of these in collusion with Jen, others with Mr. Artsyville, others with myself.) My computer has been fully restored and is back home, but my mind refuses to check out of New York. Probably will just leave it there so I'll always have someone to visit.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

drawing the old-fashioned way





I eschewed the random number generator this time, and fetched my five and nine year old accountants instead. Older girl wrote the names, and then younger girl did the draw, the old-fashioned way. Of all the posts where I've asked people to share their stories, this is my favorite one to date. Your tales of Getting Lost were not only entertaining but insightful. I was so fascinated by the variety of perspectives that I wish I could give spots to all of you, because you each started a conversation that I don't want to stop :(

And here it is -- today is the opening day for 21 Secrets! When Connie asked me to be part of it again, it was right at the beginning of our relocation process, and I immediately thought that the topic Get Lost would be a fun subject to explore -- because I always feel lost (mostly in a good way) when I move. Now that the smoke of relo shellshock has lifted -- and I'm starting to get a grasp on what I'm up for (and against) -- I realize the class is going to be a lifeline for me.

Geographically, I'm living in an explorer's delight. I get lost every day. The landscape is beautiful, the villages are enchanting, the proximity to New York City is intoxicating, and I am wholly comfortable with that kind of disorientation (unless I have to be somewhere on time, and I make the wrong turn, and I make new swear words out of New Jersey's good name.) Mostly, though, I thrive on that kind of exploration. But emotionally, I've landed in an area that is a personality mismatch, and I have to figure out how to make my way while surrounded by a social fabric that does not quite fit me. As my pal Tulpen said (though on a totally different subject matter; I think it was about the smell of low tide), "if you know what I mean, you know what I mean."

Thanks for entering, everyone --and congrats to our winner, Jerden!