Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Unexpected Today in Brooklyn: An Oasis

A Brooklyn Writer Finds Respite in Prospect Park

by Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


I work in Manhattan and live in Brooklyn. 

That means my eyes, my soul, are hungry for trees, space, wildness. 

Well, Prospect Park is heavily trafficked. The only wildness in Brooklyn is in the people. Especially on a Saturday night. Everyone's on their way to a party, it seems.

Mother Nature is throwing a party for my eyes in Prospect Park today.



Spring green. 'Nuff said.





Sunday, April 8, 2018

A Few Trees in Brooklyn

An American Writers Dream: To Live in Brooklyn

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


       I've always wanted to live in NYC. Especially in Brooklyn. It seemed like a place where things HAPPENED, not like my sleepy suburb in NJ.

       Now I live here.

       Brooklyn can be tough--tense and crowded, with many people needing groceries, cash from the bank, service at the post office--lines, lines, lines and soooo many people. I'm having trouble adjusting to it.

     So I escape to Prospect Park.  Here's a few scenes to bring you along with me.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A friend said she was in need of Spring yesterday, so I stopped on my way to the Brooklyn Central Library and took a picture of magnolia buds waiting to bloom.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
In the center is the magnolia tree, covered with a thousand similar buds.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Here's a cherry tree in bloom, the first courageous one to brave this cold spring.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Toddlers playing soccer in the park -- that's a sign of Spring too.

A Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The doors to my destination, the mother ship of all the Brooklyn Public Library branches. I'm not crazy about this building, I don't feel great walking in its doors, the way I feel entering other buildings, especially historic ones in Paris : ) But I've found a work area on the third floor that has big windows that look out on the trees of the park. I can write there.

How about living in Brooklyn? Or do you prefer the leafy suburbs, or the country? Comment below!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Prospect Park: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


I seek ease for my eyes in Prospect Park almost daily. After the harsh brick, six-story apartment buildings crowding around me, hard sidewalks, asphalt roads that mostly go as straight as rulers--I need to see a curving path in a park. I need to see trees.

Brooklyn Writer's American Dream



Brooklyn Writer's American Dream

Brooklyn Writer's American Dream

Now I'll take you to Park Slope, on the opposite side of Prospect Park from me. It has a lovely public library.

Brooklyn Writer's American Dream


Brooklyn Writer's American Dream

Brooklyn Writer's American Dream

Brooklyn Writer's American Dream
I spent a productive Saturday here, getting lots of writing done. Tons of kids, a traffic jam of strollers in the lobby, babies making their presence heard. A delightful place. How about you? Do you like to sit in libraries? What do you like to do there, read books? newspapers? magazines? Watch people? Comment below!




Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: A Tree in Brooklyn

An American Dream: Lots of Woods--Wilderness--to Explore

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


Living in densely developed Brooklyn and working in midtown Manhattan, I find I'm hungry to see trees.

I'm focusing on gorgeous trees in Brooklyn in the next two posts. 

Through the gates to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. This tree sends a branch low to give shade to garden-goers.


There's no sense of wildness in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. You can see through the woodsy patches to the street. You're never out of earshot of traffic noise. But when the sun sets and catches an apartment facade on Ocean Avenue, a bit of magic occurs anyway.

Some great trees enjoying the sunset. The structure you see is called Harry's Wall.

Westward toward the sunset.

The sun setting on Prospect Park's lake. A little wooden cabana provides shelter from sudden showers.

The lake at Prospect Park. The only wilderness and wildness in Brooklyn is in the people : ) How about you? Do you need to walk in deep woods to stay sane? Comment below!


Saturday, March 17, 2018

An American Writer's American Dream: Paris

This Brooklyn Writer Lived in Paris: Beyond My Wildest Dreams

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


American writers really ought to go to Paris to live and write, even if just for a short time. 

I had a remarkable opportunity to live there one year, from July 2014 to July 2015. I treated it as an opportunity to write a novel, and you see the result, after three years of improvement, to the right. I also explored the the streets, alleys, parks. Often I saw a plaque on a wall: "Here Jewish children were deported to Poland in 1943." Or a plaque commemorating fallen heroes of the Resistance, like this one:


"Here, the 21st of August 1944, were killed, assassinated by the Nazis, our patriotic comrades..."
The cruel irony is that they lost their lives just days before the Nazis fled or surrendered and the Allies secured the city on the 25th of August.

On a lighter note, here is Tour St. Jacques, which makes an appearance in my novel, The Paris Writers Circle. I met with one writers group in a cafe across the street from the tower. I'm getting 5-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. Read the reviews by clicking here.

Notre Dame at night.

Ain't it beautiful? And so very French?

A Medieval church. I've forgotten which one and can't check now. Doesn't affect its beauty and mystery.

A spiral staircase in a medieval castle. I believe it's in the Bibliotheque Fornay in Le Marais, near the Seine. How about you? Do you like to walk down stairs that other humans have trod for centuries? Comment below!


Saturday, March 10, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream: Studio Space with Other Artists

A Brooklyn Writer's Dream: Artists All Around Me

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


At Golden Belt Arts in Durham, NC, I met a quilter with amazing work on the walls of her studio. Seeing other artists' work, being around them, gives me energy and inspires me. Enjoy an inside peak at some creative spaces built into a converted tobacco warehouse.



a Brooklyn writer's American Dream

This is the facade of this restored tobacco warehouse.


a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A photographer's studio.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A painter's studio.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A studio waiting, for you?

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A studio on the outside wall, enjoying southern sunlight.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
This quilter takes pride in making the back a beautiful echo of the front.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Christine Hager-Braun is a Ph.D., comes from Germany, been in the U.S. 30 years, used to work at U of North Carolina, retired, and now plays with color and shape all day.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Here's part of her collection of fabric and thread.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Beautiful. Her website is www.soularpowerfabricart.com.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
This layout of colors makes me itch to touch the fabrics, sew them together, and make the colors pop next to each other.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Here's an antiques restorer's studio.


a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A painter's.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Some of God's living artwork outside the Golden Belt: A witch hazel, which twists in such an appealing way. How about you? Itching to grab some colors? Comment below!


Saturday, March 3, 2018

A Brooklyn Writer's American Dream: Artist's Space

Brooklyn Writers: Let's Migrate to an Arts Space!

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft


Reality has been pounding on my American Dream of "getting ahead" and having lots to retire on. No other culture in the world believes as much as Americans do in being able to outdo the previous generation in prosperity. This is true of us even though reality is proving to such a large portion of us that this will not be the outcome.

Maybe all I NEED is time to create. And a place. I'm in Brooklyn's Central Library now, at Grand Army Plaza. I can't work in my apartment alone all day. There are people around me here, working quietly, which is nice. Nobody is sniffing constantly or playing music in their earbuds so loudly that I can hear the cymbals crashing. 

This is fine. But to work in a space devoted to fellow artists? That would be so cool!

Recently I went to the Golden Belt Arts building, in a former tobacco warehouse in Durham, NC. It's a beautiful brick building (picture of the facade next week). It's been restored to create studio space for artists in Durham. Read more at http://www.goldenbeltarts.com/spaces/artist-studios/.

Golden Belt, along with BrightLeaf and the American Tobacco Campus, all in Durham and featured in recent posts, are part of an even bigger effort in Durham to save historic buildings and revitalize the town. It was devastated by the decline in the tobacco industry in the second half of the 20th century. Read about the challenges to pull it off in National Real Estate Investor magazine: http://www.nreionline.com/multifamily/durham-breathes-new-life-old-warehouses.

I rejoice that these buildings were saved from demolition! I crave space in one! How about you? Comment below!


a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The entrance to Golden Belt features an artistic cow.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
The foyer.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Each artist's studio has a giant, manufacturing-grade sliding door with a window. I did lots of 
peaking in.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
I just love the spaces where creative people concentrate! Don't you? (You're a creative people, too!)

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Through the window, this artist's self portrait.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A hallway between the studio.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
A bit of self-deprecating humor.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
This is a metal- or wood-working studio.

a Brooklyn writer's American Dream
Art is messy, just like life. A common sink in the hallway. Wouldn't you just love to mess with paint in one of these great spaces? Comment below!