Wednesday, February 25, 2015

American Dreams: The Real Jersey Shore

In Search of the American Dream: A Cottage by the Sea

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

If you haven't been to Ocean Grove, NJ, you need to put it on your list. The Victorian architecture, from cottages to mansions, is an experience in itself, along with the beach, coffee shops, and the delightful downtown with plenty of places to eat outdoors.

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This might be my dream house.

No, it's this one!

If you want to try it before you buy into it, you can stay here in Ocean Grove.

Or here.

No, this is it, my dream cottage! Not too big, with an upstairs porch to hide on.

Scenes like this could be yours regularly. How about you, are you a shore fanatic, too? Have you been to the Grove? Comment below!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Real Jersey Shore

American Dreams of a Vacation at the Seashore

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

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What better time than February to start wishing for the Jersey shore? Ocean Grove, NJ has a great beach and a great downtown. But don't tell anybody.

This boat has holes (see the white dashes?) all along the hull. A very unique boat!

Yes, that's sand you see through the holes. What the heck kind of boat is this?

The Grove has lots of these historic hotels. Call now, it's not too soon! I stayed in one once, years ago. It was a lovely experience.

A view toward the auditorium, which has lots of events. See the writing room in center left of this photo? Upstairs? That's mine! (not really)

Another lovely B&B. 

How about you? Planning your summer break yet? Comment below!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

American Dream: Owning a New England Farm

Connecticut Yankees Say "Work on Your Dream Now, Before It's Too Late"

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

I have a friend in Stonington, CT, who has an ancient cemetery on her property, way back in the woods. On a gray winter's day, she took us there.

These are the stones of a husband and wife.

Hardly readable anymore because of the lichens.

This is it, the whole shebang.

A classic Connecticut rock wall on the former farmland. Did you know the state flower of Connecticut is the rock?

Lichens on the living trees, too.

The farmers left openings in the rock walls to drive a team through.

The fact that this wall is still standing after more than 100 years is a testament to the farmer's skill in building it.

My friend's sons sit on this overstuffed chair and wait for deer to walk by. It's not a happy ending for the deer. Her sons use almost every part of it for food, however.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

American Dream: Street Artists Who Paint Murals in New London, CT

Counterculture Street Art

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

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These murals are just a fraction of what you can see in New London, CT, a former whaling capital, now facing hard times.

But the art is cheery. 

Racing horses, on land and sea. I like the choice of theme.

Funky musicians.

Spindrift Guitars, a huge guitar store in New London.

This is just one of many windows full of guitars.

Caruso's is right across the street. 

More musicians.

An underwater scene, appropriate for New London, a seaport.

The murals are everywhere.

A mermaid, a bit like the Starbuck's logo, but…not really.

How about you? Would you like to see more of New London. Comment below!

Monday, February 2, 2015

American Dream: Owning One's Own Bookstore

An Indie Bookstore, New London, CT

By Norma Jaeger Hopcraft

As I've said before, I love a town with both an indie coffee shop and an indie bookstore. In New London, they are both in historic commercial buildings and within easy walking distance of each other in an historic downtown. Life doesn't get much better than that!

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Monte Cristo Bookstore, 38 Green Street, New London, CT

Flawless reasoning!

Here's the owner with his baby son.

This reading niche has been taken over by said baby.

Love the stamped tin ceilings.

You'd never see a grand piano in a Barnes & Noble. Those stores are much too sterile because every square inch is devoted to selling. Of course, if they want to sell the book I'll finish writing someday...

A place where ideas get exchanged, work gets done, friendships deepened.

Little nooks and crannies full of books.

Here's the checkout counter. An old desk, a bit of a hodge podge -- easy on the eyes.

The area where coffee gets made.

The owner sitting with friends and his son.

As I left, I thought this baby (and this dad) were very lucky.

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