Archive for February, 2012

The only thing that trumps time is desire

This was a wonderful book filled with a vast amount of cultural detail about the Cherokee tribe in North Carolina in the 19th century.  Charles Frazier also wrote the popular book Cold Mountain, which I will review in the future.  Frazier is one of the best storytellers of modern times. His words are incredibly captivating and drew me into the story like few other authors have been able to.

The novel is narrated by Will Cooper, former senator, business man, and Cherokee chief. He looks back at his life and how it intertwined with that of the Cherokee Nation. His story, just the same as his people’s, is dramatic and heartbreaking. Yet, it is one of those sad tales that we should all know. Thirteen Moons is a work of historical fiction. Each single detail may not have happened. But the suffering of the Cherokee at the hands of the U.S. government was very real. President Andrew Jackson wanted Indians completely erased from the American landscape. His 1830 Indian Removal Act called for all indians to be moved west of the Mississippi River. Many indians did migrate, but some remained. Thirteen Moons is about the Eastern Band Cherokee, those Cherokee who did not migrate to the reservation in Oklahoma.

Some of the great cultural detail in the novel include:

      • The Cherokee concept of time.
      • The Ghost Dance Movement.
      • Visions, speech, and writing.
      • Hunting rituals.
      • Interactions with nature.
      • Food.
      • Menstrual huts.
      • Gender roles.
      • Marriage.
      • Names.
      • Religion.
      • Magic.
      • Mourning.

These are just a few topics that popped out of the book that I recognized as accurate from my previous Cherokee research. Frazier’s meticulous research shines through the story. I am very much appreciative for his efforts.  It is a sad story, but a beautiful book.

“…That was then. The people had been fighters, but after two-hundred years of mostly losing to white men the fight had been beat out of them. They had become dirt farmers. It is tempting to look back at Bear’s people from the perspective of this modern world and see them as changeless and pure, authentic people in ways impossible for anybody to be anymore. We need Noble Savages for our own purposes. Our happy imaginings about them and the pure world they occupied do us good when incoherent change overwhelms us. But even in those early days when I was first getting to know Bear and his people, I could see that change and the brutal loss had been all they had experienced for two centuries. Many of them were busy taking up white ways of life that baffled them. With every succeeding retreat of the Nation and every incursion of America, the old ways withdrew a step farther into the mountains, deeper up the dark coves and tree-tunneled creeks. it was not any kind of original people left. No wild Indians at all, and little raw wilderness. They were damaged people, and they lived in a broken world like everybody else.”


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The 1939 film is one of my favorites! Maybe it is for this reason that I had higher hopes for the book. I would recommend it to anyone like myself who enjoys reading those books that are considered to be ‘classics,’ but the movie really is much better.

However, the story line and characters in L. Frank Baum’s book are original. Keeping with the tradition of giving moral lessons, this fairy tale has many great things to teach.


These are my observations:

Dorothy wanted to be somewhere else (home) so badly she was completely oblivious to the wonderful experiences she was having.

The Scarecrow and the Tin Woodsman revealed that it is important to have both brains and a heart.

“All the same, ” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”

“I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodsman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”

The Cowardly Lion teaches the importance of self-confidence.

The Wizard of Oz is viewed as a god-like figure who is both terrifying and good. He does a few magic tricks and the people are obliged to bow down to him. We often hold people in such high esteem that they become gods. The Wizard is the proof that everyone, even those we put on a pedal stool, are human and make mistakes.  Once you get to know them they really aren’t so different from anyone else, perhaps just more manipulative?

The movie, however, represented the Wicked Witch of the West as a much more terrifying character than in the book. The winged monkeys are also much different. They are controlled by a magic gold cap which enables the owner to make three requests (wishes) of which the monkeys must obey. Dorothy and Glinda, the good witch of the South, also used the winged monkeys for their purposes after the Wicked Witch is killed.

Comparing the book and the movie, I don’t think there are too many differences that drastically change the story. I honestly preferred the movie much more than the book. The one adventure in the book that  adds an important lesson that was not included in the movie is the passage through the china country. Dorothy and her gang cross through a country entirely made of porcelain. People, animals, buildings, etc. Everything is fragile and subject to breaking very easily. The lesson learned here is that although you may complain about your life (having no brains, or heart, or courage, etc), there is always someone less well off.  It is important to be thankful for what you do have and not what you think you don’t.  (This can actually get more philosophically confusing since the Scarecrow thought he did not have brains, but he actually did.)

“And I am thankful I am made of straw and cannot be easily damaged. There are worse things in the world than being a Scarecrow.”

What confuses me the most about this story is that L. Frank Baum wanted this to be a modern (in 1900) fairy tale that did not include heartbreak and horror like many fairy tales do. However the chopping of limbs and death was a popular occurrence in the book.

  • The Tin Woodsman did have his heart broken and was once a man of flesh but was chopped to pieces and rebuilt of tin.
  • The Woodsman’s axe was continually used to behead potential attackers.
  • Animals are thrown to their death and are “dashed to pieces” when they fall on sharp rocks.

I don’t see how this story has any less “horror” than some other popular fairy tales. Especially when these events happen over and over again on each adventure.

 Brief Side Note: In the book Dorothy has silver slippers. Her slippers were ruby red in the movie due to the bright color contrast.

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The Star Barn. (Photo: Deborah Noell)

February 19, 2010 – Written for a historic preservation class.

A beautiful and intriguing barn stands not fifty feet from busy Interstate-283 in Middletown, Pennsylvania. With spired cupola reaching toward the sky, the structure takes resemblance of a church. This may explain why the barn seems to have a familiar feeling to someone who has just seen it for the first time. The 14,000 square foot white barn has distinctive star-shaped ventilators on all four sides. Popularly known as the Star Barn, “it may be one of the most artistically photographed, painted, and replicated buildings in America because of its unique architectural design, building layout, and most notably, its giant five-point stars on each end”.  The National Barn Alliance says the Star Barn is the most recognizable barn in North America (The Star Barn). This is testimony to the extraordinary aesthetic beauty of this 138 year old barn.

The earliest documentation of the farm land’s ownership dates back to 1778 when the land was purchased by a Revolutionary War veteran. Over the next one hundred years the land was owned by influential men who included a member of the United States Congress, a member of the Pennsylvania State Senate, and a county judge. In 1872 John Motter, a man who supplied the United States army with thousands of horses during the Civil War, purchased the farm for just over $19,000. (The Star Barn).

Inside of the Star Barn

Soon after the purchase, Motter commissioned master carpenter Daniel Reichert to design the new farm buildings, most of which still stand to this day. The carriage house/corn crib, chicken coop, and pig barn all mimic the Gothic Revival architectural details of the main barn, but on a much smaller scale.  “Each of the buildings had characteristics of that style including cross gables, pointed arch ventilators, trefoil brackets, and spired cupolas” (The Star Barn).

Built on a limestone foundation, the three-story Star Barn is not a forgettable sight. It is approximately 68 feet wide by 106 feet long and about 65 feet in height.  “The Gothic Revival five-bay barn has a centered cross gable and square cupola rising above the gabled roof. A metal cap in the shape of a fleur-de-lis tops the octagonal spire. The barn has tall pointed-arch ventilators along all four elevations” (The Star Barn). The star-shaped ventilators are centered on each side of the barn, making it easily recognizable from any angle.  Form follows function for this decoration. The wooden louvers that created the star pattern allowed for additional sunlight and air circulation for drying hay and other grains on the upper levels. (The Star Barn).

The initial use of the lower levels was to keep horses and was most likely used for that purpose until 1925 when the farm changed hands to the Nissley Family who converted it into a dairy farm. The Nissley’s dramatically changed the lower level of the barn to accommodate cattle. The other outbuildings were now used primarily for storing equipment and not animals; this led to a deterioration of those buildings which became no longer functioning components of the 20th century farm (The Star Barn).

The farm flourished during the late 19th century through the post-Civil War era of restoration. Prior to the war a farmer was self-sufficient and generally grew only enough food to feed his family. The railroad gave the farmer more opportunity to accumulate large fortunes by being able to ship food to the ever expanding territory out west. “By constructing new farms or rebuilding existing farms utilizing more modern agrarian practices, the farming industry became more efficient and more productive” (The Star Barn).  However, the good fortunes of the farm would not last forever. By 1986 the farm was no longer functioning and was starting to deteriorate.  For several years the future of the Star Barn was uncertain.

Interstate 283, just yards from the Star Barn, was completed in 1971 (Interstate-Guide). It did not take long for residential and industrial development to begin closing in around the farm. Ereno Lewis purchased the land and its buildings in 1986. This is where the bumpy road to preservation began. Lewis had considered making the Star Barn a bed and breakfast (“Preservation”). Surely, the building is beautiful enough for such an endeavor. Nothing ever came of this idea and in 1994 the farm land was subdivided for housing (Foster). The original farm of 164 acres was now scaled back to 3.6 acres.  Now neglected, the great barn’s doors had sagged and “countless storms had ravaged the once-proud cupola and stripped white paint from the star-shaped louver vents” (“Preservation”).

Meanwhile, a group formed called the Friends of the Star Barn. They would become the first preservation group to put forth a real effort to save the Star Barn from further deterioration. They proposed a $3 million project to convert the barn into an agricultural museum and education center. In 1995 Preservation Pennsylvania featured the Star Barn in their Pennsylvania At Risk newsletter. They reported that the Friends of the Star Barn had to scale back their initial plan to just purchase the barn and its small parcel of land whose ticket price was $120,000 (“Pennsylvania”). Friends of the Star Barn volunteer David Morrison explained that through grass roots efforts they managed to raise $40,000 by selling Star Barn artwork by Lititz artist Al Taft, but that eventually their efforts simply burned out (“Preservation”).  They had some ambitious ideas, but unfortunately were not able to gather the support to raise the amount of money needed.  For such a small organization, their plans for an agricultural museum were very unrealistic. For starters, they were not even successful with raising enough money to purchase the 3.6 acres of land the barn was on.

Hope arrived again in 2000 when Preservation Pennsylvania purchased the property for $140,000 (Miller, “Star Barn Sold”). They worked with Historic York to research the barn to get it listed on the National Registry of Historic Places (The Star Barn).  Not only in this an aesthetically pleasing building, but it is the last of its kind of an estimated fifteen Gothic Revival barns were once present in Dauphin, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties (The Barn Journal). This barn is also the perfect example of the post Civil War era of restoration in business and agriculture (The Star Barn). Preservation Pennsylvania put money into the barn for repairs such as fixing the weather tattered doors (“Preservation”). In 2003 the organization, who had definitely done their part to help save the barn, put it on the market trying to find a buyer who would take care of the historic property. Several years went by and dozens of inquiries fell through. Finally in 2007 there was a serious buyer.

The Star Barn. (Photo: Dan Myers)

Robert Barr, founder of Agrarian Country, an organization established to preserve Pennsylvania farmland and farm buildings, bought the barn for $100,000 (Miller, “Star Barn Sold”) with incredibly large aspirations in mind. Similar to the idea that the Friends of the Star Barn proposed, Barr also wanted to create an agricultural museum, but on a much bigger scale.  The four acre parcel was just too small for his idea but finally, after more than a year of searching and negotiations, Barr bought a 300 acre plot of land in Grantville, about twenty miles down the road. The old white barn that sometimes shudders when 18-wheelers drive by is planned to be moved to a new location where Barr plans to build a large agricultural education and exhibit center (Miller, “Star Barn will shine”). Through preservation and “hands-on agricultural educational activities, Agrarian Country hopes to rekindle interest in America’s agricultural heritage and a self-sufficient way of life, to promote wholesome, moral, and healthy living” (The Star Barn).

The plan is for the Star Barn to be moved piece by piece and rebuilt “using historically accurate methods, tools and a few oxen” (Miller, “Star Barn Sold”).The barn will be rehabilitated to serve a new purpose. The first two levels of the barn will serve as the expo center and the third floor will be turned into a museum and art gallery (Long). It is estimated to cost about $3 million to dismantle, move, and rebuild the barn, and another $7 million to get the entire agricultural education center up and running (Torres).

Barr has started an aggressive fundraising campaign and has raised a good deal of money by appearing at conferences, such as the Historic Barn & Farm Foundation Conference in 2008, setting up a booth with a model of the Star Barn at the 2008-10 Farm Show exhibitions, appearing in many local newspapers and having news TV crews come to tape him giving news conferences in the Star Barn itself.  It is undisclosed how much money has been raised so far, but there is progress being made. However, progress is slow. It took a year for his new property in Grantville to be allotted the proper agri-tourism zoning ordinances (Miller, “East Hanover”). During that time nothing was done with the barn. The seven month process of dismantling the barn was initially set to start in January of 2009 (Miller, “Star Barn will shine”), a year later it hasn’t begun yet.

Although the project is running behind schedule, it is still in the works. Preservation is never easy. Robert Barr has found out that purchasing a large amount of land, changing that land’s zoning rights, and setting up the movement of a building is extremely time consuming and expensive. Several people have tried to rehabilitate the Star Barn and have failed.  Although this preservation project has not come to an end, most are still very optimistic that Mr. Barr has what it takes to create a great learning center in our community which will teach the appreciation of Pennsylvania’s great agricultural past. Agrarian Country works to “provide a place where people of all ages can visit and participate in the operation of numerous agricultural enterprises in a real-life farm setting” (The Star Barn). The goal of this preservation project is not just to rehabilitate this beautiful building, but more importantly it is an effort that intends to involve the community in our agricultural past.

Update:  As of February 18, 2012 the Star Barn still hasn’t been dismantled and there has not been a date announced for this task. 

Works Cited

The Barn Journal. 2010. George and Matilda Neyer Leik Foundation. <http://www.thebarnjournal.org/&gt;.

Foster, Margaret. “New Plans for Pennsylvania’s 1872 Star Barn.” PreservationNation. 19 Dec. 2007. 12

Feb. 2010.   <http://blogs.<nationaltrust.org/preservationnation/?p=374&gt;.

Interstate-Guide.2010. AARoads. <hhtp://www.interstate-guide.com>.

Miller, Barbara. “Star Barn sold, to be moved.” The Patriot-News 19 Dec. 2007. 14 Feb. 2010.


Miller, Barbara. “East Hanover amends zoning ordinance for Star Barn project.” The Patriot-News 22 Dec.

2008.  13 Feb. 2010. <http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2008/12/east_hanover_twp_


—. “Star Barn sold, to be moved.” The Patriot-News 19 Dec. 2007. 14 Feb. 2010.


—. “Star Barn will shine in Lebanon County.” The Patriot-News 01 Jul. 2008. 12 Feb. 2010.


“Pensylvania At Risk.” Preserving Pennsylvania 9.1 (1995):8. 12 Feb. 2010.


“Preservation group saves landmark barn.” Gettysburg Times. 21 Jan. 1999. 14 Feb. 2010. <http://news.


Long, Jeremy. “Bye, bye barn!” Press And Journal. 26 Dec. 2007. 14 Feb. 2010. <http://www.pressand


The Star Barn. 2007. Agrarian Country. <http://www.thestarbarn.com/&gt;.

Torres, Chris. “Star Barn Gets an New Lease on Life.” Lancaster Farming. 3 Jul. 2008. 14 Feb. 2010.


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Knit Together: Part 1

A few months ago I took up knitting. My friend Erica, view her photography blog, is an expert knitter and has graciously taken time to teach me.  I find this incredibly relaxing, usually doing it while watching TV. It is hard for me not to multi-task, so this fills the ‘wasting time’ feeling that I get when I watch TV.

Project 1: Buttoned Cowl

I started out making a scarf.  I did not have a pattern, I was just trying to get the feel for knitting. I casted-on too wide a row for a scarf with the amount of yarn I had. I made a cowl instead and used pearl white buttons, which I think was a nice addition. I like shiny things (because I’m a woman??).


Project 2: Striped Beanie with Scalloped Edge

At the Lancaster Yarn Shop in Intercourse, PA I purchased the Amish County Beanie kit that includes a pattern and black, blue, and purple yarn for the beanie. This was my first try with circular needles. They are wonderful! I did not have as many dropped stitches. The kit did not contain enough black yarn for the hat so I purchased more. I now have enough black left over for another beanie which I’m working on now.  I gave this hat to Caitlin for her birthday.

I have a profile on Ravelry.com which is a social networking site for knitters. There are thousands of free patterns on here. I’ve found many projects I have to start.

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