New Projects and a New Name

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Dear friends,

A couple months ago we mentioned getting a little house in town – at least for the winter months – and I can’t even put into words how thankful we are for the timing of everything. Not the least of which is the especially cold temperatures this year, which unfortunately caused some water pipes at the “Eden homestead” to burst and flood. As soon as the weather breaks we’ll be working on fixing and cleaning things up there.

Meanwhile we are enjoying a few comforts that we haven’t had in awhile. Like not having to go to the laundry mat every week. And having unlimited wi-fi. But maybe more refreshing, when going from “tiny to little,” there is more room to stretch! :)

I have to admit, it’s been fun setting up house. Vinny is doing all the painting, and I’ve been furnishing and decorating.  We are being more meticulous than usual because in the Spring, (when we can be back at the Homestead) we hope to rent the house out on Air B&B for some income.  In fact it’s already posted there!

Vinny is also building a tiny house with his Mennonite neighbors, and it’s looking adorable so far. They are hopeful to sell it when they are done.  Anyone interested?  If so, now is the time they can make customizations…

Another update I want to share is that I’ll be changing my last name in about a month, legally taking on Vinny’s last name. But since the law allows for one or both spouses to choose any last name – I’ve decided on a slightly different variation instead (Vinny’s will stay the same). The beautiful name “Oliveira” is Portuguese, and the English equivalent is “Olive Tree,” or to some, “House of the Olive Pickers.” So that is what I’ll be adopting. Pamela Olivetree. And to my knowledge, there is no one else with this surname. So it should be easy for someone to find me. Or not. ;)

Anyway, the change will eventually work it’s way to Facebook, my blogs, etc., so hopefully this update will make it less confusing when you see the new name pop up.

That’s about it for now. Until next time, we hope everyone is well, and we look forward to seeing some of you at “Our Little Eden” this year!

Love,


 

A New Winter Home, and a Need for Better Health


Until it was a done deal, I didn’t want to share this news, but we recently purchased a new house and today we officially own it! It is a small, 2 bed/1 bath 900 square foot house in the town of Penn Yan – within walking distance to stores, etc. – but just 20 minutes from our land so we can drive back and forth easily.

Yes, this tiny house couple has a little more elbow room! :-)

A picture of our new winter digs

The decision to find a second place came suddenly and was one of those, “you-know-that-you-know” ones. My Mom’s recent death made me realize that if anything happened to Vinny, I would not be able to – nor would I want to – be out here in the country alone. A working community on the land would be great, but as it stands this hasn’t happened yet – nor is it something that can be forced.

There were other factors too. Winters are difficult in our poorly insulated park model cabin, and our health is struggling. The fact is, being a homesteader, or trying to, doesn’t guarantee that bad habits are instantly overcome. Good health is something that has to put as a priority within one’s lifestyle, while utilizing something that works for you as an individual. For me? I love long walks on safe, small-town streets, with a laptop in my backpack and a coffee shop as a destination. :-) And tennis too, which I used to play a lot. Vinny likes elliptical trainers, and oh okay…he can hit a ball around pretty well, too. ;-)

All of these things can be done in this new house, and in this small town. There are even two tennis courts within walking distance!

The decision to get a second property was not without a financial concern, however, as it meant having to have some income sooner than planned. The interesting thing is that after moving forward and embracing the risk – the idea to promote “Our Little Eden” on Air B&B presented itself. We have a few unique and furnished places that can be rented out, and the location is just 15 minutes from Watkins Glen and it’s famous international race track. The amenities are pretty appealing too, such as fishing and kayaking on the pond, wild and annual garden food, etc. All of which we want to continue to use and enjoy ourselves during the good-weather season, and with friends who visit – but the possibility of having some residual income from the property also, is going to be a blessing.

That’s about it for an update!

Blessings to all of our friends and family this holiday season. Each of you are important, precious, and so very loved.

~ Pamela & Vinny Oliveira/Tree

P.S. The following quote is one that came at the right time ~ perhaps it will be for you too.


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The Parable of Little Bird

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Little Bird, as she called herself, once lived a very full life. She spent most of her time in the air, for flying was her most favorite thing to do. She also loved her bird friends very much – the ones the Creator gave to her as gifts. Together they flew back and forth to their seasonal homes, raised children, and sang beautiful melodies.

One spring day, however, Little Bird injured her wing by flying into a glass window. She thought she’d have to rest just a little while, but spring turned to summer, and summer turned to fall. The shame she felt for her poor flying skills kept her from trying again, and also, she met various animals who kept her quite busy. Mrs. Squirrel always needed help burying nuts. Mr. Turtle liked to be with her watching leaves fall. And the ground birds always had fun dances to attend. Meanwhile, the animals also taught her how to find food in new ways that she did not know about before, and she was thankful. Overall, it was a good life for Little Bird.

But oh, how she longed for the sky every day! Sometimes she caught a glimpse of it through the forest leaves, and wondered if her friends were up there flying. She missed them too. And for the first time, she began to wonder if she was simply afraid of flying after not doing it for so long.

One day the Great White Owl looked down from above and saw Little Bird hopping around. She looked unhappy and lonely to him, sometimes taking a small leap to a low branch, then landing back down on the forest floor. He knew winter was coming, and it was in her best interest to fly home. So he had an idea. The Great White Owl began to hoot really loud during the day, when owls don’t normally cry out, with the hope of calling her to himself.

It worked! Little Bird heard the hooting, and went to look for the owl. She had to turn down an invite to a bird dance, and politely tell Mrs. Squirrel and Mr. Turtle that she couldn’t help bury nuts or watch leaves fall, but her heart was filled with hope. She knew the Great White Owl was wise, and maybe he could help her find the courage to fly again.

Soon she found the Great Owl, regally perched on a sturdy branch just a few feet from the forest floor. He silently looked at her, but didn’t move. She knew what he wanted. She had to go up to him! So with a leap and a small flutter of her wings, she landed up next to him. But immediately he took off to another branch, again a few feet higher, and hooted. She followed him there, too. Branch after branch they did this for awhile, until suddenly, before she knew what was happening, they were both on top of a tree with a breathtaking view of the sky!

Little Bird was filled with excitement. The Great White Owl then spread out his huge wings and leaped off the branch. Around and around he soared on the wind, screeching for her to follow him.

This was Little Bird’s moment. Putting her trust in the Great White Owl who sought her out and got her this far, she stretched out her little wings, took a deep breath, and leaped off the branch.

“Wait for me!” she cried.

Little Bird was flying again.

Lift up your hands (or wings) which hang down,
and gather courage into your heart!
Straighten out the paths of your life,
so that your lameness may not become worse
or prolonged more than it has to.
Remember – is the Lord’s desire for you to be healed!
~ From Hebrews 12:12-13
~ ~ ~
~

P.S. Interestingly the same day I got the story, and after sending this to a friend, he immediately sent back this music video…


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Changing Seasons, Changing Focus

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Frosty Fall - A Change of Seasons, A Change of Focus. Since my Mom’s passing a couple months ago I have really wanted to write an update here, but processing everything has made it hard to have the needed time or energy. For those who knew my Mom, she was a lively and busy 70-year old with hobbies, grandchildren, and a new, loving husband of just 3 months.  So her sudden death was jolting.  I also inherited her massive collection of knicknacks and garage sale “stuff,” both at her new husband’s home, and in a half-dozen antique store booths.  While most of it was, and is being donated, trying to sort through and get rid of it quickly has been overwhelming.

Good progress has been made, however, so it’s becoming easier to rest and grieve now.  But getting back to life at “Our Little Eden” has been, for me, a little slow.  What happened with my Mom’s death is also making me think more deeply about things.  Like what kind of legacy do I want to leave others upon my death?  And what really makes my heart beat fast, to focus on during this short life?  Both Vinny and I are each doing our own soul-searching about these things right now.

Meanwhile when my Mom was still able to talk, and had a sense her time was short, she called together the family to give her last wishes, regrets, and blessings.  It was both difficult and precious.  Afterward we were able to carry out her wishes for her burial, Celebration of Life, and asset allocation, all in a peaceful way that bonded us all together.  I believe she would have been proud.

At that time she also shared some last words of advice. One of them was an encouragement to read the Bible more. Now some of you know there has been a great deal of investment reading the Bible in my lifetime, and verses can’t help but ooze out of my pores.  But knowing the scriptures “by heart,” and “knowing God’s heart” are increasingly two different things for me.  The fact is, outside of knowing God’s heart, the Bible is easily interpreted and used as a tool or weapon in reaction to one’s personal hurts, fears of intimacy, or other dysfunctional needs – and the results can be destructive.  Sadly I’ve done this before, and it hurts when it’s done to you.  However, to avoid the Bible for the same reasons that people misinterpret it, is to perpetrate those negative reasons, instead of helping bridge the gap between God and the various imperfect expressions that can help us know Him better – including the Writings.  I hope this makes sense.  There’s a lot more that can be said about this of course, but sufficient to say that reading more of the Bible can be a very good thing, while seeking a healthy lens to interpret it through.

Also, my Mom shared a positive opinion about my writing, and encouraged me to spend more time in it.  This meant a lot to hear her say, because writing is something that I also ache to do more of, and feel very alive doing. But like most of us, I suppose, it’s so easy to put our passions and childlike dreams on hold, and instead spend our spare time and resources doing things that seem to be more important at the moment.  But when does this become an issue of avoidance and fear?  When do we realize that we are simply continuing to punish ourself, and others; all the while the Spirit is wooing and calling us to take a leap of faith back to Him?

These are some important questions, and ones that are still being answered.

Until next time, THANK YOU again for everyone’s prayers and support these last several weeks.  The valley wasn’t so dark because of you!

Pamela

  

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When Birds Don’t Sing


Spending more time outside in nature than I have ever done (since being a kid, that is), I have been discovering new things.  Strange new things.  Like how the birds have suddenly disappeared and gone silent.

Vinny knows.  I kept bugging him, saying over and over again, “There’s something wrong! Have you noticed?”

Since Spring I’ve been waking up early to the cheerful sound of singing birds.  Now I can sleep in late and not hear any.  Or very few.

Since Spring I have been delighted with visitations of comical Catbirds in the shrubs, Mr. Bluebird on my shoulder, (just kidding – not literally) and all sorts of other birds flying about doing their busy birdy things.

But suddenly the earth has gone quiet.  And not just the birds, but all the obnoxiously loud frogs in our pond have gone quiet too!  The only consistent sound is in the evening, from some sort of cricket mass making a steady unified hum, like a natural white noise.

Today I’m relieved, however.  I found out it’s just August being August.

Yes, it took a several weeks of being puzzled over this mystery, to finally do some research and find out that I’m not going mad.  And the birds haven’t all died.  They are in fact still all around us, but simply resting and doing as little as possible – and August is an important month for this!  In the Spring, (once they arrived here after a long migratory flight) birds sang their heart out to attract mates, and then spent many weeks nest building and child-rearing.  During this time they not only had to find enough food for themselves, but to feed several hungry mouths, too!  It’s all very exhausting.  And, it takes a toll on their feathers.

This is why the hot month of August (also July) is a month when most birds molt.  It’s sometimes not a pretty sight to shed these old, dead attachments, and it’s not easy to fly well during this time, either.  Some studies think birds get depressed during this time, or at least seem to be a bit grumpy.  But the fact is, they are going through a needful transition.  When the season is over, they will have grown new feathers and gained their strength back.  And when it comes time to migrate back south to a warmer place, they will be ready and raring to go!

I

There is an obvious lesson in the seasons of nature, that there is a time for work, and a time for rest.  A time for being productive, and a time for being like a seed buried in the ground.   Do people go through seasons like this together, as the birds do?  I believe so.  At least with the people I have been most intimately connected to, my experience is that we are in the same boat going through similar ebbs and flows.  Plus there is another example of something we universally go through together – sleep.

Unlike birds, however, we often spend important times for restoration and growth doing exhausting and unnatural (anti-nature) things that don’t truly satisfy or rejuvenate us.  And then we wonder why we are still tired after a vacation, weekend, or a night’s sleep!  Instead of operating from an inward guidance that is in tune with our truest selves, and our Maker – we often resist the need for “pulling away” and truly resting.  Why?  I think sometimes that when our bodies and spirits suddenly call us to this deeper place, it feels like a “death” compared to the exciting and productive season we may have just come from.   And in death, it doesn’t feel so great, and we have to operate by faith, instead of sight.

Being more like the birds, however, we can accept the darker and more quiet “valleys” of our life with hopeful resolve.  Listen more.  Go inward more.  It might not feel like anything is happening, but if we trust in God’s love for us, and patiently submit to a walk of faith during this time – we will come through.  And not just come through, but come through with renewed strength.

P.S. After recently discovering this information about birds and molting, this verses from Isaiah 40:29-31 may be of new interest!…

He gives power to the faint; and to him that has no might, he increases strength.
Even boys grow tired and weary, and young men collapse and fall,
but those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength.
They will mount up with wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary; and they will walk and not faint.  

 

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