Back to Eden? Really? Watch this.

www.OurLittleEden.com
Last year we bought 7 acres of land.  We felt it was significant, and didn’t know what to call it – or if we should call it anything.  Suddenly (after a winter of abiding here) my husband Vinny had the inspiration… “Our Little Eden.”  Thus the name change of this website.  What used to be “PamSpock.com is now “OurLittleEden.com.”  (No matter what you type as the URL – it will unite).

Why is it the perfect name change for this website? (and to some degree, our property)

For one thing – it is a small attempt to express a current segment of our life – and even to some degree – a conviction of God’s ultimate desire for His creation that is not “blocked and hopeless,” but abundant with love and good intention.  These are actually convictions that have been evolving and morphing – I trust – into something quite marvelous for those who have ears and eyes (and HOPE) to believe.

Let me explain more.  No – let me share a video.  “Back to Eden” is a provocative documentary that I watched several years ago, when I was still single.  It really impacted me – so that when I met Vinny and he too was impacted by it (and studying and practicing permaculture as well), I was quite amazed.

To summarize, it presents a revolutionary method of growing food, (which is foundational to our physical existence on earth) that in turn has spiritual implications.

(Frankly, you can read whatever you want into things, but if you don’t get the physical metaphor of things like this – you miss the spiritual counterpart.)

When I first watched this video – I was flabbergasted.

Yes it flipped my traditional mindset about gardening upside down.  But it also challenged my current beliefs about “Eden”.

It challenged my belief that we are under the curse and doomed – and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Maybe more important – it expanded my view of God’s love for every single person on earth – and the earth He placed them on.  And that’s a good thing, right?

At least that is how I saw this video.

Anyways, we hope you can set apart an evening soon to watch “Back to Eden.” Believe me – many lives have been affected by it.  It won’t be a waste of your time.

The free video can be watched here:
http://www.backtoedenfilm.com

or on YouTube (make sure you get the full-length version, not the related videos that are tours, etc.).

Enjoy!

P.S. Next time I write, I hope to explain more (with pictures!) how we are TRYING to get on board with all this, in the way we live on our property.  And why it is to some degree “trying,” and not all the way “doing” yet.  (Although the two concepts are close…)
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Talkative Trees – What I Learned on A Guided Hike

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.“ – Henry David Thoreau

Yesterday we went on a nature walk through what is called an “Old Growth” forest.  It was led by a couple of experienced forest conservationists, and WOW, my mind was being blown!  (Yes, stuff like this feeds me more than almost all the “sermons” I’ve heard put together) :-o

One of the things they talked about was “forest evolution,” and in that, how the undisturbed mixture of very old trees with a younger generation of trees is so important.  But forests containing these “elder” trees are becoming very rare, as older trees are seen as a financial commodity.  Loggers will tell property owners who have woods that by their service of cutting bigger trees down, the smaller ones will grow faster and healthier.  This is not true!  Being ignorant of the symbiotic relationship between trees and the overall “oneness” of nature is something that is slowly going to kill the planet unless more people become less greedy, and more awakened.  It even has implications for us socially and spiritually, if we have the ears to hear.

Fortunately there is more progressive thinking happening. For example a woman named Suzanne Simard has been making waves with her shocking studies in tree communication, giving evidence that they have a complex social structure and communication network. They actually talk among themselves in order to survive pests and diseases.  (If interested, check out her fascinating Ted Talk : https://www.ted.com/talks/suzanne_simard_how_trees_talk_to_each_other)

Picture of the StumpThe Tenacity of Trees

There is hope for a tree, that if it is cut down, it will sprout again, and will not die.   – Job 14:7

At one point along the hike our guide called attention to a very old tree stump and how the outer edges were thickened.  He said this was the tree continuing to grow, and that what we think is death in a tree, is not death.  Trees that are cut down continue to draw wisdom and life from the world above and then communicate these things through their extensive root systems to other trees they are connected to. It reminds me of a quote in one of my favorite movies, “Tuesdays with Morrie.”

“Death may end a life, but it does not end the relationship.”

I don’t know about you, but I was very encouraged by this stump image (and I will not be so quick to remove them, either.)

The Cheerfulness of Trees

For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands. – Isaiah 55:12

Quaking Aspen TreeOne of the reasons we wanted to go on this walk is because we have a good amount of woods on our property.  We want to better stewards of our “Little Eden” by learning how to care for the trees.  It’s going to take a long time (eternity even) to learn all their names and fully appreciate them.  Meanwhile I do know the name of one tree that we have a lot of.  “Quaking Aspens” are known for leaves that shimmer and shake with the slightest breeze.  I call them the “Happy Clappy Tree.”   I also heard a friend call them the “Applause Tree.”  I like that too!  When we hear them clapping, we can be reminded of the truth that, “God is for us, not against us.”

Nature is a constant reminder of His love and wisdom.

Not the least of which are trees!

 

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It’s Finished! … Well, One Thing Is Anyway…


I love “before and after” pictures, don’t you? They are an encouragement that anything is possible!  There is a lot missing, however, between the two extremes that we don’t see. Days and days of mundane baby steps. Getting up and not feeling the energy to do anything. Or encountering challenges that interrupt your flow, or worse yet, require a do-over.

There were many such days on the way to a new bathroom in the 420 square foot building we call the “Red Shed.” (see picture below).  When we bought this property last fall, it was the only structure here, and had been gutted out by the previous owner – leaving no electric, no plumbing, and all the windows & doors need replacement, too.

Our goal for this building?  Hopefully it’s for our guests to enjoy.  It will also have a hardy kitchen for processing garden vegetables, canning, making cider, etc. And a small relaxing area with a wood stove.

First priority was a bathroom, however.  As you can see from the pictures above, Vinny started off with some challenges.  But bit by bit, project by project, he tackled them.  Meanwhile I was doing my part, like looking for things on Craigslist, and when we were out and about, begging him to drop me off at a thrift shop!

Finally, it got finished – and it is a great feeling! :-)  Here is a short video showing the end result: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2E3EilfbBk

Or, some pictures:

Some helpful Tips…

Besides doing the work ourselves, which saved money of course, there are some other things we used to complete this project inexpensively:

1. Advanced Craigslist Searching

Vinny calls me the “Craigslist Queen,” and for good reason I think. :-)  It helps that it is the absolute best place to find used items, but I’ve also learned to master the advanced search functions. For example, when looking for an old claw foot tub, I figured some people spell it “clawfoot.”  Still others don’t mention claw feet at all, but instead just call it a “cast iron tub.”  Not to mention it can be called either a tub OR bathtub!

It can get a little complicated, but finding what you want is much faster if you include all possible search terms in an algorithm.  For me, I used this: (tub | bathtub) (clawfoot | claw) | iron.  The “|” symbol means “or.”

Also – if you have too many results, you can use the minus symbol to hone things down.  For example, my algorithm above showed ads for faucets and other accessories for clawfoot tubs, as well as the tubs. Although I did want to see these items too, you may not, so you can add subtractions to your algorithm. For example: -faucet -showerhead -hardware, etc.

Another great help is expanding your search area!  Because we live near several CL divisions, I usually use either the choice (on the left column) to “include nearby areas.”  Or below that is another option for giving your zip code, and searching for anything within a certain mile radius. You may want to do this if you are getting too many results.  And oh, did I mention they have a price range, too?

Finally, we all want to live life and not be glued to the computer every day checking our searches. So save them.  Or utilize Craigslist to email you when something new pops up!  After you get your perfect search nailed down – just go to the upper right corner and click “Save Search.”  But if you want to be emailed for something new, make sure you then go to that page and turn the email function on!

For more information on advanced searching on CL – see: advanced search tips on craigslist

2. Bring pictures on your phone, to the stores

As the bathroom was taking shape, I would take pictures.  For example, I did so after the major pieces were in place by Vinny, and the walls were painted yellow. Then when I went to the thrift shops, I would use the pictures to help me find accessories that might look good.  Or sometimes I would take a picture of an item in the store, and then bring it back to the bathroom to visualize the item there. (If you have an iPad or tablet with a camera, it’s even better because of the larger image).  I’m not good with color – so admittedly it was frustrating at times. But I have a friend who is good with colors. She offered some good advice – including finding the daisy bush which I pretty much centered everything else around.

Speaking of thrift shops, more and more “Habitat For Humanity” Restores are popping up.  We found several things there, including the interior door for $25, the clock above the tub for $2, and the medicine cabinet/light for only $8. You can find ones in your area here: https://www.habitat.org/restores

3. Treasures in trash

We were fortunate to stumble upon the sink vanity being thrown away by some neighbors.  But keep in mind that many cities and towns have annual “trash days” when people can put furniture and other large items on the side of the road to be picked up by the trash department.  I’ve never been ill-disposed to dumpster diving, or roadside collecting (thanks Mom!) and it’s unbelievable the things that people throw out.

4. Other sources

Sometimes Craigslist is not enough.  For example, I was having a hard time finding a propane stove on Craigslist that was cheap or in decent shape (for the future kitchen). So I joined some local Facebook Sale & Barter groups.  There were a bunch for our county, not to mention smaller ones for our nearest towns and cities.  I put a “wanted” ad on several of them, and a man replied that he had a perfect stove for us, for only $100.

Oh, and one other thing.  A friend told me about another website for used items, offerup.com.  I was surprised at how populated it was with stuff in our area.  I’ll be checking that out from time to time, I’m sure.  And also freecycle.org – just heard of this one, too.

5. Paint

Last but not least, paint.  It covers a multitude of sins, and if you make a mistake, you can always paint over something.  It’s a great way of saving money.  The claw foot (or claw foot) :-) tub was pretty yucky on the outside.  A little sanding, and some rustoleum primer and paint – and it was good to go.  If you are a bit more daring, you can also stencil or paint designs – like I with painting a row of daisies on the wall.

Next Project…

As mentioned, the next project on our plate is the kitchen.  Personally I don’t like revealing pictures of a work in progress.  But bless Vinny – he has no qualms about that :-), so for his sake I’ll show a couple of pictures of the kitchen area – before it’s done.  And oh, while I’m at it, I will throw in another “before” picture, too ;-)

P.S. I’ll let you know when I have some “after” pictures.  (Although honestly, the “Vinny project” is very challenging, and likely going to take a long, long time.) :-)

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In closing, if YOU have any changes you want in your house, or even in your body (such as weight loss, etc.) – and you are determined to take the project on – try to remember to take some “before” and “during” pictures.  Believe us, it’s easy to forget to do so.  But they can be very motivating to look back and see the changes!

Until next time,
Pamela
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Planting in a Storm


Life on the “wanna-be” homestead has been a little quiet, I know.  We had to take a couple trips to Massachusetts, the second time for a grandson who had brain surgery to remove a tumor.  Thankfully it was benign, and the little guy is doing great!  And both times a lovely friend we made back at the campground offered up her bed and breakfast in the Boston area, for us to stay at.  ‘Margot’ made us feel so comfortable, despite her having such a tight schedule.  Leaving notes, being attentive to our every need… she herself was a “love note” from God to us.

We have also been finding some amazing deals on Craigslist – including an older, but pretty little travel trailer for future guests to stay in. (thank you dear Dawn and Phil!)  Also a bathtub, stove and sink for the “Red Shed.”  I’m looking forward to reporting when Vinny gets all these things installed.  It’s slow progress, but it’s all in hope.  Hope keeps us going!

Speaking of hope, I’ve also been planning a garden, including a comprehensive database (thanks Jack for your help in this), of all the plants we intend to have someday and the pertinent data to make growing them more successful. I ordered most of the needed seeds from a great website, MyPatriotSupply.com, which has very good prices for organic, non-gmo, heirloom, and open-pollinated seed.  And finally, in the Red Shed I set up a small greenhouse with a grow light, etc. for starter plants.

When Discouragement Blows In

Rejoice in hope, remain patient in hard times, and continue steadfast in prayer …  Romans 12:12

But with all that being said, sometimes I do have a strong temptation to postpone the garden plans, and just expect to buy all our food again next year.  Which may happen.  There are no areas or plots prepared outside to plant in.  And we are currently buried deep under a blanket of snow from a bad “nor’easterner” that blew through the region like a freight train.

But just in case – I will at least continue to plan the garden and grow the starters.  I like to dream about a little “garden of eden” here, and maybe with every little step taken, the reality of it may happen in our lifetime. Which reminds me of a favorite quote that has sometimes been attributed to Martin Luther.  He was asked what he would do today, if he knew the end of the world was tomorrow.  His reply was …“I’d plant a tree!”  

:-)

Much love to you all.

Pamela

P.S. The friend I mentioned above, Jack Hesler, has also abandoned the old ways of gardening, AND the dead system of worshipping Jesus, and is, with his wife Karen, instead doing a “Back to Eden” style garden at their property in Washington State.  He has been a great encouragement these last several months – and I highly recommend his delightful blog, www.TheSonsAreFree.com !  (Why read vain crap and other things that drag you down, when you can read things like this?) :-)
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The Smell of Toast

A year ago today, when we were traveling in Florida, I wrote the following in my journal:
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“I woke this morning with Vinny out in the kitchen making coffee. I could hear the soft mumbling voices of him and my new “dad” (Vinny’s dad) talking. I felt comfy and warm inside, laying there and hearing the birds singing. It brought back a memory of being a little girl waking up on a summer day, and my Mom and Dad in the kitchen making breakfast. I hear the sound of dishes clanking, and the smell of bacon sizzling on the stove. They were talking peacefully and lovingly. Maybe they were planning our camping trip coming up? Or something else wonderful? I felt safe. I felt provided for. I stretch and yawn, feeling the cool early breeze coming through my window. The smell of the toast cooking, and my parent’s gentle voices beckon me to pull the covers back. Good morning world. I can’t wait for the adventure of today!”

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When I read this again, I literally smelled toast!  The positive memory was connected to another positive memory, and together they seemed to cause multiple synapses in my brain to fire, producing such a strong “déjà vu” feeling, that the scents and sounds were resurrected as if they were really happening again.

Our thoughts are powerful tools for good or bad.

I heard about a study done by neuroscientists, that concludes that in order for the human brain to have a good, hopeful view of something or someone, that it actually has to “hold in suspension” something positive about that situation or person for at least 15 seconds.  This is because the tendency of our thoughts is actually on a negative bias, not a positive one, and, something like 90% of our thoughts are useless, repetitive, and/or negative.

Our thoughts influence our emotions, which influences our actions, which influences our results, which influences our reality.
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If you want to find a treasure such as gold, you will not be discouraged at the dirt you find, whether in someone, or in a situation.  You will focus on the gold, and throw away the dirt.  Yes there is dirt.  But do you believe that is all there is?  If you focus on the dirt, you will fall short of getting to the gold.  And without the gold, your life remains poor.

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Yesterday I was tackling an outdoor project of removing a huge pine tree that we had to cut down last fall, that was blocking the view of the pond.  Vinny recently cut it all up with a chainsaw, and I have been clearing and stacking the branches.  It was the second day of doing it, and I began to notice my thoughts were taking a negative turn.  Things like, “this is going to take such a long time,” and, “all the projects on the property will never get done.”  But then I caught myself, and remembered the values that were instilled in me by my earthly dad.  We built a house together bit by bit, project by project.  And suddenly when recalling (“suspending for more than 15 seconds”) this positive memory, I felt my dad with me.  The feeling was so real!  I stopped and clearly saw in my mind’s eye the two of us stopping for a break and sitting on the big trunk, snuggling close and having some cocoa.  Standing there yesterday, I cried.  Right then and there, I was giving and receiving love from my dad, that back then (when I was older), I was too judgmental and fearful to fully enjoy!  It was a very healing moment.

It’s not easy to catch ourselves, and the hopeless, negative “rut” we may be in with our thoughts.  Replacing them with positive and helpful thoughts takes a conscience effort.  But it’s worth the effort.

I actually woke up this morning excited to go back outside and work some more on my project! Which reminds me… I need to take a before and after picture.

But first, I’m going to have some toast!  :-)
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Philippians 4:8… Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

Romans 12:2… Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Proverbs 4:23… Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Matthew 15:11… What goes into someone’s mouth does not defile them, but what comes out of their mouth, that is what defiles them.


 

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