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Saturday, December 6th 2014

9:23 AM

10 Years

  • Feeling: nostalgic
  • Current Weather: -1C. Wind chill: -5C. Forecast: Mainly cloudy. High +4C

Good morning, everyone.  Today, I am marking ten years of my life here on Bravenet.

When I first started this blog, I thought it would be a great way for me to write my memoirs. No hand cramps, no running out of typewriter ink, no whited-out places where changes had to be made or completely re-written... A blog was the perfect medium. I knew next to nothing about blogging, or about how it worked, but I figured it couldn't be that difficult to learn, so I forged ahead and signed up.

In the beginning, Bravenet had something called a Community Page, where posts from bloggers both new and existing appeared. It was wonderful; you could log into the site, and a categorized list appeared showing summary posts - and, Bravenet even had a Journal of the Week award, so the winner's name and blog appeared near the top of the page. It really was awesome, and I miss that Community Page dearly. I think everyone who was here when that page was up misses it...

Anyway, the Community Page was a great medium for bloggers all over the world to share their stories, learn about other cultures, meet new people, and in some cases, even meet some blog friends in actuality and further strengthen their friendship - like Shawno and I did.

When I first started blogging, I needed a lot of help understanding how to work some of the features and options. It was thanks to two of the now-former bloggers here - Wil Henderson the 3rd (a.k.a. "Captain Canuck"), and my dear friend Grizz, that this old Tree went from bland to awesome. There were times when, no matter how simple their explanations were, I just couldn't "get" what they were saying. Instead of getting upset or frustrated with me, they offered to help me out. All I had to do was give them the login information, and they took it from there. There were no words then - and there are no words now - to convey the depth of my gratitude to them for taking time out of their lives to help this newbie.

Wil and Grizz are no longer here, but their kindness stayed with me, and over the years, I tried to pay that forward by helping other new people the way Wil and Grizz had helped me. For a time - and with the blessings and support of the Bravenet Support team - I even had a Community blog, complete with tutorials about everything from customizing a blog to getting rid of unwanted spammers. The blog even served as a liason between the Support team and the community when things went wrong across the site.

Over the years, this blog has changed dramatically. It started out as a way for me to write my memoirs, and evolved into something completely different. Sometimes, it was a battle ground; other times, it was a kind of story nook (remember Fright Month?); still other times, it was something even I can't define. The point is that, for ten years, this blog has marked life, death, and everything in between.

It saddens me more than words can say that Bravenet phased out the Community Page - which left bloggers using the free services without any access to Support when things went wonky - and now, they're phasing out this service in favor of the blogging componenet on their SiteBuilder. A service which, in my opinion, removes the feeling of personability and creates, instead, a feeling of impersonality. The blog component cannot be customized like these existing blogs can be. You can't even use images from your existing photo albums here to personalize the page. It's cold and impersonal, in my opinion, and I am not the only one who doesn't like it.

But, I digress. Ten years is a very long time; that's a whole lot of life to share in one place. Good, bad, ugly, and indifferent, a lot of life has happened...

I have made the decision to keep this old Tree going for as long as Bravenet allows it. I still won't share the harsher experiences life brings me - I have a different, private place for that - but I will continue to share the relatively happy, thoughtful, less unpleasant moments here, for as long as Bravenet lets this Tree stand.

Happy 10th Anniversary, Holly Tree. You've come a long, long way, baby...
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Thursday, December 4th 2014

6:10 AM

Dear Everyone,

You may have noticed that I haven't been blogging here very much, lately. There are a couple of reasons for this, but the main one is that every word I write in the heat of anger appears to be taken and sent to whoever I'm angry with at the time. Whoever is doing this has no right to do this, and frankly, I'm tired of it. At the very least, if someone is going to play god like that, they should have all of the facts, not bits and pieces.

Another reason I'm not blogging here is because Bravenet is phasing out the blogging service. They want people to use the blog component on the Bravesite [web]Site Builder, instead. Phasing out this existing service will also mean the blogs will not be maintenanced by the techs, nor will support be available even for those who, like me, have paid for the Pro blog service.

Now, before anyone gets their knickers in a knot about this, I do not know when this will go into effect. The Support manager didn't tell me. He only told me the service was going to be phased out.

I have tried to use the blog component on the Bravesite Site Builder, which handles my website. However, customizing the page is a pain in the ass; you can't access images from your existing photo albums [if you have them here]. You can only upload photos, or choose from Bravenet Stock Photos. I hope this will change as the move from the current blog service to the BSSB [Bravesite Site Builder] begins.

Anyway, this is all I have to say here for now. Have a great day, and thanks for stopping by.
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Thursday, November 27th 2014

9:14 AM

Creating Value

  • Feeling: a dizzy spell is coming on...
  • Current Weather: Freezing drizzle. -5C. Wind chill -10C. Forecast: Cloudy. 60% of flurries. Temperature dropping to -9C this afternoon.

Brrrrr! Last night, the temperature started dropping and the snow began to fall. This morning, it's seriously frosty outside, and I for one am feeling very grateful to have a warm roof over my head, protecting me from the elements.

With all the snow outside, I find myself looking out the window and thinking back to my childhood and the sledding fun I had both by myself and with my dad. When I was really little - I think I was about three - dad would hook up a sled to the back of his motorcycle, strap me onto the sled, and then he'd pull me around the snowy roadway. It was great fun, and I can still remember laughing out loud when he made sudden but gentle turns. Isn't it funny how, as we get older, we sometimes find ourselves thinking more about the happier times in our lives than the sad ones...

With this new snowfall, Glimmer has once again found her sense of fun. When it's not too cold and she's out for a potty, she gets all rambunctious and plays, shoving her face into the snow and just generally acting like a puppy. It's hilarious to see, and one of these times, I'm going to video her. There's a ton of Diesel's poop all over the back yard right now - it's been there for over a month, now - so she plays in the front, where the snow gets high from being shoveled off the walk. She loves it, and we love to watch her having so much fun.

Violet is now 11 weeks old, and when the temperature moderates enough that it seems safe to let her out, we're going to take her outside to experience the snow. Being a cat, she probably isn't going to be impressed by the coldness on her little feet, but I'm thinking that watching her experience it for the first time is probably going to be hilarious. I'll even video it for the wonderful people who gave her to us so they can get some laughs from her hijinks, too.

It's hard to believe that Violet is already 11 weeks old. Sometimes, it seems like we only just brought her home yesterday, when she was a mere four weeks old. The bond she and Glimmer have built has been phenomenal, and slowly but surely, she is learning how to be with humans, too. She still doesn't like to be held, but she is starting to accept affection from us - and most importantly, she is learning how to keep her claws in when she plays with us. She's gouged me so deeply in a few places that I'm sure there are going to be life-long scars. It's not a big deal, though - and I doubt it will be the last time I serve as a teething ring for a baby animal. LOL

Over the past couple of weeks, Roger and I have spent some time with family and friends, and I have to say, it's been awesome. Last night, we were talking about our annual Yule dinner, and for the first time in what feels like forever, I actually felt a bit of excitement about it. We weren't sure we were going to do it this year because of all the stress and negativity that's been draping all over our home like a thick, dark blanket. But after talking about it, we realized that we can remove a lot of that stuff simply by looking at more positive and uplifting things - like going ahead with our annual Yule dinner and sharing it with the positive and uplifting people in our lives.

Anyway... I hope all of my American friends and followers have a warm, safe, and loving day Turkey Day today, and that you all find many, many things for which to be grateful. Have a great day!
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