Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thinking Out Loud..The Trouble with Blogging

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”
~Oscar Wilde

About a week ago, a friend shared an article with me on the popularity of Mormon mommy blogs. She mentioned that perhaps a part of their appeal is that, unlike many Catholic blogs, the Mormons rarely refer to their faith, they aren’t out in the open, working through their issues, struggling with the requirements of faith, and openly seeking to form a community of like-minded brothers and sisters in the blogging world. They simply share a part of their lives, a clean, fresh image with only a little bit of struggle. The conversation, and the article itself started me thinking again about the place of information and about living modestly in our written lives.

Catholic women tend to write blogs that are too open in many ways. We over-share sometimes in areas of marital strife, fertility, birth, and our continuing pursuit of sainthood. We gripe about the world’s misrepresentation of our faith, and sometimes, we focus too much on these frustrating areas of life and less on the beauty that permeates everything in life - a beauty sometimes dark and terrible, sometimes light and healing. In other words, we fall on the opposite end of the spectrum from the happy Mormon blogs. We struggle out loud and in the open with private issues and hide the happy and easy parts of life from our readers, or - like I often do, we share our thoughts only after they’ve formed completely - failing to use the community we’ve created to shape and develop our thoughts.

So what is the balance? What balance am I trying to strike here, on Cyganeria? I don’t know. I’m working toward a blog that is less static in it’s ideas and portrayal of my artistic life, a blog that nurtures growth in myself and others, and that encourages thought and discussion. But I know I’ll always want to avoid over-sharing - there will be not instantaneous reactions to a new thought or dream or ideal; those writings are for my journal, to gestate in my own mind until they are ready. I don’t want this site to be merely a sink for my own overflowing mind, and I don’t want any struggles I may experience to bring doubt to my readers, but I would like to avoid giving the impression of perfection - of surety and sainthood already achieved. Reading, briefly, some of the Mormon blogs, I see them doing the same (posting pictures of messy-haired mothers grinding coffee in weekend kitchens) and laughing over mistakes. They walk a balance of their own, I’m sure, in their witness to the beauty of domesticity.


  1. Thanks for picking up the ball I dropped, M. c;

    I'm curious about your perception of Catholic women blogs, because I haven't experienced the over-sharing you describe. It's also entirely possible that I don't notice it. It's something for me to reflect on.

    Okay, honesty time. Don't judge me too harshly! My immediate reaction is to find these Mormon mommy blogs as . . . what's a kinder word for sell-outs? They don't explicitly step forward and state their faith or mention it in everyday posts, other than casual references to "Utah" and "temple." Or they have a link to the official Mormon website. In this way, they can gather a large following of people, from the Catholics to the feminist atheists. They reap all the benefits of modern blogs without having to put their faith on the line.

    But Jenna mentioned that this might be part of the "milk before meat" kind of evangelization, which makes sense. Diving right into doctrine and controversy could scare people away, even though we have the best of love-thy-neighbor intentions.

    Anyway, I can't excuse my on-the-offense reaction, but in the light of it, I can see how I'd have more in common with gripey Catholic blogs.

    1. Yeah, "sell-out" is definitely not the right word . . . but what am I trying to say?

    2. "Don't judge me too harshly!"

      Strike that! You guys would never do that, I know. I'm all over the place today, sheesh.

      But this has set some thoughts simmering, and I think I'll have a toothsome post in response in the next couple of days, if not sooner.

    3. Masha, fantastic thoughts, and Christie, I will look forward to your response! I hope to get in the loop myself, but am planning to take Holy Week off the blog, which means anything I can put together probably won't get up till after Easter.

      We might be making judgment calls based on reading different blogs, though. One of the referenced Mormons--C. Jane Kendrick--talks openly about her faith, though possibly not about doctrine. As for Catholic bloggers, not everyone says this sort of thing, but I know I cringe when I hear "...and then they told me I was only 4 cm dilated" or "My husband and I have been TTC for six months now..." and all that seems crazy common to me. Hence, I think, Masha's point.

      Granted, that sort of over-share is not exclusive to Catholics; it's a culture-wide thing. People can be so brutally tone-deaf to the feelings of others, as well as to the beauty of common respect and courtesy.

      Mormonism is in some ways its own culture--it's a little like Judaism in that, except that it's heavily influenced by middle-class midwestern ideals. And whatever else can be said about such ideals, respect and hard work and thoughtfulness and courtesy are important aspects thereof, and those qualities show up in good Mormons.

      Another problem common among Catholic bloggers is asinine politics. Outspoken, defensive conservatives can be as absurd as outspoken, defensive liberals, and are sometimes nearly as un-Catholic beyond the issue of abortion. Talking like a Republican will horrify away those feminists long before too-intimate talk about God and NFP do.

      I'm not offended by cheery LDS mommy blogs. If I didn't avoid most mommy blogs on principle, I'd probably really enjoy them; I have a great big soft spot for Mormons. And perhaps like those feminists, I'd be tempted to wonder whether, if I were Mormon, I'd be a pretty 26-year-old wife with a couple of cute toddlers instead of a 35-year-old who had to wait till 30 to get married and still hasn't managed to have a kid, but does have gray hairs coming in. Ah, advertising.

      I'm not, however, offended that Catholics aren't popular in the same way. For better or for worse, Catholics are not taught to sanitize. To make beautiful, yes--and the LDS church has begun producing real artists, but they've yet to rise to the level of Palestrina and Waugh and Bernini--but not to portray the Catholic life as a clean, ideal alternative to feminism and atheism. I can't answer for the Mormon life, but the Catholic one is not clean.

      I can't answer for the LDS mommy bloggers' intents and purposes, either. What I do on my own blog is search for the beauty in the life I have, and post that. Which might well be all these young women are trying to do. If so, I'm all in favor. :)

    4. Gah, was that long enough? You'd think I had opinions. And badly edited ones! Hope you'll forgive me. I have a bit of a cold.

      In case it isn't clear, none of the judgy stuff is even remotely directed at either of you. :)

      Also, Christie, I guess I don't necessarily see the limitation of specific faith references to 'Utah' and 'temple' as inauthenticity and secretiveness and/or a betrayal of faith. Possibly because, while I'll use the words 'Catholic' and 'Eucharist', I don't bring up things like Marian doctrines on my blog. If I did, my nice Baptist relatives would presume I'd turned into an idol-worshiping, probably demon-possessed member of a cult. They simply don't have the context to think otherwise, and I've had all the fights I intend to have with them on the subject of my beliefs.

    5. Christie~

      Wow. I'm really excited to read your response!! I DO see what you mean about the Mormon mommy blogs being sort of weak in acknowledging the spiritual aspects of life (at least, in the brief read I gave them. They don't really interest me, but maybe because I'm not craving domesticity - I have enough of my own to deal with - which I think might be their main attraction to their non-domestic, non-religious fans..


      Enjoy Holy week off!! I might as well, but not if I have anything to write about ;) I agree completely one the whole "Catholics are not taught to sanitize" and I think that's essential for us to keep as Catholic bloggers - the awareness that Catholicism is not clean, it's not always pretty, it's earthy and rich and magical, but not neat and clean, which, it seems, Mormonism aspires to be..and I guess it's that balance between TMI and false perfection that I want to discover..And yes, without either arguing forever with non-Catholic friends, or hiding forever the Catholic parts of my life.

  2. Jenna, your (and Masha's) thoughts have been good for me.

    This is why Confession is oh-so-important; we should always be bringing out our feelings for examination, preferably with trusted counselors, in order to keep them from controlling us and leading us astray.

    I guess I've never stopped to think about the fact that "I was blank centimeters dilated" could be uncomfortable for the readers and immodest for the writer. I took for granted that since it was written about, and there seemed to be people who liked reading about it, the TMI info was acceptable and even admirable. Not a good thing. There's obviously some part of me that depends too much on the status quo and the thoughts of others to form my opinions.

    I've been thinking a lot too about the mommy blogs, and how they might alienate people without children. That's not my style but I've been feeling a (probably self-imposed) pressure to cater to a certain readership lately. Part of it is that I feel my interests are so varied that I want to clip out some and overemphasize others, to give the illusion of consistency. But why would I want to do that? Why not just be me, right? It's a good question I need to work out the answer to and act accordingly.

    (A good secular blog in which it isn't immediately obvious that the bloggers are mothers is A Beautiful Mess, and I think I admire that. They're not all "Look at my KIDS!!")

    With regards to political issues, it seems I have the same blind spot. Those sorts of things just don't bother me, unless we visit different blogs. Blogs like Little Catholic Bubble, I think, bring the issues to the table, respectfully but unapologetically state their case, and then open it up to peaceful discussion (which doesn't always promise to be peaceful, but mostly I've seen on LCB that it's the dissenters who get angry). I don't think this is a bad thing, but I haven't had Jenna's conversion experience. My Baptist relatives and Protestant friends just tend to ignore my pagan Catholic ways!

    So, if I want to be intellectually honest with myself, the reasons I feel an unfounded sense of betrayal from the popular Mormon mommy blogs are two:

    1. They're so popular. It's jealousy. Bad, mean, green jealousy.
    2. There are as far as I know no equivalent Catholic mommy blogs of equal popularity. Still jealousy.

    Clearly, I still have an infantile "it's not fair!" reaction. This is not right. Not only is it a wrong against the honest, good bloggers, it's a wrong against God, a profound lack of faith, and deeply offensive to Him to be unhappy with what He has given me. I'll make a more cohesive and, I hope, better-informed-by-prayer official blog post, but that's what I've come up with, in a nutshell.

    I blame it on the funk. c;

    1. Christie~

      I don't think it's necessarily immodest to the writer or uncomfortable to the reader, it does depend a lot on audience, intent, and (honestly) the skill of the writer (so you're off the hook there ;) ) I don't like reading birth stories like that - in large part because I don't think that way..I never knew nor cared about those stages of my labor, and reading about them by others makes me feel disconnected and clinical. I suppose I want the world to see their lives and bodies at least in part, as I see - half natural, half magical, fascinating, and capable but hidden in many ways. I know I'm biased in the opposite way, which is why my 'birth story' was more about the rain and the water and our relationships than anything..it's not edited for modesty it just isn't scientific. I do think there is a place for blogs that overshare information like that, but they should surprise me with it..you know?

      And mommy blogs aren't meant to appeal to everyone, they're meant to create a community - I'm assuming, with other mothers - so they have a place as well, so I don't want you to feel guilty for possibly going in that direction, if you decide to - it 's legitimate! Especially if you do manage to keep it truly yours! I feel the same pressure to edit my sharing to the parts of myself that relate well to others and online, avoiding the parts that don't..

      And I do think that you have other, more legitimate reasons for dismissing the Mormon blogs, I think they do tend toward the banal..because they avoid the tough issues more often than not..it's balance, one I fail at often enough as well..You're better than you realize, and less isolating than you realize in your blogging - the balance you strike has actually been one of the inspirations for me to revisit my own attitude toward my blogs, and open up more for discussion!

      Post your response soon. I want to see it! ;)

    2. So I'm awake and sick this morning, rather than sleepy and sick, and hopefully I can come off more clear... I'm sorry, Christie. I think some of my thoughts sounded unduly harsh.

      First: I'm not offended by the existence of mommy blogs, and I'm to the place where I'll read friends' and family's. Your pictures of your adorable little boy, and Masha's pictures of Yarrow, don't upset me. They make me sort of sweetly jealous, but it's not as painful as it used to be. :) But I don't faithfully read Conversion Diary or Little Catholic Bubble or Simcha Fisher or the like; it's not the life I have, and constant talk about pregnancy and parenting just isn't good for my state of mind.

      Second: I shouldn't have followed up the TMI discussion with the words "brutally tone-deaf", which were a result of bad editing. Originally I'd said something like "...the culture-wide pursuit of 'authenticity' at all costs can make people brutally tone-deaf to the feelings of others..." and I was thinking more of teen and young adult culture, which is just confusing.

      It's not a sin to publish dilation and effacement progress leading up to birth. Some people just see it as scientific talk, and I have family members who are totally comfortable with it. I'm not. Words are pictures to me, and there are some things I'd just rather not envision. :) Take that for what it's worth, and make the choices you feel comfortable making. I know how to use the PageDown key. :P

      Third, if you dig very deeply on my own blog, you will find support for Sarah Palin. There was a time when I was a Republican and I loved reading that stuff. Mark Shea and Daniel Nichols and Erin Manning have given me some perspective that has changed the way I think about some of the issues (though I'm still not a Democrat, just unhappy with both parties). But I'm still more quickly offended by leftist vitriol than rightist, because I was raised very conservative. So while it's true that most atheistic feminists won't read an openly conservative blog out of longing for some dreamy ideal, I'm not necessarily saying it's wrong to write things that will, in some cases, give offense. That's a line to walk with lots of prayer, I guess.

      Lastly--you take things so humbly that I just don't think you need to worry all that much. :) For myself, I gave up on my own blog being popular a couple of years ago, and it's been freeing; I write what I like, and I read other blogs I like, and even in the book blogging world, my favorite blogs have never been the hugely popular ones. I don't like pop culture very much. Pop YA fiction, pop music, pop topical bloggery... it's all right as a break, but not as steady fare. I like music and fiction that touches tradition and the sacred. I like the beauty and thoughtfulness and spiritual sensitivity I find on your blogs and Masha's. I don't care if it's popular or not. I'm just glad it exists. :)

    3. Jenna~

      Seth and I were just talking about this cultural tendency toward 'authenticity' becoming brutally tone-deaf as it affects (effects?..Really? I SHOULD know!! ;p) fiction writers (though we thought about it as it is perfectly avoided in FIREFLY -the best tv show ever (why did they cancel it??) It seems like too many writers are determined to share EVERY detail and Every history of every character to the detriment of the story. The reader doesn't need that, or want that..(or if he does, he shouldn't, and we need to wean him from it) because it kills the story and the characters themselves - they stop being people to us when they have no mystery left..Blogging, I guess, should be similar, revealing ourselves as tiny images of Christ, as people with thoughts, dreams, struggles, loves..but not treating the blog as reality tv..

    4. "Not treating the blog as reality TV" YES. Exactly. Brilliant.

      The problem with YA fiction is the opposite; the writers almost never put in enough detail. But then I hear about some of modern litfic, and... yeah. I once wrote a post about leaving some unexplained vistas in one's work. It was a long time ago, but I still believe in keeping detail relevant to the story, and allowing characters a little mystery.

  3. I come with the perspective of just a reader of blogs, not a writer at all, and as a reader of this one because the writer is a friend. Most blogs, and especially the "mommy blogs" bore me to death, with a very few exceptions, so I don't spend much time reading them. If they are somehow related to other interests, like natural living or crafting, then they are more likely to get my attention,and usually only if they have really beautiful photographs :)

    The idea of oversharing is something I've been thinking a lot about lately. Context is important obviously...facebook is driving me nuts and while I am still there because it's how I stay connected with family and friends, and hear about the local happenings, I'm pretty much over it. That is where status updates on the TMI issues really get to me...I'm all for hearing about birth stories, etc. I love them in fact and I would read a blog about that stuff all day...but that's an interest that I would go looking for, not one I necessarily want in my face (on facebook). It makes me feel sorry for the person doing the sharing too because if they are so lonely that they need to share that online instead of with a real person, it's just sad. Exception for announcements because I do understand that it's an easy way to spread the news to everyone, but the other day someone I know was updating while in labor, pushing, and within 5 minutes of the baby being born. I mean, really??!! It's not so much the sharing maybe, but I just start wondering why they aren't experiencing their own life, instead of making it a show for the public. And then I start feeling bad that I'm right there watching...and that's when I turn off the computer and get back to my own life.

    I have several women in my family and close friends who have had fertility problems, losses, and even child deaths, recently and it does make me think twice about what I share online, and in person. I can't save anyone from their feelings, but I can do my best to be mindful about how what I am saying or doing will taken.

    I think Catholics can be obsessed with reproductive issues, NFP, etc. Maybe I'm just not the target audience for that, but I'm not really sure who is...I'm glad it's available for those seeking to learn more about it, but blogs that try to make it seem like this hip, cool trend just weird me out. Of course, I'm just not really into the whole idea of trying to win people over, convert them, in general. The Mormon thing is interesting, if they really are blogging with the idea of painting a rosy pictures of Mormon life in hopes of winning converts.

    In terms of sharing the lighter or darker parts of life on a blog, I like Soulemama's description of how/why she blogs: "Most importantly, please do remember that what you see on a blog is not 'all' of a person's life. For me, my blog is a place of daily peace, a reminder of family joys, and a celebration of creativity. Know that there are as many messes in my house as yours, 'raised voices' from time to time, and frustration and sadness and struggle, too. But for me - this blog space has always been about trying to find and focus on the joys - the everyday beauty and moments of bliss that we have together as a family. It's my hope that it can serve as a reminder and an encouragement to me - and perhaps to you, too - to savor such moments."

    1. HEY HOLLY!!!

      Thanks for sharing! It's interesting to get the perspective of someone who isn't blogging, but reading, and editing what you read based on some of this stuff.

      Facebook is really the king of TMI..I know what you mean..I've been sharing more on Facebook recently - not tons more, but more, in an effort to sort of own it in a way..but there is always the threat of oversharing hanging over me..especially oversharing 'my baby did X today' which gets old really fast..

      I love the idea of converting people..but not through argument - which is, I think a good aspect of the Mormon blogs, though they do seem to go a bit too far - almost the 'you too can be pretty, 26, with two toddlers and an iphone..join our church!' advertizing feel that Jenna mentioned.

      I like soulemama's description, though I think it's a little too bland for me, in part because I know I've lost interest in her blog precisely because I felt it lacked a bit of reality and honesty. .. Overall, I don't know what exactly I'm looking to create here - an ideal space in a fallen world? A place of honesty that is still able to avoid burdening the world with every petty worry on my mind?..probably the latter.

      What do you think?

  4. I hope that first paragraph doesn't come off as harsh...I was just trying to give context for my opinion as a non-blogging/writing person, who doesn't really understand all the nuances of the blogging world :)

    1. Not harsh at all!!! Don't worry ;)

      I'm charging my phone today, but you should call this week and chat! I'll be home - we have another foot of snow!

    2. Well, I'm not offended. :) Blogs are meant to appeal to people with similar interests, after all.

      And I love your point about experiencing life instead of making it a public show. It's one thing to share a story after the fact, but live-tweeting life-changing moments... eek.

    3. Holly, I would be concerned about someone who read blogs on subjects that weren't relevant or that they weren't interested in, LOL!

  5. Like Holly, I wonder about people that are updating Facebook so frequently and all day long that they can't be out living their own life in any meaningful way (I can't imagine how, anyway). I think it's that stand-alone, throw-info-at-you concept that keeps me far away from Twitter. I use Facebook as a means to stay connected, a sort of pubic square, as you will . . . what's new, how's the family, any funny stories, articles, or pictures to share?

    I think Jenna makes a very important point: if the blogs we follow make us feel unhappy or damaged, for whatever reason, we need to look after our own mental health first. That is another reason why the Mormon mommy blogs bring up resentment in me: they're seeming perfect lives; effortless model figures and outfit-making capabilities; supportive, attractive, Renaissance-type husbands who go to work so they can home-school, take the kids on weekly excursions, and all without chipping their nails (which are NEVER seen un-polished). It makes me feel bad, about me. And though it shouldn't, I have to find the right balance between visiting blogs and taking company with, in real life as well as the internet, those that inspire rather than those who bring me down. I'm working toward making myself strong (always with the grace of God) so that some day, those things won't bother me any more. Actually, I do experience moments when they don't phase me at all, and they're becoming more and more frequent.

    Jenna and Masha know the details of my home life right now, which I have shared with them because I trust them and trust myself and my loved ones to their prayers. But those sorts of things just don't need to be aired out in a public sphere. It's not good to make yourself vulnerable in such a way, neither is it good for people who only vaguely know you; it could become very awkward, especially when they didn't ask to be invited into that kind of intimacy.

    Still, I really appreciate the honest "real" moments from bloggers. There is a way to share the suffering in solidarity without being immodest or making oneself completely vulnerable or gratuitous.

    1. Ah, Twitter. Since weaning myself off the addiction, I haven't regretted giving it up. :)

      And I think you've pegged the problem with the Mormon mommy blogs. That seeming perfection... a lot of girls can pull off the appearance for a time, if they have great metabolism and good skin, if they have some fashion sense and a firm helping of confidence. But at best, it's an appearance, and a very fragile one. If the Renaissance husband gets sick--if the mom's hormones go screwy after the third childbirth--heck, even the simple wearing of time and stress... I don't know that I've ever seen that magazine perfection last very far into the mom's thirties.

      Most of us get hit with life a little younger. :)

      You're an inspiration to me, Christie--stronger than I am, managing to find time to encourage me and others despite all the cares that already sit on you. And Masha is right that you strike a good balance on your blog. It's beautiful. I love what you said about approaching blogging with a mindset of service. I ought to do more of that myself.

  6. Lastly, I wonder if many of these issues couldn't be solved or made smaller by approaching blogging in a mindset of service. Instead of thinking, "why am I blogging?" and "what am I getting out of it?", I should ask myself, "How can I help others through blogging?" and "In what way can I use it to bring others closer to Christ and His Church?"

  7. Well, you just OWNED this conversation, didn't you?! ;)

    You're right. Viewing blogging as - at least in some sense a service, a way of reaching out to each other in this too lonely world, is, I think, the ideal. Not at the expense of our own health and intentions, but to sort of form them as Christ would have them and raise them up to a higher purpose..

    me, I tend to envy people's homes (especially the ones with a Real Floor and closets, I adopted the short, unpolished nail ideal when I took up pottery (death to all polish and length)..but as much as I love the yurt, I can't give up the longing for closets with neatly arranged hangers, and pretty clothes.

    But Christie, I think you're right, like Jenna said - creating a space where joys are shared is wonderful, but creating a place the feels like a Celebration of Me is not helpful to either the blogger or the reader..because at some point you have to turn away from the computer and watch Renaissance Husband eat that last piece of perfect cake..

  8. That sounded snarky and flaky, didn't it?? I do envy other things, but rarely on blogs..because I know how much better my own life looks in pictures..

    I think I'm so all over the place here because, well, I don't really know where I'm taking either blog completely...I don't have a vision or a theme so much as a image in my mind..and that varies slightly from day to day..That's why I'm Loving this conversation! It gives me focus.

    1. No, it didn't!

      Take comfort in that the longing goes both ways. I like to look at the pictures of your sweet yurt tucked in the winter snow (you shouldn't feel weird that I tell people about my friend who lives in a yurt in Maine, not at all!), families that go on daily hikes through the mountains outside their doorsteps, crafty people who make their children matching clothes, grow all their own food, and seem to need no effort to take pleasure in the natural world and the gifts of the earth.

      I think some of our difficulty is about choices. We have each chosen, either in big final decisions, or little ones adding up, our lifestyles; and making choices necessarily means losing options. I'll never be an au pair in Belgium now. I'll probably never own my own sheep farm, as much as I like to joke about it (and if I did, gosh, can you imagine the disaster?). Just like I'll probably never live in a chic little apartment building uptown. Life is about prioritizing. But in order to make some things priorities, we have to let other things go.

      As for having all my fill and no regrets . . . for that, I look to Heaven.

    2. Oh good! I like sharing longings..(I LOVE being the yurt-friend! Everyone needs one ;)..you're the, yeah, my friend is moving to the UK and someday I'll visit and take a billion photos..so I'm a bit of a stalker ;) ) And don't worry, there is always effort..even St. Francis, I think, had to work at it sometimes, the natural world is kind of a b@^*h sometimes..

      I think you're right though, we've all chosen, and choices limit potential (Holly, above, knew me when I'd made no choices and was utterly without direction - remember Holly ;) ) But the limiting is good, it's just hard sometimes to see all the good parts of someone else's choice and none of the bad..(maybe I would be happier in a NYC high-rise?? There was a point in life when I thought I'd love it..can you imagine?)

      But definitely don't regret the sheep, I'll send you plenty of roving (sp) when I get my MOHAIR fiber goats..and some sheep too, I guess. And they are messy, I'm assuming, I've never done sheep, but all that wool! Urgh.

      Heaven will be lovely - let's all make it there, and be patron saints who harass each other petitioners..how fun would that be!!

  9. I WOULD LOVE IT IF YOU SENT ME ROVING! And no way, I can't imagine you as a New Yorker, I think you'd be too _crowded_. The Masha I've come to know needs space to breathe, physical and social.

    Yes, Heaven will be a blast. What do you think we'd the patron saints of?

    1. HAHA. You do NOT need to miss having sheep. Sheep are wall-eyed idiots. My family's famous sheep story: the time we had our ewes out grazing, and they wandered over to where we were building our house... my dad was down in a 9'x9'x9' hole that was going to be a room for the hot water heater and stuff, but at that point it was just him and a shovel and a ladder down there--and one by one the sheep jumped into the hole with Dad. He was not happy about having to carry them all back up the ladder.

      Masha, I've had mohair goats, too. They ARE messy. But their fleeces are just so beautiful, and the goats we had seemed pretty mellow compared to our sheep and our milk goats. (I make no promises about yours. :P) But word to the wise for your sheep: stake your fence to the ground. Ours would lay down on their side, stick their noses underneath the wire, and flop like woolly fishes till they'd escaped. And then they'd go annoy the neighbors, or bloat off clover. :)

      "What do you think we'd be the patron saints of?"

      Best. Question. Ever! All the big stuff is taken, though, but that's all right--I'm not likely to be a big saint. Can I be the patron of seedlings? I love them. And maybe backyard stargazers. Writers already have St. Francis de Sales, but I'd pray for them anyway--in heaven, I'll have stopped being jealous of all the ones who are better than I am... and Tolkien will surely beat me to fantasy writers... What about you two (and anyone else reading)? Bohemian mamas and immigrants to Cymru, for starters? And various pretty things? :)

  10. Bohemian mama's need a saint, don't they "St. Masha, please help me hide my earrings from my child, and teach him to accept that the moon can only be seen, never held"..I really want to be the patron of dream interpreters, inconsistent journaling, and writers who can't spell ;)

    Thanks for the advice on sheep and goats..when I get them, you'll probably have a question a day from me! Mohair is so pretty, I'll send you some too, if you're family isn't still supplying you!

    1. That would be lovely! I'll have to tighten up my spinning wheel and brush up my dreadfully rusty skills. I wonder where my cards and extra bobbins are.

      Okay, I LOVE your St. Masha thoughts. :D What was that you said about harassing each other's petitioners? Maybe I could be the patron saint of spelling bees and grammar Nazis. :P

  11. Regarding the sheep . . . well, it's kind of sweet, anyway. c;

    I want to be the patron saint of curly-haired people. We have it tough. :c Oh, and wooden spoons. I like those. Let's just throw that out there for good measure.