sewingJane Eyre had her painting.  Marianne Dashwood played piano.  Often the heroines in our favorite romance books have interests other than finding husbands and running households.

The same is true for AAR staff members, who beside reading books and writing their considered opinions, are addicted to interesting sidelights. Some have pastimes based on what were once called the womanly arts, knitting, sewing, and the like, while others do activities unheard of by our ancestors.

Probably one of the oldest and most traditional pastimes is bookbinding which Rike enjoys. She says this “encompasses crafting and restoring actual books.” In addition, Rike creates boxes out of cardboard and colored or printed papers. She explains, “At the moment I am making individual treasure boxes for my nieces and nephews, a rather long-term project, but lots of fun.”

Leigh and Sandy also share a traditional pastime reminiscent of Medieval ladies in their solars: needlepoint. As Sandy says, “There is a something about the sense of accomplishment. I can sit down for an hour and I can look back at the area I just worked on and feel a real sense of purpose.”

Knitting is another traditional art practiced by Amy, LinnieGayl, and Jacqueline, even though Jacqueline jokes, “I literally have never finished a project except for an ill-fitting sweater for my Rhodesian ridgeback.”

Blythe and Jean emulate Victorian women by playing the piano. In fact, Jean plays often as an accompanist while Blythe adds singing, especially in a church choir, to her playing.

Also enjoying the arts practiced in the 1800s are Lea and Maggie who spend time in their gardens. Lea reports that she’s been “an avid gardener for 25 years and it never gets old.” Maggie is more interested in the flower arranging side of gardening, and says she still does wreaths for friends at Christmas.

Making items to sell or give as gifts is another pastime AAR reviewers enjoy. Dabney, for instance, make jewelry collections she sells at shows and is currently working on one called “Romance is in the Air” “where all the pieces have the names of real or imagined romance novels.” Cindy S loves “to hand sew gift bags” and “found out this year that one of my friends uses the gift bags I give her to put her gifts in, but makes everyone give her the bags back.” Pat H makes dollhouse miniatures, having completed a mystery bookstore in quarter inch to the full inch and is working on a New Orleans café and Japanese house at the moment as gifts to her family.

Heather S, a former dance instructor who has competed at the professional level, takes the Regency and Victorian art to a new level although she has retired from the professional end these days. As she says, “Now I just do it for fun.”

And Lee rings in with a completely modern pastime – photography. She explains that she makes “calendars using my photos for friends and co-workers as Christmas presents and sometimes make cards too.”

So while we’re not reading books to review, this is where you can find us, doing what we love.

Other than reading, what are your hobbies or pastimes?  Thank you for sharing!

-Pat Henshaw

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