Although this may not be your cup of tea, it is mine.
When I was in my early formative years, and in an inquisitive state of mind, I would go to our bookshelves and choose a book of Punch cartoons that delighted our family, one after another. I'm not at all sure who purchased the book. I'm not sure of the title either, but I am guessing A Century of Punch Cartoons. I would make a bet that it was my mother, who had traveled to England with her mother and was probably exposed to the magazine at that time.
So, I would take down the book, make myself comfy and pour over the cartoons for hours. I loved the drawings, many of which had no captions. I would do my best to puzzle them out. Some drawings were easy to interpret, with a border-free, global and timeless kind of humor. Others were frankly obscure to this young American girl. Regardless of my skill in decoding the cartoons, I do feel that the book was an important contributor to my general education and general personality, and I certainly include it in my life bibliography.
I stumbled across a new blog in my reading this morning, a link which I followed, as I often do, and found my self reading "The Costumer's Closet" blog, http://costumerscloset.blogspot.com authored by Loren Dearborn. I love to find old paintings and drawings of clothing and, particularly, the people in them. To this end, I will pretty much follow any link to find them. I am so impressed with this blog! Especially because it led me to an archive of my favorite magazine, Punch; but not exclusively. Loren likes to create period clothing. And she is good at it.
As I am a handcrafter, much like my mother was, I paint, I draw, I knit and I sew. I cook and I make glass beads. I follow a great tradition of DIYing. Nothing pleases me more than to create something useful and pretty. I find myself combining this handcrafting need with my passion for finding out my family's history.
I know I come from some very interesting characters who had to use their hands to craft a life. Boat builders, sawmill owners, farmers, architects; and countless women who had to create nearly everything in order to raise a family and keep the home fires burning. I probably will never know the details of my relative's lives, but through my own experiences and reading as many diaries of the periods they came from as I can get my hands on, I can get an idea of who these people were, and how they lived their lives.
Excuse me now - I'm going back to read Punch.