Will you invent creative amusements, or run screaming berserk? I’m sure that’s a real question for many people confined to quarters until further notice. Pandemic lockdown is a challenge, no matter who you are.

Families confined together get into each others’ space and onto each others’ nerves. Telecommuters struggle to balance work and family–or work and utter solitude.

Essential workers don their masks each day like armor, then venture into a dangerous landscape where one thoughtless cough, like a ticking time bomb, could kill them this or next week.

Desperate times, they say, call for desperate measures. Or, sometimes, for creative amusements.

Two views of the same Brooklyn scene: congested traffic is normal (top), but streets are empty during the lockdown.
Above: Brooklyn’s 7 Train and traffic below in pre-pandemic times. (uncredited photo from Medium). Below: Almost the same scene, but with empty streets during the lockdown (Juan Arredondo for the New York Times).

A recipe for . . . ?

Creativity happens when divergent thinking runs up against a problem to solve. And oh my, do problems ever abound right now. I’m blessed to be one of the back-bench folks on this lockdown. I cheer from the cheap seats, but stay well out of the way while the real heroes do epic battle on the front lines. 

And I have plenty of creative work to do–I’m deep in final revisions on A Bone to Pick, the second book in the XK9 “Bones” Trilogy. And when I want to take a break there’s always paper sculpture. But what about people confined to their homes or apartments, whose creative work is based somewhere else?

Weird Sisters Publishing has 3 titles as of March 2020.
Our first three books are just the beginning. I’m working on A Bone to Pick now. (Weird Sisters Publishing)

I recently discovered two examples of just such people, and two very creative amusements. In each case they “made lemonade” from their less-than-ideal situations. I thought you might enjoy what they came up with.

A wedding photographer with no weddings to shoot

Chris Wallace of Carpe Diem Photography needed a wedding to photograph, but he had none. So he made up his own. Out of LEGOs. 

The resulting photo shoot not only gave a grown man an excellent excuse to play with plastic bricks and miniature figures, but when he posted the photos on his website he garnered memorable media and social media attention.

From his account of Florence and Fred’s “magical day,” and the assortment of wedding guests (who include, among many other notables, Chewbacca and Eleanor Twitty, the Library Ghost from Ghostbusters), it’s clear Wallace had as much fun creating the event as we have viewing his photos.

See all these LEGO Wedding photos and many more by Chris Wallace, from My Modern Met and Carpe Diem Photography.

An artist, a museum curator, and two very cosmopolitan gerbils

It started as a Sunday project to mark a London-based couple’s 14th day of quarantine. Before they were finished, artist Marianna Benetti and independent curator Filippo Lorenzin had turned it into an elaborate little gerbil-sized museum gallery.

They even created gerbil-centric masterpieces for the display (Oddly reminiscent of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl EarringMunch’s The Scream, Klimt’s The Kiss, and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa), and posted a highly futile “Please Don’t Chew” sign.

Their two gerbils, Pandoro and Tiramis├╣, found plenty of interesting things to inspect, as documented in both still photography and a cute short video.

Rude gallery patrons that they were, however, they not only chewed up a chair, but briefly gnawed on the “Don’t Chew” sign itself. After all, gerbils just gotta chew.

Here's the gerbil-size art gallery before the gerbils arrive, with a good view of all four "masterpieces."
One gerbil seems more art-conscious. She gets up close with the "Gerbil Scream" painting.
The more "art conscious" gerbil examines the "Gerbil Mona Lisa" image.
The gerbils have now destroyed the miniature chair, and appear ready for other adventures.
These four “gerbils in the gallery” photos are from Marianna Benetti and Filippo Lorenzin, featuring their gerbils Pandoro and Tiramis├╣, via My Modern Met.

What creative amusements have you invented?

Here in Kansas City, we just got the word that we’re probably going to continue on lockdown another three weeks beyond its original end-date. Schools are closed on both sides of the state linethrough the end of this school year.

We should have lots more time to get cabin fever, go stir crazy . . . and maybe think up some creative amusements, too. How about you?


Many thanks to Medium for the view of Brooklyn’s 7 Train and traffic below, pre-pandemic; almost the same scene after the lockdown photo is from the New York Times/Juan Arredondo.

The three Weird Sisters Publishing book covers (with artist credits) are from Weird Sisters Publishing’s Our Books page.

The four photos of “Florence and Fred’s” LEGO wedding are by Chris Wallace of Carpe Diem Photography, via My Modern Met. Many thanks!

The four “gerbils in the gallery” photos are from Marianna Benetti and Filippo Lorenzin, featuring their gerbils Pandoro and Tiramis├╣, via My Modern Met. Deepest gratitude!