Photos of readers

Oops! I found a few readers who had contributed but whose emails I’ve missed. So there are three in the queue, and now two, as today we’re going to meat Rik Gern, who has contributed photos before.

I hope you’re not going stir crazy!

Here are two submissions for your Photos of Readers feature. Both of these images reflect aspects of my reaction to several months of living the shelter at home lifestyle.

I’ve lost 80% of my work (and counting!) since COVID 19 hit and don’t know if I’ll have a career left when this is all over, so naturally I’ve spent some time worrying and overthinking an uncertain future. I’ve also spent more time than usual playing around digitally manipulating images, so the first picture reflects both anxiety and the escape from worry that playing with a toy like Photoshop affords.

Fortunately, ennui is only a small part of what I’ve been feeling. An optimist at heart, I get up early and start every day with a cup of coffee, a workout and some yoga, so no matter what the rest of the day brings, the first part is always good. There has been plenty of time to get outside and work in the yard, and even though I’m no one’s idea of a handyman–I have to go to night school to learn to use a hammer!–it’s been nice to be able to catch up on fence repair, weeding and tree and hedge trimming. The second picture shows me tending the compost pile. I might not have a garden, but I’m growing a bumper crop of dirt!

[Both pictures were taken by my friend Hanno Braun and altered by yours truly.]


  1. Randall Schenck
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Some great photos. You might want to try some professional comedy Rik. Night school for a hammer….

    • JezGrove
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      If you do make it to nightschool Rik I might need you to remind me which way to turn a screwdriver – and which end is the handle. (For clarity, no Trumpesque “sarcasm” intended – as my wife will happily attest, no doubt!)

    • Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

      Interesting you should say that, Randall. You wouldn’t know it from the first picture, but I am a professional clown!

      • Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Nice. My wife was a member of COA (Clowns of America) and spent a lot of time at one point teaching others how to apply make up and so forth. Got me to do it too but I didn’t stick with it. Tried my hand at magic and such to entertain. I hope you are soon able to resume as the world could use a few laughs nowadays.

        • Posted May 29, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

          That’s cool! I’d love to see pictures of you and your wife in greasepaint! Feel free to message me at the website link (it’s a facebook page).

          Here’s a little look at what I do. Two college students filmed this just before we all started sheltering in place. (The uke playing in the second half is not me!)

          • rickflick
            Posted May 29, 2020 at 6:17 pm | Permalink


          • JezGrove
            Posted May 30, 2020 at 5:43 am | Permalink

            Great stuff. My dad (89 last week) was an actor and also proud to a spent a lifetime in a career not known for its longevity.

          • JezGrove
            Posted May 30, 2020 at 5:45 am | Permalink

            Great stuff. My dad (89 last week) was an actor and also proud to have spent a lifetime in a career not known for its longevity.

      • Randall Schenck
        Posted May 29, 2020 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        That’s great. You should give stand up a try as well.

  2. GBJames
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    Nice heap of dirt!

    • Dom
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

      Marks out of ten? 😎

  3. Posted May 29, 2020 at 3:32 pm | Permalink


  4. Dom
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    I am so sorry for those like you who are now pretty much unemployed through no fault of your own. It is a disaster on so many levels, considering a comparatively small number of people are dying (world population increases by well over 1 million a week).

    • Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:47 pm | Permalink

      It’s gonna be rough on a lot of levels, but I’ll be alright as a person, since I only have myself to take care of. I really feel for the people with mouths to feed; the ones who are taking care of children, parents, and other dependants.

  5. Dominic
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    I am interested in the usage of ‘yard’ as opposed to garden. Is garden used only for formal gardens with flower beds & the like. With yard being like a grassed/ gravelled area fenced in with no flowers? Or…?

    • Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Yeah, referring to ‘yard’ as the grassy part whereas a ‘garden’ would have planted flowers and/or veggies. I’m lazy though; if something pretty grows in the yard I just let it grow; that way I get to experience the pleasure of some of those endless forms most beautiful without having to work too hard.

  6. BJ
    Posted May 29, 2020 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I wish you the best of luck when it comes to your employment circumstances. I really hope things start looking up soon.

    I never used to look at the reader photos or read their submissions, but I’ve started doing so in the last few weeks. In some strange way, the COVID-19 pandemic has made me feel a greater kinship with strangers. Another example: while I’ve always been extremely polite to people who work in services/forward-facing jobs (cashiers, retail workers, customer support, waiters, etc.), I’ve started striking up conversations with them. I had an amusing conversation with the secretary at a doctor’s office this morning, during which we both laughed. I’ve always been very polite because I know from experience that one nice person can make an employee’s day much easier and sometimes even give them a smile, but now I try to do even more. I feel obligated to treat strangers as friends, especially when they’re doing difficult work (which usually also provides low pay). And I’m finding that people are responding in kind.

    Unfortunately, I’m ultimately a pessimist — or, as I like to say, “I’m a realist, which just makes me sound pessimistic” — so I’m nearly certain this friendliness won’t last for most people. But I’d like to be wrong. I’d really, really like to be wrong. I’d really like this terrible event to leave a lasting stamp on people because it made them more cognizant of the value and fragility of life, and in turn made them more congenial, caring, and feeling bound to all other people. But it almost surely won’t.

    I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make your post about my feelings. I just hope things get better for you! And, of course, for everyone else who has been affected by this catastrophe.

    • BJ
      Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

      Also, apologies if I’ve offended anyone by not responding to their photos/submissions after having said the above. I still don’t read most of them, as they’re posted later in the day and I often don’t check this site after a certain time, and rarely do I go back to see if I missed posts from the previous day.

      • Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        You’re so right about the greater kinship with strangers! Certain social mores such as hands shakes, hugs and things like that will probably change and be replaced by something else, so who knows, maybe some of the newfound friendliness can be incorporated into the new greetings and social rituals?

        • BJ
          Posted May 29, 2020 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

          I’d be a big fan of bowing! Though nothing can replace a hug.

          • Ross Foley
            Posted May 30, 2020 at 4:53 am | Permalink

            Rik, and BJ: excellent post and comments. “Been playing hookey for forty years and I’ve not been caught yet.” That’s good, Rik. Terrific comic actress, Athene Seyler, once said making people laugh is a wonderful thing to do, so I hope you’ll be able to play hookey again soon and continue making those connections.
            It is a grim time but I think all those millennia of evolution as a social species will assert themselves and we’ll adapt, helped no doubt by laughter and kindness to strangers. Best wishes to all.

            • BJ
              Posted May 31, 2020 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

              Thanks, Ross! Best wishes to you.

  7. Posted May 29, 2020 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Rik, your creative photo makes me wonder if we’re all kinda morphing into something a little alien, during this time of Corona and isolation. Thanks for sharing.

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