Lockdown Lemonade #15 by James Lee Stanley

The Gift of Time

This pandemic has resonated across all borders, social, economic, spiritual and personal. As we are all aware, it has simply put the brakes on everything that we have come to know as normal. Staying home for a road warrior like me could have been a depressing and disheartening experience, unless viewed as an opportunity to raise the bar on one’s self. What I have done with this gift of time at home is to view it just like that, as a gift (as long as we all observe the social distancing and responsibilities of a compassionate citizen).

I last played in San Diego on March 12 for Joe Rathburn’s Folkey Monkey. I have been home ever since and, as my wife works from home already, we have been in constant contact since then. I have a recording studio downstairs and she has her office upstairs, so we do get to go to our respective corners and then come back together. Probably a good idea. In, any event, I didn’t know how long this would last, so I started out doing small projects that I had meant to do but the road kept me from getting to them, even though I am a somewhat disciplined person.

Here’s what my day looks like:

Up at 7:30, coffee, then 40 minutes to an hour of Spanish lessons (l have done 1080 days in a row without missing one). An every other day hike on the steep mountain roads for 40 minutes then home to breakfast.

Then, because of my cancer surgery at the base of my tongue, I must do vocal exercises to keep my throat limber enough to sing. Then two hours of practice:  singing and guitar playing.

Then a home project. The biggest one being the construction of a garden shed under the west side deck of the house. Because the deck is only six feet or so from the ground on that side, I had to dig down two feet in a rectangle 10 by 22 feet. Did it with a shovel. It took me about two weeks working two to three hours a day. My wife didn’t want me to do anything to the look of the deck, so I had to build another roof just under the deck so that the water would not leak into the garden shed.  As I was using two existing walls of our home and installing it under the deck, I had to figure out in what order I needed to do each step. First the frame, then build the roof and slide it into place under the deck. The siding, the sealing and the painting. After figuring out how to do it and doing it, I found an old piece of stained glass and used that on the door. It looks great. Finally finished that project by Thanksgiving.

In addition, I DJ an hour-long radio show on the Folk Music Notebook every Tuesday evening at 7 pm PST. Takes about three hours to put together each radio show which I must go into town to upload as internet is simply too slow up here on the mountain.

I do a weekly Facebook Live streaming show called 15 Minutes of Fame with James Lee Stanley on my musician/band page. Although I do at least an hour, I thought calling it 15 Minutes of Fame would lure folks who did not want to devote another hour to looking at their computer screens. I do this show every Thursday evening at 7 pm PST. I play for a few hours before I broadcast so that I am warmed up and whatever gifts I have will be fully available to me.

I just completed a documentary on my life with documentarian Gary Katz, which will be released in the next six weeks or so to my patrons before we shop it to the networks.

Dan Navarro and I have finally completed the fourth installment of the All Wood and… series. This time we chose Led Zeppelin. It’s slated for April 1st release…    

So, my point is, you don’t have to be bored or despondent over this enforced lockdown thang. Look at what I’ve done and do it. Any time we have on the planet is a gift. Use it wisely.

~ James Lee Stanley

James Lee has recorded 24 solo CD’s; Duets: 3 CD’s w/ Peter Tork; A Bchwd Xmas w/ Tom Paxton, 2 Man Band 2 w/ Michael Smith; All Wood & Stones I + II w/ John Batdorf; All Wood & Doors w/ Cliff Eberhardt.  Soundtracks:  Dove; Even Cowgirls Get the Blues; Straight from the Heart – The Musical; Top 5 Coming Out of Hiding; Emmy Award CATHY-CBS-TV; toured w/ Bonnie Raitt, Robin Williams, Steven Wright, Art Garfunkel; and spent 5.5 years on StarTrek/Deep Space 9 as the singing Klingon amongst others; FAI Board (2009-2015), Board member of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Recording Academy (1992-1996).


In an attempt to keep us connected as we continue to find our way through these often stressful times, some in our extended community have been sharing their experiences, lessons learned and hope as they’ve dealt with Covid, lockdown, boredom, lack of inspiration, etc. We are all looking for ways to make lemonade out of the many lemons! This column will continue on a weekly basis and postings will be released at 10 AM Pacific every Monday, so watch for them! For guidelines and submission details, please contact Julie Zipperer at juliez@far-west.org or Marlynn Block at marlynn@far-west.org. Submissions will be posted based on approval from the Lockdown Lemonade Committee.

2 thoughts on “Lockdown Lemonade #15 by James Lee Stanley

  1. Tracy Newman - February 1, 2021

    I am so jealous. Of course, I could have used my time constructively like you, James, but no, I decided to get really lazy. I’ve never in my life been lazy like this. I watch so much TV that my butt hurts. Frankly, except for when my 3 year old grandson is here, (which is a lot,) watching TV is my favorite and main occupation. When I was a TV writer, I never watched. I’m making up for all those years. (I’m not watching anything I wrote on, though, so it’s not vanity. It’s complete immersion in all the great British shows.) And I’ve watched some of the 4 and 5 season series twice all the way through! Also, I finally watched West Wing and Breaking Bad. I’ve maybe written 4 songs throughout this whole isolation period. I’m not proud but I’m enjoying myself. I don’t look forward to my real life all that much, especially the traffic. Oh, I’m sure I’ll get back to it, but I will let go of this time with a bit of nostalgia. Bravo, James!

  2. Jamesleestanley - February 1, 2021

    Tracy you are so delightful. If what you are doing is giving you joy then you are doing it right.

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