Lockdown Lemonade #19 by Russell Paris


My wife and I have been live music junkies for many years. There’s nothing quite like the energy of a live performance and the energy that flows between the performer and the audience. Additionally, we have hosted monthly concerts for the past 23 years… which of course all came to an end early last year with a worldwide pandemic. 

What do we do with newly found extra time? In recent years, our children have all gotten married and moved out, so we’ve been through the “empty nest” syndrome. In many ways the past year was similar, in that it opened up more time and emotional energy that needed to be filled and channeled.

For me, the “lemonade” or silver lining during the pandemic is getting to do things that I never would otherwise have had the time to accomplish. Remember all those things that we “wish we had the time to do” or would do “someday when we only had the time”? Being stuck at home and isolating… Now there were no excuses. (In fact, if you didn’t approach some of them this past year, maybe “time” wasn’t the real excuse?) I’ve been using this newfound time on several projects. 

I started with a thorough Spring Cleaning of our home of 35 years. Time to clean and throw things out or give them away. How much junk do we really need? How do we prioritize what’s important to keep and what can be disposed of? “Sentimental reasons” is an important factor. Usefulness is an equally helpful indicator: People often say that if you haven’t used it in 5 years or more, you can toss it. 

Another thing that I always wanted to put more time into is genealogical research. This is a hobby that I first found interest in back when I was just 13 years old. At that time, I interviewed my three living grandparents and asked them about our family. My notes from that time were updated when I first had my own children, figuring that I could pass on this history to them at some point. But now I have grandchildren, so it was time to update some more. I sent in DNA samples and with a little research, my family tree is currently up to 894 people from around the world. I definitely plan to get together with some “new” cousins after the pandemic.

The third and somewhat related thing that “I’ve wanted to do but never had the time for” is scanning old family photos. Over the years, I’ve inherited photo albums from relatives. I’ve got dozens of old photo albums of images I took as our children were growing up. Our children don’t want these large, bulky albums. If it isn’t digital, they have no interest. Also, the slides that my father took during the time I was growing up are seriously deteriorating. Scanning and organizing select old family photos has been a high priority during this time. 

Our #1 priority during this time has been our children and grandchildren. That hasn’t changed. Family and friends are always the priority in our lives, and we have been truly blessed with great family and an extensive network of loving and caring friends. We miss being able to be with them all and look forward to a time when we can all be together and enjoy live music again.

~ Russell Paris

Russell Paris is a graphic designer who with his wife Julie has hosted Russ & Julie’s House Concerts since 1997. Russ & Julie were co-founders of Folk Alliance Region-West (FAR-West) and both served on the Board of Directors for FAR-West for many years. The Ventura County Reporter listed Russ & Julie’s House Concerts as “Best Intimate Folk” in their 2012 “Best of Ventura County” issue. In May 2013, Russ & Julie were honored with the annual “Legend Award” by the Topanga Banjo-Fiddle Contest & Folk Festival. In October 2015, Russ & Julie received the 11th Annual FAR-West “Best of the West” Ambassador Award at the annual FAR-West Music Conference. 


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.

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