well, that happened...
well, that happened ...
Wow. What a year. Part of me wants to just forget it and move on … but there were actually some fun times to remember, so here I go.
January and February were normal, busy months with Elise taking part in greenscreen shoots, readings, rehearsals, and classes; Stephen playing in his quartet, giving lessons, playing with the Long Beach Symphony, coaching for the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra, and contracting for the Redlands Symphony; and Rebecca and Troy signing a lease on an apartment to begin their lives together.
March started out with Elise deciding, out of an abundance of caution, to cancel a trip to visit Dad in Kansas City. Then Rebecca was alerted that she might have been exposed to COVID through a co-worker, so she and Troy went into isolation, and had to cancel on attending Elise’s birthday dinner. And it was the very night of that dinner that we got the official word that Los Angeles was going into lockdown. We had a brief scare when Rebecca fell ill – running a fever for nearly three weeks. We are very sure she had COVID, but it was during a time when there was no way for her to get tested – so we can only thank our lucky stars that she must have had a mild case (and that Troy did not succomb!) Troy also adopted an adorable kitten – Zaya – to cheer Rebecca up and to add to their family (although Potemkin wishes they had consulted her first.)
At New Musicals Inc., we immediately shifted all of our work online. Fortunately, as luck would have it, we had started using Zoom for our classes over a decade ago – so it wasn’t difficult to ask even our local participants to shift to video conferencing. The tricky thing, of course, was that singing together on Zoom is not really possible because of latency – so we started looking into work-arounds for that. Most of our work wound up being recorded and then edited together (like all of the concerts and choirs you’ve been seeing online all year).
In April, we launched our 15 Minute Musicals through video conferencing, and starting making contingency plans for either being able to perform them in a theatre; or perform them in our space with no audience; or to record them with everyone in separate places. We just didn’t know how long it was all going to last – so we had to be prepared for any eventuality. Elise, Scott, and Troy were all working primarily from home and only going to NMI occasionally. On one of those occasions, we discovered that the building had been broken into and robbed of over ten thousand dollars worth of audio/video equipment! Fortunately, we had insurance – but we had to move quickly to replace our tech equipment so we could keep going with all of our work!
In May, NMI produced two 40-minute musicals that were originally written to be performed at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in June, but we decided to shift them to recorded pieces for the internet. One, called UNITED WE TWEET, was quickly re-written to take place all in a Zoom meeting! It is a very irreverant political satire, and Elise was thrilled to play the role of Margaret Palmer – the woman trying to keep the country together despite a (literal) clown of a president. The cast of four and the director all worked in their own homes; recording all the dialogue and songs separately, and then sending the whole thing off to be edited together. The second one – FLY FLY FLY – was shot by bringing the actors in to NMI one at a time for individual shoots, and then editing the whole thing together with greenscreen magic to make it seem like they had all been there at the same time. Troy was not only a performer in that one – he was also the editor – spending many many hours working magic!
During all of this, Rebecca was working from home, and Stephen was Zooming with his Youth Orchestra kids to prepare them to record an online concert.
Despite how hard we were all working, we also found time to get together for socially distanced hikes, and meals including a fancy High Tea on the lawn in front of Rebecca and Troy’s apartment, and a trip to the beautiful and peacock-infested Los Angeles Arboretum.
In June, Stephen and Elise made the difficult decision to postpone their planned trip to South America until NEXT August (fingers crossed that will be possible!); and NMI was burgled AGAIN! Yes – even though we had completely replaced and upgraded all of our locks, they managed this time to climb up on our roof and bust through an upstairs window. They took another ten thousand dollars worth of all of our brand new equipment; so we had to file an insurance claim and replace it all AGAIN. This time also replacing the upstairs windows and installing a security system (which was the only way we could get our insurance renewed).
In July, Stephen’s quartet (the Avanti Ensemble) decided they were sick of waiting for all of this to end, and they gave a pair of outdoor concerts for the 4th of July. This was so fun and successful that they wound up giving a couple more pairs of concerts in the next few months. At NMI, the filming of the 15 Minute Musicals began, and we hosted our bi-ennial BIZ Conference completely online (which turned out to be an awesome event!)
In August, to celebrate 38 years of marriage, Elise and Stephen spent two days in Santa Barbara. On the first day, we strolled the glorious Thousand Steps Beach and had a picnic lunch by the ocean; then rented bikes and careened along the shoreline; then had a beautiful sidewalk dinner at Toma Restaurant. After a comfy night at the Harbor View Inn, we had breakfast the next day right ON the beach at the Shoreline Beach Cafe, and then explored the Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens. On our way home, we stopped off at our favorite Geoffrey’s (in Malibu) to eat lunch in their outdoor patio. (Little did we know how lucky we were to be able to eat-in at outdoor restaurants ….)
The fall was pretty action-packed. Stephen started outdoor-backyard rehearsals with quartet groups from the Youth Orchestra, and Elise launched the new season of the Core Curriuclum completely online (with participants from all across the country as well as London, Moscow, Tokyo, and Australia!).
For a little break, Elise, Stephen, and Rebecca headed up to Santa Ynez for a wine country trip. On our first day, we had an outdoor tasting at the Buttonwood Winery and the Lucas & Lewellen Tasting room before dining at an Italian restaurant in a beautiful courtyard. The next morning we visited Ostrich Land and had fun feeding the ostrichs – then went on to a tasting at Sunstone Winery. The day after we got home, we headed out for a long walk through the glorious Huntington Gardens.
At this point, we were brave enough to decide that the four of us could be a “bubble”: meaning we could be together indoors without masks. We celebrated that decision by having Rosh Hoshana dinner at our home, and binging the television show “Schitt’s Creek” together!
In October, we celebrated Rebecca’s birthday with brunch in a park (and Rebecca led a Birthday Text Banking Zoom where many of her friends got together to help her celebrate, and to text reminders to vote to registered Democrats all over the country!); and got together for Halloween pumpkin carving. In November, Stephen and Elise toured Descanso Gardens with cousin Deb – how great to see her!
In November, we had a lovely Green family Zoom to celebrate Tanya’s 95th birthday and were happy to be able to see her with some family outside her Baycrest home.
But later in the month, it became clear that things were actually getting worse in Los Angeles, so we decided to suspend our “bubble”, and we shared Thanksgiving lunch together but outdoors – at Griffth Park.
In December, Stephen made a trip to Toronto to visit his mother, Tanya. The doctors had determined that she was in a quick decline, so Stephen filled out a lot of paperwork and got permission to fly up and leave his quarantine just to visit her. It was a bittersweet visit as it wasn’t clear if she was recognizing people – but it was great for Stephen to get to see her and the family.
Back home, Stephen made Hannukah Latkes and we special-delivered a batch to Rebecca and Troy so we could share them “together” via Zoom. Then, we did something similar with take-out Indian food on the 19th in remembrance of the 2nd anniversary of June’s passing.
Christmas Day started with a Dewsberry Family Zoom; and ended with delivered Chinese Food. We had a quiet New Year’s Eve – toasting with Rebecca via Zoom. The next morning we got the news that Tanya had passed, and Stephen made plans to fly back up to Toronto quickly. The service took place just a few days later – with Stephen, Ellen, and Ellen’s three boys (Joshua, Anthony, and Jordan) graveside – and the rest of us able to watch the service broadcast online. We had a Green family Zoom on the following Shabbat and told many stories about Tanya and her rich life. She will be missed.
The new year of 2021 has not exactly brought about the instant change we were all hoping for. We have the blessed promise of a vaccine – but the roll-out is not going smoothly and we have no idea when we will actually all be fully protected. We managed to elect Joe Biden as our President – but the current president has managed in his final days to inspire treason and sedition, and we worry about the violence that may come along with the Inauguration.
But at the same time – NMI held a very successful event with six sight-singers all singing in harmony online for a group of very excited writers hearing their work for the first time (we used a promising platform called Jamulus) – so we are very hopeful for more exciting such events in the months to come.
And of course, we are grateful for all of you, and counting the days until we can once again gather in person.
In the meantime – we send you all virtual hugs and kisses!
Elise, Stephen, Rebecca, Troy, Potemkin, and Zaya
Above and below: Our Socially Distant High Tea, complete with finger sandwiches, scones, and clotted cream!
Below and Right: Our trip to Santa Ynez Wine Country – including wine tasting, ostrich feeding, and dining al fresco!
Above: Rebecca and Troy greet a peacock at the Arboretum. Below: A crazy peacock makes our picnic very noisy. (NOTE: if you don’t see the video, just refresh your screen until it appears…)
Above: Breakfast on the beach in Santa Barbara; Left: the steps to Thousand Steps Beach; Below: our brunch at Geoffrey’s on the way back home.
Right after returning from Santa Ynez, we spent a day wandering through the spectactular Huntington Gardens (see our route on the map below). One of our very favorite places in Los Angeles!
In the fall, when we thought things were improving, we formed a 4-person “pod” or “bubble” and got together for Rosh Hoshana dinner; for Rebecca’s birthday; for Halloween pumpkin carving; and for Thanksgiving. Shortly after that, however, we went back to Zoom events because of the rising infection rates in LA.
Of course, we made sure to stay in touch via Zoom meetings with family and friends!
Above: a 40 minute musical political satire that Elise got to perform in! (NOTE: if you don’t see the video, just refresh your screen until it appears…) Right: Elise’s tech set-up for live-streaming NMI’s 15-Minute Musicals. Below: Stephen chats with Rebecca and Troy after a July 4 outdoor concert.
Stephen and Elise kept working by turning the music room into a Zoom office. Stephen taught cello lessons and played outdoor concerts; Elise created new musicals!
A new home in February, and locked down by COVID in March! But trips to the beach, camping, and two beautiful kitties, kept Rebecca and Troy smiling!