Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thanksgiving weekend

Even though Ed and I don't celebrate Thanksgiving with a big dinner, I still found myself recalling Thanksgivings-past with a bit of nostalgia. It was a VERY BIG DEAL in the Lay household. Our dining room table was set with the good china, silver and crystal goblets. The table would groan with a roast turkey and Pepperidge Farm stuffing, rice and gravy, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, cheese onions, homemade rolls, and ambrosia for dessert. After we three girls married, our poor husbands had to wait patiently while everyone was served and Daddy gave his extra-long Thanksgiving grace before eating. The food was always a bit cool by then but we loved it anyway.

As a vegetarian for more years than I can remember and an avoider of rich fatty foods for the past eight months, I know that I would now have a very hard time sitting down to Mom's Thanksgiving dinner, but those were different times. Besides what's important are the memories not the calories.

One thing that remains the same is that Thanksgiving weekend ushers in the holiday season. Ed and I started talking about our holiday cards and last night I took this as a possible image for the card. Ed likes it and so do I. We both appreciate that it seems to welcome the viewer into our home, and for anyone who's ever been here they'll recognize the familiar sight of Ed at the piano. It would have been a perfect shoot if Eddie had been playing Mel Torme's The Christmas Song but that quirky guy chose Easter Parade instead. He is definitely his own person! (You can click on the photo to see it larger.)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hi! I'm back...

My but it's been a long time since I've posted here. I doubt if many folks bother to check this blog anymore but here goes just in case...

There's no way I could catch you up to date with all that's been going on, so I won't even try. I'll just take this moment and share what's going on right now.

Physically I feel great! Still working out twice a week with Matt, my trainer at the gym. It's been over six and a half years now and I know it is making a HUGE difference in my life. I seem to get stronger and stronger. Now, I did have a period of adjustment to what I call my "new body." Last April I dramatically changed my eating habits. Healthy food and less of it. Over the months I've lost between 25-30 lbs., which was over a fifth of my total weight. Now, that was great because I was definitely carrying more weight than I needed, but when you lose such a large percentage of your body weight, you lose muscle as well as fat. It takes your body time to build the muscles again but we're there now. Strong, strong, STRONG! And swimming laps three times a week doesn't hurt. I may be dealing with MS but, dammit, I'm healthier than almost anyone I know. A healthy diet, lots of exercise, no meds, and a positive outlook on life.

Photographically speaking, things are in a very good space. I just learned that a curator for an important exhibit at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles wants to use one of my self portraits in the digital slideshow portion of an upcoming show called Beauty Culture. It opens on May 21 and I plan to attend the opening. Lucky for me, my sister and brother-in-law live in Burbank, just outside of LA, so I can stay with them and we can go together. That will be WAY cool.

I recently discovered another of Detroit's hidden treasures -- the Detroit Civic Youth Ensembles -- a program that's been going on for 40 years. I saw and photographed their two autumn concerts and am in the process of getting permission to do an ongoing photo project featuring these youngsters --700 of them aged 5 to 18 -- their musician teachers/conductors and college-age mentors. It's looking like I'll have to wait until January but, hopefully, the answer will be yes. I am REALLY excited about this! It incorporates my love of children, music and Detroit. A perfect match!

If you check out my website -- -- you'll find a number of new and reworked photo essays. I've been a busy bee...

But this current "high" hasn't come easily. As with any period of growth, I had to let go of old ways of being, thinking and acting. I mainly needed to cut loose from those I had seen as "authorities" and develop my own sense of myself as a photographer. As helpful as it is to have mentors and community, there comes a time when we must cut the apron strings and forge ahead on our own. That's not to say I don't still have wonderful photographer friends in my life, and it's not to say I'm not grateful for every bit of help I've received along the way; it's just that I'm ready to fly under my own power and no longer have to ride on someone else's wings. This process is not easy. At first it feels like a loss. But there comes the day -- and I'm there now -- when you realize you are your own authority. That's when you know you've found your voice. And that's what it's all about.