She and my grandfather built their ranch house in 1951 on a large piece of farmland in Carlisle, not far from Des Moines. Over the years they added a few rooms, raised a good number of pigs, used the fields for corn and soybeans and had a nursery business on the property. The nursery is long gone and the hog house has been locked up and full of junk since before I was born, but what amazes me is how fixed the interior of the house has managed to remain over the years, with the same stove leaking a vague gas smell to the red shag carpeting matted down in the back office.
I've photographed the house and surrounding land over the years, but it was after the girls were born and I was fully entrenched in "Life is a series of small moments" that the rooms had an especially strong pull. When my grandfather died in 2008 I did some intensive shooting over the few days we were there, and used some of those images in earlier incarnations of "Life is." Eventually they became phased out when the series started to gel more, particularly in relation to theme of childhood (obviously.)
Most recently I'd been using photographs from a 2011 family summer visit in my newest (yet to be named) body of work, but those images are mostly of the property, and are less specific, for lack of a better term, than my pictures from a few years earlier. Jump to the present and it's all specificity--I spent three whirlwind days in town for the funeral taking pictures when I could spare a minute, and I returned with my father the next week for two nights (but only one full day) of marathon picture-taking. I returned last Wednesday and between both trips I have a plethora of files to wade through.
I'll be putting up some of the images in the days and weeks to come as I begin to edit in earnest; for now let's just say that I came across a roll of Tums with a foil-printed label stating they cost 15 cents from who knows when, among many other things, so there were treasures to be found, and I have some stories to tell.