Weekly Photo Challenge – Treasure

Since this week, I’ve learned that I need to forget what’s gone, appreciate what still remains and look forward to what’s coming next.
(Source unknown, paraphrased from the original)

This week’s photo challenge is especially ironic to me. In the challenge post, Krista challenges us to show “What do you treasure? What’s most important to you?” View the original challenge here. It goes without saying that the people and pets we love are always first on the list (or should be.) When they are gone, often all we have left is photographic in nature. Sometimes it’s an object left to us from them that holds a special memory. Sometimes all we have to remember them by is that which is locked inside our own memories. Again, I twist the photo challenge by featuring items that I did not personally photograph. Please accept, in any case, my submission to this week’s photo challenge, scanned historical items.

My father’s last driver’s license scanned and preserved in digital format

You see, in the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the quote underneath the opening photo. I have a newfound idea about those things that I truly treasure. My wife, Lynn, and I are wintering in the Phoenix area. A couple of Saturdays ago, we were awakened by a ringing phone. One of our neighbors in our condo in Fargo, ND called to let us know that there was an electrical fire in the ceiling of our unit. Though we did not receive any fire damage in the unit itself, our unit was extensively water and smoke damaged. Subsequent photographs of our home and discussions with professionals have prepared me to accept a heavy loss of personal belongings.

After thinking about those mementos that we would really miss, I found the list to be much shorter than I would have thought. A hammer left to me from my father that I promised to my son; a collection of printed tee-shirts gathered at over a decade of family reunions we have attended each summer; photographs, lots of them, including old family photographs, a collection of photographs of Lynn and myself taken on our travels and displayed in those cheesy 3-D and graphic photo frames; and a cardboard box of papers and documents mostly from their lives as farmers outside of Williston, North Dakota. All of the rest is just “stuff”, framed photos can be reprinted and reframed, new couches and chairs can be purchased. In the end, nothing and no one is irreplaceable.

The good news is that much of that list above of things that I “treasure” was not destroyed; they are on shelving kept high enough that water damage should be minimal and smoke damage may be something that I can live with for these items. One of my goals for retirement has been to convert all of our memento photos and documents to digital format. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten as far along in that project as I would have liked. In the aftermath of recent events, scanning and archiving will take a much higher priority than it has heretofore.

Since going “digital”, all recent collections of photos have been digitized, stored on multiple hard drives and backed up offsite and accessible over the Internet via crashplan.com’s online backup service. I won’t sleep well until I know that our heritage of images and documents on paper is safely digitized. We are still in Arizona for a few more weeks. The entire condo building in Fargo has been evacuated and everyone is living in hotels or elsewhere since every unit received smoke damage via the ventilation system. If we went back home now, we’d be living in a hotel. We’ve hired a company to inventory, clean, restore and/or throw as needed. They will warehouse our salvaged items until our condo can be remodeled. Once cleanup is completed, we will head back to Fargo, find a nearby hotel and begin to deal with rebuilding the unit and replacing those furnishings and fixtures that cannot be salvaged.

John Steiner


  1. A terrible ordeal but as you say, the irreplacable people and things are safe and that’s the most important thing. Hope its better than you expect and that re-entry goes well.

    • Thanks for your wish for good luck, Tina! Actually not being there has been helpful. Having seen only a few photographs, I’m ready to let the cleanup people inventory and move the unrecoverable stuff out of our sight. We can then look forward to putting our own stamp on our condo in a way that I never expected.

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