Saturday, November 14, 2009

Potpourri . . .

My American Heritage Dictionary says that "Potpourri" means : 1. A combination of various incongrous elements. 2. A fragrant mixture of dried flower petals and spices.
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It is true, when the word "potpourri" commes to mind, I tend to think of a sweet smelling bowl of flowers giving off a warm, rich perfume to scent a room. But did you know the word is from the french "pot" = pot, and "pourri" = rotten, so thus, a rotten pot or a rotten can ? . . . My French dictionary informs me that "potpourri" is a kind of stew composed of various meats and vegetables, and that the word has been in use since the late 1500's. A way to save rotten meat by cooking it up in a stew I guess . . . "Potpourri" sounds like a good name for a blog. I'll bet there already are a blog or two with that name. The French dictionnary also says a "potpourri" may be a literary work assembled from various pieces in no particular order and with no connection between them. Sounds like what I'm doing here.
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So, in no particular order . . .
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A few posts down we were back on the subject of public toilets in France, as to whether there were any. While visiting the Douaumont Fort at the Verdun battlefield last week, I came across this gem of a toilet facility dating from 1917, which might in cruder terms be known as a "shit can" (excuse my French !), which is another possible translation for "pot pourri" . . . And if they don't hurry up and put some rust remover on this, it is going to disentegrate entirely . . .
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Now, all kidding aside, to change gears, one of the very first blogs I discovered and began following regularly about a year ago is Henk Van Es's "Outsider Environments Europe", which is all about outsider art all over Europe, as the title implies. And I'd just like to encourage you all to take a look at Henk's blog, he is digging up information god only knows how about site after fascinating site where art has been created out of doors in all sorts of contexts. His research is meticulous, it is always a pleasure for me when I see a new post is up at O.E.E. And when I saw this cow outside near Verdun, made out of a large metal can, I couldn't help but think of Henk and utter a friendly Mooooooo ! . . . (sorry, it's not the greatest photo I ever made, but there was a large barking dog preventing me from coming closer, so I took this from the car window in a hurry . . .)
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While continuing to wander in the countryside northwest of Verdun, I stumbled on a key to the universe. In all likelihood, I think this may be one of the original machines that God used when He created the planet Earth, and the Sun and the Moon, and the rest of the solar system . . .
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On a door to an abandoned barn structure adjacent to an abandoned house, all under one roof, there was a sign announcing "Machines à Traire", or "Milking Machines" ! Now I'm sure this is going to bring on a series of raucous and dubious jokes that all start with a line like, "Did you hear about the farmer that . . .", but finding old enamel signs like this in situ is a real pleasure for a guy like me . . . The machine pictured on the sign looks a bit like R2D2 (the octopus version), and I love the outline of a map of France with the radiating red stripes like the flag of imperial Japan . . . priceless !
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The front door had definitely seen better days . . .
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You can just make out the milking machine sign in the middle of the white door . . . I don't know how I find these places, it is a mystery to me . . .
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27 comments:

TechnoBabe said...

Another wonderful set of photos! The first one looks like something to take camping but so many years ago it was the usual toilet. I really enjoy seeing the old places over there in your pictures. The building that housed milking machines is a treasure.
The front door is so broken but the wrought iron insets would be an awesome addition to a backyard lawnscape. Great work, Owen.

Jilly said...

Just love this post, Owen. And I too love what you call Outsider Art. Love your public loo! There is a house in Gorbio village with a dragon over the gate made of old iron, completely rusty. I did photograph it one time but think I might go back and have another go with my newer camera. You've inspired me.

Thanks for the referral to Henk's blog. Such a brilliant and fascinating idea.

Lydia said...

You find these places because your eyes are wide open. Actually, I must thank you for helping me to re-train my attention to the sights around me.
This was a charming post and God's machine? fantastic find!

Steve said...

That shit can is just plain nasty...!

namaki said...

definitely an abandonned house !! gives me a creepy feeling :-0

henk van es said...

Hi Owen, Thanks a lot for wandering through life with your special way of looking at things around and an open and receptive mind for the smaller creations people like to install at their place of living, creating it from an old bin (Moooooh...!) or by fixing enamel plates on the wall, and in general by letting time do ist work. I do appreciate very much to have this tiny piece of outsider art you discovered, being presented in he context of an essay on potpourri, well, is'nt this kind of art not about combining old worthless ("rotten") things into something with a new, surprising ("nice smelling")_ outlook.
Have a nice weekend.

BLOGitse said...

Great pot pourri collection here!
Moooooo - no milk today! LOL!
Have a great Saturday!

Dedene said...

Very funny! It looks like the Lorraine hasn't changed a bit since Armistice Day 1918.
Your posts are a bit "pot" but never "pourri".

louciao said...

According to Spock: "Fascinating."

Marguerite said...

Mon cher, Owen, As always, your posts are so creative and entertaining. Love this potpourri of photos, and your descriptions are lagniappe'! Have a great weekend!

clo said...

howdy dear friend owen....
ce potpourri exhale un délicieux parfum...un parfum de creativité...une delicieuse harmonie de couleur et de textures...
tes photos sont supers ...ces objets et endroits abandonnes ne le sont pas pour tout le monde...
j'aime tes gouts pour les choses insolites ...
bonne et douce semaine owen...
je t'embrasse...:o)

jeff said...

Mais où est donc passé K'line ?... K'lliiiinnnne ! Houhou !... Bof !...
Ah ! Owen ! Je viens de voir tes photographies et j'aime baucoup cette porte avec cette moisissure sur le bas de l'encadrement ! Quant à ces "ferrailles"... Pablo Picasso aurait été inspiré pour en faire une sculpture !...
Mais où donc vas-tu dénicher tout ça ?...
La fin de semaine est bien calme sur Blogger ! Trop calme...! plus de Loulou... Plus de K'line... Owen qui se cache... Nathalie qui apparait une fois sur 100... Arnaud qui fait du stop sur les routes perdues de l'Inde pour vite aller poster une photo et laisser un commentaire ( It's a joke ! ! ! )... Margaret qui ne dort plus... Clo qui fait trois petits tours et puis s'en vont... et moi !... fidèle au poste... des valises sous les yeux à force de regarder cet écran... Je ne mange plus, je ne dors plus, je ne bois plus, je ne fume plus, je ne b..., si... encore....:-)))... Les portes sont fermées comme sur ta photo ! ! !...
Bon, hé bien ! Tant pis pour moi !
Bonne fin de week-end Owen ! A plus !
Tise bien !...
Ciao amigo !

louciao said...

Milk it for all it's worth, Owen!

You know that outsider art cow sculpture, well I've seen cutesy versions around here that are put out as refuse bins.

I love that time machine. In keeping with the caca reference, though, I suspect it might be a manure spreader.

Such a gorgeous old door. The colours of the red bricks against the grey walls and white boards are, literally, outstanding. I love these old places that have gone to rack and ruin but still display traces of their youthful charm.

I agree with Jeff. It's very quiet in Blogland, but at least it gave me a chance to come back here for a second look.

I'm a bit worried about Saj: she went down to her cellar to fetch some bottles and hasn't been seen since.

The Sagittarian said...

Oh, j'adore le pot du poo! (Crappy French there eh?)

pRiyA said...

you seem to have wandered into a place that time forgot.
the loo brings to mind one i saw in chillon, two holes on a plank of wood which opened out into the sea. how thankful i am for modern plumbing.

can't wait to see what your next post will bring...

babbler said...

Dear Owen,
The first thing that comes to the mind, er, mantle, is "oui oui!" I am so glad I picked up my skirts and came over here at this late hour. One has to get her entertainments, and your pictures are always certain to deliver a soothing image to a slugs' thirsty optic tentacle. How "now" metal cow! I have arrived this crisp and beautiful evening alone, but I shall slide excitedly back to the house, wagging my tail vigorously as I lay down a nice shiny goo trail to mark the way and bring other curious art loving slugs with me when I return. As my beloved Mr. Slug is sure to say when I show him these pictures, I pre-quote him..."You rock the camera in a truly righteous way, dude." Thanks for the adventure, we want more! We want more! (Slugs everywhere are up on their tails applauding...)
Mrs. Slug

Sar@h said...

Vu hier soir au Tempo, une exposition de tableaux réalisés avec de vieux outils …

Jimmy Bastard said...

I can admit to being inspired to write after viewing these photies. Superb lense work indeed.

Virginia said...

My first visit here I think. Your blog has been highly recommended. Now i see why. I've been around Paris and the countryside some. I've never seen anything like this!! What a delight and feast for the eyes. Great photographs and such interesting text as well!
V

French Fancy said...

I've just about recovered from that picture of the French toilet. I know that one is a tad extreme but there are several in our region that are only marginally better than that one and people actually do go in and use them.

pRiyA said...

i'm glad you found gwen's blog, desideratum. isn't it terrific?
:-)

Janie said...

The God machine had better get busy and fix itself up so it can fix the disintegrating house and the rest of the world that's in equally bad shape...
Fun post!

Owen said...

TechnoB., not sure I'd want to take that thing anywhere, camping or otherwise, probably best that it rusts quietly away in the dark underground gallery of the very humid interior in the Douaumont Fort. The cast iron inserts in the door's windows are something else, too bad one is already broken... I wondered what treasures lay within that place... guess I have to go back and ask for a guided tour by whoever the owner may be...
:-)
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Jilly, you are very welcome for everything. Hope you'll be able to get some more photos of that rusty dragon to share with us... I have to remember to visit your other blogs too, I know you're doing more than just all those wonderful canines... and yeah, Henk's place is great !

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Hi Lydia, there are amazing places and objects all around us, if we only are able to see them... having a camera in hand helps though, as it helps push one into a more purely visual mode of thinking... glad you liked God's machine, I figured even He couldn't have done it all alone...

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Steve ! Hope that means you liked it... ! In some forms of American urban slang, "nasty" means "highly attractive"... In any case, scenes like this help us appreciate some of the comforts we take for granted in our daily lives...
:-D

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Hi Namaki, always something a little creepy about places like this, though probably without good reason for the most part, just alot of damp, mildew, and cobwebs...

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Hi Henk ! So much ancient old "stuff" just rotting away out there, waiting for someone to adopt it, care for it, photograph it, and bring it back to life again, in whatever collection of "potpourri" seems appropriate... I've had a long running love affair with the abandoned, the cast-off, the stray dog, and all manner of odd things encountered by the side of the trail... And Thank You for everything you do to broaden our educations...

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Blogitse; not a drop of milk in sight... thanks !

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Dedene ! LOL, a bit pot but never pourri... whatever do you mean ?!? Or did you mean to say, "a bit potty" ? Have a great week !
:-)
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Lynne : now that is a succinct comment... one word... but fascination is a vast concept... hope this tickled the fascination strings in your piano for a good little while...


xx

Owen said...

Hey Marguerite ! Glad you enjoyed this little potpourri... but what on earth is lagniappe ??? Will have to try to look that up ! Must be Creole for "big pile of junk ?"
;-)
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Clo ! Mille fois merci... Je ressens un besoin bien fort par moments de devenir le père adoptif de ces endroits, souffler la chaleur de la vie dessus, les refaire vivre même si c'est juste ici dans ces pages...
Bonne semaine !

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Ah Jeff, on est là, on est là... je suis sûr que K'line va revenir, plus belle et plus spirituelle que jamais, et les autres aussi... moi je sais que tu es là fidèle au poste, valises (pleines de bouteilles de T) sous les yeux force de regarder l'écran, mais bon, faudrait que l'on se repose un peu parfois aussi, de temps en temps, la vie n'est pas qu'un blog experience, il faut menager ses forces... De mon coté, après deux semaines de vacances, le retour au boulot était super chaud, bouillonnant même... j'ai dû bossé samedi, crevé enfin. Dimanche, je suis resté longtemps dans un bain bien chaud, puis une sieste, puis dîner et un film avec la Grenouille et les grenouillettes, donc je reviens un peu tard ici... mais bon, je reviens toujours, et je passerai chez LIB d'ici peu... on revient toujours...

Ahh, la moississure sur cette porte est quelquechose, non ? Et oui, cette machine devrait déjà être au Musée Picasso...

Alos, tiens bon amigo, on est là... la vie est belle !

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Anonymous, I deleted your comment because it appeared to be a spam ad for whatever that bogus software you mentioned was... thanks, but no thanks, please peddle your wares elsewhere, but not here...

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Ah Lynne, you came back ! Not sure who is milking what, but what's that old expression, If it feels good, do it ???

Ok, now along with the sagging porch sofas, we'll be hoping to see some bovine trash bins soon...

What, a manure spreader ??? He may not be happy about that ! Shame I still haven't figured out how to do bold text in comments, I would have bolded the "He"...

The door is a marvel, I love how the wood slats in the bottom half are all cockeyed and collapsing... And I guess the Saj heard you, as she turned up just after... ooofff...
:-D
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Ah dear Saj, where've you been hiding ? Admiring the countryside, I'll bet... glad you liked the "pot de poo" !

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Hi Priya, there are warps in the space time continuum, and I sometimes find my way into them by accident usually, it often happens when I'm not looking for them... Would love to see that loo by the sea, must be... hmmmm, romantic ??? But yes, thank goodness for the comforts of home... As for the next post, I have no idea, nothing is planned ahead, when the time is ripe, something new will appear here, so far the Muse hasn't let me down...
BTW, absolutely loved your Redbook ! Fabulous imagination at work there...

Owen said...

Dear Mrs Slug !
Why bless your marvellously gooey mantle ! I never in a million years dreamed that this blog would lead to being serenaded by tail-wagging sparkling-slime-trailing slugs of distinction everywhere... ! I assure you, I am blushing furiously at these wonderful words of sluggish praise ! I promise to do my utmost to keep the adventure alive and the photos and snippets of essays at the sizzling pitch you expect from the barbecue grill here at the Magic Lantern. May the light from the lantern gleam on happy slug trails everywhere forevermore... quoth the grinning toad... thank you so much !
:-D

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Bonjour Sar@h... c'est où ça, Tempo ? Un endroit à Mrlx que je devrait connaître peut-être ?

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Jimmy Sir B., If you should have found a grain of inspiration here then I am humbly touched... may your excellent and gritty writing prosper... I must come back and read more...

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Virginia, welcome, welcome, I guess I've seen your icon at Avignon in Photos, and enjoyed the look around I just took at your Paris photos... especially the Montparnasse Cemetery shots there for November 11th. There are all sorts of amazing places out in the countryside in France if one digs a bit.
A bientôt...

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Dear FF, I think you had followed the exchanges at Drowning but not Waving there a while back about the scarcity of decent loos in many places in this otherwise lovely country, non ? This is just the continuation of that discussion thread, that also involved English Rider over at Where's My Effing Pony... wonderful people all. May your WCs always be clean and modern...
:-)
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Priya, yes indeed, Desideratum is great... in case anyone is wondering where it is, it is here :

http://gwenbuchanan.blogspot.com/

And while you're clicking links, don't miss Priya's Redbook link in her latest post...

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Janie ! Yes ! That machine needs to get back to work, looks like it has gotten to slacking off a bit... guess its owner must be off in other parts of the vast universe, and maybe has forgotten about us earthlings...
Have a great week !
:-D

the watercats said...

yep,,, I want one of those too... (the shabby house with the brilliant door) ;-)

AmyR said...

Though it may have seen better days, that front door is still pretty bright. The colors are lovely!

You are so lucky to find these places. What a cool gift to have.