Friday, August 7, 2009

Someone Saved My Life Tonight (didn't you dear ?)

I will warn you right away, this is not going to be the most aesthetically pleasing of posts on any level, so if you so desire, you can bail out now.
Still here ? As you know by now, I love to get out and just poke around. Today was no exception. An afternoon excursion found me on perhaps the all time ugliest bridge to nowhere I've ever seen. Even the graffiti artists had done a poor job. This footbridge spans the Oise River not far from the city of Creil, France. It is immediately adjacent to a sewage treatment plant, so the odor was, shall we say, resplendent ? Or perhaps "redolent" is more appropriate ?

Now I know this next photo is nothing to write home about, and is probably not going to win me any awards, but as in the title of Woody Allen's latest film, it's a case of whatever works . . . Believe it or not, the concrete wall here is a retaining wall around a large and seething lake of human sewage, obviously being stirred by currents from powerful pumping stations. I will spare you the view of the frothy brown surface, your imagination can fill that part in. But what captured my (no doubt twisted) sense of humor here was the bright orange life saver attached to the wall. And I thought, well golly, isn't that thoughtful, I mean, should anyone have the awful luck to actually fall into that horrid cesspool of swirling human waste, and be in danger of drowning in it, to find themself in the really deep shit, as it were, well, not to worry, there's a life saver there, waiting to be thrown to you ! Don't you feel better now ? Oh my, just don't come around my place hoping to to get cleaned up after you've been pulled out, hugging that orange live saver !
I'm wondering if those little fruit flavored rings of hard candy that were known as life savers still exist? They're not sold here in France, anyway, that I know of. They were a favorite in my childhood.

It's funny, I haven't seen a life saver, of any color, in ages, so after having just seen one at the waste treatment pool, I couldn't help noticing another one at second industrial plant just a little farther up the road today, where I pushed open a heavy metal door in a concrete wall to get this view. See the life saver ? It is hanging on the rail of a liquid holding pool marked Acid Juice. I could only presume that I had inadvertantly stumbled on one of the largest Lysergic acid diethylamide production facilities in the world. Were one to fall into a vat of that, you might want someone to toss you a life saver also . . .

And oddly enough, a barge came down the river just then, and what did I spy on the deck of the barge ? Two more orange life savers ! Just in case anyone might fall in the river. Well I'll be darned . . . no doubt am going to be dreaming about life savers tonight. . . and in fact, that is exactly what I'm going to go do right now. And if you are still reading here, well, I thank you for your patience and comprehension. Some days are like that, you find yourself thanking your lucky stars that you're not in any deeper shit than you are already. And happy that there are life savers out there in the universe should things ever get worse . . .



Alexandra MacVean said...

Hi sorry it's been a bit since I stopped by. I have barely been able to keep up in my own life with all the dr. visits, etc.

Hope you are doing well.

As far as the lifesavers...I have not seen the fruit flavor ones around in awhile here either..just the mint ones. I miss those!! :)

robert said...

Morning Owen,
hope you are fine in the middle of the night...yes, am also still awake. Trash is collected right now and I hope that noise won't wake up the kid.
About the bridge, after all it may lead into a life more beautiful of what will be left behind. Guess it is this many times the hope which safes lives.
Please have a nice Friday.

Lynne with an e said...

This post has left me both speechless and breathless! !-*

Jill said...

So, this is what you're doing on your vacation...;)

@eloh said...

Photographs also need to be interesting. How boring if the only photos ever taken were only the "beautiful" ones.

Interesting photos, thanks.

Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Owen! Very, very well-written witty story! Did you notice the life saver at the sewage treatment plant had never been used?! ;) And evidently the acid bath one neither! Still, the synchronicity and its implications of seeing all three in one day are startling. As I continue to say, "bonnes vacances!!"

Janie said...

If I were going to fall and need a lifesaver, I would hope I would land in the river. At least it looks fairly clean and non-toxic!

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

I am familiar with sewage ponds (part of my research work as a student), so the sights and smells brings back memories of my youth. Sad, isn't it?

Amy said...

Haha, Owen this is too perfect. Great photos and description. In this case, I am glad we don't have smell-o-blog. :D

Lydia said...

Talk about a theme post! Pretty remarkable.
For the LS candy-deprived...visit here and here. At the same site I see they offer one of my favorite products to sip with your LifeSavers (or alone).

Steve said...

A lifebelt for the sewage pool... no! I wonder how many times it's been used?

Japy said...

I like the way you tell us that story. Photos are nothing if they don´t tell us a story. It doesn´t matter if the photo is a beautiful place or a very ugly place. Also, photography wouldn´t be a original if everyone would take photos of beauty. Greetings.

desi said...

hahaha...what would one do without lifesavers in our lives? may it be sweets, orange ones or real people!
but i doubt if an orange lifesaver will help a guy falling into a dam of acid...eish..
thanx for the good story, so cool!


Buskitten said...

Hiya Owen,
Brilliantly written, facinating and funny! I love how you go and investigate all these weird and wonderful places, I do just that too! if it's dangerous and I'm not allowed, I love it!
Well I have seen plenty of live-savers on the Lago, mostly red ones!
It was sooo hot in Italy, glad to back in the not-so-sunny UK!
Loeads of gardening etc to catch up with now - assisted by Tiddles, of course, who did get back from Pisa Aeroporto in the end, by busking for his check-in euros!

Karen said...

How thoughtful - that one may float and float on a sea of sh...


Anonymous said...

Although I seldom comment here I always look at your posts-- and I always enjoy your photos. They aren't just the same old-same old.

La Framéricaine said...

As one who is quite familiar with being up shit creek without a paddle, I commend you on your reality checks. Actually, I take a perverse pleasure in noticing all the things in France that are not beautiful. All that relentless beauty wears on one after a while. I once thanked my husband profusely for driving me through St. Etienne near Clermont-Ferand just because it was butt ugly and made me feel better out the visual carnage in SoCal.

Bises and great photos! The butterscotch Life Savers were my favs!

Lynne with an e said...

Forgot to mention that I was speechless and breathless from laughter! You are one wild and crazy guy--at least within the confines of the blogosphere.

Happy Hour...Somewhere said...

I especially liked the second picture. The "green shoots" outside the sewage plant and the life saver...very emblematic of our economy don't you think? (You just know there is still frothy brown crap rolling around somewhere...hold onto your life saver.)

Marguerite said...

Bonjour Owen, It seems that your imagination is only exceeded by your good looks, cher! Any one who can make a story about a sewage plant sound interesting is very talented, indeed. Lifesavers were one of my childhood faves. Especially the red ones. Have a great weekend!

English Rider said...

As one who has spent much time without a paddle in the sticky brown upper reaches of the tributaries to your cess-lake, I like the idea of a life preserver being available. There is always hope.

Batteson.Ind said...

hhhmmmm.... acid juice...... :-0

Owen said...

Hey Wet Cats... hhhmmmm, whatever do you mean ??? Yeah, it's sort of like acid rock, but more liquid...


Dear English, may you always find a paddle !


Hi Marguerite, well I don't know about good looks, but in any case, waste treatment plants ARE interesting... sort of the flip side of the romantic food industry... :-D

PS Have you see Woody Allen's film, Whatever Works ? There are several references to cajun cooking in there that sound great... crawfish, gumbo, etc...


Dear Happy Hour, hello and welcome... indeed, indeed, I think it is a good idea to have a life saver nearby at all times these days... one never knows when the feces is going to hit the fan again, and again... The trick is to stay positive despite it all... :-)


Hey Lynne, since when did the blogosphere have confines ??? That waste treatment plant swimming pool had confines... you wouldn't have believed the thick foamy froth on top of either, sort of like the head on a good Guinness Stout... but didn't smell as nice... :-D (sorry...)


Dear Fram, I remember the taste of those butterscotch lifesavers... jeez, and the color too, and the way one peeled the paper and foil back to get farther down into the tube... mmm, hadn't thought about that in donkey's years...

Funny both you and English R. referred to being up a certain creek without a paddle... great minds think alike, obviously, when it comes to waste treatment ! ;-D

Isn't it something how you really have to look to find things that are actually really ugly in France ??? Well, not that hard actually... but I know what you mean... Although there must be a few good looking sights in St Etienne...


Hi Tricia... your comments are very welcome, and thanks very much for your kind words... I'm trying to stay off the beaten path...

Owen said...

Hi Karen, Well, I'm not sure how long I'd want to float there, but for anyone looking for a really new and novel experience, this might be it... maybe we could promote a reality TV show visit here, one of the trials would be swimming across the pool... ;-D

(that tells you pretty much what I think about reality TV...)


Hi Liz !!! Your back ! How nice to hear from you, hope the return to home is smooth, and that Tiddles will behave himself, after all those wild nights partying in Italy, he must be all wound up still... Glad you enjoyed, me too, I love nosing around in places I shouldn't...


Hey Desi, guess it depends what sort of acid it is... citric acid is vitamin C, right... But in any case, we are lucky to have lifesavers, for sure.


Hi Japy, greetings to you to... indeed, sometimes there is great beauty in some of the ugliest subjects... but in any case, yeah, I like to stay out of the mainstream when I can... Thanks !


Steve, well, if it's been used, someone sure cleaned it up well afterwards. Or maybe they had to get a new one because they couldn't pry the old one out of the arms of the last guy that needed it, he was holding onto it so tightly... And for that matter, I sure hope your waste treatment problem around certain buildings has cleared up ?!?


Lydia, hey, thanks so much for the links, will have to take a look...


Amy, you definitely do not want the scratch and sniff version of this one !!! I don't know how I stood it long enough to get this photo ! A case of grin and bear it I guess ! :-)


Dear Lone Grey, I suppose the memories in question are perhaps not as romantically nostalgic as those famously evoked by Proust and his madeleines... this is on the other end of the memory spectrum from there... Hope you never fell in while doing research... :-D


Janie, you are very astute I think, the river is a wise choice... given the options...


Hi Margaret, and hopefully they will remain unused in the years to come, I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Well, almost anyone... there may be a few folks out there that need a good dunking in this pool...


@eloh, thanks much... am trying to mix things up a little bit here (no pun intended...)


Dear Jill, well, in fact this is not really what I set out to do yesterday, may just do a quick post on what we really did mean to visit... on a slightly different cultural plane... :-)

PS there were LOTS of interesting flying bugs around this place, but I assure you, I was not inclined to linger in such an oderiferous place ! ;-D


Lynne, from holding my breath, I was breathless too ! Too loosely use a colloquial expression : I shit you not...
;-D ;-D ;-D (which translates as : ha ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha)


Hi Robert, the important part is hope indeed, and the possibility of that bridge being there... a floating bridge of dreams... to quote a wonderful blog title... hope the kid slept through the trash haul. Take care, and a fine weekend to you...


Hi Amelia, no need to apologize, I'm so happy to see you whenever you can get here, believe you me... and I hope whatever the doctor is looking at will clear up and leave you healthy and happy... I think those lifesavers were a favorite for alot of people...

~Babs said...

Actually, I think ALL grafitti looks great,,but then I'm strange.

Oh, email me your address and I'll send you some LifeSavers!
Or shall I just bring them to the Castlewarming?

The Poet Laura-eate said...

I don't think I'd want to live if I fell in that.

india flint said...

at the treatment plant in Whyalla [south australia] there used to be a large sign that said

and now in that moment of quiet
as in the English joke, the French/German/whatever silence

it's in reference to the Australian colloquial
"up shit creek in a barbed wire canoe without a paddle"
[ie without hope]