It’s February: Find Your Pit of Despair

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The awful road.

One January morning walking around my SW neighborhood for reasons better left unsaid I headed up the unfinished gravel road. There’s a rut so bad cars can’t pass through without risking axel damage. At the top of this “street,” the empty lot behind a chain link fence beckoned. I wandered up the driveway towards a pile of concrete slabs and turned to look at the pit. It was wide, and deep, ten feet would be an exaggeration but it struck me as a good sized hole. At the bottom were kitchen cabinets and a wire shelving unit. I was shocked to see two throw pillows also tossed in the mud. The sight complimented my bleak mood.

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The Pit of Despair

After photographing the pit I created a black and white image that I posted on Instagram. I called it, “The Pit of Despair.” The dump site that emerged grated on me but the pit put things in perspective. No matter how low things get pits of despair will be there exhaling their misery and exposing their void. I tried imagining the house that may have filled that space before it crumbled and was carted away. Now this giant divot would never be anything more than a pit or an opportunistic junk refuge. Dirt wouldn’t retain water to make a swimming hole.

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Time to reface!

As I write this, January ticks into the next month. Thoughts I had never considered have grown into a February philosophy. It started with a Portland Monthly article I read in an emergency room waiting room. I spent hours there wondering if things would be okay while finding out February was not the month I thought it was. Yes there’s Valentines Day but that has its misery and President’s Day is a holiday spent wondering what you’re supposed to be celebrating. I discovered February’s wintery discontent of grime, gray and grind.

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Let the puddles begin.

Rich Reese helped me recognize there’s a February Survival Philosophy. It’s all in the article but despite any possible positive moments during this month, it’s still a dreaded time. We have to be grateful it ends early. It could have been those feelings of being stuck in an emergency room when I encountered thoughts that added to the gravitas. Reece’s advice boiled down to enduring the nastiness and not making hasty, irrational decisions as a result and not letting the season make you snappy. Consider that someone’s funk can be rooted in their own brand of “Februaryitis.” It’s nothing personal. Maybe they haven’t done the same soul searching that would bring them to the wisdom of Rich Reece.

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Remember your happy place.

In the middle this deep thinking, I came across an article from a copy of a magazine called Yoga Journal that I found in a Multnomah Village recycling bin. The article recommended people find a place to center themselves offering examples like sitting on a rock in nature. I know what you’re thinking, the Portland Orbit has resorted to writing second rate Yoga Journal style articles to boost circulation. Regardless, I like this idea but I prefer one sacred spot. I had a place where I sought refuge a long time ago, a giant tree on the edge of a golf course. It was a place of calm when life got heavy. Last summer I painted a picture at a Larry Yes Free Painting Event downtown. From my imagination, a psychedelic tree on the edge of a field emerged, it could have been a subconscious nod to this place I’d known. Sure your spot should bring tranquility. My Pit of Despair is the opposite but if I don’t find myself at the bottom of it, I’m doing all right and it merits repeated visits.

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Loose shoes.

Every day doesn’t have to be a battle but February can exacerbate feelings of living in survival mode. Last year I instituted a February tradition that I hope to continue provided I make it through the month. I celebrated the month’s end by buying a pair of cheap dress shoes, shoes I’d have no problem letting get beat up. After a year they are scuffed, torn and frayed. They reflect the kind of year its been. Chinese tariffs could kill this tradition or its death could come from my disinterest in shopping. I have yet to find a name for my pretend holiday. I just know the end of the month is worth celebrating. Please consider this public service announcement. Take “Februaritis” seriously and reward yourself if you can hang on until March.

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Rich Reece:  Life’s  a blur.

Fourth of July: Flags Unfurled

Capture the flag takes on a whole new meaning when you’re trying to get that shot, the one where a flag unfurls majestically revealing all of its stars and stripes in their full glory. It takes waiting for the right wind or snapping away hoping for that perfect patriotic tear inducing shot. Flags are out aplenty this time of year creating opportunities to make classic all-American images.

Unfurled in the reflection.

With an inflatable, wind sock and buntings the flag becomes secondary to this Uncle Sam scene but it does manage to sneak its way into the picture.

Porch breezes caught.

Stars are stripes are essential decorations for this holiday. Sneak them into an old flower pot and they’ll dress that up as well.

Ununfurled

Not every flag is in the right place to catch air. This flag is unable to display its faded glory. It can only hope to catch the right breeze.

Unfurling in a crazy wind.

The stripes of old glory here are encountering wind gusts from multiple angles making it tough to unflap its flapibility but it’s not with out effort.

Unfurling slowly.

A fun sculpture that attempts to heed a warning gets into the spirit of the Fourth of July with the addition of a small flag. Slow down, heed the patriotism revealed by this neon, plastic boy and dog and you’ll keep kids safe in the process.

Bright and sunny.

Taken from a new home built across from the Post Office, whoever gets this room is going to wake up to an amazing flag view. On sunny days the sight of this is sure to supercharge anyone’s patriotic fervor.

Barely breezy.

This flag speaks to me about rights and freedom of expression and respect for the goings on behind closed doors. This flag also gets replaced periodically when it becomes tattered. Regardless of what kind of dancing goes on in this establishment, even if bears dance bare,  I salute this flag.

Bud Light drinkers unite.

This one goes out to some time Portland Orbit contributor, Will Simmons, who made a crack about Budweiser drinkers in Portland. Here’s proof that somebody is at least trying to inspire people to drink Bud and his cousin Bud Light in this town.

At some point this year it occurred to me that the American flag had been coopted, that it had somehow has come to represent those who use it as a way to show themselves to be more patriotic and even more loyal to American ideals. Sure flag waving has always been a thing but as I aim to keep things light and fluffy around here my flag appreciation remains unfettered. Things in the U.S. are in a state of flux but the flag still represents the hope and a determinations our founding fathers set out for this country in their old school, powdered wig wearing ways. This post, an annual one, is an attempt to extol the joys of flag displays. I want to see the flag as something all Americans understand as well as stand behind. I encourage everyone to get creative with Fourth of July decorations, if only for my entertainment alone.

Have a happy July Fourth!

Go Fourth!

Sure the Fourth of July is all about picnics, fireworks and probably American beer but we can’t forget the decorations found around town.

This tradition was started by our cross country rival publication the Pittsburgh Orbit and has inspired a need to showcase displays of patriotism in the Portland area as well.

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I saw this display around 15th and Broadway in NE. It doesn’t explain itself but it makes good use of it’s window design, construction paper elements and symmetry to create an appealing, eye catching, festival of patriotism.

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This is a good example of an interior flag decals. Others I’ve seen are faded and peeling off. If this doesn’t make you put your hand over your heart and mumble the Pledge of Allegiance, I don’t know what will.

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At the tail end of my own shopping cart hysteria, I discovered this mobile can and bottle collecting vehicle chained to a sign at the end of our street. Its decor shouts undeniable patriotic fervor.

 

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Flag waving sentiments were found within a backdrop of pole art when a cloth flag was affixed to a utility pole in North Portland. This banner may not yet wave like the song says but it does make for a grungy addition of American spirit to an old pole.

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I like inflatable decorations of any kind, type or holiday so this Uncle Sam bear cub was destined to catch my eye and camera lens. The bear looks great in patriotic plastic. Here’s hoping he can dodge drifting fireworks sparks.

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Faded glory for sure but this one harkens back to the days when we were all proud to be an America back when Lee Greenwood was haunting many a concert stage. While the stripes have long since faded on the flag, the bumper sticker offers up a historical record of there having been yet another barber shop in Kenton.

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Having made it to the Vernonia Friendship Jamboree on a bike camping trip last summer, I saw this banner decoration attached to a sale sign. Stars and stripes are never a bad way to increase traffic to whatever kind of sale you wish to advertise.

See also: https://pittsburghorbit.wordpress.com/2016/07/04/flag-post-a-very-orbit-independence-day-2016/

 

Here’s to a Happy Valentine’s Day

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To keep up with our east coast Orbit rival, I find myself having to work holidays. Today it’s all love to everyone. Whether you’re spending an arm or a leg on a prix fixe meal at a fancy restaurant or cooking something amazing at home, I hope it’s the best Valentine’s Day meal you ever had and whether you’re gouging yourself with chocolate or hanging around the grocery store waiting for candy to be marked down 50%, well again it’s sounds like you’re experiencing Valentine’s Day at an optimal level. Enjoy!

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Seasons greetings and Happy Valentine’s Day from the Portland Orbit. Hope you make it a day of fun, love and calories.

 

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Happy New Year!

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The best advise for ringing in the new year came from this sleepwear I spotted that said, “Let’s drink Champagne & dance on the table.” With the exception of partying with Charli XCX and One Direction, I couldn’t imagine a better way to have celebrated the crossover from 2014 to 2015. Have a great new year!