Friday, October 11, 2013


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Ham Radio. Full title: Mom Does Ham Radio Now That Dad is Gone.
A really odd (no surprise) inspiration is behind this title:
There's a man who lives a few doors down from me. This guy has a leaf blower and every Sunday in late summer/ autumn he is outside his property obsessively blowing leaves from here to there for hours at a time. I've observed him blowing them from the sidewalk to the street, and from street side blowing them out from underneath neighbor's cars... back onto the sidewalk? He's probably in his late fifties and he's sweating from this. The blower is constantly running so when he walks in a direction to blow leaves one way, and then turns to walk back, he's now kind of blowing stuff back in the direction from whence he came. It's maddening to watch and he is meticulous with this chore. I'm sure he feels like he's doing the neighborhood a favor, because I have seen him blowing the leaves off parked car's hoods and windshields.
One day he was using the blower from about 4 in the afternoon until about 9:30 PM. I watched him and I got closer and closer to him. In his frantic scurrying, he did not even notice me in his peripheral. I eventually gestured and he looked up, saw me, and turned the blower off. I said, "Hello... What are you doing?"
He said, "I'm cleaning off the sidewalk."
I said, "Okay, but it's 9:30 on a Sunday night. Maybe if you have a rake and a broom? You know what I'm saying?"
He said, "I'm almost done."
I said thanks and began to walk away.
He then asked, "You live around here?"
I turned and said, "Yes."
He asked, "Where about?"
I said, "Close enough." and the blower immediately turned back on so he could finish the task.
Even though I was irritated by all of this I started to fabricate a reason for his insanity. I imagined the guy lives alone and his partner tragically died years ago. This guy copes with the loss through obsessive cleaning. He must interact with every last flake of leaf and every last particle of dust, all of which blow around into finer and finer clouds of debris on those fateful Sunday nights.
Ham radio is a hobby involving people from all walks of life. The term "ham" is derived from the terms hobby and amateur. Many ham radio operators build their own equipment and broadcast from their own homes. It's a hobby for those who want to reach out to the world and make a connection with others. I could imagine this hobby helping someone cope with loss. In the scenario in my painting, a mother is observed after the passing of the father. This hobby is perhaps a little atypical for Mom's personality, but the child observing finds it to be just as intriguing as it may be concerning.

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