mm504: Numb, but thawing

September 28, 2008
© Sharon Kennedy |

© Sharon Kennedy |

Trying not to feel too guilty about this month’s continuing violations of the blogger’s prime directive: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

Guilty, your honor, with an excuse.

It’s not like there haven’t been extraordinary events to write about, in the big world out there, and in the not quite silent interior world each of us populate, eternally alone.

Faithful reader will have noted the personal elements that seem to have cost us our creative rhythm.

Complicated, lately, by the recent edition of MUDGElet No. 3’s 50-inch HD plasma television (if the empty nest had to be invaded, at least there’s an extra dividend!), just in time for the football season and the exciting (for Chicagoans, surprisingly exciting) baseball late and post-season.

Football, especially, on the elderly 13-inch conventional TV that sits on a file cabinet in our home office, pales in comparison. And the only laptop in my possession (two, actually, in my custody) belongs to my employer, and it wouldn’t occur to me to blog on those machines. Inappropriate.

So, it’s a tough call, choosing between blogging and high-definition spectator sport, especially in these personally emotionally draining times, and especially on this Sunday evening when the often frustrating home team Bears are giving the Eagles a fight.

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mm498: In her own words

September 16, 2008
© Constantin Opris |

© Constantin Opris |

So, on a beautiful, late summer afternoon, supported by family and some old friends, we buried her.

She was 81 years old, with four unique children, and lived long enough to see her nine surviving grandchildren grow into accomplished adults (the last three graduated college this past spring); and meet and get to know three great-grandchildren, the youngest of whom, born this past February, my lovely niece named for our long-deceased father.

Though made hollow by a disease whose terminal nature she was only slowly coming to grips with, she refused to give in to it, staying active and alert to the end, an end that was mercifully sudden.

She always told us that she would have to be carried out of that amazing lakefront home; and that’s exactly what occurred.

Yesterday, in the course of going through some old papers, my brother found an envelope from December, 1983, when she was a healthy 56 years old, marked “To my family.”

Once he read the handwritten letter to us, we realized that there was nothing more to do than to have him read it as her eulogy at the graveside service.

Turns out that there was more than one writer in the family.

“An unexamined life is not worth living.” Plato’s Apologia

Having reached the age and stage where one begins to think about how I would hope to be remembered, I write these words:

A very private person with a strong sense of self, I have always been inner directed. Yet because I’ve known what is most important to me, I have been a participant in a viable loving marriage and as my supreme accomplishment have raised children I am proud to know as friends. They will attest that, as they were growing up their mother frequently said, ‘it isn’t what one does that is important, but what one is’—and this I do believe! Core values—integrity, honesty, commitment have been a way of life for all of us. And in a world so readily torn asunder, the extended ties of family have been valued. Our differences perceived and accepted but a sense of loyalty extended. And it gives me pleasure to see my children’s good marriages and the transmission of an Ethical Code to their children.

Philosophically, I have never believed in a single answer, a single truth, a single solution, (nor, if pressed, a single God). Nor have I been paralyzed by crisis or confusion. That always has perhaps been my greatest strength: a quick assessment of the changed situation and an ability to decide upon a plan of action. I could make a decision. Between crises I have been content to retreat—perhaps to heal.

The recipient of a good education—I graduated from the University of Chicago at 18—provided by loving parents, I grew up as a person as opposed to merely a member of my sex. And without the need to advertise I have been comfortable with my Jewish identity. I have believed in understanding the world as I’ve found it, not only in the political sense but in more basic terms. Through a lifetime of extensive reading I acquired what one professional called “a gift of analysis”! This was sometimes helpful to my husband, but more satisfying to me.

We are all paradoxes; I’ve been no exception. I’ve liked stage center on my terms—and have always been happier leading a class than attending one. Yet, I’m equally content beachcombing and being alone with my books and garden.

‘Authorities’ have had little appeal in my life, as you might guess. I’ve always questioned. And I have always reserved the right to decide for myself what I do. That isn’t always noted by the world at large because I’ve never needed to lead the parade.

What I’ve had little patience for is the mediocre—in me or in others. Fine music (but well played), dynamic theatre and dance (not the second rate), good movies, exciting painting—all please. Above all, I love well-written books. However, I think I myself stopped painting when I realized that mine was third-rate stuff; the mere doing wasn’t enough.

I’ve had a good life. A warm relationship with parents and grandparents. Happily an extended period with my Mother. S___ has provided a stimulating life for us, filled more dramatically than most, plus such beauties as greenhouses in our home on the Lake and extended foreign travel—and such terrors as brain tumors and open heart surgery. I have come through a smashed hip and can walk (and indeed dance) again.

We have had special friends who have been valued because they have been equally ready to participate in our lives whether the days be good ones or horrid. And they have not kept us at arms length in their lives.

And it has been a distinct pleasure to know my grandchildren. There’s nothing I value more. With good luck I will see them grow and mature.

As I read what I’ve written, I’m not really sure I’ve scratched the proverbial surface. I’ll have to return to this later. How can one really explain one’s life?

And, remarkably, she wrote her own eulogy. In control to the end.

Goodbye, Mother.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm497: Gone

September 13, 2008
© Amy Dunn |

© Amy Dunn |

My dear mother, Natalie, died today.

She was not a religious woman, certainly not a Roman Catholic, but loved Mozart, a love she faithfully passed on to me.

I think she would approve of this as an appropriate way to start to say good-bye.

update: if video is missing (, help!), click on the following link:

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm495: Family and politics

September 11, 2008
© Susy56 |

© Susy56 |

Once again, it’s nearly 9:00pm as I begin to figure out what to say tonight, pretty late for a guy whose alarm goes off at 5:10am, and who lived a full day’s worth already.

The pace and obligations at work are picking up, heading for a crunch. Admittedly, I’ve been coasting a bit, working best, I’ve found after 42 years and counting in the workforce, with do or die deadlines. Well, it’s that time.

Meanwhile, the home front is typically turbulent. Our L.A. daughter is finally (after more than two weeks) home from a hospitalization caused by her continuing battle with Crohn’s disease, a devastating intestinal condition that I have underlying guilt about since it seems to be inherited from my side of the family.

Our youngest, who himself was hospitalized the same day and released two days later, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, for which, thankfully, there is effective pharmaceutical treatment; unlike, we’ve all been dismayed to learn, my daughter’s Crohn’s; very serious surgery is going to have to be her relief. And, guess what? MUDGElet No. 3’s bipolar disorder? Also from yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s side of the family tree. Oy, the guilt!

He is living here with us (unable as yet to support himself while he recovers from his breakdown), which is a disconcerting alteration in Mrs. MUDGE‘s and my reasonably comfortable empty nest routine, as well as a financial, and emotional burden.

And, speaking of routine, our middle son, and his wife, and our granddog, greet us every day around 6:00am, as their nearby condominium’s one and only bathroom is being rehabbed, and showers before work, for the humans — I do draw the line! — are necessary.

And my dear mother continues to battle her dread disease, acute myeloid leukemia; still living on her own at age 81, but lately causing her family increased anxiety after taking a fall last weekend. That black eye at the top of this post doesn’t do justice to hers.

So that’s why Faithful Reader has seen more than a few of our recycled posts over the past several weeks.

Not for lack of material, however, as the election circus goes into its final stage.

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mm485: Celebrating small "L" labor

August 31, 2008
© Irisangel |

© Irisangel |

The first Monday in September is celebrated as Labor Day in the U.S.

Always enjoyed the three-day weekend, but as the middle class scion of a entrepreneurial family, never had much sympathy for the cause of organized labor in this country. As time has passed, however, my attitude has evolved.

In my defense, organized labor had long since won its important battles as I came of age, and was as established and comfortable as its so-called adversary, big business.

In an expansive economy, business finally realized that labor peace was well worth the expense, and in an expansive economy could pass that expense along to its Consumerist Age customers.

As Henry Ford, that brilliant, miserable anti-Semite, revealed to a shocked world, well paid workers can afford to purchase the products they labor to produce for you. I’m not being sarcastic — this was an incredible breakthrough.

The lasting images of pot-bellied union representatives cozily dealing with their pot-bellied corporate counterparts; and the often hinted (and sometimes proven) relationship between organized labor and organized crime; all this kept yr (justifiably) humble svt from feeling too much sympathy for what seemed an obsolete cause.

Portly and comfortable, labor long since lost its fighting trim, and paid the price as business steadily, and with little fear of labor’s confrontation, moved jobs, first to union free states mainly in the Southern U.S., and ultimately to Canada, Mexico and offshore altogether.

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mm480: Beat up

August 26, 2008
© Susy56 |

© Susy56 |

MUDGE’s Musings

Sometimes, you just have to admit defeat.

Or, perhaps, you just need to take a breather.

Tonight is a night that calls out for a break.

No sooner does one of our children get out of a suburban Chicago hospital, than another is admitted to a suburban Los Angeles one. Serious and painful, but, thankfully, not life threatening.

But, it’s beating us up, all of these health issues, especially when they don’t allow us to nurse our own mental and physical aches and pains.

So it’s shell-shocked times here at Casa MUDGE.

But, we’ll answer the bell for the next round.

That’s what adults do.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm477: A family affair, with granddog

August 23, 2008
© D |

© D |

MUDGE’s Musings

As I begin it’s near the nominal end of a summer Saturday; normally I might have had the opportunity to create some kind of post much earlier, but today was not normal, but that’s acceptable. Today was a beautiful day, and it had very little to do with the weather.

Disposed of the usual Saturday morning errand, grocery shopping, in reasonable fashion although closer to noon, having slept in somewhat later than is common.

Picked up MUDGElet No. 3 at his studio in his grandmother’s basement, took him to lunch at a sandwich shop on the way north to my favorite annual outdoor art fair. Mrs. MUDGE had determined that she was going to pass on the opportunity, due to the 90/90 (degrees Fahrenheit/percent humidity) weather, and the dire state of our discretionary art budget, and I was glad of the company.

We didn’t spend a long time there, but he especially enjoyed our stroll up and down one small section of what usually is a sprawling affair spread across several suburban downtown streets and parking areas.

Distressed economy note: fewer exhibitors, and many fewer members of the visual art loving public today (in previous years this particular event has been wall-to-wall people), but those in attendance appeared to be having a good time.

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mm475: An odd and disconcerting day

August 21, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

… and not much to say about it.

Worked on location at the beginning of it, and reasonably productively from home at the end. The middle, was smiling and grim, institutional and emotional.

And we, and our man-child, remain on a tightrope.

Some days, the blogger’s prime directive, Thou Shalt Blog Daily!, is best observed very simply, and with brevity.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm471: Art and artists

August 17, 2008


MUDGE’s Musings

The photo was taken under desperately overmatched conditions at a live concert in a Chicago club called Subterranean last night.

The track just below the photo was the number performed, called “Juicy Love,” a track on a new release by MUDGElet No. 3, AKA Release. The soloist, who goes by the nom de musique Scarlet Monk, also wrote the lyrics for that track.

She’s front and center, the composer, producer and evening’s promoter can be discerned, only sketchily, in the background. He was fully there, mind you, but the camera phone I used was not up to the task of getting a decent shot under low light conditions from our perch in the balcony.

Here’s a track showcasing some more of the electronic artistry of Release:

The concert was the release party for the new album, which by the way, is available (as of this writing) as a free download at his colleague’s website:, which also provides a MySpace link to the artist, himself. Check it out.

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mm458: Reunion

August 4, 2008


MUDGE’s Musings

That group of 28+ verdurous folks smiling at you were posing at our reunion weekend picnic in a clean and well maintained Chicago park this past Saturday afternoon.

The photographer was MUDGElet No. 3’s new serious girlfriend, so new that we didn’t have a green shirt (designed by a 10 year old cousin and her seven year old sister, members of Generation 4) for her, and the lack of appropriate uniform, and the newness, made her the logical choice for portrait photographer.

Too bad, actually, since she’s by far the most photogenic (adult, at any rate) of the bunch! [Important note to MUDGElet No. 3: Family consensus: she’s a keeper (and that’s before they saw this portrait!).]

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