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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mm449: Blast from the Past! No. 37

July 26, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Summer Saturday. Errands, and more errands. Chores. When’s the week start, so I can relax?

A DVD matinée. Very little time to blog. Ouch.

So, back into the archives yet again.

I console myself by guessing that most of you weren’t here nine months ago. As one of my favorite paper publications used to say: “If you haven’t read it yet, it’s new for you!”


Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last fall, and always in season, originally posted October 11, 2007, and originally titled “mm167: Writer’s Diarrhea.”

MUDGE’S Musings

… is the opposite of writer’s block, right?

So another blog about blogging. Why bother? Take two Imodium and call me in the morning.

There’s never a lack of news and features to write about. Although, today…

There are frequently referenced topics in this space that could stand another post, MUDGE: web conferencing, our latest profession.

Or, the odd current interest (some of you must feel) in UAVs: unmanned aerial vehicles or, robot aircraft.

Or, politics: impeachment (first Cheney, then Bush); Michael Bloomberg; this horribly mismanaged war.

Or, air travel, probably our most popular topic (thanks, Patrick Smith [who actually noticed and commented on one of our several references to his wonderful column — talk about finding a plankton in the Pacific]!).

Or, technology, especially One Laptop Per Child, a wonderful initiative deserving of everyone’s support.

But not today.

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mm435: No words left

July 10, 2008
© Duncan De young |

MUDGE’s Musings

Spent the day writing.

Spent the last 90 minutes trolling the ‘Sphere for good topics with which  yr (justifiably) humble svt could wax heroic with strong opinions and typically pithy bons mots.

But when it came time to pull one of them up and start waxing and pithing, I found myself out of steam.

Because I spent the day writing. That pesky day job that pays (many of) the bills.

Writing a draft communication to three separate communities regarding our team’s upcoming (that light at the end of the tunnel might be an onrushing train) upgrade to the web conferencing application we support.

It was a challenge, about 17 pages (no big type! no pictures!) all told between the three documents, although there was much duplication and paraphrasing between them.

So, no glass half full, or glass half empty conversations tonight.

This glass is done.

Check back here next time, because first thing tomorrow I’m headed to the wordsmith station for a fill up. Hope I can afford today’s high priced blend.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm425: Short attention span blogging returns!

June 30, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

The Prime Directive of Blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily, has run head-on into the brick wall of fatigue.

Mrs. MUDGE, gathering a bunch of old clothes for a charity pick up tomorrow, has inspired us to gather some stories that we’ve stockpiled but simply can’t do more than whiff at them over the past few days.

So perhaps we’ll just showcase six of them without commentary, just this once. Pretend we’re without the social networking trappings. Call this post: “(th)read(bare)it.” Or not.

1. The NYTimes takes a look at a brand new, cost saving (and, get this!, the savings seem to be mostly passed onto the consumer!) gallon milk jug.

New Milk Jug Leads to Cost Savings and Spills

2. The MUDGE household has been weaning itself from the bottled water habit for the past several months. We’re in the minority,apparently.

What’s Colorless and Tasteless And Smells Like . . . Money? –

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mm421: Blast from the Past! No. 30

June 26, 2008

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.


Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From last summer, originally posted September 16, 2007, and originally titled “mm144: WIWICWLT #4.”

MUDGE’S Musings

Wow! I wish I could write like that!

We’ll keep this short. Almost choked on my lunch today while catching up with the best magazine on the planet, The Economist.

In an otherwise sober story about motorcycle gangs in England (who knew?) the following sentence appears:

… The victim, G[…], was a member of the Hells Angels, a biker gang that has a difficult relationship with the law (and with apostrophes)….

Wow! I wish I could write like that!

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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mm377: Blast from the Past! No. 19

May 12, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.


Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From our early days, originally posted August 30, 2007.

mm122: Simone Dinnerstein plays the Goldberg Variations

MUDGE’S Musings

Danger! Western Cultural

Treasures Content!

Run Away!

Did you ever read a novel, a newspaper or magazine article, a blog posting and say: “Wow, I wish I could write like that!”?

I had one of those WIWICWLT! moments the other day, when I encountered this outstanding music review in Slate. And, I don’t usually read music reviews, in Slate, or anywhere else.

Evan Eisenberg absolutely made me want to get out there and buy the music CD described. And believe MUDGE when he tells you that purchasing a classical music CD is probably the least likely act he might have been tempted to commit in these budget constrained times before reading this story.

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mm364: Blast from the Past! No. 16

April 30, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.


Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From our early days, originally posted August 10, 2007.

mm098: Remembering Robert Heinlein

MUDGE’S Musings (begun on the road)

So, here I am back in the sultry Midwest, returned at about midnight the night before last from the sultry east coast and a professional conference.

As frequent reader can tell, the change of routine played havoc with my blogging habits, which, with few exceptions (my son’s marriage in early July, for a happy example) have been fairly regular for the past three months since we began in earnest.

So, let’s pick up where I left off, attempting to piece together an interesting series of articles linked together for me by Arts and Letters Daily blogroll2_thumb , a wonderful site that I am guilty of visiting insufficiently regularly.


BOSTON — Third morning, and last one, here at a conference sponsored by one of our enterprise’s primary IT vendors, IBM Lotus.

Doubt we’ll finish this post until after we’re safely back on our home turf, but we’ll take a stab at getting some of this done before we pack up for the last few sessions.

Boston is a great town for tourists, although in a business conference there is precious little time for tourism, but it’s been fun to walk around, at least a bit, and enjoy life at street level.

This morning, of course, it’s pouring rain, so we’ll confine our observations from the 35th floor hotel room we’re about to vacate. Nice town. Great view.

And for this Midwestern unfortunate, absolutely wonderful seafood. Don’t have a picture of the cioppino I enjoyed at Legal Sea Food Monday night, but I can share the view…


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mm306: The rare commercial message

March 5, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

We don’t do a lot of selling here at Left-Handed Complement; just as well. My entire adult life has been spent proving repeatedly that yr (justifiably) humble svt is absolutely justified to have abject humility when it comes to his ability to sell.

Thus, when we make the rare exception, it’s usually for a good reason.

A close friend of a close friend is publishing a new study of America in the time of Richard Nixon. I’ve seen a pre-production copy, and it’s the real deal.

If you treasure the memory of David Halberstam, you will absolutely cherish Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America,” to be published in May, and available for pre-order at

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mm268: Sometimes it’s personal

January 28, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Yr (justifiably) humble svt has been practicing this hobby? trade? avocation? for nearly nine months. Early on, I was exposed to the Prime Directive of Blogging: Thou Shalt Blog Daily!

Okay, started (seriously) 07-May-2007… tonight it’s 28-January-2008… (as discussed previously) … 266 days … this is mm268 (and there have been some WCW’s and decimals) and tells me that I’ve produced 293 posts up to now: I have met the Prime Directive of Blogging. 293 posts in 266 days. Whew!

With some difficulty. Take this week, for example. And by week, I’m referring to the past seven days, actually just the past six will do.

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mm259: Nomination

January 19, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s in the air, right?

Just finished nominating our favorite blogging host, to the Webware 100 2008 awards.

webware100 Nominated in two categories, the obvious, Publishing and photography, and also the less obvious category, Social.

Nominations continue until January 25.

This was a no-brainer (just as well, I know); is a wonderful service that … okay, here’s what my two-sentence (that’s the rules, folks — if I want to say more, that’s what is for!) nomination stated: hosts free of charge (for most) over 2,100,000 blogs, smoothly providing state of the art technology, awesome (it’s free, right?) reliability and brilliant, cheerful customer service. The very model of a modern web “better mousetrap” that also has grown into a unique global community of writers.

Yeah, when MUDGE gushes, the tub overflows. They’ll toss me out of the Curmudgeon’s Guild for sure. But, this is sincere.

I embraced this Web 2.0 adventure the world calls blogging seriously only last May. 275 or so posts later, Left-Handed Complement remains a force for good in a life that turns out was waiting forever for the opportunity and venue to write.

Thanks, faithful reader, for faithfully reading.

It’s satisfying also to have made the jump from voracious web content consumer (for 15 or more years!) to provider of content, even if confined to this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©.

And, entry into the social world of blogging that has become a fascinating destination in and of itself, threatening at times to swamp the time destined for writing.

wordpress1 As I’ve written consistently through the months (some of the more recent: here, here, here and speaking especially about the social networking element here), has provided the means to effortlessly exercise insufficiently used writing muscles, with little technical muss or fuss.

And, as a professional IT person, I know full well that only ferociously creative effort behind the scenes keeps it so simple and reliable where our rubber meets the road.

When the Webware 100 voting begins in February, and is indeed on the list of nominees, yr (justifiably) humble svt will operate in typical Chicago election fashion: voting early and often.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


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