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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Associate US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's Talk

3/11/2014

I spent an evening with Justice Sotomayor and over 2,700 patrons (including about 900 local high school students) in Portland's Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. While the nearby Portland Art Museum held an overflow crowd of about 1,000 additional folks watching a live simulcast.

It was presented by the Literary Arts (www.literary-arts.org), the Multnomah County Library and The Library Foundation.

It was being recorded for later broadcast on OPB.

"The Schnitz" - Built in 1928



Sonia Sotomayor was appointed by President Obama in 2009 as the first Latina person to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her recent book "My Beloved World" is a New York Times best seller. To quote the Christian Science Monitor's review of the book "A surprising wealth of candor, wit and affection. No topic is off limits, not her diabetes, her father's death, her divorce, her cousin's death from AIDS."

The Washington Post said: "Anyone wondering how a child raised in public housing, without speaking English, by an alcoholic father and a largely absent mother could become the first Latina on the Supreme Court will find the answers in these pages."

She will be sixty in a couple of months and last September she went back to riding a bicycle.

Earlier this afternoon she spent time talking with students at a local high school. At 7:30pm, she began her talk by addressing the importance of books, more specifically the written word, especially in the age of the internet.

She shared about four or five reasons why she decided to write her book. She wanted to capture the memories of her life, to remind herself of where she came from and that no one is self-made.  She said, "From trauma we grow; one of the greatest teachers in life is failure."

What makes a good memoir? She replied, "Insights born from a caring deep within." She said that writing her her book was a journey of discovery and sadness but also of important realizations. Some examples she provided included: most families don't grow close except through tragedy; fear is the most debilitating of all emotions; she's had a deeply blessed life; and it's best to always deal with others with grace and compassion.

When asked what book or character was most inspiring to her in her younger years, she replied, "Lord of the Flies." She explained that she identified with the young child who tried to keep order.

Other questions and answers focused on sexism in the court system, her early days as a Supreme Court Justice, advice from Justice John Paul Stevens, the process of finding the right career and the important things she has learned from being a judge.

After nearly an hour and a half of speaking without notes (all the while standing and walking around the stage), she was told by the moderator, "We have time for two more questions." To which she quickly inquired, "Why?"

The crowd roared. She went on to answer more than a dozen additional questions from the audience. At the end, she invited all who had asked questions to come to the stage for a photo with her.

Her talk was clear, substantive and personal. Looking down from the upper balcony, I saw an audience in rapt attention for nearly two hours.

I was very glad I attended.




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Aunt Peg Leverone

3/5/2014
My aunt Peggy (Margaret "Cole" Leverone) passed away this morning only a few days after her 89th birthday. She was the last living aunt (or uncle) on my father's side of our family and was the spouse of my uncle Larry (Law) after whom I was named. They were the first relatives to whom I "came out."

I hold onto fond memories of my time with them in Medford Massachusetts, Wells Maine and Venice Florida. When I was a child, they were the relatives who visited our home on Christmas eves. Jim and I shared many a lobster and crown royal with them on the coast of Maine.

In recent years I particularly enjoyed listening to my aunt Peg share her well informed and strongly held political views during our frequent phone conversations. We discussed politics only a few weeks ago.

My cousin Margaret Ann, their oldest daughter, was at her side today and during the last several years.

Aunt Peg and Uncle Larry during a visit to Ogunquit Maine

Uncle Law's Flag for service in the U.S. Navy during the Korean Conflict

Uncle Law at a younger age


Shared many a BBQ with my aunt and uncle

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Journey Through The Later Years.

At my age (68) many spend a lot of time alone. Well not quite alone; solitude can often become an intimate companion. I share some of my writings on the subject below.  However, I will begin by sharing a poem recently written by a friend who's a tad bit older than I am:

DECISION TIME

When I become old,
as I know I surely may,
what might I see and hear and feel
to fill my aged day.

Will there be mist upon my face,
a snowflake falling to my tongue?
Can I walk barefoot in the grass
as I did when I was young?

Will there be sounds of trickling stream
a mighty ocean's roar,
the deep voice of a small tree frog
come at night through my open door?

Will hummingbirds wings beat too fast to see
as they hover over my flowering rose?
Will a seagull soar still-winged for an hour,
a quick gray mouse escape a talon's close?

Will some kind lady return my smile,
a neighbor's hand grasp firm on mine.
Will the sun bake firm upon my back,
and a myriad night stars shine?

Well, then!
Why not become old?

Gus Daum
January, 2014


Over a dozen years ago I wrote about sitting alone in front of a fireplace:

The warmth during these moments is always so real, genuinely calming me inside. Just you and I are here. Your brightness grabs my attention. I try to disappear into your essence. It's amazing how we befriend each other, so quickly, every time. Your flame is always changing and my mood rarely the same. As your passion diminishes to a flicker, my feelings and thoughts give way to dreams. When I awake and you are gone, I am chilled. But your warmth remains as a sweet memory. 
- excerpt from "Before Memories Fail"

A few years ago, after walking alone down NW Burnside Street in Portland Oregon, I entered a pub called Hobo's, sat at a table alone and wrote the following:


I’m blessed


They lie there
curled up and nearly hidden
beneath gray woolen  blankets
on a cold and damp autumn night.

I pass by
and linger at the sight
when the thought arrives:

Not me;
I’m blessed.

I enter a pub
where partners hug
and friends greet friends
near the warmth of a winter fire.
I reflect and
feel  jealous
at the sight
when the thought arrives:

I’m sad;
But I’m blessed.

Off to the side gather
the young, the energetic
with voices rising,
eyes shining,
hair full and radiant.
I pause and enjoy the sight
and yield to an aching
when the thought arrives:

I’m old
But I’m blessed.

Atlantic Ocean in Oqunquit Maine

Heron on Lost Lagoon at Stanley Park Vancouver BC Canada


A Morning Moment


The gentle splash of the water's ripple
against the horizontal reeds
at the lake's edge;

The quick and crisp dialogue
of the birds overhead;

The dance and whir of the insects
on the water's surface;

All
the company I keep.

I am chilled by the damp log;
my front row seat,
in this outdoor theatre;

Act one of today's play.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Two Days of Snow and Ice Visit Eugene Oregon (Feb 2014)

Please click on this post's title to read or enter comments.
Weather hit Eugene with a snow and ice storm like I've never seen since I left New England and Washington DC some 16 years ago.

See a few photos below.

Since I can walk to two Egan Warming Centers, I did four shifts: Wed overnight (10pm to 6am) and Fri Early Morning (6am to 9am) at First Christian Church and Early Morning Saturday (6am to 8am) at St. Mary's. Episcopal Church followed by Saturday night (5pm to 10pm) at both centers.

Egan's small contribution to the huge needs of the unhoused in our community is to provide emergency shelter when severe cold wether threatens lives.

To learn more about Egan Warming Centers please click on the following link:
http://eganwarmingcenter.com/

A number of the Egan volunteers come from Occupy Medical. To find out more about Occupy Medical click on www.occupy-medical.org

I want to recognize the leads with whom I worked: Madi, Ashley, Melissa and Bullhorn. They are amazing souls with amazing grace. All the volunteers I worked with inspired me with their patience, kindness and hard work.

Most trees along my walk were laden with ice

Please, don't take me on the road today!

Tree into SELCO (Credit Union) across street from where I live

High Street - My Apartment Building is on the right

Who did this to me?


Sidewalk on High Stree

11th Avenue looking east at 5:30am Saturday Feb 8, 2014

Pearl Street on way home at 8am Saturday February 8, 2014

Footsteps in Tire Tracks - TRACK TOWN USA
Needed to abandon EMX at Gateway

Speaks for itself

Yet, if I looked hard enough there is some beauty in all of this.


From poem  Invictus by William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.: Words to Remember


Four Excerpts from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”
Written by The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
16 April 1963

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial "outside agitator" idea. Anyone who lives inside the United States can never be considered an outsider anywhere within its bounds.”


“But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth. Just as Socrates felt that it was necessary to create a tension in the mind so that individuals could rise from the bondage of myths and half truths to the unfettered realm of creative analysis and objective appraisal, so must we see the need for nonviolent gadflies to create the kind of tension in society that will help men rise from the dark depths of prejudice and racism to the majestic heights of understanding and brotherhood.”


“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.”


“Human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability; it comes through the tireless efforts of men willing to be co workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right. Now is the time to make real the promise of democracy and transform our pending national elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.”