Archives for the month of: August, 2014

I realize that this post is a little late but I wanted to share it. I promise to catch you all up in the coming weeks on what has been a very busy and eventful fall semester!

It was the first day of classes of the fall semester 2014. The start of school is always a hectic time, but this year felt even more chaotic than usual. I had my classes prepared and ready to go, both Torts and Poverty Law. Up early, I headed to school in plenty of time for class only to notice that on the day I meet my new students for the first time, I have on mismatched shoes. Now, they’re special shoes because Mom bought them, both pair while I was dean. She used to go shopping for me, for the things she thought I would need in that role. It was super sweet of her. Even when she purchased something I’d never have purchased for myself I always appreciated the fact that she took the time, and spent her limited dollars to help ensure my success. In fact, it makes my heart full just sharing that with you. These particular shoes were white strap sandals (in my defense) that were quite similar. See for yourself.

Ooops!

Ooops!

My class either didn’t notice or were too polite to point it out, but to add to the craziness, the strap broke on one shoe, just as I started class. The students were wonderful. In fact, for the first time I can remember (I’m pretty certain ever) several of them came up after class to introduce themselves. It was fantastic! Have I told you I love teaching? If not, I do, truly. My students (yes they belong to me—at least I claim them) are inspirational, challenging, funny and smart. After covering the first chapter of the text, we watched the documentary, Hot Coffee.  My Poverty Law class that afternoon was also great. Though we didn’t engage as much as I did with my Torts class, their feedback was positive and I look forward to our discussions. After the preliminaries in Poverty Law, we watched The Line. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a social conscience and cares about the plight of people who are poor. I also renewed my pledge to get connected to and working with Legal Services before the end of the semester.

Home

Later that day, I headed up to see Mom, stopping first to pick up a chocolate malt at Braum’s. She was in a sad mood when I arrived, as she had been “travelling all day” and was tired. The milkshake was “Just the thing, and hit the spot!” We sat outside for a long while and she shared her day with me. I’ve learned not to correct, but to engage her where she is. It was lovely time well spent. I showed her my mismatched shoes and she commented, “that’s a little bit odd. Why did you do that?” I had no explanation, but I did remind her she bought them for me. “Like that?” “No, I said you actually gave me matched pairs. I did that.” “Oh,” she said. “Thank God! I have a lot of problems and I don’t need to own that.” And we both cracked up laughing.

Mom825

When we went back inside, I was putting her clean clothes away and noticed that her bottom dresser drawer was in pieces. Now, I did take wood shop in high school, but as my friends can attest (Carol Goforth, Melissa Lee, Carol Gattis and Steve Sheppard) I should not put things together. It’s just not my forte (to put it mildly). So I did what any good daughter would do. I outsourced. I took a picture of the broken drawer and asked on FB if anyone could fix it.

broken dresser

Before I got to my car to leave (amazing) Laura Sparks Adams and her husband Forrest responded and came to the rescue. I live in a truly amazing place, with such loving folk. They were there in a flash and had the drawer reassembled, glued and nailed back together in no time. Mom asked to be propped up so she could observe all the excitement from her bed, and thanked them several times for their help. I add my thanks to hers and know that we are both blessed to have folks who care so much for us both. It is a fact that I don’t take for granted.

Lauren & Forrest to the Rescue
On the ride home, I made a detour to do a little shopping for the next day’s Panty Raid. This is an event sponsored by Womenade of Northwest Arkansas on behalf of the women at the Peace at Home Family Shelter. The mission of Womanade is to “give our time, our talents, and our treasures to help and preserve the dignity of those in need.” It exists to help those who have a need which cannot be met by area non-profits or other agencies. Typically, this is an urgent need where no other help exists. The Panty Raid a gathering of women who are invited to come, relax and bring undies that are donated to the shelter. I’m looking forward to the event, and can truly say the semester started with a magic Monday.

Panty Raid

P.S. The “Panty Raid” was a big success. Through Womanade, we collectively we donated 315 pairs of women’s underwear, and 113 pair of children’s underwear to Peace at Home Family Shelter  Here are a few pictures. By the way, I’ve posted a flyer for our next event, “Bring Bling” at bottom of this post.

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bringbling

 

 

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A couple of weeks ago I attended The Law School Admission Council Board retreat in Park City, Utah. It was my first trip to Utah, and so while I read the materials and was prepared for, and interested in our discussions, I was also looking forward to seeing the area. It wasn’t an easy trip though. My initial plane out of Northwest Arkansas was delayed. When I arrived in Dallas, that flight was also delayed, and the plane was eventually pulled from service due to mechanical trouble. That made my arrival into Utah much later than expected. The irony was that my original flight was at 7:00 a.m. and the shuttle arrived at 5:15. Ugh, it made for a very long travel day. However, the view from the plane as we were arriving in Salt Lake, suggested it was worth the hassle (setting aside for a moment the importance of the meeting).

2014-07-31 15.09.22When I arrived, I felt a bit loopy. I don’t know whether it was lack of sleep, crazy travel, or altitude. I grabbed my luggage and picked up the rental car. While I was in line, I ran into fellow board member Athur Pinto and his partner, Stephen Bohlen. Had I known I’d arrive at the same time as they did, I would have ridden with them. It turned out to be okay in the long run though, because there were other folks at the retreat, without cars, and we were able to get out and look around together.

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I have learned over time that trying to do too many things at one time (especially as it pertains to driving) is never a good idea. So, I sat in the parking deck, pulled up my Mapquest app, entered the hotel address, and got the radio tuned to NPR before pulling out. It didn’t help me initially though.  I ended up looping around the enclosed area, behind the parking deck, from which there was no exit. A guy with a heavy Eastern European accent flagged me over after my second pass by and told me how to get out. From there the drive was fine, and quite lovely.

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As I arrived, I bumped into board members Marie Jivan and Christina Whitman, visiting in the lobby. We hatched a plan to do a little sightseeing and to grab dinner in Park City. I dumped my bags and we headed off in my SUV rental, having confirmed the location of the Harley store. (Surely, given the beauty of the area, the t-shirts would be keepers.) We got into town late afternoon, parked and walked Main Street, ducking in and out of the many boutiques, jewelry stores and gift shops–and of course stopped at the Harley shop.

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I didn’t realize until Marie pointed it out, that Park City is the home of the Sundance Film Festival, which you can read more about here.  It was also one of the sites of the 2002 Winter Olympics, another fact that eluded me until someone pointed it out. I felt that I had been in “go” mode so much lately–prepping for the meetings and getting from one meeting to the other, that I hadn’t put two and two together. I was even more grateful for Marie and Chris’ company as  they helped me take the time to stop and appreciate where we were. Park City2014-08-03 09.09.37

After a while, we had worked up an appetite and chose Bistro 412 for dinner. We were glad we did. Our server was excellent, the atmosphere relaxing and comfortable, and the food, terrific. By the time we ended a very leisurely meal, it was time to head back to the hotel and rest. The time difference was catching up with us, and so after a glass of wine back at the hotel, we said goodnight.

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Settling in for the day’s work

The next day the retreat filled the entire day. We grappled with a number of important questions about the future of the practice of law, law schools, and LSAC itself. Everyone worked hard, participated, and was quite thoughtful. By the end of the day, we were looking forward to relaxing. We enjoyed a group dinner in the hotel that night and were back at work again the next morning. On that second day, we adjourned with time to get out and sight see. Some folks went on the bobsled ride at Olympic Village and rode the lifts to enjoy the views, while several of us went into Park City to enjoy the Kimball Arts Festival.

The hotel staff informed us that there was too much traffic to drive, so we took the shuttle to the Park City free bus into town. The first stop was a pub (sorry, don’t remember the name) where we grabbed a quick a burger for lunch. Then we wandered Main Street, people watching and browsing the art.

Park CityLater that evening, a few of us went to dinner at The Riverhorse on Main restaurant, which was great. There was singer/pianist performing that evening who had a terrific voice. She performed an eclectic and interesting range of songs that added to the ambiance of the restaurant, which I’d describe as casual chic. The food was quite good as you might suspect based on the pictures below. My meal consisted of a beet salad and a lobster tail special. Both were wonderful. My friend Marjorie Larue-Britt ordered the halibut and she thought it was terrific. If you’re in Park City, I’d say give it a try, along with Bistro 412.

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The Riverhorse on Main’s beet salad

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The Riverhorse on Main’s lobster special

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Crosses sent as gifts from visitors/travelers from around the world

The next morning was a Sunday, and it was time to head home. However, because my flight left at noon, it gave me a little extra time. I decided to use the extra time to pay a visit to Shepherd of the Mountains ELCA church, which I’d passed on my way to the hotel from the airport. The parishioners and Pastor were very friendly, and I felt welcomed and comfortable right away. They used a different setting of the liturgy, but I knew the words and could follow along. Pastor Steve Leiser’s sermon was based on the story of the loaves and the fish. He reminded us about how fortunate we are and our responsibility to provide for others. He asked us to think about how much we need compared to how much we have and challenged us to engage in and support ministries that share our gifts with others. I enjoyed the service, and it felt like a good way to begin the trip home. 2014-08-03 09.20.22

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Little did I know when I arrived at the airport that I would be delayed 6 hours and have an overnight stay in Dallas, with another two-hour delay the next morning.  At one point I felt so exasperated that I tweeted to the airline for an explanation.  I didn’t get an answer, just an appeal for patience. Ultimately, I know it’s most important to arrive safely, and for that, delays and all I’m grateful.

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Gentle Readers, as you know, my preference for mystery novels is books that feature diverse protagonists. It’s even better when the author is a person of color writing about the familiar. Well, I’ve stumbled across another fine series. The author is Kwei Quartey, who was raised in Ghana by a Ghanaian father and African-American mother.

It occurred to me one day that other than the delightful and lighthearted No. 1  Ladies Detective Agency, series by Alexander McCall Smith, I hadn’t yet located a series set on the continent of Africa. McCall’s series which is set in Gaborone, Botswana, features  Mma Precious Ramotswe as the protagonist, a full-figured, practical woman who’s had her share of heartache. The novels are a fun read, and my Mom and I traded them back and forth and shared a love of  Mma Ramotswe’s adventures. The series has been adapted into a television series by HBO, starring Jill Scott.

Desirous of more variety, I did a bit of searching for and happily, I turned up several new (to me) mystery series set in Africa. Which brings me back to the Quartey novels. So far, I’ve only read the second book in the series, Children of the Street, but I could not put it down. The novels are set in Ghana, and this one takes place on the streets of Accra, the capital. In some sense, the mystery was a minor player to the sounds, sights and smells Quartey evokes in his novel. As his protagonist Darko Dawson walks the streets, I found myself captivated be the evocative manner in which Quartey describes the realities of  life in Accra. I also found Darko’s relationships with his coworkers and the cadence of their conversations interesting and an important part of the texture of the novel. Dawson, is not without his own personal struggles, and I especially enjoyed his efforts to compartmentalize the horrors of his job as he returned home to his wife and son.

This novel is also an homage to the lives of the many children who flee to the city looking for better a better life, only to get caught up in the harsh realities of living on the street. The book gives the reader a sense too, of the complicated relationships between the non-profits working with street children and their donors, and the relationship of the police to them both (a difficulty relationship here as well). I look forward to reading the other novels in this series, and to finding additional series to read and to share with you.

Update: NPR Recently profiled Kwei Quartey. You can read the interview here.