Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lapel flag; Diddy-wa-diddie; At long last; Lee teaches in Harlem with his great fingers; Crows and such

The New Yorker cover illus.
titled 'Driven'

(a cartoon within)


A Sunday message



In good hands,
is now teaching in New York City -
kindergarten at the renowned charter school
Harlem Village Academies
where he has been identified as a stellar teacher of 
disenfranchised children.

He is shown above leading a fifth grade class in Houston TX, at his first teaching job out of college.  As his two year stint with Teach For America neared completion, he flew to New York
and interviewed with HVA, a charter school that frequently hires outstanding TfA teachers.  HVA was starting their
first elementary school in Harlem.  See his employer on  Good Morning Joe:
Lee landed and accepted the job which would take him to New York and a
challenging new life chapter.  But first he had a wedding to go to in Wisconsin:

Lee was home at the Odd Fellows in August to visit and attend the wedding of a good friend from UW Madison.
Lee and his sister Erin were both in Waukesha then.

When Lee sent a picture on Facebook of himself at that wedding wearing the old US Army Counter Intelligence Corps spy tie clip we'd given him because he now wears ties in his teaching, I again noted his long prehensile fingers.  Fortunately, he inherited the stature and grabbing fingers from his mother's side of the family.

We remember when he was out for Junior Blackshirts football in 8th grade,  his coaches called him 'PAWS'
for his talent at catching long-reaching passes as a wide-end receiver. 

Fortunately, Lee's life wasn't endangered by his continuing with football as a high-schooler. He opted instead for playing drums with the Blackshirt marching band, orchestra and jazz ensemble,  under the direction, first, of  famed saxophonist Jamie Beckman, and then the also great director, Guy Kammerer.

Through his now 25 years,  Leland has been digitally, expressively skilled.

Here, he explains to us why he and his sister were so wet, caught in a rainstorm,  after attending a town parade some distance from home.

In his just-started job at HVA Lee is working long hours and is so busy that he has not had the time to write much as yet.  But he will.  We know.

The founder of his school,  Dr. Deborah Kenny - see above video link - has written a best seller book, BORN TO RISE, about the founding of her charter school, an idea funded in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Lee has his own autographed copy from Dr. Kenny.
It is an impressive story, entirely.



A crow scratches around on the skylight overhead our office here in the Odd Fellows.

Another crow walks through seasonable stubble
today in Norblei's blog, Basho's Road
- regularly read here -
See it at



Average finger length
blotched rat poison induced
yet mighty, and decorated at the wrist
by the late Uncle Lee's Arizona
sterling silver and turqoise watch band
holding a simple Timex

Able to remain still as its mate
holds its own
shaking the hands of strong women
at church.

(v.Z. 9.27.12)

Photo here of Uncle Lee and nephew Lee play cribbage some years ago.
Had a couple of beers together.
Actually, it was Uncle Lee's second.

For more Uncle Lee, see

The Left Hand Speaks

by Alice D’Alessio
Perfect, save for one flawed knuckle, beautifully seamed and creased, I am content to be what I am, the left hand, the second hand, the neglected hand. For I have a secret.
It is true that my neatly fitting skin is turning blotchy now, stretching into ridges and crevices. Yet it does its job so well, wrapping tight the underworkings, the critical bone and tendon, the rivers, streams and estuaries of blood and other juices that keep the fingers active and lubricated. It protects from invasion of those enemies that would enter and do great harm.
After seven decades of flexing and gripping, I am capable and strong, my five digits line up like soldiers for review, from short to tall, and back to short, to my sturdy thumb, altered a bit at the base with a lovely triangular scar. How well they stand at attention.
It’s true my partner, the right hand, gets all the glory. It is the one extended to shake the hands it meets, it picks up the pen and writes, brushes teeth, waves, plays a major role in buttoning, tying, stirring. But behold – on keyboards we are equal! And furthermore, there were glory days, now gone, when I was supreme. When we teased that violin into music, the runs and trills, the haunting melodies – it was I and I alone who found the notes, knew exactly where to press the string – never flat nor sharp – to make the purest sound. All the other one did was saw that bow across and back, across and back. I made the music, created the sweetness of tone with my vibrato. I, the genius twin, blessed with the gift of perfect touch. The other one, purely utilitarian. I rest my case.
(Written by a woman attending a writing class in 2011 on Washington Island, WI taught by Ellison Bay WI author, teacher, publisher, Norbert Blei)


Post Script

The new electric stove with the dancing flames
holds forth in this photo taken with our inexpensive
lower crustacean cell camera.  (ATand T Z221)
Note the plastic ziploc-bag of genuine fireplace
ashes the Rev. Leroy brought us
from his REAL fireplace
to scatter around the stove
for added realism.

They lean, in the bag still, against the
whistling tea kettle.  Knowing they're there
is effect enough.