All posts by tanya58

Back to the Land Learning

July 14, 2018

Learning outside of the classroom.

I believe much of the most profound learning that I have experienced has been by interacting with other people and directly with Planet Earth.

Read on:

Salt Spring Village Views

Friday, May 7, 2004

Back to the Land Learning

by Tanya Lester

Farm # 18

This 10-acre farm on Salt Spring has a 7-acre vineyard, an orchard and a small wooded area. They operate a u-brew/u-vin from the farm and plan to become a licensed winery in 2006. The apprentice could be involved in all the activities at the farm from pruning, weeding, setting up irrigation, trellising, planting the vineyard to the beer-and wine-making as well as assisting customers. The apprentice could also be involved with completing the winery building. They would like an apprentice for 2-3 days/week for most part of the year, accommodations to be negotiated elsewhere.

The above is an invitation to an experience difficult to get in school.


According to Erin Harper, who coordinates the SOIL Apprentice Program on Salt Spring, this is because few universities include sustainable farming techniques in their agricultural programs.

So, it is back to the land for anyone 18 years or older who wants to learn how to organically farm from the experts: the farmers who are doing now. Tapping into “the knowledge in the heads and hearts of the farmers,” said Harper, is “good for the environment, good for health and good for the community.”

Harper explained hooking up with a farm in the SOIL (Stewards of Irreplaceable Land) Apprentice Program can be compared to making a match with the help of an online dating service. You go to the website, click on to a Canadian region where you would like to work as an apprentice and read the descriptions of farms in the area.

Similar to WWOOF (Willing Working on Organic Farms), SOIL is more geared towards assisting those who want to make a career of organic farming.

Farms accepted into the program need not be certified but should “emphasis organic techniques with little or no dependence on pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides.” They provide accommodation and meals for the apprentice. A financial stipend of $50 a week is also encouraged. In exchange, the farmer can be provided with the “support to successfully run their organic community. The farmers and farm community can also benefit greatly from the influx of new ideas, energy and enthusiasm of apprentices.”

Harper knows the program can work very well in helping to launch an apprentice into the farming business. Her apprenticeship on Duck Creek Farm led to her position as a crop share farmer on the property.

Of course, you might want to venture out onto another island to apprentice:

Farm # 6

Here is a chance to learn livestock skills on Prince Edward Island including growing all the feed for beef cattle, hogs and poultry on this 50-acre farm. Also learn the magic of compost tea. Located four miles from Cavendish beach, there is no end to the recreation available in the summer. Stay in a separate bunkhouse and eat with the family of four. They produce and sell clean food directly to the consumer and are practising Christians.


To read more posts in this blog of eclectic writings in many different genres, go to and

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes.  The first two titles are available from the author and  The third title is in the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All these titles are in some public library systems.

Tanya is a long time psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. To read more about her unusual career, go to her web: and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and Align. To book a reading with her or to arrange a housesit, text/call 250-538-0086 or email:



Recycling: Everybody Does It

July 12, 2018

Recycling, in North America, anyway, has to be the No. 1 way people have changed an activity in their lives in order to counter environmental disaster.

Garbage has all kinds of categories. We have to decide which category something is in, in order to  put it into the correct box , container or bag. We sometimes have to decide which colour of box, container or bag into which it should go as well.

We have to ponder these decisions whether we put our garbage, recycling and organic waste out on the curb side or take it or a portion of it to a recycling depot.

Here is a story about what happens at the recycling depot:

Salt Spring Village Views

Friday, May 7, 2004

Recycling: Everybody Does It

by Tanya Lester

In past centuries, people gathered at the community well to share ideas and catch up on the news. Everyone ended up there sooner or later because everyone had to go fetch their water. Today, on Salt Spring, the Recycling Depot is where, over time, you run into virtually everyone you know.

“Everybody recycles on Salt Spring,” said Peter Grant, who manages the Rainbow Road depot which has been operating there since 1990. He has got the statistics to back him up. In 2002, recycling averaged 60 kilos per capita in the Capital Regional District (CRD) compared in 110 kilos per capita in the Capital Regional District (CRD) compared to 110 kilos per capita on this island. Out of about 2000 tons of garbage, islanders recycle more than half or approximately 1200 tons annually.

So why do we get the proverbial gold star when it comes to this form of saving the planet?

“It feels good,” Grant said.

Yes, there is something so Zen about separating our trash and neatly distributing it into the bin where the rest of its kind is: cardboard into one, paper into another, metal…plastic…glass…tetra packs and milk cartons. Tires, drywall, old paint, refrigerators, batteries, plant pots and egg cartons. Making order out of what could have ended up in a chaotic landfill site. Pitching in to save the planet.

“We should take care of our crap,” said Grant, whose interest in the environment has “accelerated” over the 12 years he has worked there.

It also cuts down on garbage expenditures and the Recycling Depot takes a wider variety of trash than a curbside pick-up does. According to Grant, there are other reasons curbside pick-up would not work on Salt Spring. In a rural community, most peoples’ “curbs” are at the end of a long road from their houses. They would put the recycling in the vehicle to get it to the end of the road anyway, so taking it the extra distance to the depot is no big deal.

Big companies, who are bidding big dollars to get recycling contracts in urban centers, are not attracted to the Gulf Islands. There is something about the seven hour transportation time to get back and forth on the ferry that makes those, into huge profit, shy away.

Plus, they crunch glass and plastic together in their pick-up trucks, Grant explained.

Companies, who use the recycled products, like the way everything is separated on Salt Spring. Glass ends up as road base. Tin cans might end up being incorporated into car metal. Mills recycle the fibre from paper and cardboard.

Some people think businesses should be charged to use the depot. Grant believes it would be unethical to charge anyone for recycling when the depot then turns around and sells it for a profit. Besides, “everybody’s got a business on Salt Spring,” he said. It is difficult to determine if the recycling, a Bed and Breakfast owner is dropping off, is his own or from his business, Grant said.

Even those few who are not sensitive enough to recycle will end up at the depot from time to time to scratch their “scrounging” itch. People show up there in search of almost anything. Grant remembers one Hallowe’en, a piece of metal was salvaged to be used as the trunk for a child who was going trick or treating as an elephant.

Often someone drops by looking for something unusual. Then, the next person driving in just happens to have it. “The God of Recycling is looking out for them,” said Grant.

A special highlight at the depot is the shack where books and magazines are left for others interested in reading them. Grant himself has kept his grandchild in books from the selection dropped off.

The CRD is the depot’s landlord. Rent is one dollar a year and is seldom paid. Community Services handles the administration so the depot helps to employ the staff there. With all the changes and cutbacks happening in many places on Salt Spring, it seems the Recycling Depot is one place not affected at this time….


Tanya has worked as a psychic counsellor for over two decades. She does tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. To find out more go to her website: and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and Align. To book a reading or to arrange a housesit, text or call Tanya at 250-538-0086 or email her at

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two books can be purchased from the author or on  The third title is available at the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All of the titles are available in some public library systems.

To read other posts in this blog of eclectic genres and themes, go to and


Pender school principal ready to end dual residency

July 9, 2018

In the following story, I do not have what is known in the print journalism business as a “by line”.

I am not sure why I do not have a “by line”. Maybe the editor decided I was getting too many “by lines” especially in the Pender Islands Edition in which most of the stories were written by me.

Sometimes, there is no “by line” if too many journalists and/or non-journalists contributed to the writing of the story.

It could be if the reporter is on her or his way out: quitting or getting fired.

It could be the article is not considered important enough to warrant a “by line”.

It could be that the article was previously published elsewhere with the “by line” and so being published again usually omits the “by line”.

Whatever. I know I wrote this article because I can remember interviewing Mike Marshall.

So the following article is now a part of my blog of stories by or about me:

Gulf Islands Driftwood– Pender Islands Edition

Wednesday, March 29, 2000

Pender school principal ready to end dual residency

For principal Mike Marshall, it is a case of “even good things must come to an end” when he leaves his four-year position at Pender School this June.

One aspect of the job that he will not miss, however, is commuting on the ferries and water taxi between the Penders and Salt Spring Island.

“It’s been great,” said Marshall in regards to his administrative position on Pender. “It’s been really, really good.”

Good — yet tiring — for Marshall, who owns a home on both islands with his family living on Salt Spring.

“I believe the community of islands has been seriously weakened by a decline in transportation over the years,” he said.

Marshall suggests regular water taxis as a possible solution.

He is now looking at a position on Salt Spring where he worked as superintendent of schools for 14 years prior to getting behind the principal’s desk on the Penders.

The decision was made to advertise the position now in order to give plenty of lead time to anyone who might be interested in the Penders’ top school post for this fall, said Marshall.

He added that educators often have time to consider career changes during spring break.

He believes it is once again time for a principal to live full-time on the Penders.

In the meantime, Marshall, along with all other district principals and vice-principals, is scheduled to be in his office this week while CUPE school support workers are on strike in over half the province’s school districts.

Teachers will not cross the picket lines.

As a result, students will have an extended spring break.


Tanya has worked as a psychic for decades now. She does tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more information, go to her web: and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google or Align. To book a reading or to arrange a housesit, text or call 250-538-0086 or email:

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two titles can be purchased from the author or from  The third title is in the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All of these titled are in varied library systems.

To read more posts in this blog of many themes and genres, go to or to

Transitions essential, even in ‘paradise

July 7, 2018

Abuse can happen anywhere to anyone.

In very general terms, when a person is abused, she or he is made to feel small, to feel lesser than other people, to feel somehow ashamed.

Here is an article about countering abuse:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Date unknown in the 2000’s

Transitions essential, even in ‘paradise’

by Tanya Lester

People who  meet Nancy Boyce at community functions sometimes ask her what she does for a living. When she responds that she oversees Salt Spring Transition House as Island Women Against Violence executive director, she is met with a surprised reaction.

Some cannot believe that women are abused in “paradise”.

“We are humans here, so we have problems,” said Boyce in a recent interview. “Our actions are not always congruent with our pristine surroundings.”

Statistics show that “stays” or “number of overnights” in the four-bedroom, six-bed transition house for women have increased from 246 per year when it opened its doors in 1995 to a high of 1,137 in 2003. On average, 70 to 80 women and children stay at the house each year.

Crisis line calls have consistently increased from 76 in 1998 to 350 in 2004. In 2003, 10 of those calls were from the Outer Islands. After a year of networking in Outer Islands communities, that number went up 46 the following year.

There is no question that some southern Gulf Islands women are being abused by their male partners. Boyce agreed experts do not know if more women are being abused each year or if more, through public education, are realizing that they do not have to stay in unsafe homes.

Transition House is made visible in the community through the Transitions Thrift Store in Ganges, and by poster and brochure distribution.

Perhaps the first thought that goes through a woman’s mind as she determines if she could call is whether she is in face experiencing violence and abuse, or violence that is serious enough. Boyce points out that abuse can be physical, emotional/mental, sexual or financial. It is about “relationship dynamics where there are power imbalances.”

Besides self-referral, the crisis line might be called on behalf of the woman from the hospital emergency department if she is being treated for assault, through the RCMP detachment or by someone else who is concerned for her well-being.

Boyce said the crisis line counsellor who picks up the phone always asks to talk to the woman herself so she can be in control of the decision making. The counsellor’s first responsibility is to determine if the woman is in immediate danger. For example, she could be hiding in the bedroom while she talks on a portable phone. Staff will contact the RCMP in cases where someone needs assistance because their immediate safety is at risk.

If a woman is at least temporarily safe, the counsellor will find out if she wants to stay at the transition house. At this stage, a preliminary risk assessment is done to see if the woman will be safe at the local house or if she needs to go to another community. Staff work with women to arrange for their safe arrival at the transition house Continue reading Transitions essential, even in ‘paradise

Music Festival

July 3, 2018

In towns and villages — and I suppose in urban centres– across Canada and elsewhere, there are two kinds of music festivals:

The ones I experienced in my late teens and early 20s in huge parks where we pitched tents but usually stayed up all weekend grooving to the music while stoned and drunk.

The other type goes back a long time in history. School students sing or play musical instruments or recite poems and are judged on the level of their talent.

The following article is about the second type:

Borderland Reporter

Wednesday, March 23, 1983

Music Festival

by Tanya Lester

Coronach will be hosting the Borderland Music Festival for the first time this year…

The festival, which has been held in Rockglen and Willow Bunch during past years, will feature students from within the whole Borderland School Unit which includes Coronach, Rockglen, Willow Bunch and Wood Mountain.

Margot Lambert, the Borderland Music Festival Association’s publicity person, said the students will be participating in several different categories including piano, organ, and recorder playing, choral speaking such as a group reading a poem in unison, short verse recitals, and choir singing.

The festival sessions will generally start at 9:00 am in the morning and run through the afternoons and evenings on the four days, Mrs. Lambert indicated. There will be a daily charge of $1.00 to members of the general public. With a $2.00 adult fee and $1.00 student fee for the concert of festival winners on May 3.

The adjudicator or judge at the festival will be Mossie Hancock. Mrs. Hancock had adjudicated in all ten provinces as a seven year member of the national chain of adjudicators who serve the Canadian Federation of Music Festivals which work with members of a British team.

Mrs. Hancock has a lengthy list or credits to her name in the music world. She has studied music in both Canada and London, England. She holds diplomas of Licentiate from the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College in London.

Mrs. Hancock, a musician herself, has appeared frequently in duo-piano recitals and is known as a lecture-recitalist and music commentator. Listeners of CBC Radio might be familiar with her name as she does music reviews on that station.

Mrs. Hancock was a staff member of the Regina Conservatory of Music from 1948 to 1961 and for 16 years co-produced a weekly radio program of music recordings and commentary.

In other artistic areas, Mrs. Hancock is also a writer. She wrote a five-part dramatization of “Kabloona” and a four-part documentary called “Faces and Places of South America”, for the Saskatchewan Department of Education, which were presented on school broadcasts. Several of her short stories have been presented on CBC.

Mrs. Hancock has also served as the Saskatchewan representative on the Advisory Board to the Touring Office of Canada Council for two terms and is presently a member of the Saskatchewan Board.

Mrs. Lambert said trophies will be awarded to those students who, after judging, receive an 83 per cent mark or higher in any class….

The several member Borderland Music Festival Association is chaired by Shirley Schepp. Other Association executive members include Anne Janes, vice-chair; Colleen Iversen, secretary; and Maxine Stevensen, treasurer.




Equal Times

July 2, 2018

I do not know if I ever talked to the friend that is featured in the following column if she was okay with me using her name and her experiences.

Of course, I do not use her last name and now that it 35 years after the fact, I can only assume that she will care now as in 2018 it is half a lifetime later.

By the still recommend what my friend did in an attempt to resolve her unemployment problem.

Here is the piece:

Gravelbourg Gazette

January 26, 1983

Equal Times

by Tanya Lester

“I have been wondering if you would know of any…girls in Winnipeg who would care to come west to work on a farm for the summer. Will give a good girl $25 a month. If she is available to take all the housework off my hands and let me sew and take care of the children. I have five, from 13 to 7 months. If you know of any please give them my address and oblige. Weyburn.” — Letter to Miss Frances Marion Beynon, Grain Growers’ Guide; April 8, 1914

If my friend, Char, had seen the above ad in the newspaper a couple of months ago, she probably would have applied for it even though the woman was only willing to pay $25 a month.

After all, Char, with her Silver Medal which she won upon graduating with her Bachelor of Education last spring, even applied to McDonald’s (you know the fast food joint that makes what can be very loosely called “hamburgers). What’s worse they turned her down.

Yes, Char was one of the millions of unemployed in Canada who was willing to take any job in order to collect a paycheque. But, in the fall, when her summer employment ended and her job rejection notices starting reaching the number 40 mark (she had this bad habit of hanging them up on her wall as a confidence boost), Char realized that she would have to do something a bit more imaginative.

With her next month’s rent looming up and with no money in her bank account to pay for it, Char sat down and wrote a letter to Lloyd Axworthy (better know as Lloyd Unworthy) the Minister of Employment or Unemployment depending on your frame of mind.

Now Char had applied for Unemployment Insurance even though she had not worked the required qualifying period which is 10 to 14 weeks of employment within the last 52 weeks. She had applied for UIC because rumor had it that with unemployment being so high the federal government was reducing the number of weeks for which someone had to work in order to be eligible for Unemployment Insurance.

Char sat and waited for the four to five week waiting period to see if she would actually get some UIC money. (To say she actually sat and waited is putting it mildly. She spent most of her time either frantically applying for jobs or chewing her fingernails off wondering if the UIC would come in before her rent came due.)

To be sure, the amount of money wasn’t going to be much because UIC only pays 60 percent of what a person was making when he or she was working. Seeing as Char had been making only minimum wage, the amount of money she was expecting would be nothing to write home about unless she was writing to ask her parents to lend her some money.

But when the UIC money did not arrive, Char decided to write “Lloyd” as he is lovingly called around Winnipeg, and ask him if he could help. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that Mr. Axworthy was also her Member of Parliament (MP) but a week later Char got a call from him. He wanted to meet with her. Fine, Char thought, hope he offers me a government job.

But it seems Axworthy had other plans for Char. He must have pulled a few civil servant strings her and there. For a few days later, Char received not one but six UIC cheques in the mail. Anyone who has ever collected UIC will realize just how amazing this is!

Now the moral of the story is this: If you have applied for UIC and are having problems with the red tape and civil servants attached to it, give your MP a call….If it worked for Char, it could work for you…

….And by the way, don’t let them make you feel guilty. You paid UIC benefits when you were employed and will pay them again when you find another job so you are entitled to them and collect UIC benefits for up to 50 weeks.

Char’s story does have an even better ending though. In November she got a job as a junior high school teacher in northern Manitoba.

While I’m on the subject of laws concerning work, I would like to mention that I got a phone call from Tal Letourneau who is with the Department of Labour in Moose Jaw.

Mr. Letourneau said he had had a few phone calls and a visit from a woman in Gravelbourg which were prompted by the columns I have been writing on labour issues.

He was quick to compliment me on the pieces I have been writing and expressed his hope that employers are reading my column so hopefully there would be a reduction of employers breaking the labour laws.

But he also mentioned a couple of inaccuracies, on my part, concerning the interpretations of the laws. In some cases, I have been confusing federal government law with provincial law. Federal law covers employees who work for federally incorporated bank, the railways, grain companies and inter-provincial trucking companies, etc.

So, if you don’t work in one of these areas, you will be covered by provincial labour law. Mr. Letourneau pointed out that under provincial law, an employee is entitled to five days bereavement leave without pay (its three days leave with pay if you work at a job under federal law).

Also, Mr. Letourneau said an employer can five a worker if she or he is on sick leave. There is no protection under the law. This makes me think that the law is unfair and should be changed. As I mentioned in a previous column, a person cannot help being sick every once in a while. If you feel strongly enough about this, let you MLA, Allan Engel, know about it.

Concerning public holidays, it turns out that the law is even more complex than I thought it was. Mr. Letourneau said on the week of a public holiday, the employee only has to work 32 hours if he or she regularly works a 40 hour week.

If the employee works that 40 hour week, he or she should be paid time and a half for the extra 8 hours worked if the employer does not give the employee an extra day off. This would apply for Christmas, New Year’s Day, and other public holidays….


Tanya has works for over two decades as a psychic counsellor with a specialty in tea leaf reading, tarot and psychic channelling. She also does mediumship and gypsy card readings. She is a reiki master and fulltime housesitter as well. To find out more go to her web: and/or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Align. To book a reading or arrange a housesit, text or call her at 250-538-0086 or email:

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. The first two books can be purchased from the author or   The third is at the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All of these titles are in a variety of public libraries.

To read any more posts in this blog of a variety of subject areas in many different genres, go to and



Caravan to Cuba needs last-minute help

July 1, 2018

I have shared other articles in this blog by and about me going on the Caravan to Cuba. For me it is one of the things that have done in my extremely eventful life, that, in my mind, I put a bright red star next to the words: Caravan to Cuba.

In a nutshell, the trek is to shine light on the fact that Cubans have been desperately struggling for decades because of the United States trading embargo against it.

Every year a number of old buses go down a variety of routes through the United States from the Canadian border to Mexico. Along the way, caravanistas (USA citizens and people from other countries) stop in communities where they talk to people and billet overnight while collecting a wide range of donated goods for Cubans. These are placed on a Cuban ship in Mexico and then caravanistas, who choose to do so fly to Cuba.  The logistics change somewhat each year.

Website information, this year, explains that President Obama loosened a few things about the embargo (Note: I believe he went to Cuba and a USA Embassy has been set up there) while President Trump is extremely unsupportive of the plight suffered by Cuban people. It seems that a three day orientation happens in Toronto, Canada before people start boarding the buses or, those who prefer, later board the airplane for Cuba. (Canadians, of course, regularly experience the pleasure of Havana including the Ernest Hemmingway Museum and the amazing architecture of Havana as well as the wonderful music whenever two or three or more Cubans gather together as our government has never banned us from going there.)

Even though, as I write this, it has been twelve years since I went on the Caravan to Cuba, I had the urge to once again go on the Caravan to Cuba. IT IS QUITE THE EXPERIENCE including getting know that there definitely are many extremely progressive Americans in the United States.

Here is one of several articles the Gulf Islands Driftwood published about my preparations to go on the Caravan to Cuba:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

June 7, 2006

Caravan to Cuba needs last-minute help

US Customs’ recent return of 45 boxes of computers destined for Cuba last summer has been heralded as serendipitous good news by local supporters who are preparing to join the 17th Caravan to Cuba.

The caravan, which includes Salt Spring’s Tanya Lester and support from many islanders, is scheduled to cross at four Canada-US borders on June 18.

The computers, seized 10 months ago, were returned to Hildago, Texas after caravan organizers Pastors for Peace threatened to launch a lawsuit against the United States government.

In the meantime, the local Caravan for Cuba is gearing up for its departure, and participants are asking those who promised contributions to drop them off by June 10 in the evenings….

Financial aid is still needed as each local Caravan for Cuba committee across North America is asked to pay shipping costs for its donations.

The local group is still short an estimated $285. Money can be donated at the Caravan for Cuba table in the Saturday Market…

Drivers and vehicles are also still needed to take the humanitarian aid and carpool supporters to the Peace Arch border crossing on the Caravan for Cuba departure date…


To read more posts in this blog of many styles and storylines, go to and

Tanya’s books are: Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes. The first two titles can be purchased from the author or from The third title in available in the Legislative Library of Manitoba. All titles are available in some library systems.

Tanya has not been doing tea leaf readings, tarot and other styles of psychic readings including psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy cards. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. Find out more on her website: and/or Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google or Align.