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The virtue of being a writer

December 16, 2017

When I moved to Salt Spring Island, BC, with my son Luke, I discovered Linda Kavelin Popov’s “The Virtues Guide”. Each day, or as often as was possible, I shared one of the virtues in the book with him. It was a good way to systemically consider the good aspects of living and how to strive to be virtuous in a wide range of ways. On my own, I do not think I could of explored all these qualities of life or ways to be good with Luke.

The following is an article I did , based on an interview with Popov:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The virtue of being a writer

by Tanya Lester

When Linda Kavelin Popov talks about how “The Virtues Guide” she and her partners self-published in 1919 and sold out of their Salt Spring garage inspires people to live a more virtuous life in 85 countries, it seems nothing short of a miracle.

Popov, who will speak at this year’s Writers” Day at the library, is the first to admit her belief in angels.

In fact, she says, it is a whole team of angels , including their marketing director, that’s behind the success of the guide and a number of related books, including her most recent, “A Pace of Grace”.

Of the many virtues listed in “The Virtues Guide”, the one that stands out as the motivator for the birth of this project is idealism. Popov explains she, her husband Dan and brother John wanted to make “a positive difference in the world” and counter violence when they put their heads together in Victoria and came up with the idea for the guide.

Other virtues Popov lists as associated with the project are grace, purposefulness and service.

But perhaps the most surprising is prayerfulness. Certainly it was not a marketing concept that Penguin Books executives in New York City (now the publishers of Popov’s books) had ever considered until meeting the Salt Spring author.

Popov said they expected to be told about an elaborate marketing plan when they asked how she and her partners had managed to sell 60,000 books out of their garage.

Her answer, instead, was to point upwards, indicating praying to God had made things happen.

What did happen, said Popov, is that people merely told other people about the guide and within two months an incredible number of books had sold. Its time had come.

Sixteen years later, Popov regularly shares “The Virtues Guide” concepts with people all over the world.

This includes working as part of a facilitation team, using healing circles, to help school communities heal after shootings occur.

Currently she uses her writing and communications skills to prepare community materials, write columns (including one for the Driftwood’s “Aqua” magazine) and to work towards a radio show pilot.

Sometime in the future she intends to write a book documenting the experiences of parents and children who have used “The Virtues Guide”.

Popov believes the Writers’ Day event is an important celebration because Salt Spring Island has such an abundance of writers, artists and musicians who thrive on community support.

“It is very important that we hear each other’s stories,” she said.

She always enjoys doing public speaking, whether the audience is comprised of West Australian prisoners, CEOs in Korea or Salt Spring residents.

“People are people and the human heart is the human heart,” she said….

For more information on the Virtues Project , go to


To read more posts in this blog of stories on a wide range of subjects, go to and

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

Tanya now works as a psychic, using tools including tea leaf reading and tarot, as well as being a fulltime housesitter. As a reiki master, she instills this healing energy into the readings she gives to clients as well as to the animals where she housesits. To connect with her, text or call her at 250-538-0086 or email her at  Her web site is at  She also has pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook as well as being an Align member.



On Playwright Lill and Dusty Documents

December 11, 2017

It might be my love of history but I have to admit that I love headlines and titles that suggest the past in a wonderfully ornate type of way. The above title is one of them and the story below is about an historical, or I should say, herstorical play:


June/July 1984

On Playwright Lill and Dusty Documents

by Tanya Lester

Playwright Wendy Lill started searching for Frances Marion Beynon not long after her play ‘On the Line’, about immigrant women garment workers, had run its theatrical course.

Wendy was approached by Leslie Silverman of Actor’s Showcase to write a historical play about women, adaptable for high school audiences. Silverman even made good on her offer to find Wendy the money to do it.

Straining her eyes over microfilm of old newspapers in the Legislative Library, pouring over Western Canadian history books, and probably sneezing while rummaging through dusty documents at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba led her to the discovery of Frances Beynon, the suffragist newspaper columnist who refused to render her pacifist ideals, and was brought back to life in ‘The Fighting Days’.

While still searching, Wendy also got a glimpse of the important contributions immigrant women have made to our province. She read about the immigrant char women who refused to go to their work in Tuxedo and River Heights during the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike. The thought did cross her mind that doing a play based on Nellie McClungs’s charwoman might prove to be very interesting.

Wendy believes a playwright needs to be angry as well as comfortable with the subject she is working on. When she finally found Frances Beynon, Wendy was able to relate to this feminist journalist who arrived on the Winnipeg scene around 1910, having lived her early days in rural Manitoba under the rule of a stern Methodist father.

When Frances lands her job on the “Rural Review” (actually the Homemakers page in the “Grain Growers Guide”), she opens her page up to women’s letters and tells them it is their page. She sticks to this policy even when the letters start to regularly condemn her. Like today, there were philosophical differences within the community. Frances strongly opposed Nellie McClung’s agreement with Prime Minister Borden during World War I that only British women should get the vote because immigrant women might sympathize with the enemy.

Frances continued to criticize Nellie for putting aside her peace ideals in exchange for work in the war effort. “She was an idealist and she wouldn’t settle for less when the crunch came,” Wendy said. She knows that women today who refuse to budge on their ideals are often still very isolated.

Wendy was not nervous about showing this side of Nellie McClung’s character. She believes, now that we have grown to the point that we don’t pretend we are all perfect. “We, as women, have to confront our feminist leaders — remind them of our dreams — but we have to back them up too,” she said.

One of Wendy’s favourite lines in the play is when Nellie McClung pleads with Frances, the new feminist in town, to come to a suffrage meeting. “It’s the same old girls who come to everything,” Nellie said, implying that Frances would bring new ideas to a group of women who were getting a bit ‘stale’. Ah, yes, new blood. What feminist in the 1980s does not know about trying to draw other women into the movement?

Another conflict in the play many women could identify with was Beynon’s relationship with a man. In “The Fighting Days”, Frances is in love with newspaper editor George McNair even though he is very conservative. She finally decides that she cannot marry him because she would have to give up her work and her freedom.

In writing “The Fighting Days”, Wendy felt lucky to be able to go to the Prairie Theatre Exchange and talk about her progress or toss around ideas. She said she had always dreamed of this kind of support. Feminist playwrights, in Britain and elsewhere, are able to work in conjunction with a theatre while having the freedom to go off to their own for a few weeks at a time.

As a woman playwright, Wendy already had ideas about how Frances Beynon (Laurie Paetz), her sister Lillian Beynon Thomas (Terrie Cherniack) and Nellie McClung (Linda Huffman) might have acted. But George McNair (Morison Bock) the only male character, sometimes presented a problem. Director Kim McCaw told Wendy that a man would not say certain things that she wanted him to say. In this, Wendy’s initial reluctance to work with a male director was turned into a mutual advantage.

“The Fighting Days” characters, Wendy feels, are not as stereotyped as the characters in “On the Line”. She got away from the “white hat, black hat” portrayal of the characters in “Fighting Days”, and adds that the play can educate rather than alienate men. Men. after all, are often alienated from the women’s movement.

A feminist playwright like Wendy Lill provides strong roles for women actors– roles that are still all too rare. Wendy knows there are many good women writers, but when she joined the Manitoba Playwriters Association, she was one of the only two women members.

Wendy will be moving to Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley this summer where she wants to get to know the people and then continue freelance writing. But there is a good chance that her play will be touring Manitoba schools so her influence on the province’s culture will still be felt.

The dusty documents and old newspapers will still be her and there are hundreds and hundreds of stories still to tell about our heritage. There are hundreds of more ways that we can draw strength from our past.


For more about Tanya go to her web site at


Hodgeville’s beginnings

November 30, 2017

I majored in history at the University of Winnipeg and I have always enjoyed reading local histories especially the ones in which the authors poured over dusty documents to glean the beginnings of a town or community.

In the 1980s, it seemed there was a fair bit of government money earmarked for grants to individuals and committees that wanted to embark on gathering information to put in a history book focusing on how their town or municipality developed from pioneer days to more recent years.

Have you ever heard of Hodgeville, Saskatchewan. No? Well, now you have. Read on:

Gravelbourg  Gazette

November 5, 1982

Hodgeville’s beginnings

by Tanya Lester

In 1910, one Charles Lewis set up a post office on his farm located four miles northeast of the present town of Hodgeville. Two years later, Mr. Lewis decided to move the post office closer to the road which is now #19 highway to more conveniently receive the mail which was hauled from Morse.

From these beginnings,  the town of Hodgeville eventually sprang up. But Mr. lewis was not quick enough to the draw or the town might have been named after him.

“The village itself, probably would have, or should have, been named either Lewistown, Louisville or Louisbourg, after the first Post-Master, Charles Lewis, “wrote Maurice Jago, author of the book entitled “Hodgeville: Prairie, Pioneers, Progress.

“However, at the time a certain Ernie Hodges, who homesteaded alongside Ross’ hay meadow, to the North West of Kelstern, was working at the Post Office in Morse,” Mr. Jago continued. “In much the same way as early settlers were allowed to preempt a neighbouring block of land, so it was that when names were allocated to communities, the first person to put in a claim had the new settlement named after him.”

Mr. Jago, who is a history teacher at Hodgeville High School, spent about a year of researching and writing the town’s history. The book was published in 1980 after Mr. Jago, with the help of some of his high school students and Donny Gross, had combed through numerous records made available to him by the RM of Lawtonia #135 and the Village of Hodgeville. He also dug through documents at the Saskatchewan Archives in Saskatoon.

He said the students helped go through the minutes from past council meetings, typed up the family histories, and proof read.

The actual village site began as one farm, Mr. Jago said. It was homesteaded by a George Fehrenbach. Then a store went up. Later, a grain elevator was built by the Lake of the Woods elevator company.

According to Mr. Jago, the village sprang up where it did because the land was low and undesireable for farming. For this reason, the village has been plagued by spring flooding over the years. As recently as 1975, the town’s people were called out of the New Year’s Eve dance to lay sandbags at the dyke which holds back the creek’s swollen waters.

But, while doing his research, Mr. Jago was especially interested in the petition taken to incorporate the village on June 21, 1921. He noted that the petition, listed the signatures of persons representing almost every occupation needed in a village. There was a lawyer, elevator agent, Imperial Oil dealer, and many others to make a total of 28.

According to the regulations, a settlement had to have 50 people and produce a petition singed by at least 15 of the adult residents in order to become a village.

Mr. Jago said other events of note were the establishment of a Hodgeville school in 1917 and the day the first train came through the village in January 1920.

“The arrival of the steel from Bateman was the main topic of conversation in 1920,” Mr. Jago wrote. “It had been uppermost in many people’s minds for a long time, as it made everything just that bit more accessible.”

“Having the Canadian National Railway finally extend their branchline from Gravelbourg to Hodgeville, had been a dream that the Council, and others, had worked very hard to realize,” Mr. Jago continued. “In particular, Mr. Grainger (the first secretary of RM of  Lawtonia), had travelled many miles and attended many meetings in pursuit of the rail link for Hodgeville. Its benefits to the whole community was tremendous, as for many, it meant the end of long, ardous t rips hauling grain to either Vanguard or Morse.”

“Hodgeville: Prairie, Pioneers, Progress” is one of the many Saskatchewan town histories which been compiled in recent years. This book is well written and contains many interesting document reproductions as well as photographs. It includes information on the community, profiles on some of the town’s people and families, and lists of the many people who have contributed…..





Bev Unger: a community mover and shaker

November 29, 2017

When I was on staff at the Driftwood,  it was SWOVA that decided to recognize many women who worked for equality and other social change in the Salt Spring Island, BC community.

I was given the ongoing assignment to do profiles of all of them. I do not think I got to the end of the list.

This profile was of a woman that I believe the Driftwood publishing staff hoped to ‘mend some fences’:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, May 10, 2000

Bev Unger: a community mover and shaker

by Tanya Lester

At the beginning of the 21st century, Salt Spring Island boasts many business owners who are women, a female high school principal, ab ArtSpring board chairwoman and a female executive director, a woman RCMP officer, fewer women doctors than can meet the demand for their services — an the list goes on and on.

The picture looked quite different in the 1970s.

It took women like Bev Unger, who is another among those recently recognized by SWOVA, to get the ball rolling.

Unger first stepped into island politics when she started going to Parks and Recreation board meetings as an observer for the Salt Spring Tennis Association. She noted all the board members were men, except the secretary, and questioned the imbalance. No sooner did she speak out than she was asked to sit on the board.

A couple of years later, Unger went on to be elected to the Islands Trust. Her election was a victory for environmentalists who were countering a move by large landowners to do away with the Islands Trust.

“As weak as (the Trust) was, it was better than not having it at all,” said Unger, who is a social worker and psychotherapist by profession with a Master’s degree from Columbia University.

No sooner was she in office than the Social Credit provincial government of the day severely cut funds to the Islands Trust, making them “like chickens with our heads cut off.”

In the ensuing battles between environmentalists, among whom Unger has always numbered herself, and the Ganges landholders, one of the most controversial issues concerned the sewer treatment plant. Parkland was “quietly” taken away from Mouat Park to build it on, Unger said.

Another issue Unger brought out into the open was the fact there were less parking spots in the lot by the Ganges post office than should have been there according to road regulations.

Then there was the controversy about the six fir trees on public property where Island Savings was once located. In a public hearing on the matter, developers claimed the trees were unhealthy.

Unger put forward a motion to have a tree expert brought in to consult on this question.

Her motion was defeated. “Bringing these things out in the open made me very unpopular,” she said.

Despite these failures, Unger stills believes the Islands Trust has potential but believes more than two members should be making decisions for Salt Spring. She points out that representation by population might be more egalitarian.

It does not make sense to her, for example, that North and South Pender islands each have two trustees when comparing its 2,500 population with this island’s 10,000 residents.

Unger is still personally undaunted regardless of some defeats. “I think it’s still important to try,” she said. “Change does take place but it wouldn’t tale place if people with hopes and beliefs didn’t keep working.”

She is buoyed by recent momentum in the island’s environmental movement against the Texada Land Corporation clearcutting.

Unger was also involved in last fall’s prevention of the sale of Parks and Rec’s public green space. The majority of islanders voted against selling 10 parcels of “green space” land in the referendum.

Unger is certainly more optimistic than she was when she and her husband, dentist Robert Unger, left New York City in 1975 to settle in Salt Spring. They were Americans disillusioned with the United Statees government’s position on Vietnam and opposed to President Richard Nixon.

Upon coming to Salt Spring, Unger was soon involved with Lillian Horsdal in establishing Phoenix Orchards.

It was a non-profit organization they set-up with a $30,000 federal government grant to purchase an apple press and employ nine people. Unger did not like the idea of apples merely falling to the ground and going to waste. Phoeix Orchards revived an island interest in apple growing and juicing.

Her most recent community contribution has been her volunteer work in getting the Core Inn youth centre off the ground. As a social worker, Uneger had seen the need for a place where young people can gather.

Community motivation was prompted by a car accident in which young people were killed and injured.

When questioned about the roots of her activism, Unger said, “I was brought up in a Jewish family in which belief in community service was strong.”


Tanya does psychic readings, is a reiki master, and housesits regularly. To find out more and to access her services call or text her at 250-538-0086, email: or go to her web site: She also has pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twamitter and Aligned.

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. You can buy these books from the author, or some are available in public libraries.

To read more post in this blog of eclectic  story topics go to and









Tea Leaf Reading

November 28, 2017

November 28, 2017

Over the years, I have been occasionally asked to write about tea leaf reading baagy one publication or another. Here is one of those pieces:

Dragonfly Times!

by Tanya Lester

Next time you drink a cup of loose leaf tea, take a look at the exquisite leaf patterns that remain in the bottom of the cup. For many, they serve as a magnet which ignites the desire to further explore the pictorial meanings they contain.

The art of tea leaf reading probably started in China and India where tea drinking originated. The East Indian gypsies or Romas transported this ancient form of fortune telling to Europe. People of British descent still recall gypsies knocking on the door during afternoon tea. They would read the family’s cups.

Tea leaf reading is among several modalities in which a psychic ponders the remnants of a drink after the liquid has been imbibed. In Scandinavian countries, coffee grounds are read as that social drink of preference. Eastern Europeans interpret the “cloud” residue in the tiny espresso coffee cups. At the time when wine had dregs, these, too, were read.

In many Canadian cities tea leaf reading has been offered for decades in tea rooms and coffee houses and Tarot card readings have now joined this tradition. Since each psychic has his or her unique way of going about the process, I’ll illustrate with “my” way of reading.

I ask my client to drink the tea before turning the cup upside down onto the saucer where it is then rotated three times clockwise. This is done using the non-dominate hand because it is linked to the intuitive part of the brain. Then I suggest that the client concentrate on something for which she or he wants spiritual guidance. This process ensures that the client’s energy is ‘in’ the cup.

I read by focusing on each leaf in the cup. Every one presents a picture to me directly related to the client’s future. The picture establishes itself in my mind’s eye (Third Eye) like a frozen image on a movie screen. Then, the picture begins to move and tells me a visual story. I translate this story into words for my client. The entire pattern of the leaves provide me with an overall theme that will prevail in the individual’s life during the following year.

Tea leaf reading is one of the tools that triggers my psychic abilities. It begins a channeling process. It is one that I inherited from my Lebanese great-grandmother and grandmother. Like any psychic process, practice makes perfect. The client receives affirmation and clarity about his or her future in a relaxed atmosphere.

— END–

To read more posts in this blog of eclectic stories, go to and

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (both available from the author or from as well as Women’s Rights/Writes and, Dreams and Tricksters.  These books are available in some library systems.

Tanya works as a psychic doing tea leaf readings, tarot, gypsy card readings and mediumship, etc. She instills her readings with reiki energy. She is a reiki master as well as a fulltime housesitter.  Her website is She is on Facebook,  LinkedIn, Twitter and Alignable. She can be texted or called at 250-538-0086 or emailed at


Save Salt Spring fund organizes big concert

November 25, 2017

Here is another of the articles referring to fundraising to save the trees from being clear cut at the turn of the century (this century) on Salt Spring Island.

I continue to post them because as someone who studied history, you never know who is going to glean from such pieces whether a student, journalist, researcher or author. It is good to give people access to these records of what happened in the past:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, June 21, 2000

Save Salt Spring fund organizes big concert

by Tanya Lester

Randy Bachman, Simon Collins and Tara McLean are just some of the big names who have agreed to perform at the Commodore in Vancouver for the Save Salt Spring Campaign Funhd.

Andrea Collins, the fund’s founder, also said it is likely that the entire reunited Guess Who band will make the August 9 gig.

Another of the fund’s projects is a calendar for which Salt Spring women of all ages and sizes posed nude. The calendar can be ordered through the fund’s website and will be available in bookstores as well.

Calendar funds will go specifically towards land acquisition. The Burgoyne Bay area of the property now owned by Texada Land Corporation (TLC) will be given first purchase priority if it has not been clear-cut, said Collins.

Usually, Save Salt Spring Campaign Fund proceeds go towards costs of any expenses The Land Conservancy of BC acquisition fund does not cover. Donations and pledges to the land acquisition fund does not cover. Donations and pledges to the land acquisition fun go towards buying TLC land.

Collins said it has been brought to her attention that some potential donors and others opposed to TLC clear-cutting have been confused about the parameters of the two funds.

Newspaper and magazine interviews with Collins, who was formerly married to rock superstar Phil Collins, have propelled the issue of TLC clear-cutting and opposition into national and international consciousness.

Last week, an interview with Collins appeared in The National Post. Canadian Press also talked to her recently…


To read more posts in this blog of articles and other writing on an eclectic range of subjects, go to and

Tanya Lester, BA works as a psychic, doing tea leaf readings as well as tarot, gypsy readings and mediumship. She instills her readings with reiki and is a reiki master as well as a fulltime housesitter. To text or call her, the cell phone number is 250-538-0086 or email her at  Her web is  She is also on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and an Alignment member.

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew (both available for purchase from the author or as well as Women Rights/Writes and Dreams and Tricksters. They are all available in some library systems.






Moss Foods picking up

November 24, 2017

Businesses in villages and small towns support the local newspaper by paying for ad copy in said papers.

However, newspapers need to fill their papers with copy so sometimes the businesses get some freebie copy in the guise of an article:

After troubled start  Moss Foods picking up


by Tanya Lester

Having recently acquired a Chinese noodle contract with Western Grocers’ Fortune label, business at Moss Food Processing Ltd. is picking up and there is talk at the Winnipeg head office of getting into the production of a thicker spaghetti noodle also.

Besides the Fortune label, the plant produces chicken, beef, pork, mushroom, shrimp, and plain flavored Chinese noodles for Safeway’s Townhouse brand and its own Riddles lable.

Moss Food Processing Ltd. bought the plant after Mossbank Foods, the previous owners, went bankrupt in February, 1980. Mossbank Foods was owned by shareholders who lived in Mossbank with Amour Foods most shares….

… the plant (was given) five months to become a viable operation although the townspeople, who had shares, seemed willing to hold on to the plant for a longer period. Mr. Rollie thanks Amour Foods should have given the plant a longer time before filing bankruptcy papers.

The new owner’s name is Peter Moss thus the slight name change to Moss Food Processing Ltd. Mr. Rollie feels business at the plant will be picking up by the spring. “The market is opening up,” he said. “People are getting used of the product.”

The plant employs 11 people who, for the most part, do assembly line work to keep the processing of the noodles running smoothly. Most of the machinery was made in Japan…parts must be ordered from Japan. But Mr. Rollie said this rarely happens because the equipment is not complex. It is mostly made up of belts and an electric

The noodles are made of flour, water, and a liquid solution of soya powder, kansui mix, salt, and water. After the flour is mixed with the liquid, the resulting dough runs through rollers which determine the noodles’ thickness.

Then the noodles go through a steam tunnel which cooks and jellitizes them. Next, the noodles go through the fryers where they are fried in rapeseed oil (previously palm oil was used) at about 140 to 150 degrees Celsius. They are cooled, packaged, with flavor packets and boxed….


To read other posts in this blog of articles on eclectic subjects, please go to and

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Kneew (available for purchase from the author or as well as Dreams & Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes.

Tanya works as a psychic doing tea leaf reading, tarot and gypsy card readings. She is also a reiki master and instills her readings with this healing energy. She housesits fulltime. For more about her passions/work, contact her by texting/calling 250-538-0086 or emailing  Her web site is: