continued from previous post: New Directions: four books by Manitoba women

February 4, 2018

This part of the Prairie Fire book review featuring books by four women writers who wrote books on being women and writers is about my book entitled Dreams and Tricksters:

Prairie Fire

Volume VII, No. 3

New Directions: four books by Manitoba Women

by Margaret Clarke

…continued from last post:

A different kind of translation is being made by Tanya Lester in Dreams and Tricksters. Self-growth is connected to the experience of oneself through the life and personality of an “other”, one that would seem remarkably different from oneself. In this series of interconnected stories, a Metis single mother, Betsy, and a white writer, Tyeanne, with no children are thrown together in the same slum apartment building. Through their interdependence they discover other parts of themselves.

The stories are unapologetically feminist in tone and theme, but often humourously so, as in the tale “Josephine and the Pomegranate”. Here Lester goes a few steps beyond Aristophane’s Lysistrata which portrayed women conducting a sex strike to stop war. Lester portrays, by means of her fable, women holding out for a truly egalitarian society. In fact, men are excluded until they prove themselves in three tests, demonstrating their ability in cooking, sewing and child care! My evocation of the great Greek comic playwright in this context may seem hyperbolic but it is deliberate. Without making any aesthetic judgements on either the ancient writer or this comtemporary writer, both Lysistrata and Dreams and Tricksters share a common tone, a strange mixture of farce and gravity, of politics and poetry.

At one moment the predicaments of Tyeanne and Betsh seem impossibly grave: Betsy, in constrant fear of eviction, wrestles with the problems her kids create in their deprived environment, while Tyeanne doubts her ability to live up to her own high principles. “Most of my life I’ve had to fight to keep my babies,” Betsy confides. “Has anyone failed at being a feminist before?” is the thought Tyeanne cannot confide. But at the same moment, Betsy’s gritty street language and Tyeanne’s delight in going along with Betsy’s confrontation of authority figures — even to finding new twists to the old game of civil disobedience — gives us a series of enjoyable farcical plot developments. The two women’s antics reach their limits when they lead their fellow tenants in a peaceful invasion of their slum landlord’s offices, and end up being served sandwiches, playing pool and getting a drive home in his Cadillac.

Humour is not the only bond between reader and writer in the reader’s acceptance of the weighty thematic material. Lester’s ability to make her point in a variety of forms enriches the book. Lester’s ability to make her point in a variety of forms enriches the book. The collection of “stories for social change” also contains letters, plays, a fairy tale and a poem, and Lester often varies the viewpoint between third and first person. One hilarious piece presents itself as an answer on an adult education exam in grade ten English, painfully penned by the undereducated Bill Hapey, Betsy and Tyeanne’s building superintendent. His personal essay on the two women who are often the bane of his existence, offers the observation that Betsy and Tyeanne “act crased a lot” but “mak a man think”. His written work may not get him a pass in English composition, but certainly gets A in observation.

In some ways Bill’s lack of language skills is symbolic of her creator’s problems in this book. Lester has no lack of English expression, in fact she has a real ability, in dialogue particularly. But the book does miss the kind of artful finish that a good editor can help a writer to accomplish. Dreams and Tricksters is self-published and there are times its shows. The writer moves too awkwardly between the events of women’s lives, often ignoring motivation. We yearn to know more about Tyeanne’s suicidal urges or Betsy’s softer maternal side so often hidden behind the front she must present to the world. In fact, the psychology of the feminist, be she theorist like Tyeanne, or activist like Betsy, is largely ignored. We need to see more of these women’s inner lives. Most of all, it seems to me, the book wants to be more about the relationship between the two women. This would not have taken the sting out of its political message; it would have broadened it……review to be continued…..

— END–

Tanya Lester now has works for over two decades as a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot and psychic channeling. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more about her services go to her web: and/or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google.

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

To read more posts in this eclectic blog of writings by and about Tanya Lester, go to and






New Directions: four books by Manitoba women

January 31, 2018ry

One of my books, a collection of inter-linked short stories called Dreams and Tricksters, is one of the four books reviewed here by a fifth Manitoba author. The Prairie Fire editorial staff likes this idea of authors reviewing the work of other authors and it is always a bonus for authors to read books other than their own.  Consciously or subconsciously, it provides the author with ideas that may invigorate their own writing:

Prairie Fire

New Directions: four books by Manitoba women

by Margaret Clarke

Four books published in 1985 illustrate the variety of responses that Manitoba women writers are having to their identities as women and as writers.

Smaro Kamboureli’s in the second person is, of the four, the most overtly concerned with the problem of creating a coherence of personality. The “second person” that Kamboureli writes of in this diary-style collage of poetry and prose is the younger Greek self who the writer finds she has not left behind when she becomes a Canadian. Instead, this old self lingers, sometimes as a very real presence interfering with the new self attempting to create itself in the new language, sometimes felt as an “absence” that leaves the writer incomplete in her new identity.

In her introductory essay, “An open parenthesis,” (first published in Prairie Fire, Spring, 1984) Kamboureli defines the experience of immigration as ” a form of abjection. It is a desire for a yet unknown object that kills its subject.” Ironically, while she feels at home in Canada, she not at home within herself. This has its advantages: “My immigrant condition affords me the (perverse?) pleasure of a doubled view.” But this doubleness, of pleasure in the creation of a new identity and pain in the loss of the old, creates a psychic incompleteness which the writer explores in various ways throughout the text. It is most vividly recreated for the reader in the entries that cover a trip back to Greece which Kamboureli takes after having lived in Canada for some time and having made the decision to become a Canadian. There, the new Canadian is not only confronted with the mundane problems of returning to a place where she lived as a younger person, such as the difficulty of relating to parents who still see her as their child, the immersion in the old language once more, the rekindling of old relationships, but is also confronted with the very real existence of the old self: “It would have been easier has i been after memories only. there is always an excess of remembrances…but you are not memory. you are the act of remembering itself.” The diarist-poet begins to understand the essential part of the old self plays and the need to form a marriage of identities. This is figured in the image of marriage which emerges in the last entries.

The idea of “marriage” and its appendant metonymies of desire and romantic involvement with another, are the most notable ways in which Kamboureli dramatizes her identity crisis. Since she comes to Canada in the first place primarily to live with the man she loves, some of the detail of her struggle to come to terms with her new and old identities is expressed in images reflecting that relationship. In this way the outer relationship with the man, acts as a commentary on the inner relationship with the other self. As a persona grows towards “marriage” in one area, so she does in the other. The implied comparison between the two relationships is expressed most powerfully in the June 11, 1981 entry when the writer, sleeping alone in her homeland, feels the other self as a very real presence, almost like a lover: “your own voice reaching inside your ear feel your body touching the belly of your body between white sheets breath breeding despair at this splitting image of the self.” Kamboureli’s book suggests that changing one’s identity is integrally connected to changing one’s language, indeed it is akin to “translation”….. to be continued.

— END–

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

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

Tanya has worked for over 2 decades as a tea leaf reader, tarot reader and psychic medium. She is also a Reiki master and a fulltime housesitter.  Her pages are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. She is also an Align member. Her web is at  To book an appointment for a reading text or call 250-538-0086 or email:



Traffic caught in residents’ snarl

January 28, 2018

I have been in traffic jams from Los Angeles to Lisbon to Vancouver to London and so on and so forth in a total of 22 countries in which I have travelled.

Never did I think I would have to write about traffic congestion on Salt Spring Island but on that island and in life, in general, I have come to learn that anything is possible. (By the way, the cheeky headline was not my idea.) :

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Traffic caught in residents’ snarl

by Tanya Lester

Proposals to solve traffic congestion on Cusheon Lake Road have run up against either government or area residents opposition, with there being little hop of any resolution at least until the fall.

I don’t know what we’re going to do, said Bob Webb, Ministry of Transportation and Highways (MOTH) district technician. We are looking for a win-win situation.

He pointed out that MOTH has been knocked off course by a not in my backyard attitude among residents in the Cusheon Lake area.

The only thing everyone appears to agree on is that traffic on the road poses a safety problem and an environmental concern because the lake is a drinking water source.

To upgrade the road is not feasible for financial and other reasons, as it runs between houses located extremely close to the water on one side and along a steep bank on the other side, said Bill Monahan, Beddiss and Cusheon Area Residents Association (BACARA) president.

Complicating the matter, he said, is the question of residents property lines actually extending out onto the road.

At a meeting initiated by MOTH in January, Webb and other highways representaties met with BACARA executive members to explore traffic re-routing options.

Four options emerged by the meeting’s end. One was to leave the Cusheon Lake Road situation as is. Another was to link up the two sections of Horel Road on the side of the lake opposite Cusheon Lake Road. This would make a through road between Fulford-Ganges and Stewart.

The third would re-route traffic even further from the lake opposite Cusheon Lake Road by joining Horel Road with Kitchen Road. Again, this would serve to connect Stewart and Fulford-Ganges.

Webb said there was immediate opposition to either of the Horel Road options as this could mean polluted run-off into the drinking water system.

Monahan recently told the Driftwood that an area between the two parts of Horel Road is a park reserve and as such acts as a water purifier for the lake.

The fourth option proposed at the January meeting was to join the two parts of Sky Valley Road just east of Cusheon Lake Road. The hook on Lord Mikes Road would need to be straightened for traffic to flow more smoothly and safely between SkyValley, onto a short part of Cusheon Lake and to the turn down Stewart Road or on to Beddis Road.

According to Monahan, the concept would be that if Sky Valley was a through road, people approaching the area from Ganges would turn down that road to connect with Stewart Road instead of continuing on to the Cusheon Lake Road turnoff.

On April 10, at MOTHs request, BACARA met with Sky Valley and Lord Mikes residents who adamantly opposed the road link proposal, said Monahan.

These residents argued convincingly, according to the BACARA president, that the plan was flawed. They pointed out that a deep ravine between the two parts of Sky Valley might require an expensive bridge. They also talked about a possible increase in accidents with motorists turning left onto Sky Valley at a part of Fulford-Ganges where a sharp turn obstructs the vision of drivers approaching from the south.

Their third point was that straightening out the hook on Lord Mikes would take out two homes.

Sky Valley resident Peter Nuk told the Driftwood that he and other residents feared a decrease in property values and an increase in noise pollution and traffic that would change the road’s character.

He said he purposely bought his property 26 years ago on a road with a cul-de-sac because he anticipated an increase in traffic on any of Salt Spring’s through roads.

Nuk has since fired off a petition  to MOTh containing about 45 signatures from Sky Valley and Lord Mikes property owners opposed to the re-routing in their area.

He has also sent a position paper and at least six letters from residents detailing their opposition.

The BACARA executive was convinced by the objections that the Sky Valley option was not viable. Monahan stated this in a letter to MOTH.

Sky Valley (residents) don’t have to lose sleep over their road being linked, said Monahan.

Webb, however, was not willing to rule out Sky Valley-Lord Mikes as an option.

In the same letter, Monahan also outlined another traffic re-routing possibility for MOTH to consider. This one would turn Cusheon Lake Road intoa one-way road with traffic flowing from Fulford-Ganges Road to Lords Mike Road.

Any vehicle approaching Cusheon Lake Road from Stewart Road would only be able to turn right if going as far as Lord Mikes with a road block preventing any further travel down Cusheon Lake Road in the Fulford-Ganges direction.

All other traffic would have to turn right and proceed down Beddis Road to Ganges, for example.

MOTH has not responded to BACARAs letter but Moss sees several problems with this proposal. He anticipates protest from Beddis Road residents. He said upgrading that lengthy road would be extremely expensive, more so that the Sky Valley link.

In addition, MOTH has sunk over $150,000 into paving Stewart Road over the last half dozen years. For that reason the ministry would like to see the road used extensively.

Moss added that residents councerned with the environment should not shoot themselves in the foot by, one hand, saving Cusheon Lake from pollution while on the other polluting the atmosphere to a larger extent by using more gas for a longer drive into Ganges.

According to Moss, MOTH is not willing to pursue the issue until it knows whether Salt Spring Island intends to incorporate as a municipality. If it does, the municipality will be in charge of island roads.

Moss intends to meet again with BACARA in the fall if incorporation does not appear imminent.

Meanwhile, it is left up to Environment Canada and local psychics to  predict just how hot, dusty and hazardous Cusheon Lake Road will end up being for drivers and residents this summer.


For more on Tanya Lester, go to her web at

‘Stacks-Maxx’imum musicial performance at Lion’s Hall

January 26, 2018

When I was writing articles for newspapers, I guess ‘the power of the pen’ made me immune to public criticism. Until I worked on the Gulf Islands Driftwood, that is.

On Salt Spring Island, the ‘tide can turn against you’ even when you think you are being fair and empathetic. One of the three musicians in the following article had ‘a bone to pick’ with the Driftwood and I guess with me, too,  as I wrote the piece. I didn’t know whether to me more embarrassed  for me or her as she criticized the article and the newspaper from behind her mic.

For a long time now, as a psychic who does readings, I have noticed that when people go through crisis in their lives, they usually come out the other side with a new and very dynamic life that can make them soar to new levels.

As a journalist, I learned the people in the public eye often serve as positive role models for many.

If you can figure out what’s vindictive about the following article, please let me know what it is:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

“Stacks-Maxx’imum musical performance at Lion’s Hall

by Tanya Lester

Friday evening promises to be acoustic entertainment at its best with the Stack sisters and Lisa Maxx, three well-known Salt Spring singers and songwriters, stepping up to the microphone at Lions Hall.

They will perform a selection of songs written over the years and do new material as well. “We’ve got a huge body of material,” said Maxx.

The three have performed together once previously at Rose’s Café in Fulford but Kathy and Jane Stack have been singing together since they were babies. “Our father would parade us out when friends came over, ” said Kathy Stack.

The Stack family moved to Salt Spring from Santa Barbara, California when Kathy and Jane were teenagers. Their parents were “bohemians” wanting to get away from American politics.

The sisters are versatile: playing the blues, country, gospel and folk, and they like to do it with humour.

A song with a Mexican rhythm penned by Kathy goes like this:  “I wish I were tall and thin. I wish I didn’t have a double chin.”

Jane wrote one called You Fixed My Car dedicated to Richard Murakami and other island mechanics.

Among their new songs at Friday’s concert is one by Jane called Cinqo de Mayo about a Mexican Independence Day celebration.

Kathy has penned a country piece titled Tonight I Need a Lover.

Kathy once opened for Valdy during a cross Canada tour, yet this Friday he will be back-up musician for the Stacks and Maxx.

Maxx, too, has been a musician since she was a child, and she began writing songs at 12 years old. A turning point came in her career five years ago when she was debilitated by arthritis.

“When I first got sick, I remember how my voice opened up,” Maxx said. “Maybe it’s being faced with your own mortality. I was laying in bed and something just shifted in me.”

Maxx  added that she has lost any hesitancy to hold back when it comes to singing.

Things have also changed in relation to the instruments that Maxx now uses in performance. She is losing her ability to play the guitar but will be playing an autoharp this Friday.

It has buttons to push instead of chords for her to finger, and she can sit it on her lap to avoid the discomfort of reaching over an instrument.

The autoharp is on loan from the MS), a group which supports musicians with disabilities.

According to Maxx, VAMS sends musicians into the schools to work with disabled children. It also helps them find work performing and assists with accessibility issues.

Maxx said the disease has also lowered her energy level. She can no longer “sit up for hours working n a tune.”

But this Friday she will be singing about angels (and people who know her voice might say it sounds like an angel). A song she has penned is called While Angels do Watch.

Another is Walk the Walk, which is about “hitting rock bottom and turning upward.”

“I feel the arthritis has run my life for five years and now I’m reclaiming (my life),” she said.

The Stack sisters and Maxx will perform three songs together with three-part harmonies during the two-hour evening….


Tanya is a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channeling, etc. She is also a Reiki master and housesitter. To learn more and/or to use her services, go to her web:  or her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google. She also a member of Align.  To book a reading, Reiki attunement or a housesit, you can also contact her directly by text or calling 2505380086 or emailing her at

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew which you can purchase directly from the author or from She also wrote Women Rights/Writers  as well as Dreams and Tricksters. These books are available in some library systems.

To read more posts of a wide range of stories and other forms of writing  by Tanya, go to and



Equal Times

January 20, 2018

As I have alluded to before, it can be difficult to fill a newspaper with stories. This is why a reporter is often given a column. The trick is to make the column interesting enough for readers so it does not get cut. This does depend on whether the editor has something to replace it with, though.

The following is an exert from one of my column entries:

Gazette — Mankota-Glentworth Edition

January 12, 1983

Equal Times

by Tanya Lester

Sometimes an employee for either physical or psychological reasons does not feel up to coming into work. To put it simply — she or he is sick

Under the federal government Canada Labour Code, after an employee has worked with the same employer or business for three consecutive months, he or she has the right to take sick leave for up to 12 weeks.

Up to this period of time, the employee cannot be fired from his or her job just because of illness. However, if the employer asks for a medical certificate, the employee must provide one but only if the employer requests it within 15 days after the employee returns to work.

Although federal government law protects the employee from being fired due to illness, it does not provide for paid sick leave. As a person cannot help becoming sick from time to time, it seems particularly unfair that an employee should not receive compensation under the law.

No doubt unions would agree with this. Most union contracts include a clause stating that employees are entitled to sick leave pay as a matter of fairness or because such such benefits can help prevent the staff from unionizing.

An employer who knows anything about staff relations often provides sick leave pay and other benefits as a “plum” to encourage his or her employees to stay at the job and to decrease high staff turnover.

When you go to a job interview or before accepting a job, you should ask your employer if he or she provides sick leave pay and other benefits. The answer you get could determine whether you decide to take the job or not, especially if you have other job offers.

You can also bargain for such benefits. If your potential boss wants you badly enough, he or she will provides these benefits. The high unemployment rate has made it difficult for job seekers to do this type of bargaining but this is still not impossible. Remember Saskatchewan still has the lowest unemployment rate in Canada!

In cases of injury, pregnancy, or a death in the family, however, you are entitled to leave with pay. If you are injured or become sick as a result of your job, you are entitled to money or compensation provided by the provincial government in accordance with The Workers’ Compensation Act.

The Workers Compensation Board makes the decision as to whether your disability was a result of your job. “For example, if an employee breaks her arm while moving boxes at work she will receive compensation,” the Women’s Division “This is the Law: A Legal Guide for Women” booklet states. “However, if a worker has had a history of medical problems with her arm and then injures it at work, she might not be entitled to compensation or she might receive reduced benefits.”

But a worker who is permanently partially disabled can receive a lump sum payment of between $500 and $10,000 and, in addition, can receive 75 per cent of the difference between what the employee earned before disability and what she or he could earn after the injury occurred. The employee will receive there benefits until he or she is 65 years old

If the employee is totally disabled, she or he will receive a payment amounting to 75 per cent of what was earned on the job each month. This payment cannot be less than $505 a month and no more than $1833 per month and benefits can continue until the worker is 65 years old..


Tanya’s books are  Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader and Friends I Never Knew that can be purchased by the author or an  She also wrote Dreams and Tricksters as well as Women Rights/Writes. All these books are available in some library systems as well as in the Legislative Library of Manitoba.

Tanya has worked for many years as a psychic reader with a specialty in psychic channeling, tea leaf reading and tarot. She is also a Reiki master and housesitter. For more about what she does go to her pages at Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter and she is also a member of Align. Her web site is You can reach her directly for a reading or to discuss a housesit by texting or calling 2505380086 or emailing

To read more posts in this blog of many different story themes, go to and

Ferland saves Pioneer

January 18, 2018

At this time, there are few grain elevators left on the Canadian prairies. This is because it is more and more difficult for a grain farmer (or any type of farmer) to make a living or even break even in the field of agriculture.

Canadian government control or lack of it has a lot to do with this.

In the 1980s, a decrease in grain elevators was already taking but here is one story about how one elevator was saved:

Gazette — Mankota-Glentworth edition

January 12, 1983

Ferland saves Pioneer

by Tanya Lester

The Pioneer Grain Elevator in Ferland is still in operation due to the lobbying work done by the Ferland Elevator Retention Group.

Aime Fournier, the group’s president, said now that the Pioneer Elevator is continuing to operate in the town, there will be further pressure to decrease the elevator’s grain handling to the 500,000 ? to 750000 bushel quantity…

If the elevator had closed, the businesses in town would have lost income from the farmers. The town would have also lost the elevator taxes. Mr. Fournier and others did not want to lose the town where they were born and raised.

With the signatures of 39 farmers indicating their wishes to keep the elevator open, the Ferland Elevator Retention Group began talking with Pioneer officials.

Mr. Fournier said they told the officials if the elevator was closed, Ferland area farmers would boycott Pioneer elevators in any other town to which they would be forced to haul.

Mr. Fournier talked with Otto Lang, Pioneer vice-chair and finally told the president of Pioneer that he had a month to make a decision concerning the fate of the elevator. The farmers had already approached Cargill and NM Patterson to build an elevator in the town.

Finally, in February 1981, Pioneer decided to build a new elevator leg and move two elevators together to improve the grain storage capacity. New scales also added to the improvements.

The “new” Pioneer elevator opened a year ago in February while the official opening was held in June. After seeing the elevator in operation for a year, Mr. Fournier said although improvements are still needed, it is “300 per cent better than what we had before.”

— END–

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

To read more posts in this ecletic blog of articles and other published writing by Tanya, go to and

Tanya works as a psychic who specializes in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling, mediumship and gypsy card reading. She is also a reiki master and a fulltime housesitter. For more on her services, go to her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter as well as Align or to her web:  Or you can contact her directly for a reading, reiki attunement or if you need a housesit by texting/calling her at 2505380086 or emailing her at


This is blog of the many articles published by and about me over several decades as a freelance writer and a tealeafreader/tarot reader/psychic.