Stone clan people at work on Salt Spring

July 12, 2014

On Salt Spring Island, you can metaphorically wade through the many,many bodyworkers a.k.a. healers that practice there. You can also metaphorically wade through the number of healing modalities that these practitioners offer. One of my personal favourites is stone massage therapy.

When Suzanne Ambers gave me stone therapy, I saw visions. True story and here it is:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
November 10, 1999
Stone clan people at work on Salt Spring
by Tanya Lester

Stone massage therapy is a beautiful earthy experience that can heighten your spiritual awareness.

With the physical sensation of warm stones soothing your body, and the spiritual interaction, it is probably unlike any other body work.

“The stone clan people” are now working on Salt Spring.

Mary Hannigan, the Arizona woman who developed stone massage therapy over a six-year period, recently conducted a workshop at Salt Spring Lodge.

People from across Canada came to learn the art.

Suzanne Ambers, who had wanted to meet Hannigan for quite some time, was there.

“I’ve been drawn to stones for a long time,” said Ambers, who does a variety of energy and body work…

“I gather stones, heat them up on wood stoves and give them to old people to warm their hands.”

Native people in Hannigan’s state of Arizona believe the stones have a spirit and are almost like people.

The 54 stones used in the therapy are called “the stone clan people”

In Hannigan’s teaching manual, she explains that, in some cultures, it is believed the stones contain the memories of all events on the planet and in the universe.

The therapy aids humans in enhancing our memories and helps us in our journey to heal.

Most of the stones are basalt which Ambers dubs as “blueprints of creation.” When heated and placed on the body, they relax it.

Polar stones, which are marble and kept in Ambers, freezer, provide stimulation when used. A favourite use is to stroke them around the eyes to make the person feel more awake.

Ambers gathered her stones near Sooke, BC. “I went to a beach that my Dad used to take me to as a little girl,” she said.

The massage process begins with most of the stones being heated in an electric turkey roaster. Ambers adds cedar to the water.

She does a layout of the stones on her massage table.

The client then lays down on the stones which lineup on the spine. Muscles begin to relax.

Next, Ambers puts stones along the chakra points (energy centres) on the front of the body and places a stone in each of the client’s hands.

Warmth seems to penetrate up through the arms and to other parts of the body.

Similar to the Hawaiian massage called Huna Kane, prayers are recited throughout the therapy.

For example, there are wishes to the client to love herself or himself and to live in the now moment in accordance with divine law and order.

Ambers will often massage parts of the body by using the stones as extensions of her hands. When I arrived, I told her that I had a sore jaw from a recurring problem of grinding my teeth in my sleep. During the massage, she took two stones and gently “chiseled” at my jaw.

It has not been sore since.

I also had a strong vision in my mind of an ancient tree in the desert which seemed to me to be a nurturing companion. It is an image I have re-visited when I found I once more needed to feel this kind of comfort.

When Ambers did an infinity sign around my eyes with the cold stones, I saw through the eyes of an Inuit and understood a love for the snow which was strangely healing.

(Having barely survived too many winters in Winnipeg, I had come to hate it.)

At the end of the massage, Ambers takes the stones back outside to be re-energized by the earth.

She offers two of her collection of stones to the client who can heat them to warm his or her hands later.

An hour and a half with “the stone clan people” is a good thing to do for yourself…

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Twig chair workshop get people twisting and turning

July 11, 2014
It is always a very good day for me when synchronicity happens in my life and the more often and the more twists and turns in the synchronicity, the better as far as I am concerned.

Recently I just passed on one of Bill Simpson’s business cards to someone for whom I did a tea leaf reading and tarot reading. I saw working with wood would be a passion for her. I assume that Bill Simpson is still doing his twig chair workshops.

The following article was written by me after a synchronistic experience I had. For years, in my living room, on Salt Spring Island, I kept two twig chairs made by my friend Nancy Kulchiski from rural Manitoba willow before I moved to the island. I always loved the organic feel of it and how something that you would not think would be comfortable to sit on was actually really comfortable to sit on. I did many, many readings while sitting on that chair and ate many meals while on it.

In the summer of 2005, I took a look at a furniture display in the ArtSpring gallery. There were some locally made twig chairs as part of the exhibit. The price tag on one was $200. I thought to myself if I have lots of readings in the next week or so, I think I will buy another twig chair for myself.

I think it was within a week that I got an email for Gail Sjuberg, the managing editor for the Gulf Islands Driftwood. Knowing about the twig chairs I already owned, she explained that she had a request to run an article on building twig chairs for the newspaper. Would I like to do it?

It meant saving $200 on buying a chair and going to a complementary workshop as well as getting a freelance article fee for writing the piece. This is the kind of synchronicity that I really like.
The lesson being: there are many ways that we can get or be given what we desire from The Universe.

Here is the resulting article:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
August 10, 2005
Twig chair workshop gets people twisting and turning
by Tanya Lester

I have a confession to make: I cannot hammer a naim in straight.

This is not a gender thing. My father was a builder on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, where I grew up. Both my sisters could hammer nails into 2X4s until the cows came home (if we had owned cows, that is).

Being burdened with this shameful secret, I was surprised to find myself participating in Bill Simpson’s Make a Twig Chair Workshop last weekend.

Bill’s talents as an instuctor made it one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve had during an exceptionally appealing Salt Spring summer. I left believing I was in full recovery from hammer cluts-a-phobic, and the celebatory glass of Saturna Vineyards wine had nothing to do with my euphoria.

The proof is the funky — in a good way– alder twig chair that I have to show for it.

I knew things were going to go well from the moment I arrived at the Simpson farm on Rourke Road and was greeted by the gentle family bulldog Nell. The tone was set for a weekend in an always friendly and mostly quiet atmosphere. I won’t say “idyllic” — the squabbling geese and rooster’s persistent 2:30 p.m. crowing kept things real.

Bill got us quickly down to work, stripping the leaves off alder branches in the sheep pasture. The woolly creatures quickly devoured the refuse of our toil.

Next, just outside the animals’ fence, we hand sawed the thicker alder into pieces which would become the “members” for each chair structure.

By this time I was asking Bill a lot of questions. (And not because I was trying to avoid the work, belive me.) It turns out that Bill is a structural engineer who keeps busy ensuring island houses are seismic-proof. Years ago, still in Ontariom he took a workshop in twig chair construction.

Now, four years into living the simple Salt Spring farm life, offering these weekends fits in perfectly with his family lifestyle, which includes 4-H Club involvement.

Back in his workshop, with a window view of the Three Sisters islands outside Ganges Harbour, we arranged our thicker alder pieces on a line pattern Bill has permanently etched on his work tables.

Not trying — I swear — to avoid hammering the pieces for the chair sides together, I ask Bill about his business name etched above the columnar entry way into the workshop’s other room. “The Artful Bodger” is a clever play on a Charles Dickens’ character name: “The Artful Dodger.”

But what is a bodger?

Bill explained it’s a term for a 1700s British chair maker. In a time that we believe was much less specialized that ours, a bodger went out to glean wood. He sat down and made spindles for chairs right in the forest. This was the only part of the chair he worked on. Others constructed the rest of the chairs elsewhere.

Hmm. Just when I was thinking that really this might be the way for me to go on my twig chair, Bill quickly pointed out that the bodger worked on a much different style of chair called a Windsor. This is the kind the inventor Benjamin Franklin sat on while making notes at his desk. Bill constructs those sorts of precision-beautiful chairs, too, but that’s another story.

Outside, on the grassy knoll next to the workshop and overlooking the family log house, we got down to the serious hammering involved in putting the arm, back and seat saplings onto the legs, frame/seat supports and top rail of the chair.

This is a sort of twist, turn and shout exercise. (The “shouting” being one’s reaction if she happens to hammer a thumb; or graze a finger with a fishtail gouge used to denude the saplings of bumpy knots that would make for uncomfortable sitting.)

The twisting and turning was accomplished by our bodies trying to get the nails hammered into all the intricate places where the sapling branches had to be bent in order to remain tacked onto the rounded frame wood members.

We did this keeping in mind comfort in sitting as well as a final furniture piece that would be pleasing to the eye.

Alan Thurston and Franklyn Roy enjoyed making their twig chairs so much that they booked an extra night at Birdsong Bed and Breakfast next door to the Simpson’s place.

“Alan and I have done some pretty neat things and this is way up there,” said Franklyn.

For $200, you get to learn from a patient, knowledgealbe instructor and get to keep a unique rustic chair. Those who want to take the easy way out can purchase Bill’s furniture…

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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name at to read the first pages and buy a copy.

Spirit of the West duo blend perfectly at folk club show

July 10, 2014
Being originally from Winnipeg (well, actually from Victoria Beach, Manitoba on Lake Winnipeg with population 200 and this number has not changed in at least five or six decades) and going to university in the 1970s means that I was passionately into rock but, without realizing it, my musical appetite also expanded to take in folk. Ironically, this happened around the time that Bob Dylan went electric.

Of course, there are many others who enjoy both rock and folk music. Notable among them is Bill Henderson, long time front man for Chilliwack. This band and Henderson’s strong song writing and vocal techniques were cutting edge influencial on the California rock scene in the early days.

Perhaps Henderson’s strong love of song writing drew him into the folk music scene in which the words of the song writing stand out more clearly against the backdrop of slower, often more melodic music.Voice in folk music also tends to ring out with more clarity than in rock.

Henderson decided to create a folk club some decades ago on Salt Spring Island, BC where he has long been a resident. He told me that no one would attempt to do such a thing without the involvement of Valdy, who also lives on the Gulf island. (I personally cannot tell you how many times Valdy has been referred to as a legend by numerous high profile folk musicians).

The two together founded the Salt Spring Folk Club. On a Monday, usually the first in the month during the winter season, islanders jam into the Fulford Hall for what amounts to a musical spiritual high. This happens after they chow down on some of the best homemade food on the West Coast. Magic always occurs.

During the year, I worked as a journalist on the Gulf Island Driftwood, I was delighted to cover a performance there by two of the Spirit of the West. A friend, who shall remain nameless and is a musician herself, attempted to drag me downstairs to meet these two accomplished musicians. To my credit, I refrained from groupism.

I should also note that an editor, who shall remain nameless, ‘dressed me down’ because she somehow thought I was not giving Suzanne Little and Tom Hooper enough ‘positive ink’ as the opening act for the two Spirit of West performers. All I can say was this editor was not at the performance but this is part of the office politics of working on any newspaper. I do not begrudge her anything but she had this habit of simply stringing together superlatives when doing reviews. Not my style.

This is the concert review:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
December 22, 1999
Spirit of the West duo blend perfectly at folk club show
by Tanya Lester

From the moment Geoffrey Kelly put lips to his flute and John Mann accompanied his guitar picking with a sort of Celtic reel last Monday at the Salt Spring Folk Club show, I believed humans can transform themselves into instruments.

What we usually know as instruments were merely extensions of this talented dup out on their premiere performance as a separate entity from their band, The Spirit of the West.

These are special instruments with intelligence, backed up by heart and rooted in passions for the art of music.

“Art of music” in the sense of play because you love to do it and you want everyone to be part of it.

Valdy used the word “contagious” to describe how these men’s music metaphorically picked up the audience packed into Fulford Hall.

The two blended in perfectly with the new stage backdrop of Mount Maxwell and the forest around Burgoyne Bay designed by Salt Springer John Malcolm.

Their Celtic rhythm would fit nicely into any forest setting.

The reason why Mann and Kelly are able to reason this musical high seems connected to the depth of their music.

Not everyone could call a song championing euthanasia “Unplugged” and get away with it.

Yet when Mann referred to it as “a catchy little two step,” it really was. He explained that when he saw a man on television who had decided to end his life, Mann realized it was about a human’s empowerment and the song it inspirted could not be done like a funeral dirge.

Mann seemed to step into the shoes of the ailing man when he sang, “Your hands that once caressed me, I don’t want them to detest me.”

Kelly brought stories of Christmas past into the act with his tune called Old Sod in which he spoofed his family for hanging up shortbread and bagpipes ornaments on the tree during their first year in Canada as Sottish immigrants when he was nine years old.

It was about bringing more symbols into their life related to their country of origin thant they had ever had around them in Scotland.

Later Kelly explained the band’s “plugged-in” era as being about realizing a boy’s dream as he stands in front of the mirror belting out “music” on a tennis racket, imagining himself really letting loose on an electric guitar.

Somehow it seems that Mann and Kelly are still paying homage to being able to constantly perpetuate that childhood dream to passionately make music.

They do not take their music for granted because they are so in love with it.

The two are working on what they call their solo album apart from work in the band.

When they talked us into singing along with one of their pieces, they joked that we were “far more in turn than the rest of the band.”

Mann and Kelly walk a straight line on the path connecting imagination and reality. Their music makes us believe in this kind of magic.

Salt Spring Islanders are in tune with magic and the opening act for Mann and Kelly seemed to be part of this island perspective.

Suzanne Little, accompanied by her partner Tom Hooper of The Grapes of Wrath, talked about their move six years ago from a small apartment in West Vancouver to a house with a garden on Salt Spring Island.

The misical documentation for this “shift in perspective” is Little’s song “Swept Away”, a response to her urband friends not understanding why Hooper could be enthusiastic about growing vegetables.

“You think I have lost my mind,” she sang. “…It’s about feeling good inside.”

Theirs was a much more subdued approach to guitar picking than Mann’s and Kelly’s but they, too, had their messages to get across.

In “This Time”, she responded to an industry in which promotional videotapes and photo shoots have prostituted musical talent.

Grapes fans will be glad to hear that Hooper announced the band’s next CD should be out by March 2000 before he performed “Sell the Goat” for the attentive crowd…

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The Big Chill: An Air-conditioned Comedy of Values

July 9, 2014
I have done a number of reviews of books, plays and films over the years. Early on, I read somewhere that a good review always includes at least one thing that is positive about what you are reviewing and at least one thing that is negative or could be improved.

In the final analysis, though, a reviewer, like everyone else has her or his subjective preferences about whether something is good or not. We are not carbon copies of each other. In my 20s, I was quite acid tongued about my own preferences; what I liked and didn’t like than I am in my more mellow 50s.

The following is a movie review I did on The Big Chillwhich was ‘the’ film about what was going on for women (and men) in the late 1970s and early 1980s (in those ancient days when a movie theatre film cost $4.00). For the record, one of my sisters became a doctor during this time period and I, in the late 1980s, became a single parent-by-choice.

September 1983
The Big Chill: An Air-conditioned Comedy of Values
by Tanya Lester

Comlumbia Pictures’ The Big Chill is the type of movie that you should wait for. Wait for it to appear in your TV guide listings.

The Big Chillwould get top ratings over the mediocre commercial film fare of the tube but it is not worth paying the $4.00 plus to see in a movie theatre.

But then again it depends on who you are and on what basis you are willing to judge this film. If you judge it from a strictly feminist perspective, you might be prone to compare it to a pig with gastritis as one woman who attended the promotional screening did.

And, as reflects the variety of people in the women’s movement, other feminists who went to the screening thought it was good and even “wonderful”. It was funny, they and I, too, said. It was a break from leaving a movie theatre in a state of deep depression.

Another said it would appeal to young middle class professionals. That’s who the film is about. It is a look at the people who were the products of the baby-boom. They were the student radicals of the ’60’s and are the quasi-conformists of the ’80’s. Backed up by vintage ‘6o’s rock soundtrack, the film’s characters are drawn together by the big chill — the suicide and funeral of one of their mutual friends.

Among this group of old friends are three women. Meg is a lawyer, Sarah is a doctor and Karen had once attempted to be a writer but opted instead for the security of wife and mother.

Meg made it in her male dominated profession and has almost come to the conclusion that she might never want to get married. She does want a baby, though, and she has decided to use one of the men in the gathering as a stud.

Sarah looks quite horrified when this decision is announced. The setting for this film segment is in the kitchen of the doctor’s house. The two women are preparing apple pies and turkey for supper while they discuss the ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ of how to become a single mother. The men are off — well, you know — doing manly things.

Karen is busy trying to sort out her own problems. She is absolutely bored with her life of being a good wife and mother. Karen is living with a man who, she admits, would not make love with another woman because he would be afraid of getting herpes.

Apparently, her solution for this problem would be to find another man who better shares her own dreams and passions for life. She offers herself to one of the old friends who a Tom Selleck-type television star. He rejects her as a permanent partner. In the end, it is clean that Karen will return to her husband. She does not come to the realization that she could leave her husband without having another man lined up as a replacement, instead defining her life and status through men.

There is another woman in the film, Chloe, who is the lover left behind by the suicide victim. She suffers from no illusions about society as the others seem to. She says that she does not feel the need to talk as the friends do. In other words, she does not admit to digging inside to examine her feelings and her life.

By the film’s end, Chloe has found a replacement for her dead friend among his old friends. Her life, too, is defined by being an extension of a man. I found Chloe to be the most unsettling of all the women characters. Because, in the cases of the older women, they were young and most impressionable when the feminist movement was just beginning its revival. But this young woman is part of the 1980’s. The women’s movement should have helped her develop a different role in society.

Although we have to admit that all the women in this movie are similar to some of the women we know, it would be absurd to think that Columbia Pictures has a handle on how women should be portrayed to reflect the women’s movement impact on society. Nor does the film highlight the women’s roles which are played by Glenn Close, Mary Kay Place, Meg Tilly, and Jobeth Willimas. The male characters, too, get equal time to struggle with their internal conflicts.

The Big Chill is an air-conditioned comedy of values. It is a laught at the shortcomings of our society which should make the film very comfortable to take for most people. It will be a prime-time hit when it ends up on television.

Until, then, I suggest only going to see it if a friend calls you up and feels like going to see something that won’t make her feel depressed. Just don’t get your expectations up too high.

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Khadr supported in hunger strike

July 2, 2014

Omar Khadr, who is central to the following article, has been released from the American prison in Guantanamo Bay and is now detained back here in Canada. It can be assumed that this is a good thing for Khadr because his family lives in this country so can more easily visit him and be in touch with him. Also, torture is not practiced in the Canadian penal system and other standards are better than in the Guantanamo Bay prison. Generally, Canada has a more humane penal system than the United States does. We do not have the death penalty, for example.

I was motivated to write the article below for several reasons. When you know someone who is on a hunger strike then, if you are a journalist, you want to write about it by way of supporting the person who feels strongly enough about a societal issue that he or she will risk health and possibly loss of life.

In addition to this, I believe Guantanamo Bay prison should be abolished. It is infamous for its extreme torture practices. President Obama has been known to condemn the South African penal system but yet, as one of my friends on Facebook recently pointed out,the United States has a larger percentage of its population in jail than anywhere else in the world. The television series, Orange is the new Black, on Netflix is giving us a window into what that country’s prison system is all about.

The article is a bit of a milestone in that I quote Facebook and Wikipedia. In 2009, social media was on the cusp of becoming the social news source that is now is. As well, I quote CBC radio.

As a reporter, I like to go directly to the source but in this case my source was on a hunger strike. He was in no condition to give me all of the background details I felt I needed to put together the back story so readers would grasp the situation more fully.

Here is the story:

Island Tides

January 29, 2009

Khadr supported in hunger strike

by Tanya Lester

Christian Tatonetti, a former Salt Spring Island resident, spent over half of January on a hunger strike in support of Omar Khadr, the Canadian imprisoned for seven years, since the age of 15, in the United States prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Tatonetti, a musician who now lives in Victoria, wrote to his 340 supporters on Facebook, “I believe that Obama should and will do the right thing and Omar will be sent home in light of the false evidence that has been brought before the courts.”

The day before Tatonetti ended his 18-day strike on January 20, President Obama announced suspension of Khadr’s trial for 120 days while the new US administration investigates how it should proceed with Guantanamo Bay prisoners.

Tatonetti, who lived for a decade on Salt Spring and sold his ‘Bare with Me’ soap at the Saturday market, also stated that his friends were concerned for his health after two-and-a-half weeks of a liquid-only diet.

On a CBC television news story, Lieutenant Commander William Kuebler, Khadr’s lawyer, said based on his client’s ‘child soldier’ status, he doubted whether the trial would reconvene in a US military court.

On Facebook, Tatonetti stated that he prayed ‘the world’s politicians will come to realize that too many children across the world are cruelly exploited and deprived of their childhood. Whether they make toys, clothes or war weapons in sweat shops or whether they are exploited by the sex trade globally or involved in armed conflicts (may they) one day, be free. Free Omar Khadr.’

According to Wikipedia, the Toronto-born Canadian at 15-years-old was in an Afganistan house bombed by US military. He was accused of retaliating by throwing a grenade which ended in a US soldier’s death. However, the Internet encyclopedia states that in February 2008 the US Pentagon accidentally issued documents indicating there was no evidence Khadr hurled the grenade. Military officials, in fact, claimed someone else threw the grenade which resulted in the fatality.

Peter McKay, Minister of National Defense, in a CBC radio story, stated that the Harper government would re-evaluate its position to not interfere with the US Military Commision’s handling of the Khadr case now that the trial has been adjourned.

Michael Ignatieff, the Canadian Liberal Opposition leader, indicated that he believes Khadr should be repatriated to this country and that the Guantanamo Bay prison should be shut down…

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Diana Thompson’s show reflects passion for dolls

June 20, 2014

My relationship with Salt Spring Island began by visiting it several time before deciding to move to the Gulf Island with my son, Luke. On one of these visits I discovered an installation artist named Diana Thompson. She had put out a call for art and writing about dolls. 

I had a poem that is referred to in the following article about a Barbie doll. Sooner or later it will appear in this blog when I re-discover it in my suitcase of published writings from which I draw a piece almost every day to feature in a post on this blog.

I also knew a wonderful elderly woman named Helen Betz who had written a piece, as part of her life story, about a doll that she had owned in a time when a girl owning a doll was often a special, rare thing. My mother, who is in her 80s now, never owned a doll. The closest she got to owning one was holding someone else’s for a photograph.

I knew Helen Betz because she attended one of Writing Your Life Story workshops which I facilitated for a decade in Winnipeg.

Gail Suberg, long time managing editor of The Gulf Island Driftwood, wrote the following article. Two years later, when I was hired to work as a reporter on the newspaper, she thought I had lived longer on the island than I had because she knew I had participated in Diana Thompson’s art show. I had only been visiting the island as I now am once again after leaving my residence on it sixteen years later.

Here it is:

Gulf Islands Driftwood

February 26, 1997

Diana Thompson’s show reflects passion for dolls

by Gail Suberg

Diana Thompson’s Salt Spring studio usually pulses with work in progress, even when she doesn’t have an exhibition due to open in a week.

But tiptoes were in order while walking around her studio Friday.

Along with stacks of canvases and materials for an autumn exhibition, floor space was clogged with 1950s vintage, graphite painted suitcases turned into crowded cribs for dolls. Pink-skinned,blonde and blue eyed babies dominate the cases that’s what the manufacturers have marketed most of forever, it seems. Thompson has altered many of the dolls in one way or another, though, adding lace bows, patches, rouge, genitals, dresses; giving them haircuts or dye jobs; illuminating possibly hidden aspects of their characters in the process.

There’s a collection of twins and a nurse’s training doll, which is so lifelike its head needs support when you hold it.

Each doll has a story, life and spirit of its own. If only they could tell us their stories, what they have witnessed, in words.

The doll collection is only part of Thompson’s Memory’s Children exhibition which opens Friday night at XChanges Gallery in Victoria and runs through to March 22.

In addition to the 150 plus dolls arranged in 20 suitcases, there are 29 graphite on paper drawings of dolls, most completed in 1995, plus 32 short stories and poetry from a variety of contributors. Thompson solicited dolls and stories about them from friends and acquaintances. They range from pure fiction to all fact, and some with elements of both.

One woman was the youngest of five children. When a new baby came along, the next oldest child was given this special doll. As the baby in the family, by the time she received the doll it had been the charge of four other siblings.

“This doll had been loved to pieces,” says Thompson, “and she gave me these pieces of the doll” including its stuffing.

Thompson ended up doing two drawings of the segmented doll. Islanders contributing stories and poetry to the exhibit are six year old Ruby Black (with a dictated story), Robin Clarke, Athena George, Chris Smart and Susan Wright.

Another doll came to her assailed with the scars of love and life. “When you took her clothes off she looked like she had seen the world.” She was one of the dolls Thompson felt compelled to clothe or swaddle, so she covered her in a baby dress which the doll’s owner had worn. Thompson also made a drawing of this doll, called Doll With Closed Eyes.

MemoryMs Children uses three stories sent to her from a 93 year old woman who lives in Winnipeg. Helen Betz was a student in the writing class of Tanya Lester, who came into the Crossroads store where Thompson works part time. They started talking about Thompson’s exhibit and Lester exclaimed, “Oh, I’ve got a Barbie boobs story.” She later sent it to Thompson along with Betz’a China doll stories.

Why would a woman who says she never played with dolls as a child be smitten with love for plastic and nylon babies in her mid 30s?

About two years after the birth of her son Dexter in July 1992, Thompson felt a compelling urge to have another child. But her first birth had caused such havoc to her body she and husband Lari Robson decided against it.

Thompson’s anxiety about not having another child was so intense that Robson one day brought her a doll for comfort. It worked wonders.

Even before that, Thompson found herself drawn to the unwanted, abandoned dolls at garage sales. Something made her bring them home. “I was just being motherly to these dolls,” she recalls.

A couple of the exhibition’s drawings were completed as early as 1992. Little Torn Doll, a small, cloth bodied figure with a tear stretching from its crotch and down the left leg, was a garage sale orphan. Viewers cannot help but feel pathos and a desire to reach out and touch the hand of the helpless infant.

“There’s a lot of emotion attached to dolls,” notes Thompson. “When people see dolls they drop a defence and it brings them back into a childlike state.”

Everyone has some kind of memory of dolls as children,” she adds, which provokes another set of emotions….


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Leafing through past and future

When I left Salt Spring Island almost two years ago to venture out into the world as a full time house sitter and a full time gypsy-psychic-tea leaf reader, my first long term winter house sit was in Errington near Parksville, BC. As being in sync with the world and universe would have it, it turned out the publisher of The Parksville Qualicum Beach News was the former publisher (prior to that he was ad manager) of The Gulf Islands Driftwood for which I worked on staff as a reporter (and did freelance for years after that) during my early years living on Salt Spring Island. I sort of think this had something to do with the fact that my press release to The Parksville Qualicum Beach News netted a wonderful article about my divination skills. Networking and publicity is very important, especially for the self-employed, and the newspaper coverage yielded many readings for me and great connections with many lovely people. 

Here is the story:

The Parksville Qualicum Beach News

December 21, 2012

Leafing through past and future

by Lissa Alexander

“Now turn the teacup upsidedown and turn it around three times on the saucer, clockwise please,” said the tea leaf reader Tanya Lester after I have finished my spearmint lavender blend. “So that’s counterclockwise….” she said politely.”If you wanted a reading about past lives you would do it that way.”

Oops. Not the best way to start a reading that was about to give me insight into the most unpredictable corners of my life. Luckily it didn’t faze Lester and I was able to correct my cup’s course.

Lester fot into tea leaf reading 16 years ago when she was living in Winnipeg. Her friend was having a tea party and thought it would be neat to have a tea leaf reader attend. Lester had purchased a book on the fortune telling method a couple of years before and said her third eye suddenly opened up.

“I had this whoa (moment),” she said. “I (thought) I’m supposed to be the person who does the readings at this party.”

She thoroughly enjoyed the task and everyone who received a reading was very complementary, she said. She was hooked.

A couple of years later Lester found out her Lebanese grandmother and great grandmother were both tea leaf readers.

Lester has now done thousands of readings and facilitated workshops around the world including, Glasgow, Scotland; Boulder, Colorado; and Whitehorse, Yukon. She has a background in writing and has published a book called Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader

Lester is currently in Errington, where she is available for tea leaf and tarot card readings. She also teaches workshops on the divination.

Although there are many different theories about how tea leaf reading works, Lester said she feels people’s energy gets into the cup and she taps into it while connecting with their spirit. She looks at the remaining leaves in the cup and things begin to channel through her.

Lester said she enjoys communicating and connecting with people when reading their tea leaves, as well as the challenge of translating the thoughts and images that come to her into words.

During my reading in Errington last week, when she asked me to concentrate on something in particular, the first thing that jumped to mind was my husband and young daughters.

“Right away I saw a heart, a really nice, solid heart,” she beamed.

Lester went on to identify that I had two girls, correctly identifying their relationship and how it would look down the road. She surprised me with accurate information about family and gave me some timely advice.

Lester said people can ask questions and have both light hearted and deep readings, but either way they usually leave feeling elated.

Just don’t turn your cup counterclockwise, unless you want to find out you were some sort of Egyptian high priestess. also a Reiki master…


To read earlier posts in this blog, please go to


Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased directly from the author or go to to read the first few pages or order a copy.




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.