Temperate rainforest climate ideal for edible mushrooms

October 10, 2014

“Not enthusiastic about cutting down trees, Gold realized there were more hardwood logs than they could use to heat their house…”

Recently I was reminded of this article I am about to share with you. At the Goldstream Station Market in Langford, BC, which is one of my public tea leaf reading and tarot venues, I shared a space one Saturday with two young people. They are selling mushrooms they gleaned on a trip to the Yukon. According to them, areas where there have been recent forest fires are fertile ground for bumper mushroom crops.

Mushroom picking always reminds me of once eating halucinogenic magic mushrooms given to my boyfriend and I in the back of a van by hippies who picked us up when we were hitchiking near Disneyland in California back in the 1970s. They did not give me so much as a buzz so I have never tried them again.

It also reminds me of my mother talking about how her mother, my Ukrainian baba, knew where to look in the woods for edible mushrooms. If you did not know what to look for, my mother warned, they could be poisonous. My baba made the best mushroom gravy.

There is something about mushrooms that also conjure up stories of fairies and elves in the woods.

Really, mushrooms stand on their own as a food source. Here is an article about farming them:

Gulf Island Driftwood
April 18, 2007
Temperate rainforest climate ideal for edible mushrooms
by Tanya Lester

Adam Gold is injecting a new crop into the Salt Spring agricultural industry.

Yet three years ago when Gold, with his investor family members and friends, bought a 35-acre mid-island property, he didn’t know he would be developing a mushroom farm there.

Things were set in motion when Gold began falling trees in order to make space to grow a large organix garden — one that now sustains him and his partner Rebecca year round.

Not enthusiastic about cutting down trees, Gold realized there were more hardwood logs than they could use to heat their house. At the same time, he started to investigate what crop he could produce to create his niches in the island’s locally produced food market.

He discovered that Salt Spring Island’s temperate rainforest climate, which spans more than three quarters of each year, is ideal for growing mushrooms. The edible fungus grows on logs.

This spring Gold will be selling his mushrooms at the Saturday market for the first time. The 25-year-old produces mushroom culture in a sterile environment because the mushrooms cannot grow in competition with any other fungus. He injects it into holes in piles of stacked hardwood logs. The logs are soaked in a dunk tank for 12 hours. Then, Gold hits the logs with a hammer to “shock” the mushroom culture into growing.

He grows the mushrooms as naturally as possible.

“Nature is perfect, so I mimic natural processes,” he said.

The “flowers” are harvested from each log and provide, what he calls, “strong youthful energy of raw foods.”

Mushrooms have many nutritional values, including a source of Vitamin D and protein as well as medicinal qualities that can boost the immune system and fight cancer, Gold said.

The Peterborough native’s passion for producing food began when he went to Israel at 17 years old. He stayed a year and a half on an 80-member kibbutz. Much of his time was spent at the top of date palms where he pruned the trees and harvested the fruit.

After his Middle Eastern experience, Gold lived three years in the Santa Cruz, California area producing vegetables for the local markets.

It was there that he began “living with the seasons and eating with the seasons.” He also appreciated how grateful his customers were to be provided with healthy food.

To learn how to grow mushrooms here, Gold took an intensive, week-long course in Olympia, Washington with Paul Stamets, the author of Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World.

Stamets is an information source on how mushrooms decompose waster and turn it into food, feed plants and animals, and detoxify chemicals.

On Salt Spring, Gold’s sprouts (including sunflower, radish and bean) sell out early at the Saturday market. The same outcome can be anticipated for the Japanese exotic mushrooms now offered next to his other produce. They will also be available at the Tuesday market and Salt Spring Natureworks.

Gold is also looking for on-island restaurant outlets to use his mushrooms in their menu offerings.

In the summer, people live on Gold’s farm in teepees and do work trades in exchange for fresh organic food. There is still a vacant space in the community for on woman. The property is also a beautiful site for the variety of Red Cross first aid courses that Gold teaches. His lifestyle is now a long way from the environmental policy university graduate who once planned to be an environmental lawyer.

On his mushroom farm, this young man has found his passion.

To read the first posts on this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Google
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name– to read the first pages and to buy it — at amazon.com
Tanya Lester’s other books are Friends I Never Knew, Dreams & Tricksters and Women Rights/Writes. They are available in some library systems and in places such as the Legislative Library of Manitoba.


Impact5 of ‘night, Mother’ remains well after the play is over

October 8, 2014

“The theme of suicide is not new to the world of drama…”

Nor is suicide new to any of us who live in this world. I would go so far to say that it might effect us more deeply than even sexual assault or murder. I think it is difficult to shake our despair and depression when someone we commits suicide or even attempts it because it is so hard to understand why someone could sink so low as to want to halt his or her own living; own life.

When one of my colleagues, a tarot reader, committed suicide, I felt it was important to write about her life in the Gulf Islands Driftwood on Salt Spring Island. I wanted to underline that her life had been important and that she had contributed to the community in extremely positive ways. I wanted to distract people from getting stuck on focusing on the nature of her death.

Because I did this public thing, I somehow seemed to be thought of as an expert on the topic. I was asked to do two book reviews and to report on the play in the piece that follows here.

I know that at least one person involved in this play had experienced the suicide of someone close to her. I can only hope being involved in the play was cathartic for her. I think doing the writing that I was asked to do around suicide probably, in end, helped me recover from not only the death of my colleague but also the attempted suicide of a relative.

I would have preferred to run away from dealing with it in this way because watching a play, reading two books and writing about the topic meant I had to spend several hours with it.

Yet, recently I have remembered how wonderfully written Other Side of the Mountainby David Guterson is when I was discussing it with more than one friend during my recent house sit in Olympia, Washington which is Guterson’s home state.

It was also in Olympia where I attended a talk by a psychologist about depression at the Olympia public library. I had been feeling down for a couple of days and being with other people who encouraged the speaker to talk in a wide ranging way about depression help lift me out of depression. Being with other people, instead of isolating myself, did the trick.

No doubt the library personnel decided to schedule the event at least partly because of Robin Williams’ suicide. Inadvertently, then, the acting star’s death has helped many go on happily with their lives. Although this was not his intent, I am sure if his spirit is watching, he would be filled with joy about this spin off effect.

So communicating in whatever way you can, whether through the written word, being part of a play or talking with other people with an expert present (or not) seem to be some simple solutions to moving back in to the light of life when someone we love takes his or hers.

The following is my play review:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
March 6, 2012
Impact of ‘night, Mother’ remains well after the play is over
by Tanya Lester

While the Pulitzer Prize-winning play ‘night, Mother performed at Mahon Hall features only two actors– Christina Penhale and Victoria Mihalyl — it’s as if a third one, namely suicide, is hovering somewhere off-stage.

The theme of suicide is not new to the world of drama. It is one that has been explored in plays going back centuries to when William Shakespear penned Romeo and Juliet.

With direction by Nadine Wright, both Penhale and Mihalyl are applauded for their courage and stamina in performing this piece. Dying by one’s own hand is dealt with intensely head-on, mostly through the two characters, dialogue.

Penhale, who plays Jessie Cates, exudes a quiet dignity, with what seems to be under-acting. It works well. One imagines someone whose feelings are numbed as she prepartes to do what most would classify as unthinkable. As an actress, she finds the difficult place of balance in acting the piece.

As the play unfolds, the audience discovers it is not one but many things that has led her to a place in her life where she no longer wants to live it. A dysfunctional family, alienation from important relationships and illness all contribute to her decision.

Playing Thelma Cates, Jessie’s mother, Mihalyl has a trickier role to interpret. How does on theatrically react to the impending death of someone to whom her character has given life?

It takes awhile for this talented performer, who is Flying Dreams Aerial Arts Productions’ artistic director, to finally release the character’s emotions. This happens in a scene during which she loudly bangs the pots that she has removed from the cupboard. Ultimately, her uncontrolled crying is excruciatingly painful to witness. She makes there moments in the play seem very realistic.

Set in a living room and kitchen of a house isolated in a rural area, the play is not void of humour. The audience is introduced to Thelma’s candy addiction right from the start, for example. On opening night, clever and well-timed dialogue was met with laughter from the audience.

This faded out completely as the one-act play continued and it became more and more apparent that one way or another the ending would probably not be a pleasant one.

It seemed an uncomfortable silence took hold of the audience in the end.

Of course, it would be absurd to suggest that great art has to leave those who experience it with sugar-coated happiness. As a way to help those in attendance process the piece, though, it might have been helpful to have a discussion after the performance ended.

Still, many believe good artistic quality is measured by whether a form of creativity stays with the viewer for the next day, or longer, after it was experienced. It did for this reviewer.

Reflecting on the performance, it seemed I understood better something we hesitate to talk about. I worked through my emotions and felt lighter as a result.

Other contemporary pieces of literature that could complement ‘night, Motherare two novels. One titled Other Side of the Mountain by David Guterson, concerns an elderly man who considers suicide after he is diagnosed with cancer. Another book is Lilian Nattel’s Web of Angels, in which a woman’s life unravels after a young family friend kills herself…

To read the earliest posts in this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter.Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader
by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name– to read the first pages and buy it — as amazon.com
Tanya Lester’s other books are
Dreams & Tricksters, Women Rights/Writes and Friends I Never Knew.

Scholarships provide education, help fight poverty in Guatemala

October 6, 2014

“A Guatemala City street vendor in a 10-gallon hat, with no lower body, propped on a cushion and selling scarves is another memory I have of the Land of Eternal Spring.”

Since I wrote this article, I once again spent time in Guatemala a couple of years ago. This time it was to house sit in Antiqua, Guatemala, a part of the country that I had not visited before. I have one memory that reminds me of how lucky I was to spend time in a three level house in Guatemala. Each morning, I took my cup of tea up to the open rooftop, sat down and picked an ripe orange off the tree growing there. I would look up, while peeling the orange, at a benign volcanic mountain spewing smoke out of its top while the sun poured down on me and the unruly jungle around me. The mountain was so near, you could say it was as close as a neighbouring house. Flowers were blooming all around and birds were singing there little lungs out. Paradise.

But there is extreme poverty in this Paradise for the people who live there and this can also include the gringos. Someone from Chile told me that Guatemala is the poorest country in all of Latin America. I would walk by the people each day on my way downtown and each one would return my Ohla yet I could knew many were wondering if they would eat anything that day or the day after or the day after. When the servant (yes, there was a servant who worked for the Canadian insurance agent who owns the home) used sign language to tell me about her small child’s toothache that kept them awake one night, I knew there was absolutely no money available to her to get dental work done.

The following article describes Guatemala’s beauty and its need to get support from people who live in much more prosperous countries like Canada:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
April 5, 2000
Scholarships provide education, help fight poverty in Guatemala
by Tanya Lester

This is the Guatemala I remember: breathtakingly beautiful scenery of a lake surrounded by volcanic mountains and a jungle where peacocks dance at the foot of a Mayan monument, while deeper in the forest, monkeys swing from vine to vine.

A Guatemala City street vendor in a 10-gallon hat, with no lower body, propped on a cushion and selling scarves is another memory I have of the Land of Eternal Spring.

I remember, too, those who dress in an array of colourful hand-woven cloth that rivals the hues in a peacock’s tail. They are among the poorest or the poor, are the least educated, most malnourished and discriminated against.

They are the Mayan people. (You might recognize the culture’s name from the calendars made once again popular by “new age” North Americans who use them for daily guidance.)

This is why author W. George Lovell had titled his book Guatemala: A Beauty that Hurts.

This is why Salt Springer Sheila Reid goes back there each winter to disburse funds she raises here and elsewhere donated to the Mayan Scholarship Fund Guatemala (MSFG) that she founded.

This is why Reid, along with Rosemary Baxter and United Chruch minister Rohana Laing, who visited Reid in Guatemala early this year, are hosting a slide show…

They want the generous people of this island to dig even deeper into their pockets in support of MSFG.

Reid’s literature tells the story of an 18-year-old named Manuela who could not complete her first year in a bilingual secretarial program because her family had gone into considerable debt to pay for the medical costs of her father who was suffering from diabetes.

Just before he died at age 48, Manuela’s father expressed his hope that his daughter would complete her studies.

“It’s the only hope for the family,” he said.

Both Baxter and Laing met this young woman who, through MSFG, is now enrolled in a three-year program. They have seen first-hand that she and others gain a strong sense of self-esteem, along with awareness and love for their Mayan culture, by continuing their education past the Grade 6 level provided by the Guatemalan government.

In Manuela’s case, self-esteem will be even more crucial for her than some others as she is handicapped with a club foot in a country that has no government social net for the disabled.

“They are realizing they are not junk,” said Laing, who hands me a postcard of armed Guatemalan guards brandishing machine guns up against Mayan women and children. “Education will help them to figure out how to survive and use their wits.”

Laing and Baxter explain the people eat little besides tortilla, despite the fields of crops spread out on the hills around their communities. The crops and property they grow on are for the profit of a few wealthy landowners. There is no running water in their small houses with dirt floors and little furniture.

With no medical system, Laing said illness can “wipe” the whole family out. People in their 50s look like North Americans do in our 80s, she said.

MSFG-sponsored education includes teaching the young people in the Mayan language called K’iche and aspects of their race’s cultural traditions.

Leadership training is another important aspect of the education that MSFG funds help provide. “Our only hope is on rising up against our abusers,” said Laing, in solidarity with the Guatemalans’ struggle and linking it with our own island challenges. “It’s like having a blockade on your (Texada Land Corporation) road to keep you from clear-cutting.”….


To read the first posts in this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Readerby Tanya Lester can be bought from the author or by going to the title and author, to read the first few pages and buy, at amazon.com

Sit back, relax and enjoy the sensation of giving while you get

October 5, 2014

“This may sound like a fantasy, but its not. Every month, the Bodyworks Collective holds a special weekend and donates goods to local charities…”

Being involved (some might say spearheading) the Bodyworks Collective in the early 21st century was one of those things in which I was involved that I could have stayed with for the rest of my life. It was that satisfying.

It failed because, internally, others allowed there fear to over ride their faith in what we were doing.

Externally, Rohanna Laing, the United Church minister, was sufficiently threatened by our mandate that she preached a sermon against collectives. It was so absurd to me that I stopped attending church services. It was as if she was ‘scraping the bottom of the barrel’ as she ran out of steam as a minister.

It was all good, though, for me personally. The end of the collective was the way that the Universe showed me my Capricorn personality was better suited to going it alone when it comes to developing my passions. By myself, there is no one to hold me back.

We had some terrific ideas and practices, though. Read about them:

The Barnacle
Tuesday,December 19, 2000
Sit back, relax and enjoy the sensation of giving while you get
by Kelly Waters

Kate lay on the massage table, a blanket tucked under her chin, covering all but her feet. Soft music played and the scent of incense wafted over to her. She took in the beautiful art on the wall next to her and the glow of candles nearby, then closed her eyes. Strong, gentle hands massaged her tired feet, releasing tension. Kate relaxed into the treatment, almost falling asleep to the soothing touch. This, she thought, is the best way I’ve ever supported the food bank.

This may sound like a fantasy, but it’s not. Every month, the Bodyworks Collective holds a special weekend and donates goods to local charities. Clients receive half-price treatments when they participate in the theme of the weekend. During the summer, the Green Conscience Fund got much-needed cash. This fall, the food bank received three large boxes of non-perishables after a weekend called “Simple Abundance” and Transitions (the store that supports Tradition House) accepted four big garbage bags of second-hand clothes after “Seasonal Transitions”. For Tanya Lester, a member of the Collective, it’s important that people know about these events. She said, “These weekends let people know who we are. They draw like-minded people to us.”

The idea for the events was born of necessity. With five people sharing a space, rent was either going to be paid individually or as a group. The very nature of a collective is to work together, so the members came up with a plan: work together to make these once-a-month weekends special and use the money earned to pay the rent. According to Lester, this plan has worked out great. “We never have to worry about our rent each month. It’s looked after,” she said. This way the Collective also has the chance to support the community and give a focus to the weekends.

The Bodyworks Collective is comprised of five practitioners, all with their own unique approach to healing. Anna McColm does reflexology. Lalita Lane holds healing conversations, works with healing mantras and body awareness, guides meditation and practises reiki. Tanya Lester is a reiki master and does tea cup readings. Julia Lerner does reflexology, reiki and bodywork. Terra Dimock also does reiki and is a certified earconing practitioner. Each healer has particular house to use the shared space but on the special weekends they share the room. Occasionally, they will give what they call an Emperor’s Treatment. This is when a client will get one treatment from each of the Collective members one after the other. They will also give a Cleopatra Treatment: all five members working on the client at once: a luxurious experience.

This treatment symbolizes the nature of the Bodyworks Collective: the sum of five healers is greater than the individual, practitioning parts. Together, the Collective members found a space. Together, they have made it an oasis (as one client put it). And together they are creating an opportunity for Islanders to heal and grow. Along with offering services outlined above, the Collective members also conduct workshops, bring in speakers, host special events, share books and provide information to clients about various healing strategies.

Their goal, said Tanya Lester, is to become known as “the kind of place that promotes a freer, more progressive, healthier lifestyle.” The group doesn’t have a particular focus, but rather wants to provide a place for people to heal themselves in different ways. “Anyone who doesn’t want the staid, uniform type of healing — you’re welcome here,” said Lester.

Most anyone would feel welcome in the Bodyworks Collective space. Located above Apple Photo on McPhillips Avenue, the room doesn’t feel like it’s right downtown. It’s quiet and filled with light. There’s a bookshelf near the door, reverseosmosis water to drink, a comfortable seating area (used also for tea cup readings) and two curtained-off massage tables. The art on the wall, plants, candles, music and incense all add to the ambiance. Collective members have often been told their space feels very relaxing and full of good energy. “I think that’s important when someone is wanting healing,” said Lester. “It’s easy to get to, but also an atmosphere that can make people feel in harmony with nature and the universe.”

Kate was certainly in harmony within her body. After opening her eyes, she looked around at the sun gently streaming in through the window. She felt warm and relaxed. She sipped some water to ground herself and listened to the last strains of the quiet chant playing. This is going to be a good day after all, she thought. And slipped out the Bodyworks Collective’s door.

The current special, “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, is a gift from the Bodyworks Collective to their clients — old and new. Simply call…

To read the first posts in this blog, go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader
by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or go to the title and author name to read the first few pages and to purchase it at amazon.com
Tanya Lester’s other books are Dreams & Tricksters, Friends I Never Knewand Women Rights/Writes which are available in some library systems and elsewhere.

Caravan to Community: Cuban mission unites like-minded thinkers

October 3, 2014

There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part…

Among the counter-culture paraphanalia is a T-shirt: Nixon – (brain)= Bush.

It seems very absurd that my participation in the Caravan to Cuba would be considered radical to anyone. The end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the USSR is a decades-old distant memory yet the United States government still insists on maintaining an embargo against Cuba for the most part to placate the right-wing Cuban expatriates in Florida who are known for their hell-raising.

I participated in the Caravan eight years ago but it still contributes to my stress factor whenever I cross the border from Canada to the United States. Three weeks ago, when I sat in my car in downtown Victoria in the ferry line-up to Port Angeles, I was surprised when the border guard asked me if I was carrying any Cuban cigars. It is against the law to sell Cuban cigars in the States but really, now?

Are there not more important things for U.S. Homeland Security to worry about? I do not think I even need to make a list of what those things could be. Let it suffice to say that Obama made an announcement that night about the US-led coalition to rid the world of ISIS. This, of course, has quickly been upgraded to war.

To protest against absurd situations can be validated when people live in abject poverty because of it. This is how the Cubans live year in and year out. Some people think things are better for the Cubans (ie organic farming because they cannot import pesticides) because of the embargo. I say they should have the freedom to decide their own destiny. Who are we to decide for them?

I am glad that I went on the Caravan to Cuba. It stands out, along with my involvement in establishing a community newspaper called West Central Streets, as one of the best pieces of social activism in which I have participated. Sometimes we just have to stand up and say, “Enough, already.”

The following are excerpts from the posts I wrote on the Caravan to Cuba blog (blogs were in their infancy at the time):

Monday Magazine
August 3-9, 2006
Caravan to Community: Cuban mission unites like-minded thinkers
by Tanya Lester

Salt Spring Island writer Tanya Lester left Victoria in June to travel with the 17th Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba. Here are her dispatches from the road.

June 30
Portland. Corvalis. Eugene. Ashland. As we settle in to the first week of the 17th Caravan to Cuba in our brightly painted rattletrap school bus, I notice churches seem to appear more often on the landscape and are bigger than ours in Canada. Each evening on our journey to collect aid for Cuba and to debunk American myths about the necessity of the U.S. embargo against the Caribbean country, we eat beans and rice potlucks in either a United Methodist or Presbyterian church.

Carol Cross, who is from the San Francisco Bay area, talks to the audience each night. She is a self-proclaimed recovering Republican who was born in Kansas. Cross came back furious from her first of 21 trips to Cuba. She had just found out that what she heard about Cuba in the United States was “harshly imperialistic” propaganda. She naively phoned 411 and asked a telephone operator to connect her to a social justice group working in support of Cuba. Amazingly, the operator did.

July 4
“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all.” –Mario Savio

In California, the caravanistas on our route take a couple of hours off to visit the Free Speech Movement Cafe at University of California-Berkeley Campus. This shrine to 1960s and 1970s student radicalism in opposition to the Vietnam War dedicated to a student leader named Mario Savio. On the walls and tables of the tucked-away campus cafe, photographs and historical documents tell the story of mid-September, 1964, when the University administration banned “political expression including information and registration tables, from the only place where these were tolerated,” on a sidewalk in front of the institution.

That same fall, an activist defied the ban, set up a table and was arrested. Three thousand students surrounded the police car holding him, then engaged in a 30-hour public dialogue with the police. By early December, 1964, 1,200 students occupied Spoul Hall on campus. The sit-in spawned mass arrests. Ten thousand students went on strike. On December 8, the Academic Senate voted 824 – 115 to support student demands.

Now, in the cafe, students plugged into their laptops seem much more concerned with finishing papers than protesting the latest war, against Iraq. By the campus gate, a photographer takes shots of a young couple. in wedding outfits. But on the street running into the campus, it is still Beserkley (as caravanista Carol Cross, who lives nearby, lovingly calls the city). Among the counter-culture paraphanalia is a T-shirt: Nixon – (brain)= Bush.

July 16
Haunted by the seizure of 43 computers last year, the Caravan to Cuba’s 17th crossing from the United States into Mexico in early July goes surprisingly smoothly. The 10 buses, trucks and ambulances, sporting Che Guevera portraits, “Impeach Bush” bumper stickers and laden full with aid for Cubans pass over the U.S.-Mexican bridge without even having to slow down.

The Caravan’s leadership, headed by Rev. Lucius Walker, decides to cross early, at around 5:30 a.m. and at a different crossing than the caravan has taken in recent years. Some people speculate that the U.S. border officials were merely taken off guard by these strategy changes.

Certainly, it is not because the Bush administration is “letting go” of trying to maintain control over Cuba. Days before the crossing, his government issues a 90-page report entitled Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba. It outlines a digressive plan to bring the Caribbean country back into U.S. colony status.

Other caravanistas talk about the possibility that the U.S. government is once again establishing a “hands-off the Caravan” policy, its goal being to psychologically make Caravan supporters feel ineffectual, they will give up. If the government thinks this kind of stand-off will work, it should think again. Walker has always maintained the Caravan will continue until the U.S. trade embargo is lifted.

Although some caravanistas are critical of Waler, and some worship the ground he walks on, the Caravan to Cuba community is united. Scores of caravanistas go year after year, or see each other at other progressive functions or on other caravans (one goes to Chiapas, Mexico, this fall, for example). They room with each other when they happen to be in each others’ part of the country, and support each other politically and financially.

In the U.S., it seems no one supports George W. Bush anymore (in the three-and-a-half weeks I was there, no one said anything positive about him to me, but I heard many complaints against him) and those who protested the Vietnam War cannot believe they are now having to protest the Iraqi War. At a grassroots level, the Caravan inter-connects progressive thinkers across the country, creating a vehicle for the U.S. left — one that reminds them they are not crazy for thinking the way they think, and that they are not alone.

In a country where most of the people seem to be sedated behind the wheels of their SUVs or in the lines at fast-food restaurants plugged into their iPods and cell phones with eyes locked onto their laptops, those who are awake yearn community. The Caravan to Cuba provides this.
To read the first posts in this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
Facebook. LinkedIn. Twitter. Google.
Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name — to read the first few pages and buy — at amazon.com
Tanya Lester’s other books are Dreams & Tricksters, Women Rights/Writes and Friends I Never Knew. These books are available in some library systems, archives and elsewhere.

Snow hurts crop grades

October 2, 2014

“In Lafleche, Sask Wheat Pool agent Bill Ellis said the grain dropped one grade after the first snowfall and there was a weight loss of four to five lbs. per bushel.”

When I think about snow in October, I think about Hallowe’en in Manitoba. From the time I was a small child going trick or treating in Victoria Beach on Lake Winnipeg to the days when I stood in high rubber boots on Simcoe St. in Winnipeg while my son Luke went door-to-door for goodies, I remember it always being the first snowfall.

No wonder Prairie people are so hardy.

If you happen to be a Prairie farmer, snow in the fall can mean serious damage to your crops. This, of course, means taking a nosedive financially. Read on:

Gravelbourg Gazette
October 26, 1982
Snow hurts crop grades
by Tanya Lester

Although little grain has been delivered to the area’s elevators since the second snowfall, elevator agents contacted said the result of the first snow was a reduction in grades. In some cases, weight loss was also indicated.

Dave Tindall of Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in Gravelbourg said the first snow caused, on the average, a two grade drop. The bushel per acre rate was not affected. Mr. Tindall said if the weather stays dry for the next couple of weeks the some 2000 acres still on the fields in the Gravelbourg area should be harvested.

In Lafleche, Sask Wheat Pool agent Bill Ellis said the grain dropped one grade after the first snowfall and there was a weight loss of four to five lbs. per bushel. He said little grain has been brought in since the most recent snowfall. If it stays dry, Mr. Ellis said, the 1000 acres now left on the fields should be able to be brought into the elevator.

Jim Laboccetta, the Pioneer Grain Co. agent in Glentworth, said two grades had been lost as well as frost damage to the grain due to the first snow. Weight loss, according to Mr. Laboccetta, was anywhere from nil to five bushels per acre. He said he is hoping the 3000 acres or approximately five per cent of the year’s crops which are still on the field will be harvested.

In Shamrock, Dale Coward, Sask Wheat Pool elevator agent, indicated that the first snow resulted in a two to three grade drop. There was also a slight weight loss in that area. Mr. Coward said there was no crop let on the fields by the second snowfall.

Bill Gibson, Mankota’s Sask Wheat pool agent, had a one to two grade drop with a weight loss of three to four lbs. per bushel. He said by the second snowfall, there were virtually no crops left on the fields. Mr. Gibson said about 300 acres might be left in the Mankota area.

In Mossbank, Rudy Bassendowski, of Sask Wheat Pool, said the first snow had cause the grade to drop from a one to a two and in some cases to a three. He said weight loss was about five lbs. to the bushel or three bushels to the acre. Mr. Bassendowski said 90 per cent of the crops were in by the second snowfall.


To read the first posts in this blog, please go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester is available for purchase from the author or go to the title and author name, to read the first few pages and buy it, at amazon.com

Pender anthology: every bookshelf should have one

September 30, 2014

“They really are wonderfully fragile things that can lift people up out of the muck of everyday living…”

As a journalist, I have often been asked to do book reviews. I delight in ‘getting right inside the book’. My goal is always to say something refreshingly insightful about the book. I take care, I think, probably because I have authored books myself and know the insight-out process that churns out of the author. I am at my respectful best when I do book reviews.

Poetry, as you will be able to tell in the following piece, sits in a special place in my heart. I wrote poetry most often when my son was an infant. I took parenting seriously and found it a difficult time for me to work on long prose pieces.

Often I would collapse exhausted onto my bed for an afternoon nap when my baby was down for his. I would waken with a line of poetry hanging in my consciousness. Quickly, I would jump up off my bed and scribble the line down on a scrap of paper in the living room. This is how I built poems and stayed in touch with my creativity while I shouldered the responsibility of raising a child on my own. It was a meditative much needed rush, let me tell you.

Here is to poetry in this reprint of a poetry anthology review:

Gulf Islands Driftwood
August 2, 2000
Pender anthology: every bookshelf should have one
by Tanya Lester

Poetry on Pender Anthology 2000. Frimley Green Press, 2000. 68pp

Reading Poetry on Pender Anthology 2000remined me that poems are so very precious.

They really are wonderfully fragile things that can lift people up out of the muck of everyday living in which we so often find ourselves.

To balance a poem in the place where angels tread can be a difficult thing to do.

Among the lines in many of the anthology’s poems are numerous examples of how words can heighten feelings and clarify ideas. At their best, lines of poetry are fleeting strokes of genius.

In ‘Spindrift: Wallace Stevens and Kafka on Pender Island’, Bruce Burnett quotes Kafka:
“A book… Is an ax to smash the frozen sea within us.”

Pamela Barlow Brooks, the anthology’s editor and publishers, writes about the “ancient taste of marriage gone dry.”

The words contribute beauty to something as painful, and perhaps even boring, as crumbling relationship.

Mary Louis Martin’s words also make beauty out of something society often views as ugly — aging– when she writes:

her brown wrinkled skin displays
protruding green veins
contained rivers
and tributaries
on the back of her hands

This is precisely why we need poetry in our lives.

In Carol Christie’s ‘Haiku on Pender’, an “Old gull parades/on the worn railing/and burps indigestibles.” The image conjured up is comical in a beautiful sort of way.

As is Leslie McBain’s take on mestrual syndrome: “with moon flood boils visions/like sausages and whispers.” What a relief that McBain has the courage to write about these previously unmentionables that so many of us have suffered.

So is Bronwen Merle bold when she beings her poem with: “We are the Uproar of the Young.”

To dedicate a poem to American poet Anne Sexton in which a line refers to “renegade untidies” is another instance of Merle hitting the nail on the head.

Barry Mathias’ ‘When Summer Ends’ paints word pictures of autumn: “But the heat of love continues, an echo of spring in a warm bed./There is no telling when summer ends.”

At the end of each stanza, the reader’s feelings are diverted from sadness to happy security.

In Mathias’ Clayoquot, the poem’s conclusion is surprising as he compares clear-cutting old growth trees with “Our pitiful longevity/Our destructive nature/Our lack of roots.”

Some of the poems in this book refeshingly heighten the senses. In Jasinda, S.L. Wilde writes:
On the boat to Canada they
gave you jello…
Could this strange bright jewel
be eaten?
Glistening red like the pomegranates you ate.

Refreshing, too, is the inclusion of children’s poetry in this anthology. These young poets certainly hold their own.

In ‘Spring Cleaning’, Wilde’s daughter, nine-year-old Naomi vanGinkel Wilde writes:

The dancing rhythm of the wind
blowing away the autumn leaves
In a flurry of bronze and lemon flames.
The wind is cleaning away winter
The wind is getting the world ready
for spring.

Katherine Searle, age 15m refers to “the only thing stronger that love…this, of course, is friendship.”

In Paradise, nine-year-old Natasha Lee O’Reilly penned:

In the field the ladybug is sitting
on two pieces of grass.
When she flies away a new baby
is born into the hands of its new mother and father.
The ladybug will do this again and again.

Where do these young people get their insight?

It is a pleasure to experience this new take on life throught their poetry contibutions.

It is also a pleasure to feel the rhythm in some of the anthology’s pieces. Mary Louise Martin’s Ms Mauli Crow— Procrastination Adventure is a prime example and one filled with humour: “she mowing the lawn for starters little bits and pieces of short green grass.”

Poetry, though, is more than stinging words together. It is not about expressing ideas in the same old way.

The poems that do not hold up quite so well in this anthology are the ones that have this tendency. It should be pointed out, however, that Brooks included pieces from everyone who submitted to the anthology. To include a poet’s work no matter how far along they are in their craft is commendable.

There are also a couple of other small faults. The book’s title could have been more poetic especially since there is such a wealth of wonderful words from which to draw from here.

The title does, however, make clear as to what will be found inside, which is important from a marketing point of view.

Brooks is quite right, too, when she proclaims in her introduction that, “There is no doubt these poems are originals. Each one was written on Pender.”

It also would be nice to have short biographies included to shed some light on the poets’ backgrounds and other writing credits.

For the most part, this anthology is beautiful on both the inside and out. The poems can be read and re-read for their loveliness.

Michael J. Rudd’s book design, in wispy ink strokes, enhances the quality of the poems in that it is understated in its elegance. It is a work of fine visual art to complement the written art. Never does it detract from the words.

This anthology will be a wonderful addition to anyone’s bookshelf.


To read the first posts in this blog, go to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Readerby Tanya Lester can be purchased from the author or by going to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy it at amazon.com

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.