Islander Profile: Janice Veal

There are as many reasons for living on Guemes as there are people who live here. The wildlife and beaches, the gardens and orchards, the palpable sense of community and the diversity of the residents come to mind. The population is small in numbers but large in creativity, romance, self-reliance, and ingenuity. All these adjectives personify Janice Veal, and anyone who has met her, would include knowing her as another reason to live on Guemes

An Italian proverb states, “Never look a gift horse in the mouth.” Janice Veal received her “gift horse" as a wedding present from her in-laws. Here was a young bride with a new husband, a new horse, and a new island {to Janice}. She adjusted graciously to Glen, Goldie, and Guemes. Thirty six years later, Janice has carved, chiseled and molded a niche for herself as the epitome of a Guemian.

Janice majored in Art at Western Washington University and began her career as an elementary school teacher in Anacortes once she and Glen moved to Guemes. She has been with Anacortes School district as a classroom teacher, substitute teacher and now as an Artist in Residence. She loves the opportunity to work with kids and watch them develop an appreciation for learning and for art.

Last year Mt. Erie School did a study of Ancient Egypt, Janice brought in materials and slides about Egyptian art. She created tiny molds of mummy cases so that students could press clay into them. The clay mummies were wrapped with gauze. The two-piece cases were painted with under glaze and fired in a kiln. The kids designed and painted the exterior of their own case. The results were exquisite individual pieces of art and history.

Janice managed to help the students complete the project in spite of a broken elbow received when she fell off her bike.Other teachers from Guemes have invited Janice to come into their classrooms. A while back Larry Verbano, middle school teacher, engaged Janice’s expertise to help make Native American masks. The student created masks were worthy of a school display case.

Joan Petrick opened her garden to two classes in the spring. After some classroom lessons in contour drawing and watercolors given by Janice, the kids sat on the grass in the sun on a beautiful spring day and drew their impression of Joan’s spectacular garden.

Janice tells the story of borrowing a stuffed heron from Island View School to take to Mt. Erie School for an art lesson. She put the heron in the front seat of her car holding it by its long neck, because it was so wobbly. Driving along the freeway she notices other motorist giving her odd looks as they pass. Fortunately she wasn’t stopped for having a stranglehold on a Great Blue Heron!

Janice and her good friend Dawn Ashbach collaborated on two cookbooks - San Juan Classics and San Juan Classic II. Both women were substitute teaching, both had two school age boys at the time, and both decided that this was something they could do. They quickly realized that cooking, and knowing how to cook, was a completely different animal than writing recipes. They cooked, ate, converted ingredients, ate, typed {no computer} and ate their way through the process. They patronized the finest restaurants and gathered recipes from family, friends and chefs. They’ve prepared each and every recipe. The book has a brief written history, including photos of the San Juan Islands. Both Janice and Dawn were daunted when the semi trailer truck pulled up and dropped off the first 5000 shrink-wrapped copies on pallets. How would they sell so many? The first book is in its tenth printing. This is success by anyone’s standard.

Both Dawn and Janice, as teachers, wrote and published a children’s book, Adventures in Greater Puget Sound. This is an informative book for young minds. It is so much more than a coloring book, with puzzles, mazes, dot connecting and more. It is great for a “road trip”.

Janice has always been very active in the Guemes Island Community. The newly formed Guemes Historical Society is her personal favorite at this time. The society is learning about storage and preservation of artifacts and papers and will soon be looking for a facility where these items can be displayed.

Janice is a Guemes gem polished to a high luster.

by MJ Andrak

Profiles of Dorothy Bird, Tim Wittman and Joost Businger

Tags: Profile
(There are no comments yet.)
add a comment: