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Uncertainty as a Value

Uncertainty as a Value

Susa Silvermarie photographyIn “The Place Where we are Right,” Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai tells us that certainty makes for hard and trampled ground, where no flowers can grow and no whispers can be heard; whereas, doubt and loves dig up the ground… like a plow…

The uncertainty principle enshrines a level of fuzziness into quantum physics,  unlike Isaac Newton’s clockwork universe where everything follows clear-cut laws, and some scientists suggest that the principle makes parallel universes and selves probable, a possibility that can free and enlarge us.

And from an online magazine called the Uncertainty Club: Uncertainty is our way of threading a path through the infinite multiplicity of life and data, something in fact to trust. We think racism, sexism, and other popular biases are a confused attempt at certainty, and also at a single identity. We also think such attempts are doomed. Which is why taking the path of prejudice makes people so frustrated and angry. In a world busy with telling us what to like, get, think, and do, more not-knowing-for-sure feels like one way to be free.

In my family and my culture, I learned that being seen/receiving love & approval (ie, survival) required my being right—having the right answer, winning the point, proving a claim, speaking correctly, etc. As humanity grows up and we unlearn such certainty, freeing ourselves little by little from its constraints, may it bring a refreshing sense of expansion into our world!

Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin
Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton and writer Courtney E. Martin


Ajijic Corn Festival

Ajijic Corn Festival

We gathered in a circle in the Ajijic amphitheatre and turned to each of the directions to ask blessings and honor the sacredness of corn as central to life. From speakers we learned that Mexico banned production of GMO crops in 2013. but pressure from Montsanto increases constantly. Although an exception has now been made for test plots, the ban still holds. Importation of GMO crops, however, has not been banned. Because of NAFTA and unequal corn subsidies, Mexico has become dependent on GMO white corn from the US for feeding animals.

We were urged to ask our grocery stores and restaurants to carry natural, non-modified foods. Maseca is made from GMO corn seeds modified by Montsanto. Our local restaurants and grocery stores all have tortillas made from maseca! At Tortilleria Elena just off Guadalupe Victoria and Galeana, you can still get tortillas made from nixtamal, non-modified whole ground corn. We were also urged to shop at the Tuesday organic market. However, that proposal neglects to account for the fact that the cost of shopping organic on an ongoing basis is beyond the means of a majority of local Mexican families.

Genetic modification and the patents secured for it are sometimes referred to as patenting life itself. More accurate would be to call the resulting crop monoculture, a world of death, one that can make it illegal to farm without chemicals, a world of death that creates frankenfoods, and changes the living things in the food chain, in ways completely unknown to us at this time.




Sin Maiz, No Hay Pais

Sin Maiz, No Hay Pais

“Without corn, there is no country.” Mexico’s treasured crop is under threat from Montsanto. Come to the first Ajijic Corn Festival to learn about what we expats living in this beautiful “pais de maiz” can do to help. Locals please share this post!

Several years ago, Montsanto submitted two applications to grow GMO corn commercially in Mexico’s northwestern state Sinaloa. Both applications requested 1.7 million acres of land and both applications are still pending approval. Community advocates state that Mexico’s 59 varieties of native corn will be at risk if Monsanto is allowed to take hold of the corn market. GMO or modified corn seeds could contaminate heirloom varieties, and the pesticides used to protect GMO crops are harmful to beneficial insects like bees, which have been dying off in record numbers.

While Mexico is totally self-sufficient when it comes to the country’s white corn, they rely on GMO corn that comes from the United States to feed livestock. The cost of yellow corn imports are expected to rise by more than 20 percent in the next season, due to increasing production costs and the peso growing weaker.




Optimist Mother

Optimist Mother

I’m an optimist, I refuse to worry, no regrets, I make the best of it…
I don’t really think I’m afraid of anything…
I have ideas on many subjects, I like to think…
I like to dance, to listen to music, to sing and laugh.
I like fun!

Photo of my Mom now at 98,  quotes from an interview with her I did when she was 63.

For All the Mothers

For All the Mothers

In the words of Julia Ward Howe who put out the first call for a Mother’s Day, in protest of the Civil war that had taken away so many mothers’ children: From the bosom of the devastated Earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, Disarm, disarm!  Today more than ever, let’s listen to Julia’s call and bring together our mothers, daughters, aunts, children and everyone who works for an end to misogyny, militarism, racism, and every form of hate that causes wars. Military intervention always  brings more death, destruction, and heartbreak.Let us celebrate the nurturing essence of motherhood and together, and build an economy of peace.

Here in Mexico, Mother’s Day is honored every May 10 with gusto. Churches celebrate a special Mass, and the highpoint of many events is the singing of “Las Mañanitas” and the distribution of tamales and atole to all local mothers. To my own mother in Florida at age 98, I offer my love and gratitude. And may all of us remember that the Mother of us all is our bodacious planet Earth.

mothers in Zalce muralmothers and daughters, Zalce mural


mother from Alfredo Zalce mural

mothers under moon, Alfredo Zalce mural
from Alfredo Zalce mural in Morelia, Michoacan, Mexico

mother in Zalce mual, Moreliamothers under the moon in Alfredo Zalce mural

Like Water

Like Water

water healing

“Most things break instead of transform because they resist. The quiet miracle of love is that without our interference, it, like water, accepts whatever is tossed or dropped or placed into it, embracing it completely… It does not stop covering everything before it. And over a lifetime, the pain of withholding this great and quiet force is more damaging than the pain of being rejected or loved poorly…For love, like water can be dammed, but toward what end?  In truth, the more we let love flow through, the more we have to love…Beneath the many choices we have to make, love, like water, flows back into the world through us…Yet somewhere the misperception has been enshrined that to withhold love will stop hurt. In truth, it is the other way around. Like water soaking scars, love soothes our wounds.  from M. Nepo’s The Book of Awakening

water sparkling

All I have to add to this inspiring quote is my gratitude to be learning about the wonders of water, as I continue my new life on the shore of the largest body of freshwater in Mexico, Lake Chapala.

Fearless and Female: Maud Paunceforte to Mary Blair

Fearless and Female: Maud Paunceforte to Mary Blair

Maud and Esther and Ethel, Frances and Mary, just a few of the adventurous women here at Lake Chapala before the turn of the twentieth century, intrepid writers whom, had it been the 1980’s instead of the 1880’s, I would have immediately recruited to join The National Feminist Writers Guild.  Later came Neill James, legendary adventurer and travel writer (1885 -1994), who contributed so much to Ajijic. My sisters have loved this place before me and have left their imprint of wonder. With gratitude, I follow in footsteps of writers who were fearless and female.(Information from Lake Chapala Through the Ages by Tony Burton)

Honorable Maud Paunceforte 1862-1919. Writer of the earliest published lakeside travel article, Chapala the Beautiful (Harper’s Bazar, December 1900) from which this excerpt is taken: “…The lake is surrounded by mountains, which in that lovely atmosphere, so high and rarified, take every shade of violet and pink and blue. The coloring is magnificent and the sunsets and starlight night are things to dream of. The Southern Cross is seen, and every star seems bigger and nearer and the sky more filled with gems than one ever imagined…”

 Esther Tapia de Castellanos, 1842-1947. Poet, Author of 5 Poetry Collections. In 1869 she wrote the first poem published about Lake Chapala, A Orillas del Lago




Ethel Brilliana Harley 1867-1940. Author, Photographer, Painter, Travel writer.

A sampling of her novels:

Essay: Women and War Economy (The English Review April 1916)

Frances Christine Fisher, aka Christian Reid 1846-1920. Novelist. Prolific romance writer born in Salisbury North Carolina, her novels include Land of the Sky and The Land of the Sun, On Lake Chapala, from which the following excerpt is taken:“…Before them spread the lake, a sheet of shining silver, while the mountains on its shores, clearly revealed by the brilliant radiance, were yet so ethereal and unearthly in tint, that they looked like hills in a dream. On one side, the lake seemed completely enclosed by these heights that rose immediately from its margins and formed a frame, with their crests against the hyacinth-blue sky, and the silver water washing their feet… Near at hand, a dark bold shadow was thrown over the water from the mountain that rose immediately above the town— the abrupt and rocky face of which, owing to the humidity of the air, was covered with a wealth of tropical vegetation…”

Mary Blair Rice, aka Blair Niles 1880-1959. Travel writer, Feminist, Geographer, Birder, Novelist, and Founder of Society of Women Geographers.

Non-fiction by Blair Niles:

  • Martha’s Husband: An Informal Portrait of George Washington (1951)
  • Passengers to Mexico: The Last Invasion of the America’s (1943)
  • The James: From Iron Gate to the Sea (1939)
  • Peruvian Pageant, A Journey In Time (1937)
  • Black Haiti: A Biography of Africa’s Eldest Daughter (1926)
  • Colombia: Land Of Miracles (1924)
  • Casual Wanderings in Ecuador (1923)

Fiction by Blair Niles

  • Strange Brother (1931)
  • Maria Paluna (1934)
  • Day of the Immense Sun (1936)
  • East by Day (1941)
  • Condemned to Devil’s Island (1928) – turned into the 1929 film Condemned

Neill James, 1885-1994.

Books by Neill James:

Dust on My Heart:Petticoat Vagabond in Mexico
Petticoat Vagabond In Ainu Land
Petticoat Vagabonds Up and Down The World in Asia
White Reindeer
Atlantic Rendezvous
Penkerth, Journey’s End