Monthly Archives: August 2009

Calm Birth

dsc01703_2No tears. No screams. And all I had was half a glass of Prosecco eight hours before my daughter, Francesca, showed off her pipes and I had her little naked body in my arms. My doctor told our doula (childbirth coach), “This is rare, isn’t it? You don’t see births like this.” Cindy, who calls her practice Gentle Birth Doula Services, attempted to convince the doctor that she had seen births like this. The RN added, “Still, I bet you wish you had filmed it.” Cindy, just shook her head, smiling. “If I had,” she said. “No one would believe me that she wasn’t on drugs!”

Evidently I smiled before each push.

The RN suggested that I not tell other women about my experience. “They’ll hate you,” she told me, only half joking. So here I am, two weeks later, telling every woman who happens to read Crucial Minutiae that by the time I got to the hospital, after laboring at the mall, my friend’s party, our bathtub and bedroom, I was fully dilated and all I had to do was to push.

Continue reading


Filed under All The World, Health

Brag Round-Up for Monday, August 31

Jennifer Gandin Le

Courtney Martin


Filed under Brag Round-Up

Solar Panels and Cherries–The Market

solarHigh school economics was not my forté. Only one concept stuck: supply and demand. But recently, I’ve had market shifts on the brain. This September, the press has emblazoned talk of solar panels everywhere, from Nat Geo to the good old stand by NYTimes. Apparently China, noting a future demand, has jumped on it, creating more factories to produce the panels and polysilicion, the substance needed to make them. The US has done nothing of the sort. Prices have gone down, as happens with most things made in China. (that’s a whole other conversation)

Imagine the moment one human hands-on witnesses the amorphous market beast suddenly shift.

Has this happened to you?  Here is my story:

Central Otago, New Zealand 2005

With the afternoon light softening, I place a clump of cherries into my 18th bucket of the day. I have been picking cherries on this orchard for two months now. My workmates are men from China, Malaysia, India and New Zealand–we’ve gotten mean at each other and all adoring. Like siblings. So it goes in the field. Most of these big juicy purple cherries, called Lapins, will be sold to Japan and some to North America, or at least that’s what our gang-boss Nigel says. As we sweat and move quickly (getting paid for how much pick), I keep wondering: How long does it take these cherries to get to the mouths of consumers? Who loads them on an airplane, a truck, the grocery store palette? What if those consumers knew that Bob, Remy, Hydah, Nigel, John and Molly had hand-picked these cherries in a small town on an island in the southern hemisphere? Do they think about it?

Perched on my ladder, I look over the leafy canopy towards… Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Environment, In The News, Orienting

Sand Animation from the Ukraine

I’ve never seen anyone tell a story in this medium. I am so impressed by human ingenuity. Watching this skillful artist is worth 8 minutes of your life.

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.


Filed under Art, Beauty in a Wicked World, Relationships, Theater

Resurrect Wendell Berry

images1Someone I revere and respect recently explained to me (paraphrased):

“No one has read those nature writers you read. They aren’t mainstream. No one knows who they are. They were published because they’re weird.”

Based on some on-the-ground market research I’ve done (i.e. living in a city where everyone doesn’t think exactly like me), it’s come up true. All of the liberal, earth-loving, smart people I went to college with can spout off names beyond Thoreau because our professors in rural Vermont (of course) assigned nature writing with urgency and conviction. Anyone else I’ve ever met has never heard of them or that thing called “nature writing.” I have two reactions to that:

#1 Really?

#2 Well, that makes sense because environmentalists are famous for marginalizing themselves.  Preaching to the choir might feel good, but it’s ultimately only as useful as the energy the choir has to go mingle with, let’s say, Republicans, if your choir is Democratic.

For all the pushing against it I did while living in New York, I am now re-reading Wendell Berry’s agrarian essays, ‘The Art of the Commonplace,” which I’m guessing most of you reading this blog haven’t read or heard of. Taking stock of the hour and the day, 3pm Mountain Time, United States of America, August 21, 2009, Berry’s words could not be more apt. Sure, some of the language is outdated, he uses words like household; some might be jargony, not witty, too idealistic. But many of his ideas are radical and would appropriately offend people. Usually, he is wise, sharp, humble and moral, a word not highly-prized these days, even by me (I think oh, moral, how boring, how 1950’s).

But in an era where knowledge of elders is underused, I wish… Continue reading


Filed under Environment, Orienting

Watch My New Short Film: Small Changes

This week, I’m sharing my own work, because I’m so dang proud of it. Chris & I, along with our incredibly talented Austin-area friends, created this 2 minute water conservation PSA in response to RainBird’s “Intelligent Use of Water” film contest. Austin is in the middle of the worst drought in 50 years, and last week, officials announced even tighter water restrictions, so this awareness-raising contest comes at a crucial time.

We had a great time making this film, and I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out. Enjoy!

Small Changes from Jennifer Gandin Le on Vimeo.

Written by Jennifer & Christopher Gandin Le
Edited by Matt Donaldson
Music by Liz Clark
Starring our brilliant friends and cohorts!

Beauty in a Wicked World is a weekly column by Jennifer Gandin Le. It appears on Wednesdays.


Filed under Beauty in a Wicked World, Education, Environment, In The News, Movies, Politics, Science & Technology, Writing

Brag Round-Up for Monday, August 17

Courtney Martin

Joie Jager-Hyman

  • “How (Not) To Get Into An Ivy” on Forbes.
  • “Can All-Male High Schools Boost African-American Boys’ Graduation Rates?” on The Village Voice.

Comments Off on Brag Round-Up for Monday, August 17

Filed under Brag Round-Up