Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm completely neurotic - why didn't anyone tell me?

Here it is - the end of February.  Have those of you who made New Year's Resolutions stuck to them?  Were any of them major changes to be made?  Starting a healthier lifestyle?  Spending more time with your family?  Saving money?  Well, studies show that over the age of 30, our personalities are pretty fixed and these changes are much harder to make.

Regardless of individual personality, according to an article I read in Scientific American Mind, as the years pass, our eagerness for novel experiences and our stimulation by the world outside our personal and professional arenas diminish.  It is thought that this was to help stabilize families for child-rearing.  For those of you who are uncomfortable with this idea - fear not!  After age 60, when it is no longer essential to maintain that stability, that openness to new experiences that was squelched for procreating purposes reemerges and our personalities become more malleable again!  We're free to travel the world!  Change careers!  Become a hobo!  Take piano lessons!  ;)

To see where you fall on the Big Five Personality Traits, (with openness being the one that begins to decline in your late 20s) take the free test here.   I still scored pretty high in openness (76%), was pretty average in conscientiousness (69%) and extraversion (50%), but scored a mere 1% for agreeability and a whopping 90% under the label "neurotic."  C'mon!  Get to know me!  I'm great!

In other news:  The problems with the economy have driven diners to go to great lengths to avoid paying for their truffles; goldfish can navigate mazes much the same way rats can (though under water); and be careful what you post on facebook - it isn't really private (did anyone ever think it was?)!  

Monday, February 16, 2009

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Hesitant to pick up this book for all the hype around it, I heard a clip of an NPR interview with Barbara Kingsolver about a year ago and was charmed. I found a used hardcover copy in my local communist bookstore and snatched it up! I can't imagine why anyone would get rid of it! Communists.

This book turned out to be great - and I was able to make it last a full eight months! Since Barbara Kingsolver and her family set their local eating experiment to last one year, she divided the book up by growing season - one chapter a month. It was so nice to read about what was in season as it occurred and to find recipes for cooking what I was getting in my weekly produce box.

The family's experiences with farming, written humorously by Barbara Kingsolver, the helpful research providing links to local food sources and the benefits personally, economically and socially of sustainable living written by her husband, Steven Hopp, and the seasonal recipes included by their daughter, Camille, made the book a really interesting read. They were not self-righteous about their experiment, nor were they out of touch with the situations of us more urban dwellers without a family farm at hand.

I was particulary fond of Barbara's accounts of trying to have a second generation of turkeys when the ability to mate had virtually been bred out of these animals. Not that it matters, as they rarely live long enough to mate.

I have decided to keep this book for the helpful links, the seasonal recipes, which I have already tried, and the growing tips in case I ever decide to go searching for mushrooms in a forest presere or grow asparagus in my apartment's little front yard.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Garfield Park Conservatory

The other day, anxious for spring and not able to wait the few days for warmer weather, my friend Otilia and I went to Garfield Park to lift our squashed winter spirits in the warmth and humidity of its greenhouses.

Otilia, in the fern house.

Me, still indecisive about a haircut, and some azaleas.

Inspiration for my next haircut.

Bananas.  All I could think of was caramelizing them with lime.

Spring is just around the corner!