the making of a twitter bio…

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 9.56.41 AMLast night as I was walking down the street I was in the tweeting kind of mood. The sky was blue but the sun was just starting to hint at its intent to set. It was warm enough that I didn’t need a jacket but cool enough that I could wear a hoodie without overheating. I was heading to pick my kid up from her dance class. It was the one night of the week her dance class starts after dinner and goes late so I was bringing her a snack to eat on the way home hoping to get her to bed more quickly. I’d forgotten my headphones so instead of music blaring in my ears I was just listening to the sound of the creek next to me and the road behind me. And I felt cool. I felt like I was in my element. Owning it. And so I tweeted:

“Walking down the mean streets of Sellwood. Imagining I’m a badass. Wearing a WordPress shirt. Carrying a banana.”

And then I totally put my phone in my pocket and paid attention to where I was going because walking and tweeting is super dangerous. You know, sidewalk cracks and what not. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had summed up my evening perfectly. And the more I thought about it I felt like I summed me up pretty perfectly. Not always. Not forever. But my life right now for sure.

Walking? Check.

Sellwood? Check?

Imagining stuff? Check check check.

WordPress? Check.

Banana? I hate bananas. Even more than peas. But the people I love don’t. Check.

Plus I was getting super bored with my old one.

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pretty peas…

FullSizeRenderI don’t like peas. I really don’t like peas. At least that’s been the story for the vast majority of my 38 years on this planet.

I’ve been asked more times than I can count where the strange aversion comes from. And I’ve spun many tales. Some of those are true or at least half-true. Others? Bald faced lies. If you’ve ever asked me why I hate peas and I told you it’s because my grandfather made me eat them and I didn’t want to and they got cold and gross and then I threw up all over the table I was totally lying. I mean, my grandfather was totally an asshole sometimes, rest his soul, but he never made me eat my peas.

Though if I ever told you I don’t like corn because on a trip to the Grand Canyon I got the flu and puked up a bunch of corn in my mom’s hand at a restaurant? That one is totally true. I didn’t eat corn for a good 20 years.

But peas? I’ve slowly warmed to them. As long as they’re in the shell. And fresh. And I’m in the correct frame of mind.

The fact of the matter is that peas are too round. Peas are just too round for me to eat. And as a kid any pea I was offered was… well they were round but they were also mushy on the inside. And gross. The closest thing to a decent pea I could find were those in the pork fried rice.

But over the last couple of years I’ve slowly warmed up to the idea of peas. As long as they weren’t frozen. Or from a can. And they were still in the shell they grew in. Because my boyfriend and my daughter both insisted they belong in certain dishes. And so it was eat them or pick them out. And, you know, I’m kind of lazy.

But if I’d had my way peas would have been exiled from this planet.

So you would think that someone who has spent so much of her life actively hating something would know just about everything there is to know about the enemy. Peas.

Did you think that? Because you would totally be wrong. But I learned a lot about the pea today when I decided to make gluten-free chicken pot pie for dinner for me and my guy. From scratch. Because that’s the only way to have a good chicken pot pie. And knowing that he likes peas in his chicken pot pie it seemed only right to add them. Especially when I was taking out all of the precious gluten. But as discussed I don’t care for peas when they’re frozen or canned.

So I did the only thing I could given the circumstances of my insane pea hatred. I looked for fresh peas. And I found them. Sugar snap peas. The pea I can live with. The pea I can deal with. The pea I have grown. And eaten. Almost completely willingly. I decided it would be worth the extra effort to bring those home, shell them, and cook up a delicious dinner.

So… did you know that sugar snap peas, once you tear away the fibrous shell, aren’t really… round. Or really very much like peas for that matter.

So we’re having Burgerville for dinner.

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adding things to the wishlist…

deardeerYou know that moment when you somehow find yourself online shopping for a plaster sculpture of faux taxidermy deer head with antlers?

And then you’re super excited when you find it. And that it comes in red! And then you realize that you have no fucking business being on the internet ever again.

Yeah, I’m in it.

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life lessons with cami…

stopSome parts of my life are pretty exciting, new and different every day. But there are some things that remain the same and one of those is my daily frustration with kids riding their bikes to school and not wearing a helmet. Okay, let’s be real. Not just kids. Grown ass adults too.

Hey dumbass! Put your helmet on. I could go on a safety rant here. I could talk about common sense. I could babble about setting a good example. But instead I will just say  for kids under 16 it’s the law. Follow it.

So today this scene played out for what feels like the millionth time. I see a kid riding his bike to school. Yay! He’s getting exercise. He’s not online. He’s not looking at his phone. Fresh air. The sun is shining. But he’s not wearing a helmet. And this is where my feelings turn… dark. Black clouds consume the sky. The air crackles with energy. A boom of thunder. The set of my jaw shifts. K turns to look at me and I can see in her face that she knows what is about to come out of my mouth.

A low growl emits from my throat and I say “I just wish he would wear a helmet.” Not quietly. But not loud either.

She looks at me, probably fearing I’m going to chase this kid down the street screaming at him and wagging my finger. “Mom, don’t.” she mutters.

I give a little speech about how I really hope that nothing happens to him. That he never finds out why he should always wear a helmet as he rolls through an intersection without looking and a car slams on the brakes. And my daughter. My darling daughter who knows me so well gives me the most incredulous look and says “No you don’t!”

“Okay.” I admit “But I hope when he falls he just gets a little bump or a scratch and a headache. No concussion or lasting damage. I just wish people would wear their helmets.”

She takes a deep breath and utters “Life lessons with Cami Kaos: Learn your fucking lesson.”

I would have told her to watch her fucking language if she hadn’t been so right.

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it’s like you don’t even know me…

bricked...I’ve spent the past couple of days in the sunny desert city of Phoenix, Arizona. And much like every trip I’ve taken in my life I find I discover something new with every trip. Take something in at every location. Grow as a person with every new corner of the world I see. And often I find myself changed. Whether it’s for the better is debatable. But changed, certainly changed. There is something incredible about taking in new information and being informed by new places. Their art. Culture. Cuisine.

And while one can never truly anticipate what they’ll learn or how they may change on a trip to a new place I think it’s safe to say that this newest change is something I didn’t see coming. Perhaps I should have. I mean if I really stop to think about this it makes a lot of sense. That I would absorb my surroundings. Change the way I interact with the world around me.

After two days in Arizona it’s become obvious that I’m just not the same person I was when I stepped on that plane in Portland Friday morning. Phoenix has transformed me.

Or at least that’s what my iPhone thinks.

Maybe it’s the dry heat sapping the moisture from my fingertips. Maybe it was the hours soaking in a hot tub. Maybe all the paper I handled was actually a fine grain sandpaper. But my phone, my constant companion, will no longer accept the prints of any of the 4 fingertips I mapped. At first I was confused. Then curious. But now I’m just downright annoyed and more than a little afraid I’ll come down with a sudden case of amnesia and completely forget my unlock code. I had totally been relying on fingerprint recognition to tell me who I am if that happened. It might be time to come up with a new failsafe.

Though I admit it did prompt me to view a life of crime as a viable option…

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kermit in a blender…

Last week as I stood at the counter mincing chicken breast K stood beside me shelling edamame. Conversation drifted this way and that before we finally landed on a topic she wanted to discuss.

“Mama, have you ever made something too horrible to eat?”

It’s a plain enough question. But I can’t always tell what’s behind a conversation. What darker motive lurks behind the easy words. Was she looking for me to admit I’m an awful cook? Did she think the fried rice was going to be horrid? Did she just want something else for dinner?  I mean I know I’ve made some things she didn’t like but they weren’t awful. I thought back to the days I first moved to Portland living in a little apartment on NW 21st. I’d have to wait for payday to do any grocery shopping and so I became accustomed to cooking up whatever happened to be left in the cupboard. That’s when I created my tuna ramen pan-fried noodle dish. I’d tell you what’s in it but I just listed the ingredients. Mostly if something didn’t turn out the way I wanted it was just bland. Sometimes bland with intent because everyone likes things a little different. Douse it with salt, hot sauce, soy sauce, butter, ketchup, mayo, vinegar, sour cream. Everyone has their own thing. Hell I’ll eat just about anything topped in avocado and sprinkled with salt and pepper.

I guess my answer was no. I’d never made anything too horrible to eat. Not good enough to finish the leftovers, sure. But it did bring to mind an incident from my youth. A meal gone horribly terribly wrong. Something as awful to look at as it was to taste.

In my home growing up we were all required to cook. Everyone had their specialties but most nights it was something quick and easy. This particular night it was my dad’s turn to cook. I think he wanted to try something new. If I recall we were supposed to have fettuccine in pesto and big green salad.

But fresh ingredients weren’t as plentiful when I was a kid as they seem now. If I wanted to make pesto I’d pop down to the grocery store or the farmers market and pick up a nice big bunch of fresh basil, or hell a whole basil plant. Pick up some pine nuts while I’m at it and the rest is stuff I already have at home. It would take moments to get it all ground up in the food processor and from there we could use as is or make a pesto cream sauce.

But that’s not how it happened that  night. Instead there was a package. A mix. I don’t know all of the details but I do know that we all stood around the kitchen counter staring in awe. I feel like I can remember a smell. A stench. Not of fresh herbs, but some earthly sourness. And as we gazed upon the dish my father had created all four of us could only come up with one description to do it justice. It appeared as though someone had placed Kermit the frog in the blender and given him a good long whir.

That night I learned an important lesson, it’s okay to admit your mistakes. And it’s advisable to have a good pizza place on speed dial.

Update: You know how I said it’s okay to admit your mistakes? Apparently my dad was out of town and that was my mom’s dinner travesty. My dad’s perfect dinner record remains.

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I went to the store for an onion…

Last night’s dinner decision was made, essentially, because I didn’t want to go to the store. Simple. Practical even. It’s how a lot of food choices get made around here. It’s also how some of my best meals and recipes have come into existence. But I can’t make every food choice based on the contents of my cupboard and K really wanted spaghetti. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Of course she wants spaghetti. Who doesn’t want spaghetti?

Knowing that we’re likely to cook a big meal on Sunday. And knowing that she’ll help make the food. And knowing that spaghetti is easy. And that she’ll eat it with no complaints. I offered to run to the store this morning while she’s at dance to pick up everything we’ll need for a spaghetti dinner tomorrow night. After a quick inventory of the kitchen I was able to determine that the only thing we actually needed was a yellow onion. Perfect. Couldn’t be easier. A yellow onion and then we’ll have everything needed to make an entire meal.

But you know… if I’m going to the store anyway I might as well pick up a few other things. After all I’ll need to eat dinner tonight too. After a little thinking I decided on steak, salad, and potatoes for dinner tonight since I already have potatoes and salad stuff.  And I made a mental note that we’re out of raw eggs. Well that’s not a lot at all. Three things. An onion, a steak, and some eggs.  Realizing how short the list actually was and recognizing that we were in a bit of a hurry to get K to her class I opted to skip the pen and paper and keep the important knowledge of what we need from the store in my head. It’s where I keep so much other important information, so what could go wrong? An onion, a steak, and some eggs.

There was some riveting conversation about chores and obligations as we walked to class but my focus was crystal clear. Steak tonight. Spaghetti tomorrow. It started sprinkling as I walked. And then rain started in earnest. And I began to admire my lovely polka-dot trench coat. And then started thinking about my upcoming trip to Phoenix for work on which I will not need my trench coat. Because it’ll be in the 90s and dry. And that  made me think about ice cream. God I love ice cream. And then I started to think about cookies, because cookies and ice cream are natural partners. And then I was a little sad that there’s not a lot of variety in the gluten-free ice cream sandwich market. I made a mental note to look for GF cookies to go with the ice cream in the freezer at home.

And then I started to think about packing for my trip. I wondered how I was doing on travel supplies and struggled to recall if I have a travel sized bottle of lens solution. And then I remembered that all but one of my phone charging cables was dead. Oh, and I probably need sunblock. And as I walked into the store I was making a mental note to make an amazon order in time for stuff to arrive before my trip.

So by the time I started shopping I was in a slightly different head space. I gave myself a good firm talking to as I stepped into the produce department. A reminder that I didn’t want to have to go back to the store before dinner. So I should remember what I was there for.

“Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner.”

I repeated it over and over in my head as I noticed the baby spinach was on sale. I thought some sautéed baby spinach would be a better compliment to steak than a salad so I grabbed some. And then I saw the beautiful deep purple eggplant. Well K wanted us to make spaghetti for dinner tomorrow. And while she’s happy to eat the gluten-free spaghetti I don’t really like it. So placing an eggplant in the basket I repeated my mantra for this trip.

“Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner.”

While heading for the steak I noticed some nice Italian sausages, I thought those would be lovely with the eggplant. Into the basket they went as I repeated the chant in my head.

“Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner.”

I picked up a lovely New York steak and it went into the basket with the rest.

I wandered toward the cookies and then remembered in a flash that I used the last two eggs while making fried rice last night. I veered right towards the eggs and snatched them up. Then back to the cookies. Still, for some reason, chanting about the steak.

“Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner.”

I looked at the cookies in the bakery section. Every single package of them. There were 3 that were gluten-free, all from the same company. I’d tried them all at one point or another. No, no thank you.

So I headed to the big cookie and cracker aisle chanting.

“Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner. Steak for dinner.”

At this point I think I was muttering because a young mother steered her toddler out of my way while eyeing me cautiously. I surveyed the cookie aisle for GF options I might not have noticed in the past. Nothing. But I wanted something sweet… so I headed toward the candy. But it was all in big packages so I wandered toward the check stand where I knew I could find a single serving candy packages. And as I was staring at the options the checker, who had no one in her line, said hello to me. I took it as a sign. I didn’t need any candy. And there weren’t any cookies. So I checked out.

And then three blocks from the store I realized I’d gone to the store for an onion… DAMNIT!

But that’s okay because as it turns out I don’t have tomatoes either.

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