Ultraq's Final MooCow

Bits and pieces by Emanuel Rabina

October is the best month - part 2

(continued from October is the best month - part 1)

I hadn't seen Katrina in a while. The last time I had was at her place when I tried to help her out by cooking dinner (one of my pizzas) since she was still just out of hospital and couldn't cook herself, and her family weren't yet home to help her out. That was at the start of August, while I was still in some sort of deal with my work that I could spend my Monday afternoons visiting her in the hospital.

Katrina has just been discharged then. She put out a plea for help, and a tonne of her friends answered the call. I thought to do my bit too, so used my last Monday afternoon off to visit her at home and make her dinner.

It's always weird cooking in someone else's kitchen: nothing is where you expect it to be, the microwave seems to operate on some completely foreign logic, and the knives are always too sharp or too blunt. I planned to make one of my pizzas there, and brought a tonne of my own stuff along since I was warned beforehand that Katrina's family's kitchen isn't the best stocked kitchen on the planet. So with some help from Andrea, long-time friend of Katrina and someone who I had talked to a bunch but never really hung-out with a lot before that day, she brought over some extra things: rolling pin, oven tray, baking paper because the oven tray had been severely 'seasoned', like a wok from a lifetime of use.

I had never used baking paper with my pizzas before, and the pizza base I rolled was a bit thinner than I'd normally make, so I think it was those 2 things that combined to create my stuff-up of the day: cooking the pizza and having it stick so hard to the baking paper that the 3 of us spent most of the dinner trying to tear the paper away from the pizza base rather than eating it, and because the base was so thin you actually ended-up losing a lot of it in the tearing process. Actually, Andrea and I spent most of the dinner trying to tear the paper away, Katrina had only 1 fully functioning limb (a left arm) so Andrea spent even more time tearing paper away from Katrina's pizza, and I eventually gave up and just ate the damn paper. Hey if red pandas can eat bamboo, then I can stomach a re-purposed tree.

Red panda eating
Om nom nom

I felt pretty bad about what I'd done afterwards. I went out there with the intention of helping out, only to add some unneeded plant fibre to a cripple friend's diet. It didn't help that Katrina spent the next couple of days telling everybody about it, and Andrea made it a point to rub it in my face the next time she saw me.

So that's how my last encounter with Katrina went. I'd been meaning to visit again, but the fresh guilt from that last incident kept me away. With over 2 months since then, what better time to try make amends than with my day off?

I met both Katrina and Andrea for lunch at a bakery not far from the hospital where Katrina would be finishing one of her physio sessions - just one of many she was undergoing those days to help put weight back onto her legs. When we went to order lunch, the girls surprised me by paying for my meal :D

As I was eating my free lunch, they surprised me again by giving me a birthday card and presents - a cookbook written by Pete Evans, one of the hosts of My Kitchen Rules (which is a show I watched very closely this year and mentioned a couple of times), and a book about chocolate which is part recipe book and part history/background of chocolate. I was actually reading through the chocolate book last night and it made me so hungry for some sort of dessert that I went out of my way to make a chocolate cake at 9:30 in the evening!

And just as I finished my lunch and thought all the surprises were over, one of the bakery folk came over with a slice of chocolate cake that had a birthday candle in it, and the girls started singing Happy Birthday.

Surprise egg

I went home happy that day: a bag of presents in one hand and a birthday-boy grin on my face. The feeling followed me all the way back home. Once I got back home however, the sickness I had been pushing away and ignoring all lunch time pounced back on me. Suddenly I had only enough energy to make it to close the door and collapse on my bed, bag of birthday presents still in hand, and sleep for the second time that day.

I woke up maybe an hour later, still feeling tired, the stuffy nose really sticking this time around, and with a new symptom: a sore throat. I went to my computer, answered all the birthday messages / e-mails / text messages left for me, and that pretty much concluded the day of my birthday.

(to be continued...)