Picture of patio party

If you’ve been reading along, you know that Tom visited many floors of the Dr. Josep Trueta Hospital — Emergency, Neurology, three different intensive care units, and Cardiology – as though trying to figure out whether Orthopedics or Gastroenterology might be worth a try. He could have been a Secret Shopper for Spain’s Department of Health.

Finally, after fourteen days, they sent him home with his stapled and peach-fuzzed head, plus a bill that fell short of what its American version would be. (In fact, it was half the price of a heart attack alone in the USA. Planning a heart attack? Go to Spain!)

Our landlords Vicens and Jeannette came over for a welcome-home party (that’s the dinner party – on our top-of-the-world terrace– pictured at the top of this post, Jeanette’s on the right), bringing exotic beer and the frozen yogurt that all of us love. Vicens and Jeannette had been patient and loving witnesses to our disasters and my tears, and had many times heard the list of things Tom missed: beer, cava, ice cream, frozen yogurt, hamburgers, and salt. For his welcome-home supper, he wanted cassoulet, the French Pyrenees dish made of beans, sausage, duck, and garlic.

It was a joy to be back in dinner-party mode again, and for such an occasion! In the morning I made the cassoulet – usually my job – and cleaned the apartment – usually Tom’s job. (Awkward, having people to dinner in their own apartment!) Later I gathered the things that turn a dinner into a party: salty snacks, good bread, ironed napkins, flowers, and an extra bottle of bubbly.

In the excitement, I forgot to serve the chips and the bread, (you think this was only stressful for Tom?) but we had a warm and happy evening dining on the penthouse terrace. I used a large Indian paisley cotton scarf for a tablecloth, and had bought mismatched napkins in bright colors, which totally mismatched both the tablecloth and the plates. (Renters can get away with a lot!) The Spanish do not normally sell cut flowers on every corner, so the centerpiece was a tiny plant. (“Like it?” I asked Jeannette. “It’s yours!”)

And so, eventually, the mismatched napkins and the new glass bowls will go to our hosts, at the end of June. Nomad that I am, I can buy little items to augment the decor, but I can’t take them along when travels resume. I am definitely taking Tom, though. I can’t clean worth a darn.

(Photo credit” Vincens Ripoll)