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PHRAGMENTS FROM PHYLLIS: Taking a break from the pandemic ‘norm’

I was able to enjoy an almost normal few days this past weekend.

It began Friday with lunch. Before the pandemic hit, a group of friends and I had been in the habit (for about 15 years) of getting together for lunch once a month – at least some months. It had gotten more difficult through the years with life as it was until the middle of March – family issues, work responsibilities and such had a way of superseding plans for lunch all too often.

So when Brenda Baratto sent out a query about whether we were ready to resume lunch, I was on board. As it turned out, it was only Brenda, Roni Geiselhart and I who came together. We looked for somewhere we could eat outside and remain somewhat socially distanced. So we ended up at River Club – I had forgotten how much I enjoy eating there. Even though we were a small number, the setting on the porch was lovely, the food was excellent (as usual), and the conversation delightful. We ended up staying and talking for more than two hours. I’m already set to do it again.

From there I returned home to get ready for a weekend trip to visit daughter Liz and family in Greenville. Liz and Vince were on a team of six people running the Ville-to-Ville Craft Beer Relay Saturday, and they needed to leave the house around 6 a.m., so we went up to watch the girls while their parents ran the nearly 70-mile route (12 legs, two legs per team member).

As it turned out, grandson Cade and his dad were going camping with the Boy Scouts at Table Rock. So daughter Cat and granddaughter Payton decided to join us on our trip to Greenville. (The Scouts were going to climb Table Rock, and apparently Cade came down from the top declaring, “I made it. I made it to the top, and I don’t ever have to do it again.”)

Our weekend centered on the girls – Payton, Pearce and Clarke – playing together as only cousins can do – and on food. The girls stayed up way too late and got up way too early, but they tried to make the best of the little bit of time they had together. If you’ve ever been to Greenville, you know that there are so many great restaurants that it’s hard to choose. Liz brought home food from Blockhouse on Friday night – some of the best wings I’ve ever eaten. As is his habit, my husband made pancakes for the girls both mornings we were there. We went to Zoe’s Kitchen for lunch Saturday. If you’ve never eaten there, you ought to try the one near Mullins Crossing. The limeade is delicious. They have a variety of Greek dishes, as well as my favorite, a steak stack – much like a steak and grilled onion panini. And they have YaYa’s Chocolate Cake – and since my grandchildren call me YaYa, I have to have it each time.

Payton had come along in hopes of a meal at Tacozzini, a taco-pizza restaurant, where we had eaten the last time she was with us in Greenville. There I learned that gluten-free doesn’t always mean bland – they have a cauliflower crust option on all their pizzas that is delicious – and a sweet potato pizza that is to die for.

From there we headed to Molly and Mike’s ice cream shop. Again, if you like ice cream, this is the place to be. They have waffle cones dipped in everything from sprinkles to chocolate to things like Fruity Pebbles. The only mishap, which was unfortunate, came when Liz discovered what appeared to be the finger of a plastic glove in her ice cream. The good news is that we could take heart that they obviously hand-churn the ice cream with gloves on. The bad news is at first glance it looked for all the world like a condom – a difficult image to unsee once it was in your head. I will say that I’m something of a connoisseur of chocolate chip ice cream (which, by the way, is hard to find anymore without something else like cookie dough or Oreo crumbles in it), and Molly and Mike’s has the best I’ve ever eaten.

As an aside, my Greenville daughter and son-in-law have been on a diet-exercise regimen that really works for them. Liz has lost at least 20 pounds, while Vince has lost upwards of 40. They both have toned up with the exercise plan. I’ve decided I’m probably not dedicated enough to live up to the diet – There are weeks in which you can only have green vegetables (and maybe things like bell peppers) plus lean meat. You can’t have any dairy or any kind of sweetener. There goes coffee for me – I’ve always said I could probably drink coffee without sweetener before I could drink it without cream, so I have no hope there. If you’re interested, check out E2M Fitness (or Mr. Queencity) on Facebook or Instagram. The pictures of participants are impressive.

Our last venture was to Nose Dive, my Greenville girls’ favorite place for Sunday brunch. The restaurant is next to the Poinsette Hotel. In the courtyard is Il Porcellino, a replica of a statue in Florence of a boar fountain. You put a coin in his mouth and make a wish. Kids love it. And nearby is one of the nine tiny bronze mice scattered throughout downtown Greenville. The “Mice on Main” make for a great “scavenger” hunt for kids visiting the town.

So after months of “abnormalcy,” I was happy to get out of town and put the pandemic out of my mind – mostly. We did wear masks, of course, and ate outside when we could.

Greenville is always a great place to visit.

When I texted to let the Bartges know we had arrived home safely Sunday, Vince immediately texted back, “The girls missed having you all here immediately.”

The feeling is mutual.

******

Today, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. Thank a vet for all the privileges we, as Americans, enjoy. I’m especially thankful for the lives of my dad, Elijah Franklin Pearce, who ran communication lines for Gen. Eisenhower from Normandy to Berlin, and my father-in-law, Charles Edward Britt, who served in the South Pacific all the way into Tokyo, where the Japanese surrendered. Without men like these we might not enjoy the freedoms and quality of life we take for granted.