Hurricane Sanity Preparedness

This is not one of those standard posts about hurricane preparedness. You’re hearing plenty of that with 24-hour news, I hope. Between the hype and the doom, they throw in a little information about getting prepared for a disaster. This is about being prepared for the long hours of being stuck indoors…waiting. How will you stay sane?

Hurricanes are scary. No doubt about that. I “survived” four hurricanes and a tropical storm (at least one) when I lived on the Gulf Coast, so I know how scary they are. For one of them, I was 20 miles from the eye at landfall, so I know how long it can take for a hurricane to arrive and move out…making for some long hours.

So for Hurricane Florence, do everything you can to be prepared…stock up on nonperishables (and favorite junk food snacks!) and bottled water, remove any possible projectiles from your yard (planters, patio furniture, etc), fill your tubs with water in case you need it to flush toilets later (this is rare), bring in pets, charge your cellphones and laptops, charge your portable chargers, put fresh batteries in your flashlights, and settle in for a long ride.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

What they won’t tell you on TV is how to stay sane during the storm. My disaster preparedness routine includes entertainment for sanity. I’m not making light of the storm, but if the power goes out, we will need entertainment. Otherwise, everybody just gets grumpy. We don’t need a situation like The Shining after everyone starts getting cabin fever.

So here is my list for hurricane entertainment in the event of a power outage:

  • Charades. I know. Sounds boring, but charades by flashlight is hilarious. I’ve done it. Heck, even if the power doesn’t go out, it’s fun to play Charades by flashlight!
  • Movies. Have movies pre-downloaded on your phone or iPad and watch an old favorite or one you haven’t seen before. Since Burt Reynolds just passed away, I will be downloading some of his movies. Or maybe watch movies about a storm…The Perfect Storm, Adrift, or even Sharknado! Or rewatch a favorite classic…maybe some Hitchcock: Vertigo, Rear Window (one of my all-time favorites), or The Birds. I was at my parents’ house one time during a storm, and since Daddy loved Lonesome Dove, we watched the whole series while we waited for the storm to pass. We were very close to where the storm made landfall (20 miles away on the bay, and my parents lived less than a 1/4 mile inland) and we never lost power.
  • Prompt stories. Have everyone in the family write single words on tiny pieces of paper. Put the papers into a bowl or hat and take turns pulling words from the hat. When you pick a word, you have to tell a story from your life using the word. Some good words to use: sunset, key, gate, walk, accomplishment, sport, etc. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a good way to get people to talk.
  • Start a blog…or do lots of writing for a current blog. I’m always looking for subjects for my blog and making notes. I have a long list of topics, so what better time to sit down and write than in the middle of a hurricane? Aside from the storm itself, there won’t be many distractions or obligations.
  • Clean. I know…cleaning with no electricity sounds terrible, but you might not lose power, and if you do, there are some things you can clean by flashlight. My bathroom cabinets can always use a purge. Being trapped inside is the perfect opportunity to sit down and go through all the stuff to see what can go.
  • Read a book on your Kindle or Ipad. If you’re going to be stuck without TV or power for a few days, it creates the perfect opportunity to finally read that book you’ve been meaning to read. Daily life is so busy that it can be difficult to carve out time to sit down and read.
  • Play board games or cards. How often do you bring out those old board games? Well, this is your chance. I could spend hours playing Yahtzee and Scattergories. In fact, I could likely destroy my family’s sanity by forcing them to play.
  • Laugh. Find things to laugh about. Laughter will cure a lot of ills and get us through a lot of hard times. Laugh, laugh, laugh.
  • Watch sports. Download ESPN, CBS, and ABC, so you can watch all your favorite college teams Saturday and favorite NFL teams Sunday, even if the power goes out. You’ll need your login information for your provider. Again, make sure your electronics are charged in advance, and remember you can charge things in your car if you need to!

And if your grocery store was out of bread and water when you went, I hope you bought cake and champagne. This is a good time to enjoy that!

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In all seriousness, hurricanes are dangerous and frightening. It’s not a good time to be inebriated, because you need to be able to react in an emergency. Take care of yourselves and your family, and say a prayer that no one is injured or worse, but please don’t sit around worrying! If you’ve prepared, there is nothing else to do. Worrying won’t help. Try to relax and stay aware of what’s going on in your area.

Stay safe, friends.

 

 

 

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My Favorite Sports Website

It’s no secret that I love sports. I’m not a great athlete, but I’m a fantastic spectator. I love to watch lacrosse, field hockey, baseball (in person), soccer, football, basketball, tennis…I just love to watch sports.

My favorite sports are the ones in which my 14-yr-old daughter is participating. She plays middle school field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse.

However, my favorite non-daughter-participating sport is football. I love professional football, middle and high school football, but most of all, I love college football…specifically, Southeastern Conference Football.

I’ve been known to scare young children when yelling at the television during an SEC game. Unfortunately, I can’t watch all the SEC games, but I like to stay informed.

Lucky for me, there is a website, run by two young gentlemen, that caters to the SEC Football fan. It’s called Front Porch Football. To see their Facebook page (please like/follow it for updates and invite friends!), click here. You can go straight to the website by clicking here. Its creators, brothers Chris and Brendan Paschal, are the sons of my friend, Maureen, a school librarian who also has a website called Raising the Capable Student (click here…I’ll be telling you more about it in a future post).

The tagline for Front Porch Football is “We take SEC football as seriously as you do.” And they do.11825968_401491053378587_1538355822811269543_n

Chris and Brendan started Front Porch Football when they were both students at Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Brendan is a senior there now, and Chris is finishing up his first year of law school at the University of South Carolina.

It all began in the summer of 2015. The idea came about while the brothers were sharing some BBQ at the Q Shack in Charlotte (see the Q Shack website here). According to the brothers, Chris was doing his usual complaining about “how the national pundits don’t know what they’re talking about” when discussing college football. Apparently, he believes pundits on radio shows should be able to answer callers’ questions. According to Chris, “Knowing who won the 1995 Iron Bowl or the latest on a 3-star prospect from Moultrie, Georgia, isn’t too much to ask.” Their mother (my friend, Maureen) suggested to Chris that they start their own website, and the rest is history.

They needed a name. Naming a website is tough. You want it to be catchy, but you want it to be relevant. Because their site is devoted mostly to SEC Football, Chris and Brendan wanted it to be authentic and Southern, but it needed to get attention. They thought, “How many Southerners out there sit on their front porch and talk SEC football?” A name was born. It seemed only natural to call it Front Porch Football.

Now that I’ve gotten all the formal stuff out of the way, I want to tell you what I LOVE about this site. First, it is informative. These guys know their stuff. Second, it is entertaining and oftentimes, downright hilarious.

They write about various SEC programs and do post-game wrap-ups, from which I garner valuable information and insight. They also started some podcasts that are usually under 15 minutes (I’m the guest in one…click here), and they’ve made videos analyzing matchups, picking winners with guest pickers, interviewing a middle-aged University of Alabama alumna (ahem!), and just talking football. I love their videos of weekly picks, because they do their homework. Usually, I have my own ideas about how a game will shake out, but often, they give me a different perspective. I only get mad if they pick against Alabama. They know not to look me in the eye if they pick against Bama. I’ll give them the wicked “stinkeye” my mother taught me.

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BUT what I find most entertaining are their original, hilarious videos. You may be familiar with their video that went viral on October 16, 2017. It is titled “Help a Tennessee Vol,” and it received over ONE MILLION views. In the video, with Sarah McLachlan singing “In the Arms of an Angel,” distraught Tennessee fans appear while a speaker asks viewers to be “an angel for a helpless Tennessee fan.” Of course, it’s a parody of all those ads we see all the time for helping orphaned animals. The University of Tennessee Volunteers have had a few rough years in their football program, and this past season wasn’t any better, resulting in the firing of their Head Coach, Butch Jones. Brendan saw an opportunity in the Vols’ misfortune; he created the video, and the public ran with it. (The University of Tennessee subsequently hired Jeremy Pruitt, the former defensive coordinator at The University of Alabama, and Butch Jones was hired as an off-field analyst at Alabama.)

The “Help a Tennessee Vol” video was shared on Saturday Down South and countless other SEC football sites. You can see it here.

Chris says the videos are Brendan’s “favorite thing to do regarding Front Porch Football, and he thoroughly enjoys poking fun at teams and fans.”

Other funny videos have featured “Burns the Backup,” in which the Paschals’ friend, Ryan Burns, portrays the life of a backup quarterback. I wouldn’t mind seeing him as a recurring character. You can see that video here. There are other videos featuring the brothers’ funny friends and classmates in contests naming all the SEC head coaches, complete with music from The Price is Right (click here); “The Battle of the Brothers” (in which the brothers display some really good “stinkeye” that rivals my own) before the Alabama/Georgia National Championship game (click here); and other hilarious scenarios. One of my personal favorites features the brothers in a parody of Home Alone’s “Angels with Filthy Souls,” retooled as “Playoffs with Filthy Bowls” (click here). Clearly, I enjoy the videos. They are good…really good. You can see ALL their videos by clicking here.

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And I can’t forget the polls they have on the site’s Facebook page. Recent polls have asked followers, “Which is the real Death Valley: Clemson or LSU?”(LSU won) and “Better Rivalry: Iron Bowl or UNC/Duke Basketball?” (That last one was a close one. Iron Bowl won, and I might or might not have had a hand in making sure the Iron Bowl won.)

I’ve known these gentlemen since long before Front Porch Football was even a thought. They are hardworking, clever, witty, and they come from a nice family…have to make sure you know that! In talking with them about the website recently, I asked them what their goals are for Front Porch Football.

They didn’t hesitate. They want to “establish a strong fan base that ranges from the hardcore fanatic to the casual fan to the Grandma/wife/brother who doesn’t know much about SEC football.” They know there are people who just watch the games and people who live for the games. There are fans who watch it because there’s nothing else to do, and then there are the fans who, on any given day, might be re-watching a game from the 1980s, with the late, great Keith Jackson (you remember him, “Whoa, Nellie!”) commentating. They want all these people to follow their page/site and contribute their opinions and comments. They want everyone to become engaged in the discussion.

They say they created Front Porch Football for the fans, so their other big goal is to provide fans with a platform to voice their thoughts about SEC Football. They say they will be making some exciting changes this summer to the site to get more fans involved. I can hardly wait!

Down the line, they’d like to expand their brand and product, “especially into the apparel market.” As students, they know money doesn’t grow on trees, so they’d like to bring some quality apparel to the market at an affordable price. Actually, Chris’s words were, “Of course, each school has their own swag, but it feels like you have to sell a kidney to buy a decent shirt.” The apparel is a longer range goal. Personally, I’d love to own some apparel from my favorite sports website. I’ve already told them I’m first in line when they get some t-shirts out there.

So here’s the skinny: if you love college football as much as I do, this is a great site for you. If you have no knowledge of football but would like to impress someone with your football “knowledge,” you can learn a lot at Front Porch Football. Even if you are just a very casual college football fan, these guys are wicked funny, making Front Porch Football worth your time.

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If websites could have cheerleaders, I’d cheer for this one.

***If you like the videos you watched through my links, please go to Front Porch Football on Facebook and like/follow their site. ALSO, please share this story in support of these guys and invite your friends to follow them as well!***

RTR!

Kelly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South of the Border

Anyone who has never traveled I-95 near the North Carolina/South Carolina border probably thinks I’m going to write about Mexico. They might think I’m going to write about immigration. Or maybe food…which is not a bad idea…but not what I’m writing about today.

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In North Carolina, and I presume South Carolina too, South of the Border has nothing to do with the great country of Mexico…well, a little, but not really.

If you’ve ever traveled I-95, especially at night, near the NC/SC border, you have seen the oasis that is South of the Border. Check out their website here. Starting as a roadside beer stand built by Mr. Alan Schafer in 1949, it is now much larger and a roadside attraction in itself…a brief respite from the boredom of interstate travels. Or if you’re traveling to the Carolina beaches, it’s a good place to stock up on some of the things you’ll need…especially Blenheim Ginger Ale…more on that later. It has a Mexican theme.

South of the Border. The first time I saw South of the Border, I was probably about 10 years old. I was traveling with my family up I-95. I think we were going to Wilmington, but not sure. It was nighttime, and as we traveled north, we started seeing signs that said, “Pedro says…” And those signs went on for miles and miles. They were advertisements for South of the Border. According to the website, those billboards were all designed by Mr. Schafer himself. They are iconic. There are about 175 billboards advertising South of the Border. The old billboards of the 70s used a sort of “Spanglish,” which many people found offensive, so they were changed. Even the Mexican Embassy got involved, according to Roadside America, asking Mr. Schafer to remove the offensive signage along I-95, to which he responded by suggesting the Mexican Embassy consider the $1.5 million in souvenirs he imports from Mexico each year. Nevertheless, the billboards were gradually changed to less broken English, but the advertisements are still plentiful.

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So, let’s say I was 10 years old. That means the year would have been 1977, so South of the Border was still in its heyday. In fact, according to people who work there (and have been there since 1965), people used to come in by the busloads to visit! It was a destination. There is a motor lodge that appears to have been kept in its original decor.

In 1977, as my family came upon the great neon oasis that is South of the Border, my daddy refused to stop. No amount of begging worked. Usually, he was pretty good about stopping at any roadside attraction, but apparently, it was late, and we needed to get to our hotel in Wilmington that night.

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I resolved, on that day, that I would one day visit South of the Border. And I never forgot.

When I first moved to Charlotte and would ask people about South of the Border (SOB), they would laugh and say they knew what I was talking about. Some had funny stories about a visit during college days, and some still had souvenirs they had purchased there when they were kids. Most of them had stopped there on the way to the beach once or twice when they were kids, but none had been in recent years.  And they certainly didn’t travel with SOB as their destination.

I spoke with my friend, Sara, who is from Pennsylvania, one day and learned she had never been either. We made a plan to visit.

On October 30, 2014, we loaded up in our Ford Expedition with my daughter, Sara’s two daughters, and a friend of her older daughter, and we set out for SOB.

I had plugged the address into the navigation in the truck. We were getting a late afternoon start, but we enjoyed the drive across North Carolina. We were traveling from Charlotte, so none of the drive was on the interstate highway, but it was mostly four-lane highway, with some two-lane travel here and there.

We drove through small towns and took detours.

We had been driving for a while, and the GPS said we had ten more miles to go, when we rounded a corner and saw the great neon oasis ahead! Somehow, our GPS wasn’t correct, but it didn’t matter at that point. Sara and I audibly gasped at the neon when we rounded the curve. We then laughed at ourselves.

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We arrived, and much like the Griswold’s arrival at Wally World, almost everything was closed. We didn’t care. There are all sorts of giant animal figurines around SOB, and we took advantage of the photo ops. A 97-feet-tall Pedro? Photo op! A giant sombrero tower? Photo op. We took lots of photos in the neon lights.

The only thing open was a small cafe called The Hot Tamale. It was late, and most of the place was deserted. It seemed a little sketchy with no one around, so I became the designated person to go in and ask what time all the other attractions would open the next day. The very nice lady inside told me everything would open at 10am, so we drove to our hotel in Florence, South Carolina, for the night. (Interestingly, Bill Cosby was slated to perform at the Convention Center near our hotel on November 4, but I think the sexual assault scandal probably caused the cancellation of the appearance.)

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Next morning, we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and arrived at South of the Border at 10am. We were all excited to see what it would look like in the daytime, and of course, we took more photos.

Apparently, fall is not a busy time at SOB (South of the Border), because it seemed we were the only visitors that day. We actually visited the shops on Halloween, and Sara and I later joked that they would see a sharp increase in revenue for that day, since we bought so many souvenirs! The employees at one of the many souvenir shops told us summer is still busy with beach traffic and people traveling between the northeast and Florida.

There are souvenir shops aplenty…you could stay all day and still not see every single souvenir in the place. We stocked up on lots of SOB merchandise that day. I had to buy things, simply because I knew my 10-yr-old self would have loved to visit! In fact, I’m drinking my coffee from a SOB mug as I type.

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We also visited the Reptile Lagoon, which was actually quite intriguing. We saw rattlesnakes (every Alabama girl’s fear), alligators, other snakes, crocodiles, and turtles, up close and personal. It’s worth a visit.

We didn’t stay at the South of the Border Motor Inn, but we did check out one of the rooms. While it had the feel of the 1960s or 1970s, it was clean. Since it is a motor inn, guests can drive right up to the front door and park right outside their suite! We were surprised to find the room had a bidet, and we had to explain that to the kids. They’ve seen (and used) modern Japanese toilets, but they’d never seen a separate bidet. The motor inn also features a “pleasure dome” which houses an indoor pool.

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While we didn’t dine at any of the restaurants on site, I am told The Peddler Steakhouse, in a sombrero-shaped building,  is very good. Maybe we’ll dine there next time.

And when you visit, don’t forget to purchase some Blenheim Ginger Ale. You can purchase it by the case in some of the souvenir shops or by the bottle (and cold!) in the convenience store near the front of South of the Border. According to their website, Blenheim’s dates back to the 1800s. The original bottling plant opened in 1903, and the Schafer family that also owns SOB purchased it in 1993. It has a spicy ginger taste and is made with mineral water and fresh ginger. Lots of people believe it helps with stomach ailments. I highly recommend you try it! You can see their website here.

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We have returned for another visit since that original visit, in February 2016, and again, we had a great time. I’d say we are due for another weekend getaway.

It took me more than 35 years to get to visit South of the Border, but I’m telling you it is  definitely worth a road trip if you have an open weekend. It’s not luxurious. It’s kitschy. It’s fun. It’s cheesy. But you can make some fun memories and possibly pick up some fun souvenirs. It’s also worth a stop if you’re driving to Myrtle Beach or anywhere on I-95. Hopefully, the sombrero tower will be open when you visit! Take lots of photos! I hope it will be open for a long time, but you never know when something will disappear. Better make crazy memories while you can!

***If you enjoy reading Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things, please invite your friends to like/follow the page!***

XOXO,

Kelly

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