www.thegrove-jefferson.com                          September 2005                                      ISSN 1558-3252

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Hello from The Grove, and Jefferson, Texas! It's time for a ghost story or two, and even an update on Hurricane Rita in Jefferson. This has been a very bittersweet month here at The Grove, so I'll just get started.

Riding Through Rita in Jefferson

I've received several emails from people asking how The Grove made it through hurricane Rita, and I just want to let everyone know that we made it through just fine. I do have to stop and say that our hearts and prayers go out to those communities that were hit not only by Rita, but also those that are still suffering from Katrina. These disasters were terrible catastrophes, and we feel so bad for everyone who suffered a loss.

As Rita progressed, the city of Jefferson hunkered down; sandbags were put around City Hall and several stores. When the Lions Club went shopping for a local nursing home (http://www.jeffersonlionsclub.org/rita/index.htm), we found that the shelves were already looking bare. By Friday evening all of the bottled water was gone, along with the bread and other foods. People were parking on the street to get into the store - it was a madhouse!

On Saturday the 24th - the day the storm was to hit Jefferson - I first turned on the TV at 7 AM to see how Rita was progressing. After making landfall, it was heading just to the west of the state line between Texas and Louisiana, so they were projecting that it would hit Marshall, then Jefferson, and would stall around Texarkana. We brought in everything that could break: gazing balls from the garden, hanging and potted plants, and of course the flag that flies on the front of The Grove, since we were afraid that the whipping winds would snap it off from the front column.

Now, five years ago we didn't do any preparation for Y2K since we didn't think anything would happen, and we didn't do anything for Hurricane Rita, either. Since the wind was picking up, though, we decided to fill several containers with water just in case. We put them all in the 'fridge, and started waiting out the storm.

By 10 AM in the morning, we were getting the front edge of the hurricane, and the trees were bending and trashing to the point where we were becoming very concerned. We spent the day running from the front porch, to the side door, to the television to watch the hurricane reports. There were times when it was down-right scary. Somewhere in the mid-afternoon, Rita shifted to the east, and we learned that it was no longer going to come through Jefferson. It had taken a turn toward Louisiana.

While we did get a lot of much-needed rain, by 9 PM Saturday evening we were putting the front porch back together, and things were getting back to normal at The Grove. In the course of the entire event, there were no supernatural experiences to report; perhaps the ghosts of The Grove were also seeking shelter!

Now For Some Sad News

I know that many of you who've toured the house met our twelve- year-old basset hound girl, Samantha. At the least, you've read about her in the pages of the Grovezine. With a tear in my eye, I have to report that she passed away on Sunday of Labor Day weekend. When we woke up, she was breathing heavily and acting very lethargic. We rushed her to the doggie E.R., and as I was holding her in my arms in the waiting room, her breathing changed considerably and her eyes dilated. They immediately took her back and started working on her, and restarted her heart twice, but her little body just gave out. As it turned out, they think that she had the final stroke in my arms, and probably didn't ever recover from that. On one hand that is very sad for me, but on the other, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been holding her for her last memories on Earth.

With that sad tale told, I have two dog-related ghost stories to share this month. The first one is from Lilly, the basset girl that we rescued earlier in the year. After Samantha's passing, we were sitting in the den (the "new room") watching television one evening. Lilly jumped up out of her bed, ran over to the French doors leading into the side gallery (they were closed), and just sat down. For several minutes her head moved from right, to left, and back again, as if she was watching someone pacing up and down the hallway. This went on for several minutes, and I finally went out there to see if I could pick up on anything. I couldn't, though. Whoever was pacing the hall was seen only by Lilly. We do know that the hallway was originally added to the house in 1870 as a side porch, and was enclosed as a hallway in the 1930s. I've previously told stories of several experiences that she's had in the house. Either her other bassets were more used to it that she is, or she's much more sensitive. It's going to be interesting to watch Lilly to continue to encounter the ghosts of the Grove.

The other story that I wanted to tell this month isn't really a ghost story, but is worth sharing with our friends. Just a couple of days after Samantha passed, I got an email. Before talking about that, though, I have to re-wind to last December. In December of 2004 I was working on the book, "A Ghost in My Suitcase". There were a few places that I wasn't going to be able to visit before the book was due, so I arranged email and phone interviews with those locations. One of these was "Thayer's B&B" in Minnesota, and after setting up an interview by phone, I spoke with a wonderful lady named Sharon. Along with some wonderful stories about the inn, Sharon also told me that she was a psychic, and was available for readings for her guests. We talked for an hour or so, covering all of the ghost stories from her B&B. She was a very nice lady, and I greatly enjoyed the time that I spent talking to her. I didn't have any more contact with her until a week or so ago - just a couple of days after Samantha died. Out of the blue, I got an email from her asking if something was wrong, that she hadn't been able to get Tami and I out of her mind for the last few days (even though I only spent a few hours with her on the phone that Sunday afternoon). I emailed her back and told her about Samantha, and she responded by saying that she was getting an impression of Sam being with two other dogs, all three of which were concerned about us. What she couldn't have known is that one of those other dogs must be Murphy, our 13 year old basset who died last January, and the other is Fred, our first basset that we lost thirteen years ago. The dogs must think that we should be a two-basset family, because she told me that they are searching for a basset for us to adopt. She also said that Samantha didn't hurt much in her passing, but is glad that part is over. She said that Sam can move much faster now, and she likes that - and she told us to watch for flashes of fur in the house.

The last thing that I wanted to include was something from a tour a couple of weeks ago. We were in the "new room", which is our den, and as I was talking I saw one of the ladies snapping her head around to look at her husband. This happened several times, and since I wondered what was happening, I was watching them as I talked. He was taller than her, so I could see him even though he was behind her. After we finished in that room, she explained what was going on - she said that someone was blowing on her neck. Not a gentle breeze, like from a ceiling fan, but as if someone was leaning in, pursing their lips and blowing. He was sure that her husband was playing with her, but said that she couldn't catch him. I was looking directly at them all that time, so I know for sure that he wasn't the culprit. I assume that it was one of the spirits that seem to show up in that room - they are more mischievous there than anywhere else in the house. Like I've said before, since that has been used as a den and family room since it was added in 1870, it probably has a lot of positive energy and wonderful memories.

That's it for the September Grovezine. I need to go outside and start picking up the limbs that the wind knocked down. Thanks for letting me spend a few minutes visiting with you!

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