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

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Happy almost New Year! I realize that this issue of the ezine might be a little long, but I have some fun ghost stories for you... and an incident where I ended up feeling a little foolish. That said, let's dive right in.

Well, the Candlelight Tour of Homes here in Jefferson is now over, and everyone that I've talked to had a wonderful time. If you've come to Jefferson for Candlelight in December or Pilgrimage on the first weekend in May, you know that Tami and I always volunteer as docents at the homes, and I always like to work the front porch. In the two weeks of Candlelight this year, I was blown away by the number of people who came up to me after I gave my introduction to the house where I was working and said, "You don't know me, but I get the GroveZine every month." On each and every occasion, I sincerely appreciated the kind words that were said. Weather-wise, it was a strange season. On Saturday the 3rd it was 85 degrees outside, and I was sweating profusely as I did my talk - in my Victorian costume it was like being in a sauna! One week later, the temperatures dropped into the 20's, and toward the end of the evening I couldn't feel my toes anymore. I guess that old saying is very true: "If you don't like Texas weather, wait a minute!"

I got a lot of questions about ghosts at the houses where I was a docent, and although I didn't tell the tales while I was on duty (I had a script to deliver), both of the places where I worked had ghost stories associated with them. One of them I'm going to write about in an upcoming book. Speaking of which...

Help! Yep, I can definitely use some assistance. There are GroveZine subscribers from around the world, but I'd like to take a moment to address those of you in East Texas and the surrounding area. I'm looking for more haunted places for my next book, which will be a sequel to "Ghosts of East Texas and the Pineywoods". The conditions are: 1) The place has to really be haunted - no urban legends where you drive your car to a bridge, honk you horn three times, and so on. 2) The place has to be open to the public: restaurants, B&B's, graveyards, city parks, city buildings, etc. While a lot of people tell me about their aunt's house or their childhood home being haunted - and I do love to hear those stories - the places for the book need to be where any reader can visit. 3) The place shouldn't be shy about their ghosts. I don't want to "out" any place as being haunted when the owners want to conceal that fact. One bed and breakfast that I wanted to put in the first book was adamantly against anyone knowing that they have a resident spirit, so I simply didn't write about them (as much as really I wanted to do so). Those things said, if you have any places that I can check out, please send them to me at: mitchel AT whitington DOT com (delete the spaces, and replace "AT" with "@" and "DOT" with "." - I don't want spammers to pick my name off this). Thanks - I sincerely appreciate it!

We've had a few celebrities show up to tour The Grove, but we were recently honored to have an overnight guest that is quite an Internet celebrity: a can of S&W Premium Select Black Beans. Yep, the frijole's stopped by for a visit, and you can read all about it at: beans-around-the-world.com . While you're there, take time to explore the "Beans Around the World" website. I spent an hour or so there!

I have several little ghost stories to report this month. The last is my favorite, but let's start with something that happened on a tour. On the December 3rd tour, we had a great group of folks who were in town for the Candlelight tour of homes. The Grove was decorated for Christmas, and we had a seasonal tune playing on the parlor music box. In the game room - the blue room - we'd put on a Christmas CD very softly as background music. Tami had been making sure that everything in the house was set up for the tour, and while we were in the game room, I saw her slip into the bedroom and shut the door. I knew that she was getting in the shower, since we only had a short time after the tour to get dressed in our Victorian outfits to be docents over at Hale House, one of the featured homes. The tour continued on with stories in the den, and finally in the kitchen. As I was telling some of the final stories in the kitchen, I noticed the music slowly getting louder and louder. I kept glancing back toward the game room, and no one was in there. I didn't want to say anything - I went on a ghost walk one time where the guide kept announcing, "There are three spirits in the room with us right now..." and it sounded really hokey. Because of that, even if I know that something supernatural is going on during a tour, I never say anything about it. Anyway, for that reason, I didn't comment on the music, but it kept growing increasingly louder - to the point where I was having to raise my voice loudly over it. When we finished the tour and walked back through the house, I turned it back down. The volume knob had definitely been turned up considerably. We've owned the stereo for a decade (yep, we need to get a new one) and it has never done anything like that. I don't know who - or why - some unseen hand was cranking up the sound while I was talking. Maybe the entity doing it simply thought that I was carrying on too long.

Earlier in the year I mentioned the shadowy forms that we've sometimes seen around the house. The phenomenon is collectively known as "shadow people", and I know an author who's written a book on the subject that will be out in the spring. Here at The Grove, the way that it usually happens is that you'll catch some movement out of the corner of your eye, then turn your head to see a dark, translucent form - usually going across a room, out a door, etc. It happens in some kind of unpredictable cycles, because we'll occasionally see a lot of that, then it will slack off for a while. It's been a little quite in that regard lately, but as if on cue, one of them made an appearance while I was working on the newsletter this morning. I was at my computer in the den, working away as usual. On the average day, I'll have all of the lights off and shades drawn, with no TV, radio, or other distractions. This morning was no different; as I typed, though, I saw the sunlight coming in through the windows in the game room suddenly dim, and I detected movement there in my peripheral vision. Of course, the human mind is always trying to solve things subconsciously, and the thought that immediately registered with me was that someone had stepped between the windows and me. In an instant, though, I realized that this didn't make sense - I was the only one home. I looked up in time to see a shadow form, roughly in the shape of a human, move away from the window and into the darkness of the rest of that room. I don't know what the "shadow people" phenomenon is, but it's picking up here at The Grove again.

Okay, now I have to tell a story on myself. On Sunday evening, December 11th, Tami and I were sitting in the den watching the season finale of the television show "Survivor". Suddenly, a loud scream filled the house. It sounded like the wailing of a woman in intense pain or sorrow. My first thought was something that I mentioned in last month's Grovezine - that two different people had shared their story of a woman's scream emanating from the house back when it was vacant. Tami was sitting beside me, so of course it wasn't her, and our basset Lilly was fast asleep on the couch. I thought, "Okay, I'm getting to experience the spectral woman's scream that I heard about. Stay calm, take a deep breath, and just take it in." I did. I tried to pinpoint the source, and it was coming from the back part of the house - exactly what I'd heard from those two people last month. Suddenly the sound changed into a loud coughing, and I wondered whether it was the sound of someone choking or gasping for air. I stood up, and carefully walked through the kitchen and into the side gallery - I didn't want to disturb whatever spirit was manifesting. As soon as I did, I realized that the sound was coming from the washing machine. We'd been doing laundry, and it was on the spin cycle. I couldn't help but laugh at myself. When something odd is happening at the house, I always try to come down on the skeptical side of things, just to weed out anything that is explainable. I guess that I forgot to do it on that occasion. Not only was there no supernatural activity involved, but I suddenly had to worry about getting an appliance repair technician out to the house. All in all, I would've rather had the screaming, spectral woman.

Finally, I'm absolutely delighted to tell you that we had a VERY special visitor to The Grove on Christmas morning. I'm not talking about Santa, although I'm sure that he had stopped by earlier. For a little background, you know that our basset hound Murphy passed away last January. A girl puppy named Lilly joined our family in March, and she and Samantha hit it off famously. Tragedy struck again on September 4th, when Samantha had a stroke and left us. It was just us and Lilly for the rest of the year, until a few days ago. On December 20th, another rescue basset came into the family - a little girl named Delaney; The Grove once again has two bassets in residence. On Christmas morning, about nine o'clock (we were sleeping in), I heard the distinct sound of a basset walking through the center stairwell - the clicking of their nails on the wooden floor is unmistakable. We're still housebreaking Delaney, so I woke up thinking that she had gotten up and was looking to go to the bathroom. I sat up and saw that she was still asleep, and that Lilly was in her bed as well. The paw-steps had stopped momentarily, but as I laid back down they started again, walking into the bedroom. I sat back up, but there was nothing there, at least, that I could see. Lilly and Delaney jumped up and ran over as if they'd heard it as well. There was no mistaking what I heard, and I firmly believe that either Murphy or Samantha had come back to The Grove on Christmas morning just to see how we were getting along since they moved on. I would have given anything for just a glimpse, but hearing their footsteps once again was enough. It was the best present that I received this year.

Well, that's it for the December GroveZine. As 2005 comes to an end, I'd like to thank you for reading the GroveZine, and for your interest in the spirits of The Grove. Have a wonderful New Year, and I hope that you and yours will be healthy and prosperous in 2006. Happy New Year!


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