www.thegrove-jefferson.com                          May 2006                                      ISSN 1558-3252

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Is May almost over? That's incredible... it seems like just a few days ago we were replacing Christmas decorations with all the trappings of Mardi Gras. I guess that the biggest indication is the heat that's been beaming down upon us - I've been getting out every morning to water the garden, just to keep it growing. A few days ago my jalapeno plants looked like they were going to wilt and fall over; I can't seem to soak them enough. I planted them because I'm now eating a jalapeno pepper every day, by the way.

Why a jalapeno every day? Well, scientists have discovered that a substance in jalapenos cause prostate cancer cells to die (read the article at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/4805190.stm). My dad had prostate cancer, and there's a good chance you may know someone affected by it, too. It is (or eventually will be) a very real concern for most men, so you may want to take note of that article and pass it along. But don't eat *too* many peppers - that can be dangerous as well.

But enough on the medical front. This has been an interesting month, which I'll talk about in the next couple of sections. In short, though, we survived Pilgrimage, and the Jefferson JR/SR Prom, and are looking forward to next year for both of those events.

Okay, hands up, how many of you did I see in the dining room of Hale-Walla House during Pilgrimage? Wow - that's a lot. Jefferson had a throng of people in town for the weekend, even if the forecast called for rain (that never came during tour hours!). Tami and I worked as docents at Hale-Walla house every day - it's a beautiful home, and the owners are personal friends of ours. It was great to see so many GroveZine readers, though, and to get a chance to visit with you. Now that Pilgrimage is over, plans are already starting for next year; in fact, last Monday night a bunch of us were in full costume around Stern fountain for a 2007 Pilgrimage poster photo.

Before the next Pilgrimage, we still have to get through Candlelight, and don't forget that The Grove will be one of the tour homes. I'll provide more info as I get it, but for now, mark your calendar for one of the first two weekends in December. The folks who tour The Grove this fall may see us putting up decorations in October, just to get ready for the holiday season. There's a lot to do, and we want the place to be festive.

Prom weekend (last week) was incredibly draining; the theme was "A Red Carpet Affair", and everything was decorated like a Hollywood movie premier. The prom was on a Saturday night, and Tami and I got to bed about 3 AM Sunday morning... when we woke up, we went right back to the school to finish cleaning up. It was one of those things where you think, "why in the world am I doing this?!?", but when the kids start coming up to us saying, "I had such a wonderful time...", it all made sense.

I have more news, regarding the film trailer that's on The Grove website: "City of Spirits: The Hauntings of Jefferson, Texas". It hasn't been released yet, but this past month I happened to be at the right place at the right time to get a preview of the film's opening segment. It was great! I wanted more - I can hardly wait to see the entire show. I don't know exactly when or where it will air (that's still being negotiated, I hear), but it's going to be fantastic. Stay tuned, and I'll keep you posted. And if you haven't seen the trailer yet, just go to www.thegrove-jefferson.com and scroll down to the banner that says, "Watch the Trailer".

You know, I thought that my main story this month was going to be a terrible one. As wonderful as it is to live in a historic old home, it does have its drawbacks. During a Saturday tour this month, the sewer line that goes under the garden exploded. When I say exploded, I really mean exploded. Now, whatever you may be thinking at this point, it was an order of magnitude worse. Thankfully, after the tour everyone went straight out to their cars, and didn't spend a lot of time in the garden. Jefferson's one plumber was out of town, so I had to run to Lowe's in Marshall, buy a 50-foot snake, and attack the problem myself. Let's just say that whenever I finally talked to the plumber a couple of days later, I said, "Man, whatever you get paid for something like that, it isn't nearly enough!" (and I sincerely meant it).

I said that I *thought* that would be my main story this month, but read on - life at The Grove gets even weirder!

To end the Jefferson section though, as summer approaches, think about coming to Jefferson for July 4th - brass bands in the gazebo, festivities all afternoon, and one heck of a fireworks show that evening. It's small-town Americana at its best. Be careful, though... if you ever once celebrate Independence Day here, it will be a tradition forevermore!

My ghost stories this month come from one particular couple who came on the tour... they had quite an experience in Jefferson. I'll try my best to portray their stories accurately.

The first took place long before The Grove tour - early in the morning, in fact. They were staying at Falling Leaves B&B, and the lady woke up a little early - something like 5:00-5:30 AM, and was craving a cup of coffee. It was early enough that she knew that no one else was awake, so she just decided to snooze in bed until it was time to get up. Suddenly, she heard voices out in the hallway as if a man and a woman were conversing outside their door. When she peeked out, there was no one there. Just before breakfast, she asked the innkeepers Mike and Lisa Barry if they'd been walking around that early, but that wasn't the case; everyone had been fast asleep. When I was discussing this with Lisa this past weekend, the most interesting thing about it was that someone had reported the exact same event just two weeks before. To make it even stranger, the exact same phenomena was reported over Memorial Day weekend - I think that if things ever slow down at The Grove, we'll just go rent a room for the weekend at Falling Leaves!

The couple that I mentioned came on The Grove tour, and the lady shared her Falling Leaves experience with me. Something totally unexpected happened to her husband, though. While we were all standing around the dining room table, he felt someone tapping him on the back. After the tour he was standing in front of Ms. Daphne's portrait just to see if any of the flower arrangements could have been responsible. As he was standing there, I asked him what he was doing, and he told me the story. There was literally nothing in the area that could have been responsible for the taps on his shoulder - but it was in the dining room where I tell the Young family history, and he was standing in front of Ms. Daphne's portrait, so who knows? People have reported cold spots in that area, but never a tap on the back.

Now, my final story may cause this month's GroveZine to run a little long, and for that I apologize. But I just have to tell you this. People ask me all the time whether I ever get scared living at The Grove, and I always answer, "No..." but I can no longer do that. This Memorial Day weekend scared the heck out of me! You see, we were getting ready for the Saturday tour, and I was vacuuming the couch in the den (the "New" Room). As I moved one of the pillows, I spotted a long, naked tale sticking out from behind it. Those of you who know my tolerance for such creepy-crawly things can probably imagine what happened next. I ran out of the room panicking, and told Tami, "We have a huge rat in the couch!!!" We quickly put The Grove under lock-down procedure, something that any military base would be proud of. We isolated the den, put pillows against the bottom of the windowed French doors so that the creature couldn't go out underneath, and got both Lilly and Delaney (our bassets) out in the hallway, away from the action. I figured that the best answer to the problem was to alert our cats to the presence of this beast, since in the past they've both brought us "presents" of wildlife that they've killed. I ran outside and scooped up Daphne, our white cat with one blue eye and one green, and put her down beside the couch. Using a broom handle, I started poking around underneath, and the monster ran out. Tami (who was standing in the hallway) yelled, "That's not a rat - it's an opossum!" At that point I didn't care, and obviously Daphne didn't either. She sat and watched as the young critter ran right past her. "Great," I though, and went to search for Elsie, our other cat. You may remember form last month that she got hit by a car, but is now doing stellar. While I was looking for her, the folks for the 2:00 PM tour came rolling up, and I had to explain that the tour was postponed - not for any medical emergency or family crisis, but for the simple fact that there was an opossum loose in The Grove. You know, I never thought that we would cancel a tour for that reason. Everyone was understanding, though, and departed to return later. Which left us with a wild animal loose in our den, and only two hours to get it out of the house and get things back in order.

Tami made it clear that she wasn't about to set foot in the den, so I picked up the phone and called my buddy Mike, who owns Falling Leaves B&B with his wife Lisa (the same place from the above ghost story). Since we fish together, I hoped that he might have a net to use to catch the vicious beast. He didn't, but he came over to help in the capture. It was quite a sight - Mike brought a cattle whip, and I was armed with a broom and a broom handle. After chasing it around the room for a while, we finally came up with a master plan: I would beat under the couch with the broom handle to drive it out, and Mike would throw a towel over the creature to trap it. To make a long story short, that's exactly what we did, and it worked well. In short order, we had the opossum captured, and took it out away from the house to let it go. You will be pleased to know that the animal has been returned to the wild, all part of the "Opossum Catch-And-Release" program that we have instituted here at The Grove. If nothing else, it made for interesting stories on the weekend tours. As I've said before, ghosts don't frighten me... but creepy-crawly things (like opossums) do!

Okay, time to close out a hot, dry May at The Grove - whatever happened to Spring... it seemed like we jumped right into Summer! That, and we are now looking everywhere for critters in every corner of The Grove.

I'd like to sincerely thank you for reading the GroveZine, and for your interest in the spirits of The Grove.

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