www.thegrove-jefferson.com                          May 2007                                      ISSN 1558-3252

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Happy New Year!!! I hope that everyone had a great holiday, and that this new year will be healthy and prosperous for us all. January has passed by at lightning speed, and I can't believe that February is upon us. It's already time to start thinking about Valentines dinners and the like, so I hope that Cupid is visiting every GroveZine subscriber. Tami and I are going to be spending the 14th down at the Excelsior House, where they're having a romantic dinner sponsored by the Garden Club. The down-side is that since Tami is in the Garden Club, we'll have to stay and help clean up. Oh well...

Just a few days after Valentine’s, Mardi Gras is coming up! The official celebration here in Jefferson is February 16, 17 and 18. There will be parades, food, music, arts and craft vendors, food, music, dances, and did I mention... food & music! It’s a party, so come and join the fun. One thing that I’ve noticed in the carnival area is that you can get most any food in the world on a stick: sausage-on-a-stick, corn-on-the-cob-on-a-stick, steak-on-a-stick, chicken-on-a-stick, and last year, barbecue-on-a-stick, even shrimp-on-a-stick (yep, I had to try that one myself). This year we’re looking for the return of the world’s most perfect food – deep-fried-twinkie-on-a-stick! It was served at one of the vendor booths three years ago, but hasn’t been back since. Oh, and before I get lost in all the food, this year Vince Vance and the Valiants will be performing on the main stage Saturday night. Like I said, it’s going to be a party... laissez les bon temps rouler! For more info, check out: www.mardigrasupriver.com

The annual "Quilts on the Bayou" quilt show was this past weekend, and I am simply in awe - on the first day alone, a Friday, when most people were still at work, they had almost 500 people come through the doors. There were even more over the weekend, and the final total was around fourteen hundred people - I think that this is going to become one of Jefferson's biggest draws. They have competitions, prizes, vendors, and celebrities from the quilting world - and believe me, after volunteering there and watching the crowd reaction, some of these celebrities have "rock star" status.

In the world of food, the rumored Jefferson McDonalds hasn't started construction yet, so I don't have any news in that regard. I did have a heck of a great meal a few days ago, though, over at Big Pines Lodge near Caddo Lake and the town of Uncertain. A ton o'catfish, along with some delicious hushpuppies (especially the jalapeno ones). Put this place on your list for your next visit to Jefferson.

Like I said earlier, this month has flown by, and I’m sure that February won’t be any different. I should have some tales from Mardi Gras, Valentine's, and more in next GroveZine. But now, let me tell you some of the latest supernatural goings-on at The Grove.

I’ve mentioned hearing footsteps at The Grove (or "disembodied footsteps", as people love to call this phenomenon when they're writing about it) and it’s happened in different rooms at different times since we first moved in. The latest occurrence was on January 11th, at 9:30 in the morning as I was in our bathroom. I had gotten a late start at getting ready for the day because I’d made the mistake of sitting down at the computer and doing a little work when I first got up. Two hours had flown by before I knew it. The house was quite - no radio or TV - and one basset (Delaney) was in her beanbag asleep in the den, while Lilly (the other one) was curled up on the foot of the bed. I suddenly heard the floor creaking in the center stairwell of the house - it was unmistakably the sound of someone walking through there. Lilly looked up at me, then into the stairwell, then back at me again. My first thought was that Delaney had awoken and was coming into the bedroom, but then I noticed that the sound was rhythmic, human steps. My next thought was that Tami had come home from school for some reason, but that didn’t seem to fit, either; the creaking was heavy, as if it was a big man walking across the floor. I started to panic - mainly because I wasn’t really dressed. I could only imagine that I’d left the front door unlocked, and someone had just walked right in. Worse than that, I figured that the person might have a digital camera, and I’d suddenly see a semi-dressed Mitchel on the Internet with some catchy title like, "The REAL horrors of a haunted house"... Needless to say, I was jumping around and doing everything that I could to get covered up. When I finally stepped out of the bathroom and peeked into the stairwell, there was no one there. Nada. I was alone in the house with the two dogs – Delaney, who was asleep in the den, and Lilly, who was sitting on the bed still looking around, a little confused. I don’t mind our ghostly visitors walking through the house; I just wish that they would choose more opportune times.

I especially enjoy it when people tell me things that happen to them on the tour, and one such story comes from just a week ago. We’d made it back to the New Room – the den – and I was telling some of the ghost stories that happened there, when one of the gentlemen on the tour asked if there was any reason that it would be colder in the northeast corner of the room where the single blue leather chair is. It was a cold day outside, so the room itself was a little cool, but one particular spot shouldn’t have been any colder than another. I tried to point out that it was cold outside, and the house might have drafts, etc. – the gentleman stopped me and said, "No, it feels like there are icicles hanging from my ear right now." It wasn’t nearly that frigid anywhere else in the room; he was experiences a "cold spot" that sometimes shows up in various places around the house. It didn’t last very long, though. Whatever – or whoever – was there must have moved right along. Those things happen year-round, but it's much more dramatic (and refreshing) when it's a hot summer's day.

Sometimes I wonder exactly what goes on at the house when we’re not there, and this month, I got a peek into that very scenario. Tami and I were taking a trip to Natchez with my parents, kind of an after-Christmas getaway, and our friend Renee was kind enough to dog-sit for us. While we were on the trip, we got a couple of interesting phone calls from her. She and the bassets were in the kitchen one evening, when she heard a loud thump. She turned around to see that a ceramic stein had come down from the top of the pantry – easily a seven-foot drop. There were several odd things about this: 1) there was no reason for it to have fallen off; it was sitting on a solid, flat surface where it’s been for years; 2) if it did fall off, the ceramic stein should have shattered on the floor, yet there wasn’t even a nick; 3) and finally, assuming that it did make the seven-foot fall, and survive without breaking, it certainly wouldn’t have landed upright on its base – which it did. Instead of dropping, it was almost as if someone took it down and thumped it on the floor below. That alone would have been an interesting stay for Renee, but other things happened during her stay. When she went up to the parlor after staying the night, the doors to the sewing caddy were open, even though they had previously been closed. On another occasion, one of the end tables – and everything on it – was leaning into the wall; since there are kiddie-gates that keep the dogs from going up to the parlor and dining room, and she hadn’t been up there, this was a mystery. More than that, though, was how everything was balanced, tipped into the wall. Almost as if the house was saying, "okay, now figure THIS one out!" Since Renee has spent many a night at The Grove, she just shrugged and went on. She’ll be watching the bassets again in the near future, so we’re wondering what she will encounter next... stay tuned to the GroveZine!

I get several emails a week about the TV special "City of Spirits" that was filmed here in Jefferson, wanting to know when and where it can be seen. I just heard from the director, and it is still in production – they’re also considering turning it into a Hi-Def Show, which would be fantastic. I’ll keep you posted as I hear more.

If you enjoy true ghost stories about haunted places, you may want to check out a new book that I contributed to named "Ghostly Tales From America's Jails." It has stories of haunted jails around the country, many that you can visit, and even sleep in (yep, there's a haunted jail that's been turned into a B&B). I wrote two chapters in the book, and many of my friends are in there as well – including well-known ghost hunters like Troy Taylor, Olyve Abbot, and Joan Upton Hall (who edited the book). For more info, go to: http://www.thegrove-jefferson.com/jails/ - it's a great book for anyone interested in the paranormal.

Like I said at the start of this 'zine, I really can't believe that January's already gone, but it is. Before long we'll be talking about the 4th of July, and then Halloween, and then Christmas, all before we know it. Let's not rush things, though, so from Mitchel & Tami at The Grove, we'll say "thanks for reading", and sign off until our next visit.

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