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Welcome to the GroveZine for April! Ah, Spring is in the air, along with a TON of pollen... we're sneezing and blowing our noses non-stop. It seems like every morning we go outside and find a thin coating of yellow powder covering our cars. That's the down-side of Spring, though - the up-side is that the garden is starting to wake up, and the Day Lilies and Tiger Lilies are beginning to poke their heads up out of the flowerbeds. We've also planted some purple wisteria in anticipation of March 2009, so I can hardly wait to post a photo of it in the GroveZine next year.
HGTV UPDATE - Like I posted last month, the next airing of The Grove's "If Walls Could Talk" episode will be on the HGTV channel on April 30, 2008 - check your local listings for the exact time (it should be 4 or 5 in the afternoon). Like every episode of that show, it is thirty minutes long, three houses are featured, and The Grove is the one in the middle.
We had the annual "Outlaw National's Rod Run & Antique Car Show" this month, and as always, it was a lot of fun. The streets downtown were all blocked off and were filled with beautiful old cars. There were models of every size, shape and color. Some of them were driven in by the owners, others were carefully rolled off a trailer by their caretakers wearing white gloves. Everyone was proud of their own cars, though, and were standing by ready to tell you anything that you wanted to know. The rod run just keeps getting better every year.
Jefferson also had its third annual crawfish boil this month, and more of the little critters were served this year than ever before. The lines were long at times, but everyone walked away with a heaping plate of crawfish to eat. You could certainly tell the pros, though - they were sucking the meat out of the tasty beasties at light speed, while washing it all down with a frosty beverage on a warm April day. Everyone had a great time, and I didn't see a single person leave the area hungry.
What's that old saying? "The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry..." Well, such was the case for at least one Sunday this month. It takes us a few hours to prepare the house for a tour - we set all the tables, put out flowers, light scented, decorative candles, and give everything a good cleaning and general tidying. It's important to us that when people visit The Grove, it is in pristine condition, and not like you're simply walking through someone's house on any given day. Believe me, if you were to just drop in one afternoon the house looks like anyone else's: I've got paperwork spread out over the island in the kitchen, there are a few stacks of books to be shipped out on the counter, Tami has her outfit for the next day spread out and ready for the morning, and there's probably a laundry basket full of socks to be folded out in the side gallery. For the tours, though, we try to make everything perfect... but occasionally don't succeed. After a Sunday tour this month I walked back into the kitchen to get a soda out of the 'fridge, and I looked up to see that that there on the very top was a large (actually, the huge one, their "Route 44") Sonic Iced Tea complete with the bright red straw sticking up like a flag. I hope that everyone on the tour was so busy looking at all the memorabilia associated with our "General Store" theme in the kitchen that they didn't notice it - or maybe they thought that it was a pop-art contrast to the old Coca-Cola items and the metal lunchbox on top of refrigerator with it. The most likely scenario, though, is that some of them left whispering, "Such a pretty home, if it hadn't been for that big styrofoam cup in the kitchen..." Oh well, we saw it and just had to laugh.
Some good news, some bad news... The good news is that I'm going to be giving a lecture about ghosts and the supernatural at a library in Farmers Branch Friday night. It's the library's "Author Box Dinner" fundraiser, and I'd love to see you there - I think that it's going to be a lot of fun. Now for the bad news: I was just re-reading the promotional material that they sent me, and the deadline for registration is April 23! If you're in the area and want to attend, you must call Joan Abbey at 972.243.1857 right away! The price is $18 per person, and as I understand it includes a box dinner, but after the expenses all the proceeds go directly to the library. I'm donating my time to the cause, and I think that we're going to have a great evening. I know, I know, I hear you... "Thanks for all the advance notice, Mitchel!"
A big event that's coming up here in town is the 61st Annual Pilgrimage, and it is right around the corner on May 2, 3 and 4. You purchase one ticket from the Garden Club, and you can tour four historic homes: Wise Manor, Terry-McKinnon House, Atkins-Castleman House, and Heilman House. Each one features docents in period costumes guiding you through the homes. There will also be a civil war re-enactment that weekend, and all kinds of other events to show the visitors a great time. Come up for the weekend - Pilgrimage is always a wonderful experience. Hours are 11 AM 'til 4 PM each day.
If you've been reading the GroveZine for a while, or have taken the tour of the house, then you know that the northwest corner of the parlor is a hotspot of supernatural activity. During a tour this month, one lady encountered two interesting things. First of all, when she walked into the parlor she said that the fringe on the German lamp was moving as if someone had brushed it. She wondered if the people walking across the floor had jarred it, but I know for a fact that the front of the house is braced underneath so soundly that there isn't a vibration that makes the lamp fringe move - believe me, I've looked for that many times. The other thing that she encountered there was an odor of someone who hasn't bathed in a while. There are two main scents that we encounter in the grove when something supernatural is occurring: the first is the odor of cigar smoke, and the second is that of an unwashed person. The last time that someone encountered the latter was in the doorway between the dining room and our game room (which in the old days used to be the master bedroom). I don't know what entity was in the parlor that day, but it was a bit of a departure for him (or her), 'cause they usually are on the east side of the house.
We had another tour event this month, and it was from a gentleman standing in the doorway between the den and the kitchen. I was telling some of the stories from the den - the "new room" that wasn't added until 1870 - and he jerked his arm up. I was standing only four or five feet away, but no one else was even close to him. He proceeded to tell us that as he was listening to the stories that I was telling, someone started pulling his arm-hair on his forearm. It didn't scare him - but he was certainly a little startled.
Well, we had a little incident happen while we were getting ready for Jefferson's city-wide garage sale this month. There's only one problem with the event – we always end up taking a break from our sale, and hitting all the others around town. We've noticed other people doing the same thing. So what happens? We sell a bunch of our junk, but we end up bringing home a bunch of other people's junk! It's like a giant swap meet. Still, it's a fun day once in the spring, and again in the fall. But back to the ghost story. When we cleaned out the attic earlier this year, we made a big pile of garage sale stuff in one back corner. On the Friday night before the Saturday sale, Lisa and Mike from Falling Leaves B&B came over to help us carry everything down from the attic and out into the carport. Mike and I had just taken a load outside, and we were walking back in when we heard Tami and Lisa running down the stairs. Lisa was saying, "We're sorry, we're sorry, we're sorry!" After everyone calmed down, I found out what happened. Everything was downstairs except for a quilt rack that was in a back corner, and Tami walked over to retrieve it. Lisa was about ten feet behind her. As Tami went to pick it up, she felt a strong, sad and apprehensive feeling rush through her. Apparently it passed through her and whooshed past Lisa, who felt it just as strongly as Tami did. It startled them both, but once they caught their breath, Tami realized what might be happening. There is a friendly presence that we sometimes encounter in the attic, and she surmised that it might be thinking that we were moving out. She climbed the stairs, walked back into the back part of the attic, and proceeded to explain what was happening - that we were simply having a garage sale, not clearing things out to move. After that, everything felt fine, as if the explanation was all that the entity needed. We ended the month very happy that we had satisfied one of The Grove's spirits!
Thanks for continuing to read the GroveZine - it's great to have you along for the ride. We have a wonderful time every month putting the GroveZine together, and sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it!
If you'd like to check any of my books, you can find them at Barnes & Noble, Borders, Amazon.com, or
at The Grove's website if you'd like a signed
copy of anything.
A month or so ago I announced that my new book was out - a collabroation with my grandfather, an old country preacher - on the 23rd Psalm. This has been a very unusual book for me... very different than any of my others. It seems that every day or so I'm hearing very kind words from readers. I can't take any credit, of course, since the theology belongs to Granddad, even though the words weaving it together are mine. I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who's been sending me emails about 23. If you want any more info on the book, just check out the website:
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