www.thegrove-jefferson.com                   December 2009 - January 2010                        ISSN 1558-3252

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mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

My mantra for the last few weeks has been, "Gotta get the GroveZine out... gotta get the GroveZine out..." and the days kept rolling by. Things have been crazy, so much so that I'm behind on basically everything. If you sent an email that has seemingly gone unanswered, I apologize. If you found a tour canceled here or there, well, my fault as well. It feels like my life has been a giant game of wack-a-mole lately. I get one thing taken care of, two more pop up. Christmas came and went in the blink of an eye, and the first two Jefferson events - the Quilt Show and Mardi Gras - have already passed. Valentines Day was here, and although Tami and I got cards for each other, we haven't been able to go out for our romantic dinner yet (next week at LaManche's, we hope). It looks like St. Parick's Day and the ever-popular Irish Stew cookoff is just around the corner, so I'd better rally the members of our Sandtown Stew Team to get ready for the event. But in all this mass confusion, I've been collecting a few stories to share with you this GroveZine...

Ah, we woke on a cool, January morning to the gentle flutter of white in our trees and on the ground. No, it wasn't snow. Since it was time for school to start back up, it was toilet paper... The Grove had been TP'ed!!! Now, Tami assured me that this was a testament to how much the students liked her. As I was standing on a ladder in freezing weather using a broom handle to try to untangle all of the T.P., I was honestly wishing that her students liked her a little less. She has the reputation of being hard-as-nails and not putting up with any foolishness in the classroom, so I guess that this was her students' one little bit of rebellion. I just wondered where the spirits of The Grove were when this was going on... where was the Garden Guy... where was the old man who protects the place? I guess that they knew the kids didn't mean any harm, and they were probably having a good laugh over it themselves.

The real white stuff finally fell, though, and as the nation was getting buried in snow, Jefferson got a taste. I heard on the news the day that this picture was taken that 49 out of our 50 states had snow on the ground somewhere - the exception being Hawaii. The city of Jefferson, however, was blanketed in 3 to 4 inches of snow everywhere. I woke up that morning, jumped in my car, and ran all over town snapping photos: Sterne Fountain, the old railroad trestle, the museum, and a dozen other town icons. I almost got stuck a couple of times while driving around town, and there were some spots where snow-laden limbs were weighed down, blocking the road. Everything was beautiful, though!

If you remember the last GroveZine, I took a great photo of a huge vulture on the top of the city's fire tower at the end of Lafayette Street. In the 'zine I extolled the stories of the harbinger of doom, but concluded that things were pretty much all right, even with him staring down over the town. Well, the other day I was driving down Alley Street in front of Oakwood Cemetery and happened to glance up at the water tower - it had become a rest stop for all of the buzzard's friends! I stopped counting at twenty-four of them, and while it was more than a little creepy that they were standing watch over the cemetery, I think that they'd just found a place to light. Again, though, to the writer in me... this was an inspiring sight!

We have a new restaurant in town - and in fact, it's been open for a few months now, and I keep forgetting to mention it. The name is "Glory Dayz," and it's a 1950s-style diner located at 118 E Henderson St. (just off the main drag, Polk St.) with gourmet sandwiches and some of the best desserts that you'll ever have. We've eaten there many times in the short span of its existence, and so far my favorite is the "James Dean" sandwich, which is made with hand-sliced roast beef, cheddar cheese, tomato, and red onion. Delicious! One of their signature desserts is "The King," which is a grilled peanut butter, jelly and banana sandwich sprinkled with powdered sugar that would make Elvis proud. On your next trip to Jefferson, you simply have to check Glory Dayz out!

Okay, time for a few ghost stories. I try to stay away from controversy - I really don't want to offend anyone. Still, there's one topic that keeps popping up. It's discussed at conferences, bantered about between paranormal investigation groups, and is something that I'm asked about every time that I do an interview. What is this hot topic? Simple... orbs. A majority of the GroveZine readers just recoiled in horror - but please stay with me, though. Why discuss such a controversial subject? Well, I think that it's causing a lot of distraction in the world of paranormal interest and investigation. I was at a conference recently when a speaker said something like, "Okay, everyone who realizes that all orbs are just dust or moisture in the air, raise your hand. Come on, now, no one really believes that they're ghosts, right?" People started lifting their hands and looking around, and it seemed like one would have to be an idiot to disagree. I even found myself with my hand up, even though my mind was going, "Wait - it's a much more complex issue than that! What are you doing, you big dummy?!?" After finding myself going along with the crowd that day, I felt bad enough that I though I'd say a few words about orbs in the GroveZine. It's an extremely polarizing topic, and is becoming more so. That said, the simple fact of the matter is, a lot of the time, orbs in photos are nothing more than dust particles or moisture that reflects the flash. To see this, simply go out into the rain and take a flash photo with your digital camera - orbs will be everywhere. Same thing if you go into a hay barn and take a flash picture. Clearly, microscopic particles in the air can cause orbs. This, unfortunately, is where many paranormal investigators stop. With that fact, they draw a line in the sand and give that explanation for every orb captured on film. I'm here to say, though, that is throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Mysterious orbs of light have been reported through recorded history, with names such as will-o'-the-wisp, spirit lights, or even fairies. I once watched an amazing video of a white ball of light circling the fuselage of a plane in flight, but while I can't vouch for the authenticity of that one, I can for this next example. A film crew was at The Grove taping a show, and one cameraman shooting video got all excited on what his camera had captured - it was a white ball of light darting in and out among those of us in the kitchen. I watched it on his display just moments after it happened, and I have no explanation for it. On a personal note, I've been walking down the side gallery of the house when a white light flew past me down beside my feet. One of my best friends was working his cattle at dusk one evening, when he said a white ball of light streaked across the pasture just above his head. You see, absolutes bother me. Anytime a person says, "All (fill in the phenomenon) are simply (fill in the explanation)," I have to be apprehensive. There are no absolutes in the world, and all orbs aren't just reflections. Many are... but those that aren't can be extremely interesting. I hate that the paranormal enthusiasts are so polarized on this issue, though. To quote Rodney King, "Why can't we all just get along?"

But back to The Grove. As I mentioned, we've been in a cycle of renovation for several months, and it's been greatly disrupting our lives. In fact, we moved our bed into the game room (or Blue Room) for about a week. Those of you who've been reading the GroveZine for a long time may remember that this is the place where the Lady in White walks through. Although she's occasionally seen in the daytime, when we first bought the house and slept in that room we'd hear footsteps crossing the room in the wee hours most nights. Well, when we recently moved back in, Tami began waking up every night/morning about 4 AM - some repetitive noise brought her out of her sleep. Being used to nocturnal footsteps in the house, it wasn't as big a thing, and they'd passed through by the time she was conscious... but that happened every single night. It's kind of interesting to know that the Lady in White is still keeping her schedule.

Finally, I have to say that I'm fascinated and intrigued by the amount of shadow activity in The Grove the past few months. If you read back through the GroveZine archives, the "shadow people" phenomenon has been a regular occurrence here, but since I've been researching it, things seem to have escalated. It could very well be that I'm just more in tune to it, after going through hundreds of differ net cases, or perhaps since I'm studying it, more things of that nature are making themselves known. It's gone from shadow figures, to small shadows darting about. The one thing that I can say is that with many reports of this nature there are feelings of fear, dread, or evil, but I've never picked up on anything like that. As far as I can tell, it's just another aspect of life at The Grove.

Since I haven't talked to you since the start of the new year, let me take a moment to say that I sincerely hope that you find 2010 to be happy, healthy, and prosperous. May you be richly blessed in all of your endeavors. That said, thanks for reading the GroveZine, and I'll talk to you next month!

You know that I usually write non-fiction about history and the supernatural, but on a few rare occasions I like to dabble in fiction. I recently contributed to a new anthology of vampire fiction, which I've enjoyed being a part of. The book has some outstanding stories in it. To find out more, just Click this Link.

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.

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