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Welcome to the March GroveZine! As always, I sincerely appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to read it, and I hope that you'll find it interesting. Wow, March has been a crazy month - Mardi Gras came and went, St. Patrick's day rushed by, and now all of a sudden everyone's scrambling to get ready for the tax deadline next month, the gardens of The Grove are starting to come to life, summer's just a couple of months away, and suddenly the first quarter of 2011 has zipped by! Time is passing so fast...
Actually, a friend of mine told me his theory on time. I have shared this in the GroveZine before, but it's so interesting to me that it bears repeating. He says that when you are a kid, summers seemed to last forever. Of course, when you are six years old, the three months of summer represented a large part of your life to that point. When you reach the age of thirty, forty or fifty, three months is nothing in the grand scheme of your life, so it seems like such a smaller slice of life. Is that why 2011 is flying by? I have no idea... I just know that it seems to be.
After nine years of owning The Grove, one thing that has become obvious is that there will always be something else to do. Case in point - for the last month or so, the outside wall in the den has been pulling away from the interior walls. When our contractor (although that's not a good word - he's really an artisan with these old homes who does the majority of the work himself) looked at it, he discovered that the seal of the house - the huge beam around the edge of the house that provides the basis for the foundation - was deteriorating. He and his crew basically took that side of the house off, and found out that even though the beams in the foundation of the house are cypress, which is impervious to rot and insects, for some reason someone had used a much softer wood in that one section and it had to be replaced. They jacked up that side of the house and put in treated lumber that will last long past when Tami and I are gone. I'm just happy that we discovered it before the east side of the house snapped off! This photo doesn't do the crack that showed up between the outside and interior wall justice - it was about an inch wide!
The big event in Jefferson in March, of course, was Mardi Gras! It starts out with the Doo-Dah parade on Friday night, and then turns into a weekend-long event with band playing on the main stage and festivities abounding all through town. I think that my favorite thing is to hit the junk-food vendors in the parking lot behind the court house, where you can buy anything on a stick: a corndog, chicken, shrimp, gator, steak, etc. If you can name it, you can find it being served on a stick. Personally, I went old-school and started the weekend out with a jumbo corn dog.
Mardi Gras is a huge event here in Jefferson, and it was first brought to town from the people who traveled here from New Orleans up the Mississippi river, then up the Red River, and finally up the Big Cypress Bayou. This is why Jefferson's celebration is called "Mardi Gras Upriver." It's a giant party - albeit a safe, controlled one - here in town. We really enjoyed it - the floats in the parade were outstanding, and we had a great time enjoying all the festivities, from listening to the music to snacking on the junk food throughout the weekend. If you've never been, you just HAVE to come to Mardi Gras in Jefferson... but make your reservations early, because the rooms in town are reserved months in advance. This photo shows one of the floats in the Grand Parade, where this year's theme was "History on Parade."
Looking to the future, I'm really excited, because it's almost time for the Spring 2011 "History, Haunts and Legends Conference" here in Jefferson, which is a true celebration of the paranormal. In the past, there have been speakers on all sorts of interesting things such as ghosts, cryptozoology, ghosts, time travel, ghosts, UFOs, ghosts, psychic ability, ghosts, and well, more ghosts! I look forward to it, because the all-day event is full of incredible information. The day concludes with an investigation of places where supernatural activity has been reported, so it's a full experience for the weekend. If you have an interest in the supernatural and there's any way that you can attend, you just have to drive over for it! I talked to Jodi (the conference coordinator) the other day, and there were still a few seats available - while you can buy them at the door, there is a price break for advance ticket sales, and you can get all of that info by visiting the conference website, www.jeffersonghostwalk.com, and clicking on the conference link.
I had a great suggestion on the tour the other day for an item to put in the time capsule, and just had to share it. When I was explaining how much I love to sit out in the rocker on the front porch with a beverage in hand (coffee in the morning, wine in the evening), and commenting that whoever owned the house after I'm gone would find my spirit still there, a lady suggested putting a photo of me in the chair in the time capsule, just so the people who owned The Grove at that time would know who their "rocking chair ghost" really was. Sounds like a great idea to me, and I plan on doing that.
So what else is going into the time capsule? Well, I found a magazine of hairstyles for 2011 (it was something like ten bucks - geez!), a magazine about the royal wedding coming up, a Sports Illustrated Superbowl magazine, a Sports Illustrated Daytona 500 magazine, Mardi Gras beads from this year, posters from all of the different events in Jefferson so far, a 2011 coin proof set, stamps that have been issued by the post office this year, a TV Guide with the Spring lineup, and lots of issues of "The Jimplecute," our local newspaper. I need more suggestions, though - what else should I put in? Help me with your ideas!
There are a lot of strange little things that you get used to living at The Grove. With our stories of some of the more interesting things that we've experienced, such as the Lady in White walking through the Game Room, or the Garden Guy strolling among the lillies, the common things are much more subtle. For example, electronic anomalies are common, but mostly for visitors to the house. We've had everyone from seasoned, professional film crews, to regular tourists to town who've had equipment fail or misbehave here. For us, the television always works, the blowdriers function properly, and we simply don't experience the electrical problems that others who come here do. That's not to say that it never happens, though. We came home after visiting my mother one day and the CD player in hall was blaring. We put this in during the Candlelight Tour last December to play Christmas music in the hallway, and liked it so much that we left it there. The player has never started up on its own before or since, and there weren't any electrical outages that might account for a reprogramming of it - at some point in the late afternoon the thing just started playing on its own. It never happened again, but it could have been some electrical short inside its innards, but still, after that one time, there's been no problem with it. Perhaps the house just wanted a little music!
I think that the theme of this GroveZine could be the "little" things that happen at The Grove - things that are unexplainable, but certainly aren't in the same category as seeing the Lady in White walking across the Game Room. So while I can almost - and I do stress ALMOST - write off the fact that the CD player blaring when we got home that day was some kind of electrical anomaly (although it's never happened before or since), there are other things that defy explanation. For example, I was at my desk working one evening, when I heard the distinct sound of glasses clinking together. It was so loud that I assumed Tami had broken something in the kitchen. A little later I got up to stretch my legs and get a bottle of water out of the 'fridge, and Tami asked me, "What in the world were you doing in there a few minutes ago?" I told her that I had just walked into the kitchen, and had been at my desk until then. She then described hearing the same sound that I'd heard - as if two wine glasses came together in a rather aggressive toast. It wasn't on the television program, which I couldn't even hear at my desk, and there were no other sources of sound in the house - we even scoured the kitchen to see if a glass could have fallen and broken, but everything was in order. While I have no idea what the noise was about, strange things like that happen at The Grove all the time. I kind of like the idea that a couple of spirits might be clinking their glasses in a toast at a party from some bygone day - I'd certainly love to be doing that once I'm gone!
Keeping with the theme of strange things, there is a new, repeating phenomenon in our kitchen. We changed all of the curtains not long ago, and since we've done that, they seem to be unhooking themselves from the pullbacks - often enough that we soon began to notice it. The first few times that I saw it I was doing the tour of The Grove - we'd get back to the kitchen, and I'd see that one of the curtains was down. I assumed that Tami had them drawn and just didn't get one pulled back. I'd fix it after the tour, only to see it down again after a day or so. When Tami finally asked me what I was doing with the curtain, I said, "I thought that it was YOU!" and then began to discover that it wasn't either of us - as the ghost books might say, "some unseen hand" was draping down one side of the curtain in the kitchen. Why? No clue... How often? There's no pattern... All we can say is that it's been happening from the time that we put up the new curtains, and everything else is a mystery.
Okay, I'll close with something else that's a minor event, but a decade ago would have sent me screaming, running into the night. When it happened a few days ago, though, it just made me shrug my shoulders. You may remember from the last ezine how I woke up one night, felt a strong presence in our bedroom, and then the bathroom door slammed shut. It was a little different this time - I was asleep, but got woken up by a metallic creaking. I sat up, put my hand over to make sure that Tami was next to me, and then spotted both basset hounds. Everyone but me was fast asleep. While I was looking around in the dark room, letting my eyes get adjusted, I heard it again - and then I noticed that the door to the bedroom was slowly swinging open. Much like I said with the story about the CD player, this just doesn't happen. In fact, my first thought was "Why was the door closed in the first place - it was open when I came to bed!" and then the second was "Who - or what - is opening it?" It had been opened in short order, and I heard it come to rest against the bedroom dresser. Everything was quiet once again, with me lying there in bed, wondering what was happening. I did something that I thought would be a wonderful gesture. Still sitting up in bed, I said, "Okay, you have my attention; now close the door." Nothing else happened, and I finally drifted off to sleep. The Grove is a wonderful - and incredibly interesting - place to live.
Ah, March is over, and we're starting into the second quarter of the year. It's weird - there are earthquake disasters happening all along the Pacific Rim, talk of radiation flooding across Japan, but with all that bad news, things seem to be peaceful in Jefferson. Although there is a spirit that doesn't like our curtains drawn back, and if it continues we may have to speak to the house about that. Meanwhile, our wish and hope is that you have a wonderful, healthy, prosperous April, and we'll talk again at the end of the month.
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 to order a signed copy of anything.
If you missed any issues of the GroveZine, you can find them at the GroveZine Archives.
04/9/2011 Spring "History, Haunts & Legends" Conference
05/6-7/2011 Battle of Port Jefferson" Civil War Re-enactment
05/6-8/2011 64th Annual Pilgrimage Tour of Homes & Spring Festival
05/5-8/2011 Diamond Bessie Murder Trial Play
05/28/2011 Cypress River Airport Fly-in
07/04/2011 "Jefferson Salutes America" 4th of July Celebration
10/7-9/2011 13th Annual Boo Run Benefit
10/16/2011 Annual Taste of Jefferson
11/25/2011 Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony at Lions Park & Merchant's Open House
12/1-3/2011 29th Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
12/8-10/2011 29th Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes
I'll leave you with a photo of my favorite Mardi Gras food this year - chili/cheese fries. Yes, I understand that they are probably a heart attack on a plate, and if my doctor is reading this he's going into convulsions because I ate this for breakfast one morning during the festival, but what can I say? Mardi Gras comes but once a year. Meanwhile, I learned a very important lesson with these chili/cheese fries: don't throw away the plastic fork that they give you with the order... once you get past the top layer, you're really, really going to need it. Okay, time to close the GroveZine and wander off for a good night's sleep, dreaming of chili/cheese fries, which I won't get to enjoy for another full year - which is probably a good thing.
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