www.thegrove-jefferson.com                                August 2017                                 ISSN 1558-3252

"It occurred to me that if I were a ghost, this ambiance was what I'd miss most: the ordinary, day-to-day bustle of the living. Ghosts long, I'm sure, for the stupidest, most unremarkable things." - Banana Yoshimoto

     Hello all - first let me say that our hearts and prayers go out to everyone who was affected by hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Both were terrible storms, and we had dear friends and family in each of them which had us greatly concerned. During both storms we were following them every step and lifting up prayers for safety. I have been so proud of our Jefferson community - there have been food drives, diaper & dogfood drives, and even the school collected pens/pencils/paper to send down to a school district that they adopted. It was inspiring to see everyone come together to help our neighbors to the south.
     Ironically, with all the devastation happening in our country, at The Grove, the end of August brought the blooming of the first Spider Lily. These flowers are the last thing to bloom in the garden before winter, so I guess it's a sign that cold weather is coming our way, and hopefully everything is going to cruise along at a normal pace.

     Unfortunately, the GroveZine will be no more after this issue. Yep, this is the very last one, and I feel terrible about that, but its run is coming to a close... that is, if Planet X slams into the Earth on Saturday, September 23, as some people are predicting. Apparently this has been foretold in the Book of Revelation with a celestial sign to verify this. The earthquakes and hurricanes are reportedly harbingers of the upcoming doom as well. And of course, according to the conspiracy theorists, the government has known about Planet X (a.k.a. "Nibiru") but has kept it from the general public so as not to cause a panic. Therefore, the GroveZine will cease with this issue when Planet X slams into the Earth on Saturday. You can read all about it by following this link, or simply Googling "planet X."
     Ummm... I should probably mention that in the extremely unlikely event that the Earth somehow survives beyond Saturday the 23rd and Planet X somehow does not slam into us, the Grovezine will assume its normal schedule next month. Just sayin'.

Okay, okay, maybe I was having a little fun with yet another doomsday prophesy. After all, back on the Mayan Calendar doomsday date back in 2012, we actually threw an "end of the world" party at The Grove. But since we're all probably going to be around after this weekend, let's get on with some GroveZine!

     The big news in Jefferson is that there is a new public restroom across from the courthouse downtown. Of course, Jefferson is a small town, and in any small town, big news is surrounded by a lot of discussion, speculation, and curiosity. The discussion about the new bathroom is that this little fellow that you see in the photo cost a quarter of a million dollars not including the land - just for the building! I haven't been inside yet, but I'm hoping that it has solid gold toilet seats; jewel-encrusted bidets that would befit a palace; and floors, ceiling, and walls made out of polished Italian Carrara Marble... but somehow I doubt it. Anyway, enjoy the new quarter-million-dollar digs next time you're in town.

     I'm proud to announce the "Jefferson Recycling Center"! Although my wife and I are East Texas kids, we lived in the Dallas area for about 20 years. One of the things that I enjoyed was the recycling program that the city where we lived had. When we came back home to the Pineywoods and bought The Grove, it was disappointing that we didn't have recycling. You see, Jefferson doesn't have municipal trash service, so therefore, no recycling. You have to arrange for your own trash pick-up service. The county has a recycling station at the dump, but it's an hour's round-trip from The Grove, and is so far into the backwoods that on the one occasion I went, I think that I actually saw bigfoot on the way back. Some people save their recyclables and take them to some nearby town, but you end up stockpiling your trash as well as hauling it... which goes against the idea of hiring a trash service.
     A few years ago I noticed this little lady who walked around town every day, heat or freezing weather, rain or shine, snow, sleet or hail, pulling a little hand-cart. She'd go to every public trash can in town looking for aluminum cans, and pick them up along the road as she went along. I finally asked a friend about her, and he said that she didn't have a job or a prospect of one, and sold the cans to an aluminum recycling place to make ends meet. A light went off in my head - I could save our aluminum and take them to her house. We'd get to do at least some form of recycling, she'd get a little extra money to get by, and it would be a win/win. I started saving our cans and taking them to her house whenever I'd get a sack full. I then noticed that when I was riding around on my golf cart I'd see cans that people had tossed in the street, so I got one of those grabber/reacher things that you see advertised on TV and put it in the cart. Nowadays as I ride around, when I see a can I grab it and put it in the back. Not only is the can recycled, but the little lady gets a few extra cents, and the streets of Jefferson are a little cleaner. Every couple of weeks I'll take a sack of cans to her, and when my wife asks me where I'm going I just say, "The Jefferson Recycling Center!" While it's only aluminum, I feel good about getting to recycle again, and also helping out this little lady who could apparently use it... and cleaning up Jefferson in the process.

     Fall is almost upon us, and that means it's time for the History, Haunts & Legends Conference again on November , the weekend after Halloween. Jodi Breckenridge, the event organizer, always does a great job for the attendees. I've seen the slate of speakers for the event, and it promises to be one heck of an interesting day. And don't forget, that evening there will be guided paranormal investigations at several locations around town. It's going to be an enjoyable weekend, so Google "history, haunts and legends" to get more information!

Last month we delved into some first-hand ghost stories from the General Store, which I truly enjoyed, but this month we're back to The Grove - with some stories that I don't have an explanation for. That's the way a lot of the supernatural encounters are - we experience them, but don't fully understand them. Still, they defy any logical explanation, which is what I have for you this month.

     This is odd, and while I'd like to come up with any number of ways to explain it away, I simply can't. I was at home in the den of The Grove early one evening, with my computer on, doing a little work. My wife wasn't home yet, and the dogs were asleep in their bean bags on the floor. I'd already put the lock on the front gate, and everything was quiet - a perfect time to catch up on emails and such. Suddenly, there were three loud thumps on the east side of the house near where I was sitting. I thought, "Why is someone beating on the house?" and it was so unusual that I jumped up, dashed through the game room and dining room, and out the front door - that only took a matter of seconds. On the front porch I stepped over and looked down the east side of the house, but there was no one there. After checking to make sure that the front gate was locked, I made a quick walk around the property, and no one was on it but me. On the east side I stopped to investigate whether someone could have thrown things against the house, but there was nothing there. There also aren't any tree limbs scraping the house that could make a noise, and so I went back in, mystified. There's just no question that I heard three loud, distinct, rhythmic thumps on the side of the house near where I was sitting, but I still have no explanation for them. It hasn't happened before or since, and so I'm just writing it off to one of those strange experiences at The Grove.
     Having said that, though, I'm always the curious sort and so I did a quick search to see whether anyone else had experienced this. Sure enough, I found a discussion board where almost four hundred people had commented on such a thing. If you'd like to read some of their explanations, including "Death Knocks," just click on this link to Paranormal Q&A.

     This next story is one from my wife, and I certainly don't mean to be indelicate... but it involves our bathroom. She had walked into the bedroom to get something, glanced over into the bathroom, and then came back into the den. When she saw me sitting there she stopped, glanced back over her shoulder, and turned back and said, "How did you..."
     I could see that she was puzzled, so I said, "What's wrong... what are you talking about? How did I what?"
     She stood there a moment, looking back again, and said, "You were just in the bathroom. I saw you." I assured her that I hadn't left my chair for half an hour or more, so I couldn't have been in the bathroom. She walked back into the bedroom, and then returned.
     Again, folks, please forgive me because I really don't want to be indelicate, but when I asked her what was going on she said, "When I went into the bedroom I glanced over and saw someone standing in the bathroom. I assumed that you had gone in there and were standing at the toilet doing your business, but when I walked back here, well, there you are!"
     The simple fact of the matter is that I had not been in the bathroom, but as she walked by a man had been standing there that she assumed was me. When she went back to look, the bathroom was empty, and of course no one else was in the house. I laughed about it later, and asked her if she'd heard the toilet flush; you see, water bills in Jefferson are expensive because the city has a $25 surcharge before a single drop goes through the line, so I never questioned why our bill was so high. But could some ghostly figure be taking a ghostly pee in our toilet, and then flushing it? I may have to pay closer attention to our bathroom... we can't afford to be supporting the bathroom habits of our supernatural visitors!

     And finally, I have a story that warms my heart. You see, I tell people that my life will be measured in basset hounds; I've been fortunate to have a number of wonderful, loving bassets over the course of the years. Today we have Delaney, Deveraux and Bella. Deveraux is actually a Bagel - half Basset, half Beagle, but the other two are classic basset hounds. Since we have a fence around The Grove, we're able to let them out several times a day to run around the yard and get some exercise. A couple of weeks ago I let them out just before bedtime, and as always, they came to the back door to come in one at a time. Delaney was first, followed in a few minutes by Deveraux, but Bella wasn't showing up. I finally went out into the yard to make sure that she was okay, and I saw her walking across the yard in the light of the streetlight that is in our garden... and she was being followed by another basset. My first thought was that one of the other two had come back outside, so I stepped up onto the back porch to see if I'd left the door open, which I hadn't. I opened it and saw Delaney and Deveraux standing inside, and my next thought was, "There's another dog in the yard!" I called to my wife; we both grabbed flashlights, and covered the entire half-acre in just a few minutes... there was nothing - dog or otherwise - in the yard.
     I thought about it as we went back inside, and couldn't help but wonder... was that possibly one of our other bassets, come back for a visit or a quick walk through the garden with Bella? My Cherokee ancestors on that branch of my family certainly believed in animal spirits, so who am I to say that they are wrong? In retrospect, I wish that I'd run across the yard to Bella and her friend, to see if was Fred, Murphy, Samantha or Lilly walking with her. That would have been so incredibly special. I can close my eyes and still see the two dogs from that night, silhouetted in the darkness by the light behind them, and it makes me smile.

     All right, that's it for the August GroveZine! These were some fun ghost stories that I was looking forward to sharing - I actually love it when weird little things happen at The Grove that I can't explain. Sure, it's interesting to see the Lady in White occasionally walk through the house, or the Garden Guy taking his stroll, but we've been experiencing those for fifteen years now. The three thumps on the house? Well, that actually intrigues me quite a bit. Anyway, have a great September, and I'll talk to you down the road...

Here's what's coming up around Jefferson...

10/6 - 10/8/2017 - The Original Texas Bigfoot Conference
10/14/2017 - Grillin' on the Bayou, Jefferson Eggfest
10/13-10/15/2017 - Burn Run Benefit Motorcycle Rally
11/4/2017 - Fall History, Haunts & Legends Conference
11/25/2017 - Jefferson Christmas Parade
12/7-12/9/2017 - Candlelight Tour of Homes
...and much more throughout the coming year!

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