Peevish Pen

Ruminations on reading, writing, rural living, retirement, aging—and sometimes cats. And maybe a border collie or other critters.

© 2006-2018 All rights reserved

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Location: Rural Virginia, United States

I'm an elderly retired teacher who writes. Among my books are Ferradiddledumday (Appalachian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story), Stuck (middle grade paranormal novel), Patches on the Same Quilt (novel set in Franklin County, VA), Them That Go (an Appalachian novel), Miracle of the Concrete Jesus & Other Stories, and several Kindle ebooks.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Reading at Avenel

Last Thursday, some of us Lake Writers did a reading for one of “Miss Lettie’s Luncheons” at historic Avenel in downtown Bedford. Avenel, built in 1838 by Wm. Burwell, is known not only for its history (Hunter’s Raid spared it; Robert E. Lee visited there) but also for its ghosts. For years, albeit not recently, a mysterious lady in white (Lettie Burwell, perhaps?) was sometimes seen. Naturally, I’d wanted to visit Avenel for some time. Thursday was my chance—and I had a wonderful time. I’d wanted to see inside Avenel since I read June Goode’s book, Our War, an annotated diary of Lettie Burwell.

Jean, a Lake Writer and a Bedford poet, arranged the reading and opened the readings with a few poems from her chapbook, Musings. Marion (When Men Move to the Basement: a collection of humorous essays), Jim (Bedford Goes to War), Sally (Secrets at Spawning Run), and I were the other readers. Because the Bedford Library—located one block from Avenel—was hosting its annual quilt show. I’d planned to read part of the quilt-maker’s chapter from my novel, Patches on the Same Quilt, but Jean convinced me to read from Peevish Advice. I’m glad she did. The women in the audience—including several members of the Red Hat Society—appreciated the humor, so I sold and signed several copies of Peevish Advice afterward.

The best thing about a reading is that it isn’t planned in detail, and readers can modify their selections at the last minute. Jean, for example, usually “reads” her audience before she decides what poem she’ll read. Consequently, her choices are always appropriate.

After the reading, Sally and I roamed around the upstairs rooms. Places in some rooms were cooler than others. In some locations we got goosebumps. We were told that some ghost investigators from Ghostec had recently visited Avenel for the second time, and that the Lynchburg News-Advance would have a story in Sunday’s paper. A few folks shared their ghostly encounters—one lady’s ancestor had boarded there and woke up one night to see a male ghost in his room. One of the volunteer guides told us that lights would come back on after being turned off.

I really wanted to see a ghost, but none appeared. I’ve never actually seen a ghost, but a few years ago, I did smell the perfume of one who haunts The Grove in Rocky Mount. But that’s another story.

At Avenel, my ego and my appetite were both well-fed, but my curiosity remains unsatisfied.


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