The Apple Festival, Hendersonville, NC

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My daughter and her new beau Zach (a really sweet 22 year old guy who is showing NO red flags so far) told me they were going to the annual Apple Festival in downtown Hendersonville, North Carolina, which is only a few exits south of me on I-26.   They asked me if I wanted to come.  I had some chores to do, but I said I’d join them later on.

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Henderson County is one of the biggest apple producers in the country, and the Apple Festival is basically a big street fair where the apple growers come to sell their harvests of apples.  Just about every variety of apple is available, sold out of makeshift stands.  There are also food stands, arts and crafts, a few rides, and a concert in which local musicians perform that’s held at night (I didn’t stay for that). It’s pure Americana.

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Downtown Hendersonville has a lot of cute mom and pop stores and small art galleries, and on every corner are bears — not real bears, but full size bear sculptures painted in creative ways, most with landscapes or other decorations painted on them.

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The last time I’ve been to the Apple Festival was in 1995, when my kids were just toddlers.  For many years, it was eclipsed by Bele Chere, a huge street fair which was held every summer in downtown Asheville from 1979 to 2014.  Now the Apple Festival is THE street fair in this region.

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We had a lot of fun.  I didn’t have a lot of money to spend (most of it being spent in Florida last week), but we walked around and looked at the local arts and crafts, and I stopped for an apple slushie and all three of us shared a funnel cake (which was so filling it turned out to be my dinner).  You can’t go to a fair and not have funnel cake!  And of course, I bought a bag of apples to take home.

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“How to Be a Gentleman” and “How to Be a Young Lady” — mandatory reading for Millennials?

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I don’t like to drive after dark because I have such terrible night vision, so I left just before sunset, while the kids decided to stay longer and then go out to a movie.  On the way home, I saw the most incredible sunset (which rivaled any I saw over the Gulf of Mexico last week), unobscured by trees or mountains.  I grabbed my camera and took a picture of it while driving back home on I-26 (I DO NOT recommend doing this!)

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Thanksgiving 2015 (with pictures!)

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Mr. Biggles and his Thanksgiving greeting.

I look back on last Thanksgiving and realize now how weird and sad it was. My daughter was in jail for 30 days for DUI (she has improved IMMENSELY since that experience)–I don’t recommend jail time for anyone, but it actually was a wake up call for her and she’s been making lots of positive changes this year. Now she’s engaged to a great guy, has a house, and is working full time and looking into going to college (finally!), possibly working with troubled kids or in the substance abuse field.

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I made myself sick eating these while making them. 😛

Last Thanksgiving was very strange. I had dinner with her then-boyfriend, a charmer named Paul who seemed too good to be true (and was!) He was financially stable, seemingly successful, very polite and seemed to really love my daughter, but he was actually a sociopath who in short order showed his true, evil colors, but I won’t repeat that story again (I already wrote about him early this year). My daughter, who was in jail last Thanksgiving, couldn’t join us and so it was a lonely Thanksgiving dinner with just me, Paul and my roommate Stacey who tagged along because she had nowhere else to go. The food was excellent (Paul is a very good cook and of course he was love bombing us and trying to brainwash us all with how perfect he was before the demon inside him began to come out and wreak havoc on our lives).  He had us all fooled, but that story (which I’ve told already) doesn’t belong in this post.

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Dexter all ready for the holidays in his “Ho Ho Ho” collar.

This Thanksgiving was much better–much more of a normal-family Thanksgiving.   The food was great (I brought 2 pies–which no one ate–and deviled eggs I had made this morning. While I was making them, I probably ate about 8, and the only downside to my Thanksgiving was I spent most of the time at my daughter and her fiance Ryan’s house in the bathroom, LOL! So I wasn’t very hungry, although I did pick at the delicious turkey and stuffing my ex had made.

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It’s starting to look a lot like Christmas!

Speaking of my ex, he was there, mostly staying in the kitchen cooking and washing dishes (he was probably trying to avoid me, LOL). We actually got along very well and he was on his best behavior. We even had a pleasant conversation with each other. I’m still very low contact with him (and intend to remain so) but today there was no antagonism, fighting, or drama of any kind. He even showed concern over how sick I was feeling (probably fake, but was still nice).

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I just thought this looked pretty.

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Dinner is served!

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Enjoying the food.

My daughter’s best friend was there (they seem more like sisters than friends and they look alike too) with her 1 1/2 year old son Weston. Also there was the friend’s sister and her 6 year old son Clayton. My daughter is great with the kids, especially Weston (who she babysits a lot for); I definitely think she’ll make a good mom someday.

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Ryan teasing Weston with his “glowstick” gloves.

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Soon to be newlyweds.

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Weston again.

When I arrived my daughter and her friend were putting up the Christmas decoration, my ex had started a fire, and they finally have some furniture in their lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath house, so it looks like home now.

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They look so much in love.

After we ate (no one actually sat down to eat, as most of us just nibbled from the plates laid out on every flat surface), we went out in the backyard because it was pretty warm (60’s) and took more pictures. When it stared to get dark, I headed back to my house because I have trouble seeing on the road after dark.

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Weston and Clayton.

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Are you listening to me???

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Going for a ride!

Random thoughts on family.
I was also thinking about how my immediate family is splintered into at least 4 or 5 discrete groups located in various parts of the country. There’s my enclave of our splintered family (me, my daughter and her husband-to-be here in North Carolina, and all our pets); then there’s my son in Florida with his “adopted” family of close friends and his partner’s immediate family who almost think of him as a second son, and their 2 dogs; then there’s my 80-something mother and her extended family in the upper-middle class Chicago suburbs; and finally my aging father and his caretaker-wife in Texas, who in recent years have been celebrating the holidays by themselves or sometimes with their neighbors (since he hasn’t been well and Parkinson’s has compromised his ability to walk or speak normally).

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My son (the family empath) has this dream of organizing a huge family reunion one day when he can afford it; of anyone in the family, it means the most to him to bring everyone together at some point. He’s even made friends with distant cousins, second cousins, and other relatives I’ve never even met through Facebook and other social media and is closer to all of them than either me or his sister is, because he has reached out to them and we have not.  I think that’s beautiful but I don’t know if the family reunion idea will ever work. There’s just too much baggage, drama, and too many of us not speaking to other family members. It sucks and is very sad but that’s how it is. I think it’s commendable though that he’s the only one who actually cares about wanting to heal this family and bring us ALL together, even if his ideas are too idealistic and unrealistic and unlikely to come to fruition (half of our relatives probably wouldn’t attend anyway).

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Resting after stuffing ourselves. That’s my ex back there in the kitchen.  

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Yours truly.

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I’m not sure what she was doing here but I don’t appear to like it! 😀

I feel very thankful our little corner of the family appears to be finally healing, and for once we enjoyed a holiday with NO drama, NO stress (other than my poor stomach), good food, fun, and lots of hugs and love to go around. And I’m thankful my ex opted to stay out of the way in the kitchen most of the time. :mrgreen: