Bruce & Betsy Blais
Richardson, Texas USA

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Here is a snapshot of the things going on around Bruce and Betsy's place in 2015. These included holidays, birthday parties and other fun events.

Faces of Impressionism at the Kimbell

On January 17, Bruce and Betsy went to the Kimbell Art Museum to see the Faces of Impressionism on loan from the Musée d’Orsay. It included works from the late 1850s until the first years of the twentieth century. It included works by Caillebotte, Cézanne, Degas, Monet, and Renoir. It also included works by Mallarmé, Manet, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Seurat, Signac, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Denis. These are the kind of things they studied in college, and it was great to see these works in person.

Photography is not permitted at most expositions of fine art, so Bruce and Betsy had one made by the museum staff at the entrance to the gallery.

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Zach's Birthday

Another year and another birthday for Tim's friend Zach. Below is s photo of Zach blowing out the candles on his cake.

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Cancer Free Dinner

In October of 2014, Betsy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. She went through six sessions of chemotherapy and completed the last session on February 27th. To celebrate, Bruce and Betsy went out for a five-star meal at Arthur's Restaurant in Addison. Below is the happy couple about to dig into a couple of soufflés for desert.


Arthur's is a very nice continental restaurant with chandeliers and all the trappings you would expect, including a bunch of large aquariums. Below is Betsy making some new friends.

It was a great dinner, made especially meaningful by the successful end of chemo. About a week later she had a PET scan and it showed her cancer free.

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Tim's Birthday

Tim's birthday celebration began with a family dinner.

The party progressed on to the gift exchange. Below is time receiving a Rosemary herb plant from Betsy.

Finally, it was on to the cake and ice cream. Below is Tim blowing out the candles.

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Beachcombing at Padre Island

In January of 2015, Betsy did some redecorating in the family room. Her friend, Hazel, thought the end wall behind the television needed a "feature" and suggested something similar to a piece of driftwood Bruce brought back from the Bahamas. The stage was then set for a trip down to Padre Island in April to go beachcombing for driftwood.

Padre Island is a special place. It is said to be the longest undeveloped barrier island in the world, stretching 70 miles along the Texas Gulf Coast.

Below is a photo of Bruce at the entrance to the Padre Island National Seashore. The weekend they picked did not have the best weather, with overcast skies and intermittent rain. The temperatures were in the upper 70s, so while was damp, it was not uncomfortable.

Further down Park Road 22 the pavement ends, you come to the beach, and it's time to put the Suburban in four-wheel drive.

The first few miles of the beach is hard packed and easy to drive. There were campers and fishermen all down the beach.

Below is Betsy checking out one their first driftwood "finds", a piece Bruce dragged up from the water's edge. You can see a travel trailer in the distance some folks brought onto the beach.

Bruce and Betsy were checking out the piece of wood below when a Heron flew up, perched on it and called "dibs". They decided to let the Heron have it.

The beach had some Man-o-War jellyfish on it. These are one painful jellyfish if you come in contact with them as Bruce learned a long time ago in Florida. The locals say to watch for them in the "A" months, April and August.

About 5 miles "down island", you get the warnings about 4WD, smugglers, and illegal entry. The sand starts to get soft and deep in places, and smugglers use the beach for drug smuggling and illegal entry. The little yellow sign speaks to the smuggling.

The photo below shows some of the typical deep sand in places. This photo was made about 25 miles "down island". Some areas were much worse and they were using the front spoiler on the Suburban as a bulldozer blade. Bruce also had traction pads and a shovel just in case they were needed. The pads can be seen strapped to the roof rack.

After a day on the beach, it was off to Doc's for seafood. Doc's sits right on the Intracoastal Waterway and the lights in the distance are Corpus Christi across Laguna Madre. Betsy had Gulf shrimp and Bruce had blackened snapper.

The next morning it was back to Dallas with a load of driftwood. One of the advantages of the Suburban is that you carry stuff inside the vehicle. In this case, the driftwood gave the interior the aroma of "low tide". Below is a photo of their "haul" after it was unloaded and rinsed.

Below is the piece they selected to hang in the family room.

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Bluebonnet Festival, Ennis, Texas

On April 19, 2015, Bruce and Betsy visited Ennis for the annual Bluebonnet festival. They head down there every few years. This year they had a mission: find an nice painting or photograph for over the fireplace mantle as part of the family room redecorating project. While they didn't fine exactly what they wanted, they did get some good leads from some of the local photographers exhibiting at the festival. Below is Betsy and Bruce at the festival.

After checking out the artist's booths, they headed out on the back roads to see what was blooming. Below is Betsy at one of the early stops.

Betsy's friend, Hazel, was along for the trip and here she is in a "pin-up" shot.

Below is Bruce and Betsy at another stop.

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Dallas Arboretum

Sunday, May 3rd, was a beautiful day, so we decided to go to the Dallas Arboretum. It was sunny, not too warm, and not being a holiday, was not too crowded.

The first stop on entering was the Texas Star on the Paseo de Flores. Betsy is pictured below on a bench made with old steel farm equipment wheels.

Next, it was the "All America Selections Trial Garden."

Pictured below is Betsy at the snapdragons in the Trial Garden.

Further down the Paseo, there was a covered wagon drawn by a topiary team of horses sculpted with various mosses.

A short distance further down the Paseo there was a topiary long-horn sculpted with moss.

Next, they came to the Rose Mary Haggar rose garden behind the DeGolyer house which is now a restaurant.

The rose garden contains a wide variety of climbing roses, as well as shrub, hybrid tea and floribunda roses. There are several arches for the climbers.

Since it was late spring, the colors were fresh and vibrant. Below is Bruce at one of the many beds along the Paseo.

A recent addition to the Arboretum is the Rory Meyers Children's Adventure Garden. Below is Bruce walking underneath a glass-bottom river and waterfall. The light through the water gave the illusion that you were walking on water.

The Children's Adventure Garden has several levels. The hollow tree is a circular staircase leading to the middle level.

On the way out of the Children's Adventure Gardens, Bruce and Betsy stopped for refreshments by the Canopy Cafe at the Pecan Grove and another trial garden. Below is a photo of folks relaxing in the shade of a Pecan Tree.

From the Canopy Cafe, it was on to the water features below the Red Maple Rill.

The walk up from the Sunken Garden as spectacular. Below is Betsy posing for a spectacular photo.

From there, it was through the Woman's Garden and on to the Jonsson Color Garden. The lawns are surrounded by magnificent displays of color are always impressive. Below is Betsy on the west side of the garden.

The next photo is Betsy at the north-west corner of the Jonsson Color Garden after which it was a quick trip thought the gift shop and on home.

As usual, the Arboretum at spring time never fails to impress.

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Mother's Day

Mother's Day was on May 10 in 2015, and was celebrated at the Blais residence. Sometimes, one of the kids host the event. Below is a photo of daughter Holly and Betsy discussing some cosmetics.

Next, it was a gift of cash from Bruce. Betsy is an avid gardener and the money was intended to help her with flower purchases for her gardens

Being an avid movie fan, the gift of movie cards was appreciated.

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Richardson Wildflower Festival

It was a wet and violent spring in 2015. Fortunately, the timing of the storms was kind to the Festival. Bruce and Betsy took advantage of the break in the weather to do the Festival.

Below is a photo of Betsy at the Kids Korner.

 They walked the main promenade down to the fountains where the kids were having fun.

Since it was almost dinner time, the next order of business was to get some food. Below is Bruce at the Johnsonville Brats semi-trailer cooker. Bruce had a brat. Betsy went to the food court for a Corny Dog and Funnel Cake.

Below is one of the many of the food vendors in the Food Court. Betsy had a Corny Dog and they shared a funnel cake.

After dinner, it was over to the main stage to see the Joe Ely Band.

Next, it was Winona. The show was great.

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Alissa's Birthday

On May 25, 2015, the family celebrated granddaughter Alissa's 16th birthday. Below is Alissa at the start of the gift opening.

She got a cool set of shades.

Betsy mad a money tree with 16 one-dollar bills on it.

After opening gifts, it was time for cake and ice cream. Below is Alissa blowing out 16 candles.

At the end, Alissa had her photo made with her grandparents.

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Bruce's Birthday

Bruce's birthday is on June 25th. In 2015, that was on a week day, so Betsy took him out to dinner at Saltgrass Steakhouse the night before.

On June 27, 2015, it was time for the entire family to celebrate Bruce's birthday. The family traditionally celebrates birthdays on the closest weekend. Below is Jim, Brian and Zack warming up for the party.

After a little social time, there was sit-down meal.

After eating, there was the gift opening. Below is Bruce holding one of several "old man" cards he received.

Bruce was saving up for a hydraulic adjustable seat post for his mountain bike, so most of the gifts were cash or bike shop gift cards. He did need an new cordless drill, so he got one of those too.

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Betsy's Birthday

In 2015, Betsy's daughter Holly hosted her birthday party. Below is her son Tim, grandson Brett and daughter Chrissy relaxing before the festivities get underway.

In the dining area, Zack and daughter Holly are having a conversation.

Meanwhile, Brian and granddaughter Alissa are at the food.

Below is the birthday girl getting ready to open her cards and gifts.

Bruce got Betsy a tablet on behalf of the kids, so the kids chipped in with cards and cash to help pay for it. Bruce got her a painting from the Ginger Fox Gallery in Dallas, which is in the large box on her lap.

After the the gifts were opened, it was time to blow out the candles and serve up the cake and ice-cream.

Below is one final photo of the birthday girl enjoying her cake and ice-cream.

There was one more gift, but there was so much excitement, they didn't get a photo of it at the time it was opened. This was a painting of an Ewe in a flower garden. Below is a photo of Betsy and the painting once it was hung.

Here is a link to more about the original painting "Ewe Are What You Eat."

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Deck Gecko

The summer of 2015 brought a new friend to the deck, a green gecko. This one didn't do TV commercials, but would drink from the hose. He would hold his head up with his mouth open when Betsy would lightly shower her plants. They tried to get a photo of him doing this, but every time Bruce went to get the camera, he would stop.

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Pedernales Falls State Park Get-Away

The weekend of August 7-9, Bruce and Betsy decided to get away to the peace and tranquility of Pedernales Falls State Park near Johnson City, Texas. Pedernales is known for its peace, beauty and tranquility, and is a good place to unwind from the hectic pace of Dallas.

On arriving, they set up camp and then walked down to the Pedernales River. Below is a photo of Bruce taken looking up-stream from one of the access areas.

Below is a photo looking down-stream. The flow wasn't much given it was August and it hadn't rained in over a month.

The falls were further up-stream. The map below shows then entire park, and the small red arrow near the top shows the location of the sign and short walk to the overlooks and access trails for the falls.

The photo below is a panoramic of the falls taken from the southeastern overlook.

At the northern overlook, you can get a closer look at the falls as seen below. This is also the point where you can take the trail down to the falls and walk on the huge limestone slabs that make up the falls. If you look closely, you can see the people walking on the limestone. The photo below is of the northern or up-stream cataract.

The photo below shows the lower part of the falls looking down-stream.

There are numerous "swimming holes" along the river. The photo below shows one of many along the river. If you look closely, you can see people in the water.

The Hill Country of Central Texas is made up of limestone hills, the result of prehistoric reefs when the ocean once covered this part of Texas. Below is a photo of Betsy on the overlook near the park headquarters. From here you get a good view of the hills.

Next, it was on to Trammel Crossing. This is manmade shallow water crossing allowing access to the Trammel Crossing Trail and the east side of the river. Bruce had his mountain bike and rode a good part of the trail. He did not ride all of it because it was fairly hot and he didn't want to risk heat stroke.

Just down-stream of the crossing, was a nice cove with a sandy beach. Below is a photo looking up-stream. The Trammel Crossing Trail is just beyond the cypress trees on the right.

The photo below shows the view looking down river from the cover.

Below is a photo of Betsy at the beach in the shade of cypress trees with her feet in the water.

Another attraction at the park is Twin Falls. This is a spring-fed set of falls in a beautiful grotto back up one of the ravines in the park.

Below is a photo of their campsite. Bruce has a large 10' x 16' awning covering the congregating and cooking area. The edges are 7' high so they are easy to walk under and provide good ventilation. The green indoor-outdoor carpet is their artificial lawn under the awning.

The only hiccups for this trip were that Bruce forgot the rake, so the area under the tent and artificial lawn had to be cleared by hand. He also forgot to pack cooking oil, so the eggs and home fries had to be cooked in bacon grease. They were very tasty, but not so healthy.

This was a really great trip even though it was in August. Betsy had broken her foot a few weeks before and was not able to walk along the river to go fishing, so they are planning another trip down to Pedernales in the fall.

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Kimbell Art Museum - Botticelli to Braque

On August 15th, Betsy, Bruce and friends visited the Botticelli to Braque exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth. This is a group of 55 paintings spanning the period 1,490 through 1,932, and include some of the greatest holdings of the Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Portrait Gallery and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. These are the three institutions that comprise the National Galleries of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Below is a photo of Betsy and Bruce at the entrance to the gallery.

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Twins Birthday

On August 22nd, we celebrated Holly and Chrissy's birthday. their favorite meal is mom's fried chicken. To make it a bit easier on Betsy, Bruce cooked the chicken using the deep fryer.

Once the chicken was done, dinner was served. They had rolls, potato salad, baked beans, mashed potatoes, and of course, fried chicken.

The birthday girls showing their appreciation for the fried chicken.

Next, it was time to open gifts. Below is Chrissy with a shirt.

Holly's favorite gift was a large drink cup and pitcher made to look like Solo cup.

After opening their gifts, it was time for cake and ice cream.

The cake has a 4 and 7 on it.

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Family Room Redecorating

We mentioned a family room redecorating project in the Padre Island and Ennis trips above. That project was completed in September. In it, Betsy had a custom rug and couch pillows made with the colors of the theme, bought an new recliner for Bruce, and had a custom headpiece and arm covers made. The photo below shows the couch and pillows.

The next photo shows the custom carpet and the primary theme colors.

Below is a photo of the finished recliner.

Below, is a close up of the driftwood brought back from Padre Island.

The only thing left to do was to find the right painting to go over the mantle. That proved to be the biggest challenge, but was overcome with the help of a local artist. Read on about the painting Betsy had commissioned.

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Commissioned Painting Presentation

During the summer of 2015, Betsy finished her decorating project for the family room. The last major piece was a painting for the fireplace mantle. She looked everywhere for a painting that would match the theme and colors of the room, and when she could not find what she wanted, Betsy commissioned a local Dallas artist, Ginger Fox, to create exactly what she wanted. When the painting was done, they had an "unveiling" party.

Each of the guests was offered food and drink on arrival. Since this was a somewhat artsy and formal affair, the refreshments were in keeping with the event. Below is Tim at the Champaign table serving up sparkling wine for Hazel and Paul. The sparkling white wine served was Perelada Brut Reserva Cava.

The food table was set with a variety of goodies. It  included black and green olives, red grapes, fresh strawberries, cashews, candy coated Jordan almonds, candied pecans, imported cheeses and turkey wraps. The turkey wraps had slices of red bell pepper and avocado.

The cheeses were: Meadowkaas Spring Milk Cheese from Holland, Gruyere Doux and Somerdale Top Hat Cheddar. There were also three varieties of finger sandwiches: chicken salad, ham and cream cheese with chopped olives and Rosemary. There were also "ice box" cookies made with cranberries and oranges.

Below is a photo of Brian & Holly at the Champaign table. Both are looking really sharp!

The next photo shows part of the crowd out on the deck.

Below from left to right is Dave, Bobby, Ginger and Lara on the deck. Betty has her back to the camera. Ginger is the artist that painted the piece Betsy commissioned, and Lara is the manager of Ginger Fox Galleries.

At one of the other tables on the deck were Paul, his wife Molly, Steve and and his wife Linda.

Hazel was an interior decorator and assisted Betsy in the redecoration and commissioning project. Since she was turning 91 the following day, so she got a birthday cake as part of the festivities.

Below is a photo of Bruce, Ginger & Betsy with the painting after its unveiling.

And finally, here is a photo of just the painting by itself. Click on the photo below to view a high-resolution version.

Betsy and Bruce has wanted a Texas landscape in the impressionist style similar to Monet's "Field of Poppies" and Ginger delivered!

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Tiffany Lamps

Betsy came across a close-out on Tiffany lamp reproductions. These reproductions were going out of production and would eventually become collector's items.

Below is a butterfly lamp Betsy has had for years. It is in the bedroom.

The lamp below in the formal dining room.

This lamp is in the kitchen at the end of the counter.

The lamp below in in the Garden Room.

The lighted cabinet and frog below are also in the Garden Room.

The tall lamp below is in the guest room.

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Travel Trailer

As Betsy recovered from cancer, she became strong enough to be on her own for extended periods of time. Bruce could not fully support Denver International Airport from Dallas, and things were piling up out there. Rather than rent an apartment again, Bruce decided to buy a travel trailer and set up in mobile home park near DIA. Below is a photo of the trailer on its shake down run to Garner State Park in the Texas Hill Country.

The trailer is now parked in Denver.

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Arboretum at Christmas

In December that year, Betsy and Bruce visited the Dallas Arboretum to see the 12 Days of Christmas display. The following photos show some, but not all of the 12 Days displays.

11 Pipers Piping

A close-up of the 11 Pipers

9 Ladies Dancing

8 Maids a Milking

7 Swans a Swimming

5 Golden Rings

4 Calling Birds

3 French Hens

2 Turtle Doves

And a Partridge in a Pear Tree

In addition to the displays for the 12 Days of Christmas, the rest of the Arboretum was decorated in festive holiday lights. Below is a tree wrapped in lights at a cafe near the DeGolyer house. There were many trees like this.

To the left of the tree was an outdoor cafe and folks enjoying hot beverages under the radiant heaters.

And of course, there were numerous lighted Christmas trees like the one below.

The weather was warm this year, and this was a great outing.

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The special table cloth and china is on the table ready for the annual Christmas Day dinner.

Jim, Betsy and Colin partying in the kitchen. Colin was able to get leave from the Marines for Christmas.

Grandson Bret with Allie, Amy and Ashley.

Zach, Brian, Alissa, Tim and Holly partying in the family room just before the gift exchange.

The gift exchange starting out with distribution of the gifts.

Next, the family takes turns opening their gifts. Below is Ashley, Amy and Bret.

Chrissie and Jim during the exchange.

Ariana and Colin. Looks like Colin received the "universal gift certificate", cash!

Brian and Holly with a gift card.

Betsy with a universal silicone lid sealer she received that year. Tim is in the background.

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Version 0.5, December 22, 2015