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 2019. These included holidays, birthday parties and other fun events.

Local Theater

The year 2019 started out with with a number of outings to the Garland Civic Theater. Shows included Buddy, the Foreigner and Nunsense. The Garland Civic Theatre is a top notch local theatre group that produces about 6 popular Broadway shows throughout the season, and is the best value in live theatre in the DFW area.

Buddy Holly

With the 60th anniversary of Buddy Holly's death on February 3rd, Bruce and Betsy attended a tribute in the form of the musical Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story.

The cast was outstanding, performing Buddy's hit music in a way that would make him proud.

In addition to all Buddy's hits, the second act focused on Buddy, Richie Valens and J. P. Richardson, The Big Bopper, on tour and included their hits too.

The Foreigner

The following month, Bruce and Betsy went back to the Civic Theater to see The Foreigner.

The Foreigner is not well known, but is a hilarious story of an introvert that goes to a fishing lodge and pretends to be a foreigner that cannot understand or speak English to avoid conversation. The situation is hilarious! Think Latka in the TV series Taxi.


On April 27th, Bruce and Betsy went to see Nunsesne at the Garland Civic Theatre. This was the final show of the season prior to the beginning of their Summer Musical Series in June. 

The play is about the surviving nuns to Sister Julia Child of God's food poisoning of most of the convent. They came short on burial expenses and had to have a fund raiser to bury the remaining four nuns stored in the freezer.

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Cancer Free

On March 2nd Bruce and Betsy celebrated the fourth anniversary of her completing chemotherapy and being declared cancer free.

They celebrated with dinner at Arthur's in Addison. This is 5-Star continental restaurant and one of Dallas' finest. They dined on escargot, Arthur's special salad, filet mignon, garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus. Dinner was followed with soufflés for desert.

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Mardi Gras

Every year, St. John's has a Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras party on Fat Tuesday. While Shrove Tuesday is primarily the English version of Mardi Gras, Dallas is only 100 miles from Louisiana, so a bit of the Cajun culture makes its way into the menu. Yep, we have pancakes and Cajun food.

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Fence & Deck Restoration

The fence around the back yard was rebuilt in 2004, and the finish had reached the end of life and then some in 2019. The reason the original finish lasted so long was that Bruce had "dipped" the fence boards in stain before putting them up in 2004. The original stain was water-based. John Markem IV, a friend of Bruce's from DORBA, has a wood restoration business, and refinished the fence and deck.

The first step was to remove the old finish and beach the wood.

Next, an oil-based stain was applied.

Both the outside and inside were restored. Below is a shot of the inside of the fence after restoration.

Below is the swing arbor and fence at the grill area.

In addition to the fence, the deck was also restored. Below is a photo of the deck immediately after restoration in March and before the sealer was dry.

A month later towards the end of April, the grass was green and flowers were starting to bloom. This is the west side of the deck under the sun shade.

Below is the east side with hot tub, swing arbor and grilling area.

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Fredericksburg & Wild Flowers

Bruce had talked about going to Fredericksburg for wildflower season for a couple of years, and in 2019 they were to pull it off.

Bruce and Betsy enjoy the Texas Hill Country, and Fredericksburg is their most favorite Hill Country town.

Their base of operation was their "Vacation Home" Which they parked at Fredericksburg RV Park right in town.

Right next to the RV park was an open field of Indian Paintbrush. Below is a photo of Bruce in the field.

They drove up TX-16 to the Willow City Scenic Loop at the TK Ranch, the real start of the loop.

A close up of Betsy in the Bluebonnets at the TK Ranch entrance.

One of the fence lines at the TK Ranch had old cowboy boots on the fence posts along with a nice bloom of Bluebonnets.

One of the boots on a fence post along with a bunch of Bluebonnets.

Not many Bluebonnets here, but a picturesque ranch scene.

Further down the road, they stopped for a photo of Bruce at the entrance to the Old Willow Ranch

Bruce got a nice photo of Betsy, Bluebonnets & a rusty old tractor at the Old Willow Ranch.

Bruce at another ranch down the road.

More Betsy in Bluebonnets.

Below is a nice line of Bluebonnets across the curve in the road with hills in the background. This is why this is referred to as the Texas Hill Country.

Betsy with a variety of wild flowers along one of the many streams in the area.

A rock along the stream with Bluebonnets, Verbena and other wild flowers.

A typical fence line, Bluebonnets and other wildflowers.

Bluebonnets at the TK Ranch entrance 14.

Bluebonnets with an old fallen tree in the background.

Leaving Willow City, they headed up TX-16 to Llano.

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Fredericksburg Wildseed Farms

Since Betsy is an avid gardener, no trip to Fredericksburg in the spring would be complete without a visit to Wildseed Farms. This farm is the largest producer of wildflower seeds in the world.

After a quick trip through the gift shop, it was out to the butterfly habitat. There were not any butterflies, but there were a bunch of humming birds at the feeders.

Next it was out to the fields. Below is Betsy taking a break on a bench in a huge field of Red Corn Poppies.

Across from the poppies was a huge field of Bluebonnets.

After touring the fields, it was back through the gift shop to buy seeds and souvenirs.

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Ghost Tour

The Ghost Tour is a 90 minute walking tour of the old downtown area at night relating the more notable apparitions outside and in some of the more notorious buildings. It starts at the Nimitz Museum where they describe some of the paranormal activities experienced in the museum dating back to when it was the Nimitz Hotel and several guests died there over the years.

This is the most haunted bedroom in town. It is the site of a murder where a drunken husband caught another man in his bedroom with his wife. In the process, the husband got stabbed in the leg as he chased the interloper into the street and he died there. This is now in a B&B and you can actually stay here.

Below is an apparition caught in front of one of the art galleries on Main Street.

The Judge's library: This photo shows an image of "The Judge," which notoriously haunts the old library. He appears to be wearing spectacles and a stove pipe hat in this photo. This may be a circuit judge that was killed by Indians out toward House mountain in 1878.

Below is a photo of a headless woman. In the early days, there was a family of settlers attacked by renegade Indians and the wife had her head, hands and feet cut off during the attack.

Below is an apparition photographed near the middle school.

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Museum of the War in the Pacific Combat Zone

Fredericksburg is the home of Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, and also of the National Museum of the War in the Pacific. This is a Smithsonian-quality museum covering an entire city block Adjacent to the Museum is another city block called the Combat Zone where they do Living History presentations and the reenactment of a pacific island invasion. The Combat Zone also has an exhibit with a Navy TBM torpedo bomber and a PT boat display.

Women's Role in the War

The Living History program started with a tribute to the women's contribution during WWII.

See Bruce's Video of the women.

Activities by Service Branch

Next, all the branches of the armed forces summarized their contribution.

See Bruce's Video of service branches.

Assault Team and Weapons Demonstration

The third part of the program was a presentation on the assault teams formed to get the Japanese out or their bunkers, and a demonstration of their weapons.

See Bruce's Video of the Assault Team and weapons demonstration here.

Pacific Island Invasion Reenactment

The final presentation at the Combat Zone program is the reenactment of the invasion of a Pacific Island. The invasion reenactment is not of any particular island invasion, but merely shows what a typical invasion was like.

See Bruce's Video of the invasion reenactment here.

On leaving the Combat Zone, Bruce got this nice photo simulating a submarine surfacing on the Austin St. side of the main museum building.

Notice how the retaining wall and earth simulate waves.

PT Boat Exhibit

The museum has one of the best PT boat exhibitions Bruce has ever seen. The PT squadrons saw action in both the European and Pacific theaters. They were originally designed to attack much larger ships, but proved to be most effective against costal supply craft.

Below is a photo of PT-333 with it's Mark-VIII torpedo tubes just before deployment in 1943.

The Oh Frankie, a restored PT boat at the exhibit. It saw action in Europe. None of the PT boats used in the Pacific were brought back to the US.

The Oh Frankie from the stern.

Below is one of three Packard engines that powered the PT boats.

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Holly Week is rather busy for Betsy and Bruce. St. John's has services on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

The photo below was taken at the banquet following the Great Vigil of Easter. This is an ancient practice of keeping the Easter feast dating back to the very beginning of Christianity. Believers would gather in the hours of darkness before Easter to hear scripture and offer prayer. The service begins in darkness sometime after sunset on Holy Saturday. The liturgy consists of four parts:

The Service of Light (kindling of new fire, lighting the Paschal candle, the Exsultet);

The Service of Lessons (readings from the Hebrew Scriptures interspersed with psalms, canticles, and prayers);

Christian Initiation (Holy Baptism) or the Renewal of Baptismal Vows;

Holy Eucharist.

The first three parts are conducted in candlelight a cappella. At the fourth part, the lights come on an the organ comes up, symbolizing the moment or resurrection. This is a very joyous and moving experience.

A few hours later, it was back to church for the formal Easter Mass, although they formally use the term Feast of the Resurrection.

Below is the church before Mass as our Rector does not like cameras during services.

After Mass, it was back over to the Parish Hall for another feast.

After Mass and the Sunday feast at church, it was off to the house for family dinner. Below is part of the family gathered at the table.

And finally, it was the Easter egg hunt for Jo Jo.

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Texas Hill Country

In June of 2019, Bruce and Betsy took the Vacation Home down to Pedernales Falls State Park in central Texas for a 5 day vacation. Below is their camper on Site 63 at Pedernales.

A couple of the gals chilling at the campsite.

They had friends from the Houston and Dallas areas. Below is David in the kitchen cooking eggs.

The group had an uninvited visitor during their rib dinner on Friday night.

Saturday night was steak night.

After dinner, it was down to the Falls.

Click on this link for a SHORT VIDEO OF THE FALLS.

During their stay, they also visited Enchanted Rock north of Pedernales and Fredericksburg. This is Texas' version of Ayers Rock in Australia. Below is a photo of the rock from the road 3 miles away.

Below is Betsy at the Summit Trailhead.

The trail up is less than a mile, but the heat forced Betsy to turn around. Bruce Continued to the top. The photo below shows Bruce on top.


From Enchanted Rock, it was over to Gorman Falls in the Colorado Bend State Park. Gorman Falls is spring fed and drops about 60 feet on its way to the Brazos.

Below is Betsy at the trailhead to Gorman Falls. The heat prevented her from making it all the way out.

The hike out to the falls is 1.3 miles. at about 1.2 miles you come to a junction of several trails. The Gorman Falls trail goes left.

The trail down to the falls is rather rocky, but once you get to the bottom, you see the first set of falls.

A few feet further in, you come to the high falls that drop some 60 feet.

Click on this link for a VIDEO OF THE FALLS.

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Bruce's Birthday

June was a very active month for Bruce. It began with mountain biking in the Blue Ridge in conjunction with a business trip. That was followed by dinner and dancing at Southern Junction and then camping and riding at Pedernales Falls.

Given all the activity in June, he decided to forego a formal birthday party.

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Bruce's Broken Foot

While mountain biking the Cross Timbers Trail on Lake Texoma on the Texas-Oklahoma boarder July 14th, Bruce broke a couple of metatarsals in his right food as shown below. He did this dismounting on the trail, putting his food down on a root, and rolling it off with all his weight on it.

On July 23rd, Dr. Wey, his orthopedic surgeon, put pins in to keep the bones in place during recovery as shown below.

By September 8th, Dr. Wey said he had made enough of a recovery to start riding on pavement as long as he took it easy. Below is Bruce on his hard-tail with Crocs getting to begin riding.

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Betsy's Birthday

The celebration started out with a luncheon at the Rise No 1 restaurant. Rise is simply over the top as dining experiences go, and the soufflés are among the best in Dallas.

After lunch, is was back to the house for cake, ice cream and gifts with the kiddos.

Chrissy did the serving honors.

Betsy didn't really want anything for her birthday, so it was mostly cards.

Tim, Molly and Paul in the foreground. Molly and Paul are family friends, and they along with Tim accompanied Betsy and Bruce to Rise.

Kids and grandkids at the birthday party.

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Twin's Birthday

Tim with the birthday girls, Holly and Chrissy, at the beginning of the celebration.

Dinner included pulled pork sliders made by Betsy, and macaroni.

Next, it was on to the gift exchange.

The festivities wrapped up with the cake and ice cream.

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Rangers Game

With the worst of the summer heat over, it was time for a trip out to the Ballpark.

Below is a photo of Betsy and Bruce made by Tim prior to the start of the game.

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Richardson Tornado

The night of October 20th, an EF-3 tornado went through central Dallas, southern Richardson and Garland. It passed 3-4 blocks south of their house and was a very harrowing experience.

The photo below shows downed power poles and roof damage at Audelia Rd. from Buckingham Rd.

The same intersection looking north. Notice the Spanish tiles missing from the roofs.

More roof damage on Audelia Rd. is seen below. The interesting aspect about this is that the side of the roofs missing the shingles is opposite the direction of travel of the tornado.

Again, looking in the direction the tornado traveled but the fence in the foreground is facing the opposite direction.

Another counter-intuitive case: the wall below fell in the opposite direction the tornado was traveling in. Notice the reinforcing bars still in the column on the corner. Imagine the force it took to do this, and that it was purely wind. 

More roof damage below as well as a torn up carwash on the left.

The front of some houses on S. Bowser is shown below. The wind hit the back of these houses and relocated parts of the roofs in the front yards.

The rear of the houses along S. Bowser along with downed power lines. The railroad right of way didn't do much to protect these houses.

Even thought Bruce and Betsy's house was three blocks from the path of the storm, there were bits and pieces of other peoples' houses in their yard.

The only damage at the Blais residence was a toppled plant, and that was easily fixed.

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Lafayette, New Orleans & Florida

Bruce and Betsy traveled to Florida the end of October in 2019 to celebrate his uncle Mike's 99th birthday. On the way they made stops in Lafayette and New Orleans.

They actually made two stops in Lafayette: one on the way east and the other on the way back west. Bruce likes to eat at Prejean's when passing through. This is a highly rated Cajun restaurant and considered one of the best in the world.

Below is a photo of Bruce and Betsy made on the way east with a mounted alligator in the main dining room.

On the way back to Dallas, they were again passing through Lafayette at lunch time, and since they needed to eat and Prejean's was on the highway, they decided to stop in again.

Below is lunch on October 27th. Bruce's lunch at the bottom consisted of seasoned, breaded Louisiana alligator filets served with seafood boulettes, and seafood gumbo with shrimp, crawfish, and crabmeat, simmered in a rich stock and a dark roux. Betsy had hush puppies and southern fried catfish.

On Sundays, they have live Cajun music during lunch.

New Orleans

From Lafayette, it was on to New Orleans for a couple of days.

Betsy at the front door of the French Market Inn on Decatur St, right next to the Mississippi River. This is a historic hotel dating back to the 1830s. The building itself was originally a bakery built by the Dreux family and dates back to 1722.

A view of the courtyard from one of the balconies.

Betsy and Bruce at the Bourbon House on Bourbon St. on their way down to the Red Fish Grill.

Betsy and Bruce at the Red Fish Grill on Bourbon St. 

Bruce, Betsy, Bobby and David at the Red Fish Grill. David is a Univ. of Florida graduate from Daytona now working in Dallas. They met at an alumni event many years ago.

Betsy enjoying bread pudding at the Red Fish Grill. It was a lot of desert, so Bruce had to help her with it.

Lighted up tricycle on Bourbon St.

Bobby and David at the Swamp nightclub on Bourbon St.

Below is Betsy on Decatur St. getting ready for beignets at Cafe Beignet Thursday morning.

Betsy enjoying beignets at Cafe Beignet.

Betsy and Bruce in the plaza in front of St. Louis Cathedral

The nave of St. Louis Cathedral.

The ceiling of the nave of St. Louis Cathedral

Stained glass windows on one side of the nave of St. Louis Cathedral.

The altar and Sanctuary at St. Louis Cathedral.

On leaving St. Louis Cathedral, they wandered over to Cafe Du Monde to pick up a gift pack of coffee and beignet mix for his uncle's birthday present.


After New Orleans, it was on to Florida to celebrate Bruce's uncle Mike's 99th birthday. Mike had a lakefront home in Deland, was an avid fisherman and loved being on the water, so the party was on a pontoon cruise boat out of Hontoon Landing.

Betsy at the boat ramp and alligator warning for tourists.

Bruce with his uncle Mike below.

Betsy with Bruce's uncle Mike.

Below is Bruce, Betty-Lou and Andy, Bruce's cousin.

Below is Michelle Leete and Christa Blais with Bruce.

Below is Bruce with his cousins Lorraine and Lucy. Lorraine is Mike's daughter.

Cousin Joe and his wife Lisa with Bruce.

Bruce with cousin Gillis.

Cousin Gillis, cousin Linda and her husband Larry with Bruce.

Cousin Lorraine with Bruce.

Bruce's wife, Betsy, enjoying the cruise.

Bruce with cousin Lucy below.

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Bret's Birthday

The family gathered at Ariana's house again in 2019 to celebrate Bret's 31st birthday. Ariana is Bret's cousin and Betsy and Bruce's granddaughter.

Below is Bret with a drone his uncle Tim gave him.

The rest of the gifts were in the form of gift cards he could use on clothes and other things.

The obligatory happy birthday song and candle ceremony below.

Still able to blow out all the candles.

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Thanksgiving was held at Betsy and Bruce's place in 2019. This often happens since they can easily accommodate large groups for dinner.

The photo below shows the grill area near the end of an all-morning cooking session. It was a rainy, 47F day, so the grill area tarp needed to be used. Fortunately, it was nice and warm next to the grill and turkey fryer.

The turkey is in the fryer and brisket is in its last hour. Bruce used a "Fast-Hot" technique on the brisket, cooking it naked (unwrapped) using Mesquite chunks at 300F for 41/2 hours. The brisket exceeded expectations. Best ever! Competition quality!

Below is Bruce carving the turkey. The turkey was marinated in an herbal brine for 24 hours then deep fried in peanut oil. The results were excellent. The turkey was so moist he could see the juices running out of the breast meat as he carved.

Most of the family was gathered for the event.

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Ariana's Birthday

Gathering for the gifting.

Opening gifts.

Blowing out the candles. This was followed by cake and ice cream.

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The family gathered for Christmas dinner.

The beginning of the gift exchange.

Chrissy opening her gift as Alissa and Brian look on.

Brian checking out his gift.

Holly with an embroidered hand towel.

Tim with a Cowboys koozie.

Nate opening a gift.

Collin with a drone.

Alissa with a mixer.

Bret with new socks.

Betsy with a handful of big bills for her gift of a shopping spree.

The host and hostess.

The family photo.

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New Year's

Between Christmas and New Year's, Bruce and Betsy partied at Red River Dancehall and Saloon. Curt and Pam joined them for the evening. Since it was the holidays, they dressed up for the evening.

Bruce and Betsy spent a quiet New Year's at home. It was a family tradition growing up in a French-Canadian family to have Tourtiere or meat pies, so he tried his own hand at making one this year. Below is the result using a recipe from the Internet.

The dinner also included marshmallow topped yams, black-eyed peas, collard greens and blueberry muffins.

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Version 0.1, December 28, 2019