May 1-9, 2007: A Trip to Florida
April 4-12, 2007: A Trip to Florida
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April 24-26, 2007
A Visit With Ron and Prudence


 

 

Visiting Ruckman Haus

It is always a pleasure to get invited down to San Antonio to visit Ron and Prudence. I know that they always wish their Dallas friends (especially Fred) could get down to see them more often, but I do go down as often as I can. On this particular occasion, Guy Blair was going to be in town from Green Bay, something to do with an anniversary of one of the couples in the church he used to head there, and the couple's friends had brought him down to officiate.

Ron and Prudence asked me to come down and visit at the same time, so I took Tuesday through Thursday to visit with them. When I worked at Pervasive, I would usually drive down from Austin, but now I just hop a Southwest flight. As usual, Ron picked me up at the airport, which is out of the left hand map above to the north. To get to Ruckman Haus, one just takes US 281 south from the airport, getting off at N. St. Marys St. and then zigging and zagging to the west to reach W. French Place. I've pointed out the location of Ron and Prudence's B&B on the more detailed right-hand map. It is located at the northeast corner of W. French and Breeden, just a block north of San Pedro Park, one of the oldest parks in the country.

For this trip, I'll just mention the various things we did, and not try to be too literal about timing and such.

 

New Construction at Ruckman Haus

If you've been working through this album in time sequence, you already know that Ron and Prudence have, at long last, begun the project of replacing the old garage with a new one, which will also contain, on the second and third levels, a brand new apartment for Ron and Prudence to live in. From the inception of their B&B over four years ago until now, they have been calling the basement of the house their home. I don't think I would have been able to do that for so long; I think part of what has made it bearable was the knowledge that, eventually, they would have a new place to live- one that afforded them more space and a degree of privacy.

The last time I was here, demolition had begun on the garage, which was, essentially, taken down to the foundation, and is now being completely rebuilt. The two thumbnails below are for pictures of the current progress of the construction, and show the new building as viewed from the back porch of the main house. The left-hand picture is the western end of the building, next to Breeden St., and the right-hand picture is the eastern end. Click on the thumbnails to view the full-size images:


Pictures often don't do justice to what's going on, so I also made a movie of the progress of construction that you can watch with the player at left. On the lower level, there will be space for four cars instead of three. On the first living level above that, Ron and Prudence will have their master bedroom, living room, kitchen, laundry and utility. On the third level, there will be an additional loft bedroom, and I imagine that when Fred or I come visit, that is where we would stay so as not to take up a room that might be needed for paying guests. (Up until now, that hasn't been a problem, but as their business gets better and better, there are often times when all their rooms are full. Indeed, in the last year, Fred and I or Guy and I have had to get a nearby motel room when Ruckman Haus was full up.)

I know that the two of them are looking forward to moving out of their basement, and I know that Prudence, especially, is looking forward to having another new space to decorate.

 

Poker at Blair House


Once a month, Ron gets together with some of the other B&B owners in the area for a poker game. For the last few times I've been down here, I guess I've mentioned that Ron and Jay and Fred and I often play when we are over at their place on Saturday nights, and that I like to watch the game either on cable in Florida or on one of the Dallas channels late at night.

Anyway, Ron said that I must join him Tuesday evening out at Blair House, a B&B north of San Antonio, for their monthly game. Since Guy was busy at the church, and Prudence and Carolyn were occupied as well, Ron and I drove out to Blair House. To get there, you have to take US 281 north for quite a ways, and then turn off and go east around the north side of Canyon Lake- an up-and-coming area with lots of new homes and such. Once past the lake, we turned north on the road to Wimberley. Ron first took me into town to show me around while it was still light. It's a neat, touristy place, with lots of shops and a couple of small B&B operations.

Blair House is a large affair that occupies four or five acres just south of town and off the highway. There is a main house and three or four separate cottages, plus a pool and gardens. I think that Ron said they have ten or twelve rooms all told. Blair House is not just a hotel, but more of a "destination," as they say. People come all the way out here to stay a few days and see the area, rather than, as at Ruckman Haus, stay while on business or in San Antonio for some other purpose.

Blair House has or arranges quite a few different activities for their guests, the primary one of which is their cooking school. The proprietors are good cooks themselves, but unlike how Ron does it, they have a chef on staff who does most of the cooking for guests. That same chef also gives cooking classes, and that is one of the attractions that brings people to the B&B.

The public areas of the main house are much more extensive than at Ruckman Haus, but then the operation is much larger and caters to a different clientele. We played poker in the dining room, which looked like a small restaurant with eight or ten tables plus serving areas. I also saw a large living room and the kitchen, but I did not have an opportunity to see what the guest rooms, either in the main building or in the cottages, looked like.

The owner, whose first name I have forgotten, served a light supper- a couple of different kinds of homemade pizza, salad, and a rolled pork dish that was really excellent. After all the players arrived, we got down to business. The game was for high stakes- a $20 buy-in (about six times what Ron and Jay and Fred and I play for), and a $1 bet limit (as opposed to 25 cents with Ron and Jay). We had a lot of fun, and played for about three hours, eating and conversing as we did so. I got to meet some of the other local B&B owners and some other folks, one of whom was running for mayor of Wimberley. They were all real down-to-earth people, and we had a good time.

I play a very close game (I just hate losing money), but turned out to be reasonably lucky and made $6. Most fellows broke essentially even, although I think Ron lost the most- about $30. I would definitely join their game again if the occasion arose and I were invited.

We went back to San Antonio through San Marcos and down I-35, getting home a bit after eleven.

 

An Early Morning Thunderstorm

It had begun to rain a bit on our way home from the poker game, but a pretty decent thunderstorm arrived just after midnight. I was staying in the Sun Room, and it has that sitting room that has windows on three sides, so when the storm woke me up, I went and sat there watching the lightning and listening to the thunder. What actually woke me was the sound of the rain on the new enclosure that covers the spiral stairway access to the deck above the Sun Room sitting area.

I didn't know how it might turn out, but I went and got my camera, climbed up to the top of the spiral stairway, and just stood inside the enclosure taking a couple of films of the storm. You can't see much, of course, until there is a flash of lightning, and you can't hear much either, except my narration in one of the movies and, of course, the thunder and rain. But you might find the movies interesting, and you can watch them using the players below:


 

Photographing Ruckman Haus

For quite some time, I've suggested to Prudence that we do some major renovations to the website- taking new pictures and updating the narrative.


Since the website was first put up, quite a lot has been done- especially the construction of the East Garden and the fountain. As far as the website is concerned, Prudence is of a mind to wait a while longer until the garage rebuild project is done.

But Ron and Prudence are also going to insert their B&B into a guidebook for San Antonio that someone is creating. They showed me a sample guide (for the Oregon coast, as it turned out) so I could get an idea of what kind of pictures we should include. Ron wanted a new picture of the house itself, and perhaps an inset picture of the garden.

With that in mind, I took quite a few pictures in and around the house on Wednesday and Thursday. We concentrated on the house itself and the garden water feature, and Ron and Prudence and I spent some time on Thursday selecting the pictures they liked best, cropping them, and getting them sent to the guidebook producer.

Although they are a bit repetitive, I thought I would include a selection of these pictures here, in the form of labeled thumbnails. If you want to look at any of the full-size images, just click on the appropriate thumbnail:


 

Dining Room East Garden Living Room East Garden East Garden East Garden

New Addition House Front House Front House Front House Front East Garden

While we were taking pictures around the house, I got the idea that it might be nice if the website had links to some movies of the rooms. I guess I was thinking of Jackie Kennedy's "White House Tour" or something, but I thought I would try my hand at a couple of "guided tour" movies of the Sun Room. I can tell right away that if we are to do this, the movies have to be planned and scripted, and it would also be better if Prudence were walking and talking and I were filming; or vice versa. But while the overall effect of having the movie filmed from the "viewer's perspective" was a good one, the end result wasn't as good as I hoped. Anyway, you can watch my first two movie tour attempts using the players below:


 

The San Antonio Cornyation


The end of April is Fiesta in San Antonio. There are all kinds of events that go on for the better part of two weeks, and lots of visitors come to the city for the celebration. That's one of the reasons why Guy and I had to share the Sun Room- Prudence and Ron were pretty much booked up.

One of the main events is called "Coronation," and is basically a society-driven event where a King, Queen and Court for the Fiesta are selected and enthroned. It is a real formal dinner/dance kind of thing, and something that is very much "upper crust."

Some years ago, though, an "alternative" celebration was created, more as a satire of the actual Coronation. The alternative, counter-culture celebration is called "Cornyation," and is put on by a fictitious society- The Court of the absolutely Abominable & Acrimonious Avians. It is actually a benefit for various AIDS-related causes in San Antonio. It has developed into a two-night, four-performance show, consisting of eight or ten skits that parody current events in San Antonio, and poke fun at some of the movers and shakers of the city. There are co-emcees, and each skit has a designer and design staff; the competition is for costumes, mainly, although social relevance is also considered.

Prudence had obtained a group of tickets well ahead of time, and she and Ron wanted to host Guy, myself, Carolyn and Michael and two other friends for the evening. We began with dinner at The Palms, one of their favorite (and very upscale) restaurants downtown, just a couple of blocks from the theater. At right is our dinner group (minus me, of course). Around the table from the left are Michael (a massage therapist and budding signer for the deaf and Carolyn's husband), Ron Ruckman, Sally (a lawyer and friend of Carolyn's), Pat (another friend of Carolyn's), Prudence and Guy.

We had an excellent meal; The Palms is a very nice place. I took a couple of movies of our dinner group as well, and you can watch them using the players below:



Then it was on to Cornyation. The show is held in a small theatre downtown, the same theatre where we went to see "The Lion King" a while back. I thought that the costumes and staging were quite good, but the sound was loud and it was hard to understand what the singers/actors were saying. (You'll find that to be true on the movies I took as well.) The skits are also San Antonio topical, and, not being clued into what is happening there, I didn't understand much of what the satire was about.

But we really did have a great time. I got Michael to take a picture of myself, Guy and Prudence at intermission, and I took a couple of movies of two of the skits. You can watch those movies using the players below:



Actually, the best movie I got was one at the end, when the various troupes and their designers paraded across the stage to the applause of the crowd. Had I know they would be doing that, I would have filmed the whole thing. But you can watch most of the parade using the player at left.

It was a great evening, and we eventually returned to Ruckman Haus for coffee and cake.


 

A Ride out to Boerne

On Thursday, I got up early and took Guy to the airport for his flight back to Green Bay. Then I came back and slept for a while longer until Ron served breakfast. I just spent some time visiting with him and Prudence and a couple of their guests.

About lunchtime, after Ron had cleaned the kitchen, he and I took a ride out to Boerne to see if we could have lunch with his friend Dennis. We got out there and got to the Boerne Vistro, Dennis's restaurant, but he was off somewhere. I did notice that between the restaurant and the small motel that Dennis also owns, he'd put in a water feature that looked really nice. We chatted with Dennis's mom for a while, and then drove on into the center of town so Ron could show me what all had changed since I was last here a couple of years ago. While in town, we drove by what used to be a service station but which was now a shop selling sculptures and other stuff brought up from Mexico. A huge, five-foot-tall bronze buffalo out front caught my attention. We stopped to inquire about it; I thought it would be something really spectacular that Fred could put out in front of his house. I thought the price was reasonable, but I would never buy something like that without checking with Fred first. In any event, Ron thought that he and Dennis had been to the source of these aluminum sculptures on their last trip to Mexico, and he wouldn't let me spend so much money until he'd checked with Dennis; he thought that if I really wanted to get one, I should go with them to Mexico and bring it back on a trailer- saving about $2000 in the process.

But, the idea turned out to be moot, for when I indeed checked with Fred, he said thanks very much but no, he was just about buffaloed out. He didn't even want the wrought iron coat rack I found inside that had two buffalo on it. Oh, well.

By the time we got back, Prudence was done with her stuff around the house, so she and Ron and I looked over all the pictures we'd taken and picked the ones they wanted for the guidebook. We got those fixed up and emailed off to the publisher.

For dinner, we went down into town to La Tuna and had some excellent burgers and beer before Ron took me to the airport for my late evening flight back home.

Another enjoyable visit!



May 1-9, 2007: A Trip to Florida
April 4-12, 2007: A Trip to Florida
Return to Index for 2007