January 31 - February 12, 2008: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
January 23, 2008: Frank and Joe at the Fort Worth Stock Show
Return to Index for 2008

January 25-28, 2008
A Visit to Ruckman Haus



Friday, January 25

Now the Fred's time is his own, we can go down to visit Prudence during the week, but this first trip down to see here this year will be over a weekend. We left on Friday and plan to return next Monday. We hopped a flight on Southwest down to San Antonio, where Prudence picked us up at the airport in the early afternoon. Ron is still up in Illinois with his family. Prudence had us in the English Room this time, and the first thing we did when we got in was to go out back to take a look at their new garage apartment.

The construction of the garage apartment began almost a year ago with the demolition of the old garage. It has been a long time in the works, but things are nearing completion. To bring you up to speed, here are four pictures that I took a year ago when the demolition of the old garage was just beginning; click on the thumbnails to view the full-size pictures:

About three months later, the framing for the new apartment was well along; click on the thumbnails to see the full-size pictures:

By August of last year, the new apartment had been enclosed and most of the roofing was done, as you can see here. Prudence and Ron had also begun work on the other aspect of the project which was to put a balcony on the back of the main house that would be shared by the French Room and the English Room. Some work has been done on the balcony construction as you can see from my vantage point on the second floor of the new garage apartment. Since August, much has been done, but the devil is in the details, as they say, the Prudence and Ron tell us it has been like pulling teeth to get the contractor and the workmen to move more rapidly and still do just what the Ruckmans want.


New Main House Balcony

In any event, the first thing we did this afternoon was to go up to the second floor of the main house and look at the new balcony that has been pretty much finished. There are two new doors out to the shared balcony- one from the Luxembourg Room (which has been rearranged to allow easy access to the patio) and one from the French Room (which we could not see as Prudence had guests there).over and look at the new apartment. I have gotten a new camera but have not yet set it up, so today's pictures are all taken by Fred with his camera.

We went into the Luxembourg Room and crossed to open the door out onto the patio. From the patio doorway in the Luxembourg Room, here is a view of the new garage apartment. We also stopped to take some pictures with Prudence, and so there is one with Prudence and I and one with Prudence and Fred.

The new patio is really quite nice; it is much wider and longer than I thought it was going to be. As you can see, both rooms now have outdoor seating areas, and there is a wrought iron divider in the middle of the patio to separate the areas for each room. Prudence wants to find some way to make each half of the patio more private; this will probably involve some kind of trellis above or beside the divider. Right now, in winter, the foliage is not at its best, and so the view of the garage apartment is mainly what you see now. Prudence has had ceiling fans installed to keep the patio air moving on really hot days.


The Garage Apartment

Next, we went back downstairs and out the back door of the main house and walked across the parking apron to the new garage and apartment, seen here from the back porch of the main house. You can see that there are the same number of garage spaces below, but that now there is a two-storey apartment above. Running along the house side of the building is a wonderful balcony, and there are French doors that open out onto it (left to right) from the bedroom, the living area, and the hall to the front door. As you can see at the right end of the building there is a stairway up to the apartment door.

When you enter the apartment, you are looking directly down the hall towards the bedroom. There is a utility room on your right and a stairway to the loft. When you get up the short stairway, the stairs turn and one more step takes you onto the loft. Originally, Prudence thought that she might be able to put a bed up here for a guest, but the loft isn't big enough for that, so she is going to use it as a small office and reading area. Behind us you can see the clerstory windows that look out the back, a railing and the living room ceiling fan. This view looks down into the living room from the loft, and you can see some of the French doors out to the balcony as well as the new flat screen TV that they have installed on the wall separating the living room from the bedroom. There are also clerstory windows on the front of the apartment, and, using his zoom, Fred could see the main house balcony through these windows.

Back down on the main floor, we traipsed through the living room (pictures of that tomorrow) and went to take a look at the bedroom. It also has French doors out onto the balcony, a small closet in the back, clerstory windows, a smaller flat screen TV on the wall and an entry to the bathroom (which also has an entry to the living room). Fred got a good picture of the shower detail. The tilework was very nicely done. As we left to go back to the main house, Fred took a picture of Prudence and I looking at the French doors in the entry hall.

I plan on doing a whole bunch of photos and taking some movies out in the new apartment tomorrow; our light was fading today and I hadn't yet set up my new camera.

A Quiet Evening

Back in the main house, we sat down so that Prudence could tell Fred the story about her new fence, seen here from the dining room window. Prudence got agreement from her neighbor to put up the fence (it is actually a wall, but as city strictures are tougher for walls, everyone has agreed to call it a fence), and so she did. Unfortunately, the land slopes from front to back, so what is an eight-foot fence, which is perfectly legal, at the front becomes a twelve-foot fence at the back of the property- and that takes approval from the city. Not realizing this, the Ruckmans went ahead with the fence, only to have an inspector come out and declare that a variance would be needed. As of this writing, the variance is up in the air and Prudence is unsure what will happen.

We went out for some dinner and then came back and just relaxed. Prudence and Fred caught up on things while I picked up a book that Ron Ruckman had about George Bush (very negative) and the Iraq War, and spent much of the evening reading it before we retired to the English Room and bed.


Saturday, January 26


Using My New Camera

Well, Prudence has fixed breakfast for her few guests (Ron won't return from Illiois until this afternoon), and Fred and I are relaxing in the living room. I have acquired a new digital camera that has lots more megapixels and some sexy new features, and I have brought it down to San Antonio with me. This morning, I am taking it out of the box for the first time, and trying to get familiar with it. Fred and I are planning to go over the park in a little while to play with the Frisbee but, before we do, I want to use the camera a bit to get familiar with it.

I took a test picture of Prudence's living room, and then made a short movie of the same room, just to see how the camera worked. Those pictures are unremarkable and I have not included them here. The first picture taken with my new Canon camera that I'll be including in this album is one that I asked Prudence to take of Fred and I sitting on her couch. Then I returned the favor and took a picture of her (Prudence) and one of her cat, Callie.


Photographing the New Garage Apartment

Before we go play Frisbee in San Pedro Park, I am going to take some pictures of Prudence's new apartment above the garage. You can see the garage and the apartment on top of it if you click here. I know you already saw some that Fred took yesterday, but many of these will be different. I've put thumbnails for these pictures in the table below; to view the full-size picture just click on the thumbnail:

Living Room Kitchen Living/Kitchen

Kitchen/Loft Entry Hall Balcony Balcony Detail Balcony Light

Bedroom Up to Loft On the Loft Loft View


Some Additional Pictures

From the balcony of the new apartment, I took three more pictures. The first one was of the new main house balcony that offers guests in the French and Luxembourg Rooms a place to sit outside. The second one shows how the back porch and west deck look with the new balcony above them. And finally, I took a picture of the east garden area and the new fence that has been built between Ruckman Haus and the house next door. Whether the Ruckmans get to keep the fence or not depends on what the city does, since they did not get a needed variance.

We picked Ron up at the airport in the afternoon; he had brought back a nasty cold with him. We just had dinner at Tomatillo's and came back to the house to relax.


Sunday, January 27


An Apartment Tour

On Sunday, Ron fixed his usual wonderful breakfast for his guests and Fred and myself. Then, after he cleaned up the kitchen, he went downstairs to try to get some rest and shake his cold. Fred sat in the living room and read his book for a while, with Callie in the chair next to him. Just after lunchtime, Prudence asked Fred and I if we would drive out towards Boerne and pick up some flagstones for the walkway that she is going to have built between the parking area and the stairs up to the apartment. Right now, it is a muddy dog run, but they will be moving to behind the garage building. So we got the Sequoia and drove out to Boerne. Before going to the rock place, I went into town to see if they still had the big bronze buffalo I'd seen months ago, but they did not. We stopped at the Boerne Vistro to see if we could say hello to Dennis, but he was gone, too. So we went on by the rock place, picked out some appropriate flagstones, loaded them in the vehicle and came back to Ruckman Haus. There, we unloaded and stacked the flagstones in a planter where Prudence or the workmen could get at them.

Prudence was trying to make some decisions about the colors in the apartment, and we went up with her for a while. Fred got some good detailed views of the clerstory windows and the French doors.

Prudence went back to the house to see about Ron, and I decided to make one continuous movie that would offer a complete tour of the new apartment. I tried to make the movie as complete (and professional) as I could; it turned into one of the longer movies I have ever taken. So if you want to take a complete virtual tour of Prudence's new apartment, all you have to do is click use the movie player at the left.

We, too, went back to the house eventually, and Fred got a shot of me on the west deck. The rest of our visit was pleasant. Ron got to feeling better on Monday, although I started feeling worse. As it turned out, either I caught whatever Ron had or, more likely, caught something entirely different. After our last Frisbee session on Monday, I was sore, achy and coughing. I hoped that I hadn't caught something that might interfere with our trip to Florida and the Caribbean Cruise.

January 31 - February 12, 2008: A Trip to Fort Lauderdale
January 23, 2008: Frank and Joe at the Fort Worth Stock Show
Return to Index for 2008