December 25, 2015: Christmas in Dallas
December 12, 2015: An Afternoon in Downtown Dallas
Return to the Index for 2015

December 14-17, 2015
Christmas in San Antonio


This year, for the first time, Fred and I will have Christmas in two different places. First, from the 14th through the 17th, we will be in San Antonio with Prudence and Ron, Nancy and Karl and Guy to share Christmas at Ruckman Haus. One of the reasons we are doing this is that Guy is actually going to Connecticut to spend Christmas with his family, and Prudence wanted to do the Christmas Morning routine while Guy was still in San Antonio. This will be nice for us, too, as we have gifts that we would like to share with everyone.

In addition to this trip, Fred and I will do our normal Christmas Morning on the actual date here at my house in Dallas. So this album page will be devoted to Christmas in San Antonio, and the very next page to Christmas here in Dallas.


Getting to the Ruckmans' House in San Antonio

You have probably seen an album page where we visit San Antonio, but in case you haven't, I want to show you the route to San Antonio from Dallas and where Prudence and Ron and Guy are located.

On the maps below, you can see the route to the Ruckmans' house. It is an easy matter to simply hop on I-35E from the Tollway in Dallas and take that highway all the way south through Austin to San Antonio. This 280-mile trip routinely takes about 4.5 hours. In San Antonio, we continue to follow I-35 into the city, eventually exiting onto San Pedro Avenue. We take that north about two miles, and either hang a left on Ashby and a right on Breeden or just a left on French to get to the Ruckmans' house on the northeast corner of Breeden and French.

In case you have not seen them, I have put below first an aerial view of the Ruckmans' house (it is the house on the corner and the garage/apartment building north of it where Guy lives) and a front view of the house (taken in 2010).


A Walk in San Pedro Park

The day we arrived, Fred and I took a quick walk over to San Pedro Park, which is just a block south of Prudence's house. Fred was curious to see if the springs were flowing.

The springs are at the top of the San Pedro Park pool, but they don't actually feed the pool itself. A number of rock enclosures have been built around the spring, which bubbles up from below. The water then flows through a series of tunnels that take it around the pool and on into a small creek that continues to the south. The picture at left looks down the watercourse to the pool beyond.

Here's a picture I took of Fred as he was walking around the spring enclosures:


The Sunroom Decorated for Christmas

On some of the other pages this year for our visits to San Antonio, you have seen some pictures of Prudence's new sunroom. This week, however, it looks especially nice, decorated as it is for Christmas.

As I have mentioned, the sunroom was constructed in the place of the old outside patio and part of the east garden, and now it extends the full depth of the house, front to back.

In the area of the sunroom that is adjacent to the dining room, Prudence has put another long table, suitable for meals. As a matter of fact, it seems that the Ruckmans and Guy use this table for their meals more often than they do the dining room, and in the picture at left you can easily see why. The room is light, open and airy, and the expanse of glass makes you think you are outside, although you are in a comfortable, climate-controlled space.

You can see one of the two sets of French doors that Prudence had installed as entries to the sunroom from the dining room. I took three more pictures of this end of the sunroom that I want to include here. Just click on the thumbnail images below to see them:

Looking towards the
old outside wall
of the dining room
Looking towards the
rear of
Ruckman Haus
Looking out the
windows at the
east garden

I tried my hand at taking three pictures of this east wall and putting them together into a panorama. Since I was standing in one place though, either end of the panorama has a different perspective, but the end result is still interesting:

The east wall of the sunroom is almost all glass and French doors- except for the old archway from the former patio that Prudence kept as a division between the area where the table is at the back of the room and the sitting area at the front.

At the other end of the large sunroom, towards the front of the house, Prudence created a sitting area where the old outside patio used to be. The rattan furniture fits perfectly here, and the space is bright and inviting. It is now my own favorite place in the entire house to sit and read a book or the newspaper.

If you'd like to see some additional views of this sitting area, taken from various angles, just click on the thumbnail images below:

I think that the still pictures I took this morning in the sunroom show it off to good advantage; Prudence should be justifiably proud of the way her vision turned out (although it took a while). But to really get a flavor for the room, I think a movie is better, so below there is a player for a 360° movie that I made here in the sunroom:

Loading the player...


Santa Comes Early

By special arrangement, Santa came to Ruckman Haus early this year; I guess Santa understood that this would be the only way that all seven of us could be together to see what he and the reindeer (and, I suspect, Federal Express and UPS) had delivered to the seven of us for Christmas.

Before Nancy and Karl arrived from their own house out in the suburbs, Fred and I wandered around taking taking some candid pictures. Of course, I wanted to get a picture of the Christmas tree before we all lit into it, and you can see my picture at right. Unbeknownst to me, Fred had earlier got a picture of Guy and the Christmas tree.

Karl and Nancy arrived and we all had some breakfast. Before, during and just after breakfast, Fred and I took some more pictures that I want to include here, capturing just about everybody in at least one of them. If you would like to have a look, just click on the thumbnail images below:

Not being little kids, we weren't necessarily chomping at the bit to get at the presents under the tree, but eventually we all migrated to the living room to have at it. My own view on Christmas gifts changed some years ago. I am no longer much interested in seeing what folks might have gotten me, but much more anxious to see whether other folks like what I got them.

Before we got started, Fred set up the tripod for a group picture to record this first Christmas where we were all together. Seated are Nancy and Ron Ruckman, and standing, left to right, are Fred, Prudence, Guy, myself and Karl.

Of course, both Fred and I took a good many pictures while we were all opening gifts, such as this picture of Guy opening boxes.

For Fred's part, he took maybe 20 pictures as we were opening our gifts. A few didn't turn out well, and a few more were duplicates, but that left me with nine good pictures to include here from him. To have a look at any or all of them, just click on the thumbnail images below:

This seemed to be a year for interesting gifts, of course as adults who have just about everything that they might want already, we have to try to get creative in what we find. I think the most original and most personal gift from anyone to anyone (although I thought I might be in the running for that honor) was the gift that Guy gave to Fred and I.

Some months ago, we got a request from Guy that we find a picture from our travels that was taken at a place we found particularly beautiful or inspirational. Fred and I put our heads together and reviewed hundreds of pictures before settling on a picture that we took in New Mexico some years ago at a place called Valle Grande in the Jemez Mountains neart Los Alamos. Well, Guy took that photograph and painted us a picture, giving it to us framed on Christmas.

Guy's Painting

Our Original Picture

It was very enjoyable, this first time having a Christmas with Prudence and Ron, Karl and Nancy and Guy. Prudence has often said that she considered Fred and I to be family, but I never really had that feeling as I did on this trip to San Antonio.

For our part, Fred and I had the thought that we might take one of Guy's paintings and make a jigsaw puzzle out of it. I'd been investigating a company online that could do this, and I was just waiting for an opportunity. This September, while I was housesitting for Prudence while she and Ron and Guy were in Europe with Nancy and Karl, one of the errands Guy asked us to do was to pick up one of his paintings that he had had framed. This was the opportunity we'd been waiting for. We brought the painting home to Ruckman Haus and took a number of pictures of it. I chose the best one and sent it off.

When the completed 1000-pc jigsaw puzzle arrived ten days later, I was impressed with the quality of it, and so I had the idea to give the same gift to Prudence and Nancy- but not the same picture, of course. I chose two pictures that Fred and I took of Prudence and Nancy on a trip to the Dallas Arboretum in 1996, and sent both pictures off to have puzzles created.

Nancy received hers this Christmas; we already had a different gift for Prudence, so I'll hold hers for another time. At left, you can see Fred standing beside Nancy this morning while she is holding up the jigsaw puzzle. I know you can't see the puzzle all that well in the picture, but if you will click on it you can zoom in and have a look.

Incidentally, Guy subsequently put his puzzle together, glued it and took it to be framed as well. It turned out very nicely, and I am looking forward to seeing Nancy's completed puzzle.

I also took a number of candid shots of our group opening their Christmas gifts, and if you would like to have a look at some of them, just click on the thumbnail images below:


Christmas Dinner

For dinner, Prudence spent time in the kitchen working on her lasagne recipe for dinner. Not a traditional Christmas dinner, but then this wasn't Christmas. Late in the afternoon we laid out everything in the dining room so folks could help themselves and then have a seat in the sunroom. Before Fred and I went and got out own supper, we took a few candid shots of everyone serving themselves and sitting down to eat. Have a look at as many as you wish by clicking on the thumbnail images below:

We enjoyed being here in San Antonio with our extended family; perhaps this will become a yearly affair. That would be nice.

You can use the links below to continue to another photo album page.

December 25, 2015: Christmas in Dallas
December 12, 2015: An Afternoon in Downtown Dallas
Return to the Index for 2015