29 December 2005

Big Circle around the West

We took a Christmas trip from the snow of Billings (see picture of Ramada and rims below) to festive but snowless Albuquerque (see luminaria in Old Town of ABQ below) and then on to Seattle for the New Year and off to Billings on New Year Day. We started by taking the I25 straight south to Denver, and then on to ABQ. No Xmas is complete without a trip to the local CostCo. I am sure that Santa and in this case Sharon stop here just before they make their deliveries. I guess that is a single entendre.

This is a lonely road in New Mexico. But then, aren't they all in the West?

We celebrated Xmas with Sharon and Leo and Diego (intra-uterine) and then off to Seattle Xmas day. Made it to Las Vegas with no problems the first day. Of course it was easy to find a place to eat there. And to gamble for that matter. Weather and road conditions, in general, were good though some might say that almost continuous rain in the Seattle area was more than a little damp. We did run into some small snow storms in mid-Nevada and northeastern Oregon, but the rest was easy.

Got a chance to play with four grandsons from these two girls at Xmastime in Issaquah. Hmm, judging from this picture it appears to be a small miracle that these guys are all very smart.

Missoula is growing fast these days. Gone are all the downtown cowboy bars ("Liquor up front, poker in the rear"). All replaced by fern bars. Where do the bikers go now? Beginning to look like a typical university town. Here are some cold pictures taken early AM on way home to Billings in early January 06: I'm not sure how to capture this ?loss/gain.

15 September 2005

Out & About in Kenya

15 August 05

Kijabe is a small village on the eastern edge of the Rift Valley about 40km north and west of Nairobi. It is famous for a 500 bed boarding school where almost all the missionary kids in Africa come for school (Rift Valley Academy it is called); and a 200 bed hospital sponsored by the Inland Africa Church with some of the personnel supported by Franklin Graham's Samaritan's Purse; and a bible college to boot.

That is the "Path" House, left, and a part of the hospital above right.It is one of the rare places in the world that pathologists can serve as pathologists in a missionary 3rd world setting.

We received about 5000 specimens/year as many other small hospitals send their specimens there too. The only other histopathology labs are in Nairobi, associated with the medical schools in Nairobi. Specialties at Kijabe include general surgery, orthopedic surgery, especially for kids, and occasional gynecology, neurosurgery, urology and plastic surgery. There are several internal medicine folks but not much more specialized than that, and some family practitioners and anesthetists, and some dentists too. There are a fair number of junior house officers and some students on rotation as well as a fairly large school of nursing too. Good music at the weekly chapel meetings came from the nursing students.

I worked fairly hard during the week, then took off on safari on the weekend. Carol worked even harder than I did taking care of me, and also volunteered in the children's wards.

We visited the Masai Mara, Lake Naivasha, Lake Nakuru and Samburu, the first three by van and the last by small airplane as it was a long way up in the northeast part of the country. Nakuru is a basic lake so it attracts the pink flamingoes while Naivasha is a fresh water lake so it attracts the hippos.

The trip home was the worst one we have ever had. We again had to go through London, waiting there about 8 hours, then to Phoenix, to SLC and finally to Billings. Dreadful. Do not let other people make reservations for you.

There is more text and pictures of this adventure at web.mac.com/kmueller40

Click on Muellertime Blog, then on Archives, and finally you will see lots of pictures of Kenya and its wildlife.

15 August 2005

On the Way to Kenya

5 August 05

At the suggestion of Bob Thompson, an old boss of mine from Armed Forces Institute of Pathology days (that was the late 70s in Wahington DC; Bob was in the Navy and I was in the Air Force), Carol and I decided that it might be fun to serve a month as a kind of medical missionary at Kijabe, about an hour north and west of Nairobi. This was under the organization of Samaritan's Purse, a large evangelical outfit headed by Franklin Graham, Billy's son. Of course, the whole truth might be better served by mentioning that finding a place for pathology skills is not easy in the developing world. I am too old to go back to clinical pediatrics so I really jumped at the chance to serve using some skills that I still felt reasonably confident about.

But of course, in order to get to Kenya we had to go through London. What a good idea. Here we are in the picture above on the Millenium Bridge looking down the Thames. I forget the names of the next three visible bridges. That might be Tower in the background.

We had just walked down from St Paul's Cathedral, right, after attending a fairly high mass with beautiful singing around mid-day on a Sunday of all days!

We stayed in Eccleston Square, fairly close to Victoria Station, in some Edwardian townhouses now mostly converted to small hotels. I saw a plaque that indicated that Winston Churchill used to live nearby.

Of course, we couldn't resist having a look around London, (that is Eros in Piccadilly Circus with the usual gang of kids sitting at the base; and the former Globe Theatre, now the Gielgud, in the West End, above left and right). The Underground is just as quick and handy and fun to get around London as it was in the 70s.

We took a quick jaunt to RAF Halton near Wendover where we used to live in the 70s while serving with Her Majesty's Royal Air Force; and finally, we spent a day in and around Taunton visiting our friends, Andy and Jacquie Adams.

Wendover was about the same, though the old-fashioned ironmonger had disappeared, and the High St now boasted a supermarket, but RAF Halton was difficult to recognize, especially as the hospital where Peter was born is now closed. I wasn't sure about the Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine as it looked about the same, low undistinguished buildings with not much evidence of activity, i.e. about the same as it looked in the 70s. Maybe this is what moth-balled facilities look like in the UK?

The housing patches looked the same. Ours was called Rosemead if I remember right. The Officer's Mess, formerly a Rothschild mansion looked about the same.

Andy and Jacqueline were the same as always, that is, loving gentlepeople. They are in the process of getting their lovely home just outside of Taunton ready for sale, but will look for something smaller and easier to take care of in the surrounding area (Taunton is about 90 minutes from London Paddington Station.) Note the hobbit round entrance for special guests!

After 5 days in London and Taunton we flew to Nairobi on British Air with only water bottles for sustenance. Apparently the catering people were having labor difficulties.

Nairobi looked like a large village except for the downtown area which had some tall buildings. We stayed at Mayfield Guest House over the weekend and had a look around the city. We met a famous soccer player from the 60s, (that is Joe in the middle, left) before they automatically became rich, by the name of Joe Kadenga, who was our taxi driver while in Nairobi. He knew everybody and everybody knew him. Lots of fun driving around with him blowing his horn and acknowledging all his fans. We managed to pay for the shipping home of some souvenirs and then wound up paying on the other end whey they arrived in the USA. Glad to see the Kenyans were into doing some business, even if it was a little on the shady side.

07 May 2005

Ashland Oregon

These are a few of my favorite things in the Ashland area, in the mountains of southern Oregon, just 14 miles north of the border with California. The town is a small university town whose main industry is serving visitors to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which has been going on since 1935. Apparently it has only begun to assume major regional status in the last 15 or 20 years or so. Many Californians, especially from the Bay area come up here for retirement, escaping the crowded highways and taxes of California. And by selling their chicken-coop houses in the Bay area for 1-2 million and buying much nicer places in Oregon for perhaps a tenth of that amount and living on the rest.

There are lots of flowers in the springtime, and they allow tours backstage almost every day. This is really fun as they usually have one of the resident players show you around.

We started coming here some time in the middle to late 90s. Our first time was on an Elderhostel which we went on to see if we liked it because we had in mind to go to New Zealand and Australia with the same outfit. It was a marvelous week with lectures in the morning and early afternoon and plays in the evening. They usually managed to get one of the players from the show the night before to come and talk to us the next morning. They and we were fairly passionate about the theatre so it made for some good interchanges between players and audience. The latter, of course, is an essential part of the theatre. For some reason the food was extremely good for a college campus. The only drawback was that we stayed in college dorms so we had fairly Spartan single beds and shared bathrooms. It did, however, satisfy an ancient fantasy that we probably all had in the 50s of getting our girl friends or boy friends into our dorm room and running around the room naked.

Ashland is about 15 miles east of Medford, both on the I5. The latter is an agricultural center for the region. More and more grapes are being grown in this area.

There are a surprising number of good restaurants in this town of 20,000 or so.

They usually have an outdoor show in the summer before the main show(s).

30 March 2005

Spring Training 2005

March 2005: a good time to take in a little sun in Florida and Arizona, and to see a little baseball, and listen to some interesting folks at Elderhostel meetings in both places. Joe Garagiola's daughter was one of the speakers, another was one of the original ladies professional baseball team members (WWII, mid to late 40s, perhaps into the early 50s in the upper Midwest: a good reason to learn to read), and some Negro League players; got to visit the new ballpark in Phoenix before the regular season started, and just had fun talking baseball with other knowledgable and interested people.

Flew to Tampa , then drove to Ocala for a visit with brothers Tom and Russ, then back to Sarasota for the baseball.

Then went to Phoenix to meet up with Carol and her Uncle Andy and Aunt Ardy, and to see a little baseball. All right Mariner fans, who are these guys seen from a distance?

Of course, Jamie Moyer, saguaro cactus and Ichiro Suzuki, distinctive even if you couldn't see the number.

And finally, the high point of the visit to AZ, our friends and relatives of Billings MT, Brainerd MN and Mesa AZ, the LuConics, Carol Ann, Andrew and Ardyce.

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime

Downtown Billings in the SummerTime
At The BrewPub on Broadway

Downtown Phoenix

Downtown Phoenix
Downtown Phoenix in the Winter Time

Good Cheese Here

Good Cheese Here
Vermont Cheddar & Minnesota Blue


Dehler Park, Billings MT, July 2008 This is what Bart Giamatti recommends for good mental health.

Me and Joan

Me and Joan
Early elderly and middle middle age: We May Know Something You Don't

Mrs America

Mrs America
Fortunately these girls had a good-looking mother

Rimrocks @ Billings MT

Rimrocks @ Billings MT
“In beholding old stones we may feel our anxieties about our achievements–and lack of them–slacken . . . Vast landscapes [and seascapes] can have an anxiety–reducing effect similar to ruins, for they are the representatives of infinite space, as ruins are the representatives of infinite time, against which our weak, short-lived bodies seem no less inconsequential than those of moths or spiders.”—Alain de Botton in Status Anxiety

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral

Easter Sunday at St Patrick's Co-Cathedral
12 April 2009

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs

Pleasant Hillside at Hustisford, AKA The Grassy Knoll for you conspiracy buffs
A Lot of Muellers Are Buried Here
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