where the writers are

My dad, a high school science teacher, formally introduced me to the concept of east when I was nine. Prior to my introduction, east was, “We’re not going west.” Or “When are we going home?”
Dad also introduced me to internal compass spinning, the process in which your set point shifts a hundred and eighty degrees and back in a relatively short time. I adapted, but it created a lifelong directional deficit because my inherited set point was west.

At the turn of the 19th century, my great-grandfather, Granville James Boyle, took his first steps in America on eastern soil. He was an educated, young Irish man of noble descent raised on Liz Moore Castle Farms in County Waterford. Granville didn’t dally in the eastern cities. He pointed his genteel leather boots in the right direction and followed his dreams and the sunsets to the Great American West.
My great-grandfather was sidetracked to the south briefly, and spent some time in Kentucky. The Irish in him was to blame as fine women, whiskey and racehorses claimed a large percentage of his inheritance. Granville settled in Wyoming, where my grandfather, mother and dozens of descendents were raised to shade their eyes with their hands, look west, and avoid racetracks.

In the mid-1950’s, my grandfather moved his family to Colorado. I was born in an eastern plains town, longingly looking westward in 1960.  We relocated to Littleton in 1968. I grew up at the foot of the Rockies and quickly learned to use the steadfast mountains as my western reference point. It was a perfect solution except during blizzards.
In June, 1969 and for the next eleven Junes, the default setting of my compass was spun like the dial on Wheel of Fortune as my family happily headed east on our 2,202 mile, four day, it-was-pure-hell-by-the-last-day drive to Center Barnstead, NH.
Correction: a native New Englander like my dad says “back east” as in “Rowbutta and I are heading back east on June 4th.”
Translation: Rowbutta (Roberta) is my mathuh.
In August, 1969 and for the next eleven Augusts, the default setting of my compass was spun like the dial on the Game of Life as my family happily headed west on our 2,202 mile, four day, it-was-pure-hell-by-the-last-day drive back to Littleton, Colorado.
Correction: a native New Englander like my Grandmother Pitman said “out west” as in “Kannee and Rowberter are headed out west August twenty-foeorth.”
Translation: Kannee (Kenny) is my fathuh and Rowberter (Roberta) you already know. Foeorth is fourth.
We had adventures during our summer trips.  We took a side trip to Washington D.C. in 1972. It was pretty normal—saw the Lincoln Memorial and toured the House—until we were kicked out of the Smithsonian due to flooding in the basement because of Hurricane Agnes. It rained for three days but it didn’t stop my brother and me from swimming in the pool at the Howard Johnsons. Our hotel was across the street from the Watergate and we were there during the break-ins. We really wish we’d said something about those funny lights.
On a trip back east in 1974, my parents made an emergency stop to find a hardware store so Dad could build a divider to separate my one-year old, twin siblings in their playpen. Jason was crawling all over Beth and she didn’t appreciate it. In the days prior to car seats, a playpen was the safe way for one-year olds to travel thousands of miles while sharing the back of a Buick Station wagon with the dog. I don’t know who drooled down my back more; the twins or our Labrador.
Where am I headed with this? I don’t know. I’ve lived in the Ozark Mountains in Missouri almost sixteen years. The hills and hollows are ancient and deep; the woods are thick and the horizon virtually non-existent. My vehicles are too old to have GPS systems. The roads are so curvy and windy; heads truly spin in circles because everybody but the driver gets carsick the first five years you live here.
My break comes in winter when the leaves lie quietly on the forest floor, allowing me to see through the woods. In the late afternoon, I follow the outline of the hills until I catch a glimpse of the horizon. The familiar pink, orange and rose colors of the setting sun point the way home.

10 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

No horizon...

Interesting to learn about your fathuh and mathuh. And your Irish great grandfather.

Comment Bubble Tip



I enjoyed this blog...so much so it didn't feel like a contest.

I truly appreciate your interest in my family history and stories.


Comment Bubble Tip

If I say too many superlatives ,..

... you'll just get a swelled head, and then how will you find your way west? Or east. That was delicious. Especially the last paragraph. Thank you.


Comment Bubble Tip



Your delicious superlatives won't give me a swelled head for more than five seconds; that's how long it takes for my writer insecurities to let the air out.

The last paragraph was the easiest one. Funny how that happens sometimes.


Comment Bubble Tip

The easiest paragraph ...

... seems to happen when we're not trying too hard, when emotion and writing skill suddenly harmonize and we just let it out.

See? You've got it.

All the best,


Comment Bubble Tip

This Yankee Missed It...

Don't know how I missed this the first time around. (Actually, I usually pay little attention to the challenges.) But at any rate I'm diggin it now. And an Ed's Pick, too! Well deserved.

Comment Bubble Tip



Go Yankees! (NOT the baseball team.)

Your congratulations are always appreciated.

I don't know where that last sentence came from. I almost erased it but thought no, why not keep it? Hubby thought "stet", too.

Geez, you get to a certain age and nobody cares what you do.


Comment Bubble Tip

Born and reared in Alabama,

Born and reared in Alabama, working and living all my life in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia, I learned of that horizon you call home on a business trip about 30 years ago. I have never been the same since my first trip out that way. My daughter and I once got in the car for a short road trip and ended up in El Paso. My best friend and I have driven from Georgia to California and back the last two years. We once flew to Las Vegas, rented a Mustang convertible and drove to we hit a fork in the road. We turned left and ended up in San Francisco. The west is the only place I have ever been homesick for that I never lived. Thanks for painting that horizon again for me.

Comment Bubble Tip

Western Horizons


Your impromptu trip to San Francisco sounds like it was a blast. I'll never forget the first time I saw the bay. It was a perfect day in March. The beauty of the setting sun striking the bay and bridge caused quite a reaction. I said, "This is the most beautiful place I've seen." My brother-in-law, a world-weary, world traveler, looked at me funny so I said, "Well, so far." Photographers were lined up on the hill, waiting to capture the moment the bridge became 'golden.' 

The western sunsets beckon even if the west isn't home. They say- there's magic and adventure out here. What are you waiting for?

You said, "Thanks for painting that horizon again for me." I wish I could actually paint. It would be easier to conjure home if I could quickly glance at a rendering on the wall. I'm limited to painting with words, as you so eloquently put it, which can also be hard. (Unless you're one of those writers who have the gall to write and paint well.)

Thanks for reading and commenting. 


Comment Bubble Tip

I have painted, but it is

I have painted, but it is too slow, and much harder for me. I am fortunate in that both sides of my brain work well together. I can be a scientist one day and an artist the next. Because of my scientific side, I think I want all my paintings to be perfect, like the science. It's hard for me to paint anything I really like.

For some reason, my scientific brain is not as critical when I venture down a written path. That let's let really emerse myself into the writing. The writing is like magic when the fingers and mind become one. The words just drip out right onto the keys. The computer makes it so easy to quickly capture one idea in print, so I can race on to the next. On the good days, the ideas come in rapid fire. I wish I could type faster sometimes.

When I ride out west, I like to stay off the interstate highways and travel the lost roads. There are great folks around every corner that I want to talk with. I even had a great time in Kansas.