Going Home Again

Aug 21

Going Home Again

It’s been two years since we visited Minnesota and North Dakota. The 2014 trip was for a funeral so we only stayed a few days. This time we are taking three weeks to see our families and friends. It is always nice to talk “Minnesotian” again. We tried an AirBNB listing having an entire house or in our case, half of the duplex. It was a perfect spot from a week-long stay in St. Paul. The Merriam Park neighborhood was new for me so it’s fun to explore and find a great restaurant nearby, The Neighborhood Café as well as the Cahoot’s Coffee Bar. I can’t forget O’Gara’s Bar and Grill that stood on the corner since 1941.

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All in the Family

Feb 27

Boyle Cousins

Owen Boyle, Kitty McCullin, Dan Boyle, 3rd cousins

Boyle Ireland

Owen Kerr, 3rd cousin and Dan Boyle

Genealogy is not my passion; it is Dan’s hobby. I do get roped into his hobby when some formatting, scanning, and emailing of documents is needed. I have been busy with those efforts since June. After many years of sharing his family history articles with close relatives, they have reached a broader audience.

In June, a long lost cousin, Chuck Boyle, sent an email through Ancestry.com hoping to make a connection. Chuck is a first cousin, one generation removed. His father was Dan’s first cousin. The email conversation started with Dan sharing family information including papers that Dan had written years before. Chuck was so impressed with what Dan had done; he said the information needed to be available for the ages.

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Vegas Family Reunion

Jun 23


Standing: Lindsey Wall, Lianne Shea, Ali Wall, Jeff Wall and Vivian, Heather Reusse, Tom Reusse. Seating: Lauren Waikart and Natalie, Tom Wall, Dan Boyle, Ann MacKay

The family get together started small. My brother, Tom, asked if we would be interested in using one of his time-share weeks when he did an exchange in Las Vegas. His son and daughter-in-law live there with two young children. We thought it was a great idea. We could see the babies that we haven’t seen and enjoy a new city.

By the time the planning ended, here was the lineup:

  • Ann and Dan from Catonsville Maryland
  • Heather (sister) and Tom from Afton, Minnesota
  • Tom (brother) and Ali from Midlothian Virginia
  • Lauren (Tom’s daughter) and Natalie ( 6 months old) Waitkart from Bethesda, Maryland
  • Lianne Shea, (Ali’s sister) Seattle, Washington
  • David Shea, (Ali’s brother) Richmond, Virginia
  • Holly (my first cousin) and John Cahill from Boulder, Colorado

A few people are missing in the photo, David went home early and Holly and John arrived later in the day. Six-month-old, Everett, was home with a babysitter. As a side note, I used the camera remote on my Apple watch to take a photo using the timer feature on my iPhone. Notice I still have my wrist up in the air.

We are all related to the Wall children, age 23 months and five months old. We are great uncles and great aunts, uncles and aunts, and first cousin once removed. The last time my brother and sister were together was for my father’s funeral in 2012.

IMG_0418.JPGThe Hilton Grand Vacation Club on Paradise was our home base. We had a modern, well-equipped one bedroom apartment in a quiet location just one block from the Strip. There were no slots in the lobby!

We had family time, show time, and meal time. Las Vegas was new to me. If you want to go to shows, it is not cheap. What’s another 130 bucks when you may not be back. We did see the following shows, some with family members and others on our own.


IMG_5373My lungs got a workout with the smoky casinos. I missed the Maryland no smoking in bars and restaurants. Of course, the signage is poor so you can’t find your way out. Most of the theaters require a trek through the casinos. It was nice to have the self-parking garages for all the hotels. We had a rental car, so we did take advantage of the free parking. It seemed like it blocks to get from the garage to the destination inside the hotel.

IMG_5401We also discovered trams from one hotel to another. We managed to see the Mirage Volcano and the Bellagio Dancing Fountains by taking the tram from another location.



IMG_0023.JPGWe did see the Hoover Dam with Holly and John. Too bad Friday was 100 degrees. We did take the 30-minute  tour rather than wait two hours for the longer version. Half an hour was just right. The water is low compared to the line in the rock showing the normal water height.

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Cabin in the Woods

May 18

living room


Cabin deck Years ago, 42, in fact, a cabin in the woods was built nine miles south of Berkeley Springs, WV. All these years laters, it is still in the Boyle family. Dan and his former wife, Elaine, built it as their weekend “get-away” to enjoy with their young daughters.

The grown daughters are now in charge of the upkeep and maintenance of the very functional and livable three bedrooms, one bath cabin. We enjoyed a weekend over Mother’s Day with daughter, Kristin for part of the time. We don’t rough it in the woods unless you call the intermittent cell phone service roughing it.

The 40-year-old development is wearing well. Vacation homes are on 2-5 acre lots, so you feel close to nature. We stop for drinking water at the historic Berkeley Springs Gentlemen’s Springs. Although the cabin has a well that is drinkable, getting water from the springs has been a long-standing tradition. We were prepared with some containers, so we stopped before driving out of town.

Dan and I were on our own the first night. We listened to music and read unwinding after our “hectic” life at Charlestown. Kristin arrived to take us to dinner at Tari’s in Berkeley Springs on Mother’s Day. We drove around nearby Cacapon Resort State Park. The evening ended with us gazing at the stars through a canopy of leaves and clouds. It has been a very long time since I have seen stars without the light pollution of a big city.

Kristin made breakfast before we had to leave so I could get back for a 2 pm meeting. Nature is very restorative. The drive through the park, the walk in the woods, and the quiet of the evening and the stars made it a very memorable weekend. The photos were taken by Brenda K. Boyle on one of her trips to the cabin.

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Padre Island, Texas

Mar 31

This blog started out as a travel blog with reports from our travels. Our travels slowed down when we moved to Charlestown in 2012. It seems harder to get away for trips with my committee commitments.

But a trip to Padre Island, the barrier island near Corpus Christi took care of the travel bug for a few months. Kaye Witzman, Dan’s niece, invited us to visit her at the beachfront condo, she is renting for the winter. What a treat to be beach front in a corner condo unit. Our bedroom faced Gulf of Mexico, so we have a wall of windows.

It was an enjoyable week with walks on the beach, lounging poolside, and a visit to Kings Ranch near Kingsville. Kaye is a wonderful hostess plying us with food and drink. Dan celebrated his birthday with dinner and buttermilk pie in lieu of cake.

He searched for ankle high cowboy boots at two different stores to no avail. A trip to an online store solved that problem when we got home.

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A View from the Monastery

Aug 31

Speak Room

Speak Room

Sr. Mary Agnes

Sr. Mary Agnes

I always enjoy visits with my youngest sister. I like to say my sister, the sister. She is indeed a Discalced Carmelite (OCD) nun in a monastery in Pittsford, NY, just two blocks from Rochester, NY. We use the iPad to show her the family photos. This time I had her take a few photos with it. She caught on very fast as you can see from these photos. On this visit, she talked about being a hermit. It started when I asked her if she would share stories from our visit during recreation. She said no. That got me thinking because I knew the Carmelites worked in silence and solitude, but I haven’t heard the term hermit before as it related to her order. She talked about the history of the Carmelites and the start on Mount Carmel as hermits living close to each other. That resulted in me doing some Googling when I got home.

As Wikipedia reports, “Carmelites trace their roots and their name to Mount Carmel in the Holy Land. There, in the 13th century, a band of European men gathered together to live a simple life of prayer. These early hermits were mostly laity, who lived an unofficial religious life of poverty, penance and prayer. Between 1206 and 1214, St. Albert, Patriarch of Jerusalem, brought the hermits on Mount Carmel together, at their request, into a community. He wrote them a formula for living, which expressed their intention and reflected the spirit of the pilgrimage to the Holy Land and of the early community of Jerusalem. Over the years, the Rule was “mitigated” several times. Consequently, the Carmelites bore less and less resemblance to the first hermits of Mount Carmel. Along came Spanish saint, St. Teresa of Avila, who worked with St. John of the Cross to return to the Primitive Rule of the early hermits.

The Carmelite charism or characteristic that inspires the group and distinguishes it from other religious is prayer and contemplation. Even today, in addition to the daily celebration of the full Liturgy of the Hours, two hours are set aside for uninterrupted silent prayer. Carmelite communities are kept fairly small. Eleven nuns live in the Pittsford Monastery.

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