Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Man Behind Our Thanksgiving Poem

My Grandmother Hoopes once told me that if she could be anywhere in the world, she would chose the kitchen of her youth, with a fire blazing in the old stove, a bowl of popcorn in her lap and her father entertaining her and her sisters with stories of his boyhood. 

Sadly, my notes on Great Grandpa Andrew Divers are missing most of these stories.

I love that my Grandpa Divers came from exceptionally humble beginnings in a backwater town in deep Missouri.  I've always wondered what his extended family thought of Mormons, or if they shared any of the anti-Mormon sympathies during the mid 1800s (I hope not).  Regardless, I find it remarkable that Andrew eventually found himself at the age of 45 in Salt Lake City, madly in love (my grandmother's words) with a widowed Mormon girl and raising two girls and one stepdaughter.  

Andrew never finished his schooling and certainly never had any formal education.  But I know this man loved and valued education.  As I sit here today with Andrew's copy of Byron's Poetical Works in my hands, pages spotted with Andrew's hand written notes, I know he never stopped trying to advance the progression of his mind through self learning and lots of books.  Indeed, if his daughters were any sign of the literary, political, theological discussions which took place in the Divers home, the educational environment must have been enticingly rich.  
I think of Grandpa Divers every Thanksgiving, wondering what it would have been like to hear him recite his annual poem.  We read Whitter's words in his honor before the big feast - feeling the presence of him and so many others who stay close to us on the other side.   

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and from South comes the pilgrim and guest;
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored;
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before;
What moistens the lip and what brightens the eye,
What calls back the past, like the rich Pumpkin pie?

…Then thanks for thy present! none sweeter or better
E’er smoked from an oven or circled a platter!
Fairer hands never wrought at a pastry more fine,

Brighter eyes never watched o’er its baking, than thine!
And the prayer, which my mouth is too full to express,
Swells my heart that thy shadow may never be less,
That the days of thy lot may be lengthened below,
And the fame of thy worth like a pumpkin-vine grow,
And thy life be as sweet, and its last sunset sky
Golden-tinted and fair as thy own Pumpkin pie!

-John Whittier, The Pumpkin-

Hettie (back), Virginia, Andrew and Betty (front)

Andrew with daughter Virginia

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Book? - Maisy Makes Lemonade by Lucy Cousins

Song? - "How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?"

Scripture? - "When... when we're reading the church book at night.  I like night."

Poem? - Music Lesson by Shel Silverstein 

Motto? - "Feefee"

Ambition? - "Be dad"

College? - "I want to go to school"

Mission? - America

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

My Current Daydream Becomes Reality

My cell phone started ringing in the middle of my morning meeting today...

(It's the school.  Which kid is it?  Did I miss something?  Are they sick?  Are they hurt?)

"Mrs. McKinnon, we're calling about your oldest son."

(My oldest son??  Sigh!  I'll bet it was that stupid Trevor kid.  Maybe we should tell him not to play soccer during recess anymore.  Dang it, now I gotta think about consequences.  How soon can I get out of this meeting?)

"Actually, we're calling to tell you that this month he's made the 200 Club."

"Oh... Um..." (What the heck is the 200 Club?)

"We wanted to call and tell you the good news."

"So this is good?"


"You mean... you're actually calling to tell me my child did something GOOD at school?"



"Mrs. McKinnon??" 

Friday, November 14, 2014


Book? - Holes by Louis Sachar

Song? - "Best Day of My Life" by American Authors

Scripture? - The story of Ammon.

Poem? - Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out by Shel Silverstein 

Motto? - "Just do this"

Ambition? - Inventor

College? - BYU

Mission? - Russia

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Finally... Halloween 2014


October is
when night guzzles up
the orange sherbet sunset
and sends the day
to bed
before supper
October is when jack-o'-lanterns
grin in the darkness
            strange company crunches
across the rumple of dry leaves
to ring a doorbell.
October is
when you can be ghost,
            a witch,
                        a creature from outer space…
almost anything!
And the neighbors, fearing tricks,
            give you treats.

-Bobbi Katz- 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Our Witches

Back in the middle of the summer, I found these unfinished ceramic witches on clearance for .20 each.  They stayed packed away in my office until the first week of October.  And then they spent the rest of the month decorating the top of our piano. 

I’m hoping they last a few years... 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Post October

October went far too quickly.  But those 31 days are still worthy of a healthy dose of prose.  Even if it's late....


Dawn comes later and later now,   
and I, who only a month ago
could sit with coffee every morning   
watching the light walk down the hill   
to the edge of the pond and place   
a doe there, shyly drinking,

then see the light step out upon   
the water, sowing reflections   
to either side—a garden
of trees that grew as if by magic—
now see no more than my face,   
mirrored by darkness, pale and odd,

startled by time. While I slept,   
night in its thick winter jacket   
bridled the doe with a twist
of wet leaves and led her away,
then brought its black horse with harness   
that creaked like a cricket, and turned

the water garden under. I woke,   
and at the waiting window found   
the curtains open to my open face;   
beyond me, darkness. And I,
who only wished to keep looking out,   
must now keep looking in.

-Ted Kooser

Monday, November 3, 2014

Days We All Have

There are days when in spite of their good intentions or their Plan B or their built up reserves or even their tight-fisted determination - their little backs just can't carry anything more. 

And there's absolutely nothing I can do except to hold them tight and tell them things will be better in the morning. 

And pray.