Friday, June 26, 2009


Doves amuse me. No wonder
cats stay entertained when watching
a dove walk. The faster they go,
the faster their heads slide forward
and backward like on a train track,
speeding along until I laugh.

Cooo coo cooooooooooo!
Wo-o-o-o Wo-o-o-o-o-o-o!
I want to make train noises
when a dove runs. Draw a dove
with a horizontal pulley
and speed lines at the neck
to illustrate how fast
the dove-train head moves.

Last Breakfast in Des Moines

A shy servant in her 60s smiled as I spooned
breakfast buffet food onto my plate.
I wondered if she was a Bosnian refugee.
Her shoulder-length hair, bleached, dry, wiry--
looked shampooed but unconditioned. She weighed
more than I weigh, a head taller, grayish-blue eyes.
Her English sufficient. She understood enough.
While I waited for plain, scrambled eggs,
she asked, "Are you coming back again next year?"

"No, Ma'am. I'm going to Florida. This Conference
meets in a different state each year. Do you travel much?"
"Vunce (once) a year I go to Yōō'dup (Europe) to see my father."
Soon, she implied that her mother passed away,
had been gone since '94. Tears and sadness welled
on the whites of her eyes. The more she spoke,
the more she gulped her words. A lump formed
in my throat, tears rolled into my eyes.

"God bless you, Ma'am." I extended my arms,
wrapped them around her neck, pressing
my right cheek against hers, offered a hug.
"I must sit down now to eat my breakfast."
We nodded our heads at each other. "Goodbye."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

ACE Conference in Des Moines, Iowa

I just got back late last Wednesday from an ACE Conference in Des Moines, Iowa. I was gone for six days. ACE stands for Association for Communication Excellence (in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Life and Human Sciences). I stayed at the Des Moines Marriott Downtown--a very nice hotel. My room was on the 15th floor and yes, I slept on a big, plump, king-sized bed.

The pre-conference writing workshop was excellent. The writing, publishing, and photography breakout sessions were great and interesting. I even sat in on a two-part session where we made baby sock monkeys. I didn't get to finish mine though. I guess sock monkeys are a big thing in Iowa. Not many people showed up at the Graphic Design Special Interest Group meeting. I took lots and lots of notes and had more stuff to haul back in my big suitcase (which was almost too heavy to make it back on the plane).

The Publishing Powerhouses Tour was excellent. On that tour, I saw the Des Moines Register (the local newspaper that's been around since 1849), the Meridith Corporation (a humongous company responsible for anything and everything that has to do with Better Homes and Gardens), and August Home Publishing Company (who publish "how-to" information magazines like Woodsmith, Workbench, ShopNotes, Garden Gate and Cuisine at Home). I was disappointed with the tour through the Des Moines Register. We get there, we're led to the fourth floor and into a conference room to hear some guy talk mostly about the newspaper's Web site. No tour through the facility (because the workers were on deadline). No tour to see their huge presses because apparently their presses are in another building somewhere else. At the Meridith Corporation, I got to see displays, the testing kitchens, the prop rooms and photo shoot rooms where photos are taken for all the magazines they do. The Meridith Corporation is one amazing operation. I was thoroughly impressed. The August Home Publishing Company was interesting. We toured through three buildings to see the wood working shops, wood finishing shops and some beautiful, finished furniture. The three tour guys were so down home.

As usual when I travel somewhere, I had issues with the food served at the guest speaker luncheons and dinners (because of my milk product food allergies; and boy-oh-boy, there were milk products in just about everything). Other than that, I think the ACE Conference was better than the one last year (in Traverse City, Michigan).

Lots of stuff happened at the Conference. On Monday night, we were under a tornado warning which touched down 16 miles away from where we were. So that was close. I didn't catch which town was hit by that tornado, nor did I hear how much damage it caused. My necklace I made sold at the live auction for $150. I tried to sell some other handmade choker necklaces, but no one bought any. I did sell one of my poetry chapbooks though. I attended the ACE Banquet, a reception honoring Dr. Jim Evans, and entertainment by the eXtension Chords. Yes, I had fun shaking my booties. I buddied around with two other people from New Mexico State University and three people from North Dakota State University. At least I wasn't lonely. I went to the State Historical Building for our "night out" with food, dancing, and to see the exhibits. I hope you enjoy some of the photos I took. See below.

Buildings in Des Moines, Iowa

© 2009 Photos by Sue Miller

State Historical Building Exhibits - Des Moines, Iowa

© 2009 Photos by Sue Miller