Shades of Green

After a very rainy spring and summer, Milwaukee has been very dry and unseasonably warm for weeks now. I took this photo on my way to Starbucks after my 8:00 class this morning. You don’t even have to guess the exact area where the shade of the Campus Center blocks out the hottest sun of the day.

Posted in Milwaukee, Nature | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why do Lands’ End and L.L. Bean have the same cover?

That weird synchronicity that saw A Bug’s Life and Antz released just a month apart in fall 1998 strikes again. Look at these two catalogs we just received in the mail. (My husband’s eagle eye caught this.)

How did this happen? Were the covers inspired by images trending on Pinterest or something? Or are they the paint-by-numbers result of market research data analysis? Or maybe brainwashing by aliens? 🙂

There are photography styles that catch on and become widespread to the point of cliché. But it’s not just the general idea that’s been repeated here. From the little girls’ identical hairstyles to the moms’ and daughters’ similar pajama styles to the light shining through the windows beyond the airborne daughters to the positioning of the lamps in the corner, these two photos are like twins.

Inspiration is cool. Copying is lame. It can be hard to tell the difference.

But if these were student papers in a freshman composition class, I might be suspecting “plagiarism.”

Posted in Life, Photography, Popular culture, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cattle in the Field

One last post of photos from Ohio. (The one in today’s post was actually taken by my dad. I may have cropped it, but that’s all the credit I can claim 🙂 ) Although I’ve been back for a few weeks now, I’ve been very busy catching up on work. I had intended to put up this post on my last evening at my parents’ house. But we needed a really early start the next morning for our drive up to Milwaukee, so between packing for the trip and trying to get a decent night’s sleep, I didn’t.

Up on the hill behind my mom and dad’s home is a field where a neighbor grazes cattle. Being a city girl, I am pretty fascinated by the proximity of livestock to their patio. I like to sit outside and drink my coffee while watching them, sort of the way I’d sit on a dock on a quiet lake Up North watching loons or maybe on a pier at the ocean watching the seagulls.

A few observations on bovine behavior:

Their young are clearly “young.” The really small calves stay close to mom, and when they stray too far away, their mother starts to bellow in distress. Maybe because she’s worried? Or her udder is too full?

The older calves seem to pal around with each other, racing down the hill and then gamboling together like puppies—whirling, feinting, pouncing, and just having a grand time.

Until, as my dad phrased it, the day comes when suddenly those youngsters are 800 pounds on skinny legs and have to eat all day to keep themselves going.

The grazing is relentless. The entire herd seems to move as one unit, consuming its way from one end of the field to the other, where it then turns around and launches its voracious collective appetite in the opposite direction. And grazing is loud. These animals don’t nibble. They tear the grass from the ground with a decisive ripping noise. From far away, you’d never guess how violent sounding that peaceful tableau of cattle on a hillside actually is.

Shortly after I got home, the video below appeared in my feed after one of my friends liked it on Facebook. Watching it reminded me of those young cows playing in the field behind my parents’ house.

And seeing it right after my week of watching cattle so closely, I began to wonder whether cows actually have more personality than I ever previously guessed. The answer is yes.

There are lots more videos like this on YouTube, plus videos of cows navigating staircases, activating latches to open doors and gates, pushing levers to turn on water faucets, and best of all snuggling up against their favorite humans and closing their eyes in pleasure to savor a chin scratch.

Kinda makes me want to rethink the whole hamburger thing.


Posted in Life | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Visiting with Sonia

What a nice surprise this afternoon to discover that my old friend Sonia was broadcasting her WMSE (91.7FM) “Blues Drive” radio show from the Grohmann Museum to promote Gallery Night. I was working late this afternoon when I saw her set up with all her equipment in the corner near the second floor elevator. When I stopped to say hello, she put me on the air and asked me about my students, the museum’s art, and my blog.

As I tried to explain my blog’s name, I realized it could use a better title than “” It seemed so simple when I set it up, especially since “Katherine Wikoff” was the first potential domain name I tried that wasn’t already taken when I went to register my blog. A “titled” blog name would be a lot easier to describe and a lot more memorable than my own “name” name. But, oh well. It is what it is.

Sonia and I have known each other since working together many years ago. In October 2012, a few months after starting my blog, I visited her while she did her Friday afternoon “Blues Drive” show at WMSE and then wrote up an account of our conversation in a blog post.

It is one of my most viewed posts ever. So if you’d like to read more about the voice behind Milwaukee’s best (actually America’s best, in my opinion 🙂 ) blues show, you can link to my “Sonia – Blues Radio DJ” post here.

Posted in Life, Milwaukee, Music, Writing, blogging | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Remo’s Footlong Hotdogs

A visit home is not complete without a stop in town (because my parents live somewhat “out”) at Remo’s for a footlong hotdog with sauce. They keep frozen pint containers in back, so it’s easy to take some home to Milwaukee!

Posted in Food, Travel | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Unfamiliar Familiar

Lots of memories stirring, first yesterday at a flea market with my mom and then again today at the grocery store.

Like these guys, which I never see in my daily life. It wouldn’t shock me to discover that some of my students might not even recognize what they are.

And then these Southern treats on the shelves at Piggly Wiggly.

I don’t smoke and do not own an ashtray. However, I grew up in a time when every household had ashtrays because even if people in your own family didn’t smoke, you’d eventually have company over who did. I’ve never eaten a Moon Pie, and I’ve only ever made sausage gravy from scratch. I didn’t even know it came in cans.

Encountering these items, so alien and yet so immediately familiar, conjured up a weird sense of nostalgia: evoking a past not really mine but filled with strangely comforting memories all the same.

Posted in Life, Photography | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

Southeastern Ohio, Saturday Morning Panorama

My sister’s land again. So peaceful here.

Posted in Nature, Photography | Tagged , | 6 Comments