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.

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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!

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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.

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Southeastern Ohio, Saturday Morning Panorama

My sister’s land again. So peaceful here.

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Clouds over the Countryside

One thing I don’t like about living in a city is that in the ordinary course of a day you don’t see much of the sky. Buildings and trees block out most of what’s not directly overhead. In the country it’s a different story. I love seeing the sky here.

Clouds hung low over the countryside in this view from my sister’s house earlier today.

And sunset lit up a tall bank of clouds above the field behind my parents’ house this evening.

Although I’ve enjoyed seeing expansive clouds during the day, I’m hoping for a cloudless night before I leave. So far it has been too overcast to see stars, and I don’t get to see them at home. Sure, in Milwaukee we have Orion and the Big (and sometimes Little) Dipper. But city lights block out starlight. And the few stars that manage to shine through are nothing like what you can see in the country.

Where, on a good night, the sky looks like someone poured an entire canister of salt across black velvet. Just an astonishing number of stars, providing a glimpse into the infinite universe.

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Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco

I’m visiting family this week in southeastern Ohio. This is Appalachian coal and tobacco country, known physiographically as the Allegheny Plateau. I was so happy to see this familiar advertisement on the side of the road this morning that I asked my dad to pull over so I could take a picture. We don’t seem have Mail Pouch barns in Wisconsin, although Wikipedia tells me that some were painted there. According to that Wikipedia article on Mail Pouch Tobacco barns, all barns were painted between 1891 and 1992. As can be seen with this barn, most of the signs are deteriorating with age. I know their days are numbered. Some year I’ll come back for a visit and there will be no Mail Pouch barns nestled into the hillsides along winding country roads. That makes me sad.

A better look at the sign itself

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The sky is bigger than it needs to be

Partly sunny? Partly cloudy? Or . . . ?

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