village (of oak park) people and places

On Monday, I made the 12-hour hike from Jackson, Mississippi, to Oak Park, Illinois. I loved the drive through north Mississippi. So many trees. So green. The rest of the drive was kind of a slog, but I made it (with one dog and cat in tow) to Oak Park by about 6 p.m. The apartment/flat is cuter/bigger than I remember. (Always a good combo.) Noodled around the Village the last two days, and here’s what I found.

The Village people (I guess I’m one of them now) are very nice. They sound a lot like me, which is equal parts odd and comforting.

As for places, the Village has some neat ones to explore. The Oak Park Conservatory has the most fantastic Ponderosa Lemon tree. For real.

Oak Park Illinois Oak Park Conservatory Ponderosa lemon tree

The public library is a campus. I could easily get lost in there for hours, I’m sure.

Oak Park Illinois Oak Park Public Library

And then there are many murals, which I quite love.

Oak Park Illinois Murals Street Art

Oak Park Illinois Murals Street Art

Spring seems weeks away–very few flowers or much green right now. So for the time being I plan on enjoying cheer and color in places where I find it.

mom’s uncle jimmy was a world-famous trick roper

This may surprise you, given my strong ties to and affinity for big city (Chicago) living. My roots are solidly Midwestern, and one of my relatives (Jimmy Kaaro of Lewiston) was inducted posthumously into the Montana Cowboy Hall of Fame in 2011. Jimmy was a famed circus performer and trick roper in his day. My Aunt Nan shared this photo with me, which I love.

Jimmy Kaaro

Jimmy was adopted by my grandmother’s Aunt Ellen and her husband in Lewiston, Montana in 1917. When Jimmy was in the ninth grade, he quit school to break horses for $2.50 a head. When he was 16, he rode his first bucking horse at a rodeo. I mean, my goodness. I understand that he performed in circuses, rodeos, fairs, and even the Johnny Carson Tonight Show. My Aunt Nan has fond memories of her Uncle Jimmy. He would spin his rope and lasso her and her siblings at family get togethers in Lewiston.

Jimmy continued to perform as a trick roper well into his 60s. Exactly one day after retiring from the Montana State Labor Department, he performed at the Sheriff & Peace Officers Association Convention in Hamilton, Montana, where he accidentally fell off his horse and later died from his injuries.

To learn about Jimmy, head on over here. Here’s to a great life lived.


I previously shared this on my personal FB page, so if you’re friends with me on FB, I apologize for the redundancy. But I am sharing a link to audio clips so hope this post is worth your while.

I was on a plane last month to O’Hare and noticed this unusual sound. It was squarish and a bit odd. That’s when it hit me: The sound was the Midwestern accent. And this is what I must sound like to Mississippians. Egad! It occurred to me on the plane that if accents were shapes, the Midwestern accent would be a square. Clean lines, kind of pointy every now and then, and sanitized. The Deep South accent would be a long letter S on its side. Drawn out, round edges.

Jackson Mississippi Deep South accents

Don’t believe me? The International Dialects of English Archive has hundreds of recordings. Give these a listen:

Like I said, a long letter S on its side. Really lovely.