When I came back to work at the University of Illinois, I found that a local businessman was running a coffee shop with branches in the Siebel Center and the Mechanical Engineering Lab. In the spring of 2015 he decided to get out of the coffee business. The shop in MEL is now vacant, but the Siebel location was subsequently occupied by the Einstein Bros. bagel-and-beverage-and-pastry chain, which has set up this gauntlet of coffee and tea canisters for thirsty customers to fill their cups.
After a slow start, spring is quite advanced here in central Illinois. This year’s irises are just beginning to bloom, and yellow ones like this have not appeared yet, so I’ll get their forebears from last year to stand in for me while I wait for an opportunity to take some new pictures. 🙂
I have blogged before about the Monticello Railway Museum, one of our local hidden treasures. A couple of years back they completed a project to build a replica interlocking tower, named for Richard P. Stair, a now-deceased long-time volunteer. It contains two different styles of original Illinois Central interlocking machines, salvaged from Gibson City, IL and Tuscola, IL.
On some weekends you can get a tour of the interlocking tower, where one of the volunteers will explain how the system works. An interlocking machine is really a kind of analog computer, with connections between the levers that will move multiple switches to guarantee that two trains do not attempt to occupy the same segment of track at the same time. The volunteers, many of whom used to work for various railroads, will also be happy to tell you that the Stair Tower is much too clean and much too comfortable, a dandified version of the dirty and drafty places they used to work. 🙂
“Photography” comes from Greek roots meaning “to write with light,” but what makes a photograph compelling is often not light simpliciter but contrast: light against dark, dark against light, and the boundaries where they mix. The pattern in this photograph repeats itself every afternoon for a few days in late September in the building where I work, and one day I determined to capture the dappling of direct sun on the otherwise dark interior. I didn’t dare push the contrast much harder than this, though, because of the dark sign on the wall.
August 2016 marked the 100th anniversary of the death of John Lancaster Spalding, first Bishop of Peoria. The cathedral in Peoria had for some time been in need of repair and restoration, which was completed in time for this anniversary. The cathedral looks better than I’ve ever seen it, a beautiful mother church for the diocese and an offering to God.
I also sing and direct Gregorian chant, and was asked to come with a choir to Peoria on the evening of August 24, 2016, for a Solemn Requiem Mass celebrated for Archbishop Spalding. Mass was celebrated in the Extraordinary Form, or “Tridentine” or “Latin Mass” as it is sometimes called, the way Mass was celebrated before 1964.
In the Extraordinary Form, funerals and memorial Masses without a body require a symbolic casket or platform, called a catafalque, surrounded by six candles as an actual casket with a body would be. The picture above depicts the catafalque for Archbishop Spalding: a simple black-draped pillar on which is placed a bishop’s mitre. Simple yet dignified and in keeping with the occasion.