The Cemetery of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava, Lake County

After leaving Marytown on Saturday, I headed north on Milwaukee Ave. A few miles from of Libertyville’s lively main streets, in an area not quite rural — call it exurban — is the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery. At least, that’s a shortened form of the name, since there’s wording in English and Serbian over a gate on the property that calls the entire property (in English), the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava.

Near the cemetery is a church, presumably the monastery’s church (more about which later). I didn’t investigate any of the other buildings off in the distance, which are presumably the places for monks to live and otherwise follow their vocation. The map also tells me that St. Sava College is a little ways up the road.

Anyway, I came to see the cemetery. It’s been receiving Orthodox Serbs for about 90 years. The place is thick with weighty headstones.

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery

With a mix of Cyrillic and Roman lettering.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeteryThere’s little funerary art, as seen in cemeteries steeped in Western European traditions, unless you count variations on the Cross. A few stones told in some detail of the person at rest, at least if you read Serbian.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeterySome sites included wooden crosses along with stone markers. A few had no headstone at all.

Some stones are of a distinctly modern cast, and in English.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeteryI’ve read that Rod Blagojevich’s parents are in the cemetery, but I didn’t see their stone that I know of. Blago was recently in the news briefly for not being on President Obama’s commutation list during his last days in office. Tough luck, Rod. Politics ain’t beanbag.


Everyone else had something to do Saturday afternoon, so I took advantage of the fact that winter isn’t particularly bitter right now — and neither snow nor ice is covering the ground — to buzz up to Lake County, Ill., for a few hours. I wanted to visit a spot on the map there I’ve seen for years but never gotten around to: Marytown. Or, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

A Polish Franciscan, St. Maximilian Kolbe was murdered by the Nazis. We’d come across a memorial to him before, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery in Munster, Ind. There he was a supporting player, so to speak. At Marytown, he’s the star of the show, after only Jesus and Mary.

The Marytown complex includes a Franciscan friary, a retreat and conference center, various outdoor shrines and a rosary garden, and a gift shop (where I bought postcards). It’s also home to the Marytown Press and is the American HQ for the movement that St. Maximilian Kolbe started, the Militia Immaculata.

For the purpose of my visit, however, Marytown is home to Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. That’s what I’d heard was worth seeing, and it was. Here’s the exterior.

Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament - MarytownThe chapel, completed in 1930, was designed by architect Joseph W. McCarthy, who trained under Daniel Burnham and did a lot of Catholic churches in the Chicago area. I’ve read it was patterned after St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.

“The Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration in Mundelein, known today as Marytown, was a special project of Cardinal George Mundelein, meant to keep alive the spirit of the 1926 Chicago Eucharistic Conference and provide for the spiritual needs of diocesan priests and seminarians at the newly built seminary next door,” writes Denis Robert McNamara in Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago.

This is the interior of the main chapel, as best as I could make an image. A fine combination of stained glass, mosaics and marble.
Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of t Most Blessed Sacrament, Marytown“The Benedictine Sisters maintained unbroken adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until they withdrew from the location in 1977, handing the complex over to the Conventual Franciscan Friars,” McNamara writes. “The Franciscans renamed the site Marytown and established the national shrine of St. Maxmilian Kolbe…”

One of the Adoration Chapel’s side chapels features is a mosaic stretching toward the ceiling of St. Maximilian Kolbe rising triumphant from Auschwitz. Right below it are some relics of his, which include beard hair — cut some years before he died in a place that would leave no earthly remains — a piece of a habit, a prayer book.

Outside the chapel, in the garden nearby, St. Francis makes an appearance in bronze, unsurprisingly, singing the Canticle of the Sun.

St Francis - Marytown

With a non-human audience.

St. Francis - Marytown

There are some other statues nearby and a rosary garden, which I’ve never encountered before. Or maybe never realized I’d encountered one before, since they seem to be fairly common.

MarytownMuch of the statuary was short on labels, so I’m not certain who this is supposed to be, though I’d guess an older St. Francis.

A Teen Birthday, ’17 Edition

Put this in Tempus Fugit file. Ann celebrated her 14th birthday on Friday night, here in the pit of a not-too-awful winter and a few days ahead of the actual event.

For contrast, see an image from 13 years ago. For a different contrast, from five years ago.

Here’s the cake itself, before implements of cake-destruction were taken to the task of dividing it into manageable pieces.
birthday cake

Not exactly mass consumption, but enough to satisfy.

50 Oz Cents

I have a few more colorful banknotes from the third world, but today’s Australia Day. I don’t have any notes from that country — being real money, I exchanged them when I got back — but I do have coins. Such as a dodecagonal 50-cent piece dated 1984, one of the 26.3 million minted that year.

It features a fairly ordinary observe.

Australian 50 cents 1984The Royal Australian Mint says: “Since her coronation in 1953, five effigies of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II have appeared on the obverse of Australian coins. Previous effigies were designed by Mary Gillick (1953), Arnold Machin (1966), and Raphael Maklouf (1985). Since 1998, Australian coins have used the current effigy by Ian Rank-Broadley.” So I’ve got the last year of Arnold Machin.

The 12-sided coin replaced a round 50-center in 1969, apparently to help avoid confusion with the round 20-cent piece. The reverse sports the Oz coat-of-arms by Stuart Devlin.
Australian 50 cents 1984I like the distinctive kangaroo and emu. Squeezed on the shield are the symbols of the six Australian states, united as a nation.

I also enjoyed reading that for a while, Stuart Devlin, who was Australian-born but is a resident of the UK, was Prime Warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths.

One Nakfa Note

Among the autocratic nations of world, Eritrea has managed an astonishing achievement. According to Reporters With Borders, which ranks which countries abuse their journalists most and least, Eritrea comes in dead last — 180 out of 180, even worse than North Korea.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Human Rights Watch reports that “the United Nations High Commission for Refugees reported at the end of 2014 that 416,857 Eritreans have lodged asylum claims or are registered as refugees, over 9 percent of the country’s population. UNHCR released no comprehensive figures for 2015, but reported about 39,000 Eritreans had applied for asylum by October in 44 industrialized countries alone. In October, 10 members of Eritrea’s national soccer team sought asylum in Botswana.

“The commission of inquiry concluded that grave human rights violations ‘incite an ever-increasing number of Eritreans to leave their country.’ Based on over 500 interviews, the UN commission found that the Eritrean government engages in ‘systemic, widespread and gross human rights violations,’ and that the abuses occur in the ‘context of a total lack of rule of law’ with the result that it ‘is not the law that rules Eritreans, but fear.’ ”

But at least the faces are happy on its money, the nakfa. Interestingly, the currency is named after the city of Nakfa, which was an important nexus of resistance during the Eritrean War of Independence.
One NakfaWere anyone interested in exchanging a 1 nakfa note, in theory it’s worth about 6.5 U.S. cents, but only because it’s pegged to the dollar. And in fact, the note I have isn’t even money in Eritrea any more, having been replaced by newer notes.
1 Nakfa Note reverseI also wonder why the despots of Eritrea kept that name for the country. I understand it’s derived from the ancient Greek name for the Red Sea, and it’s something the Italians dreamed up as part of their jerry-built imperial ventures during the Scramble for Africa. Why not something harking back even further (as woeful Zimbabwe did)? Such as Axum.

One Ngultrum Note

This colorful banknote is a 1 ngultrum note issued by the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, Series 2013.

1 ngultrum note

If I ever knew it, and maybe I did, I’d forgotten that the ngultrum — དངུལ་ཀྲམ — is the basic currency of that insular Himalayan state. It divides into 100 chhertum. The ngultrum is pegged at par to the Indian rupee, so these days my note is theoretically worth about 1.5 U.S. cents.

1 ngultrum note

That’s Simtokha Dzong. Wiki tells us that “Simtokha Dzong (‘dzong’ means ‘castle-monastery’), also known as Sangak Zabdhon Phodrang (‘Palace of the Profound Meaning of Secret Mantras’), is a small dzong. It was built in 1629 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, who unified Bhutan… An important historical monument and former Buddhist monastery, today it houses one of the premier Dzongkha language learning institutes.”

I didn’t pick up the note in Bhutan. Mostly what I remember hearing about visiting Bhutan in the 1990s was that visas were inordinately expensive. These days, I’ve read, the approach is to require foreigners to spend a certain per diem in country — high for the developing world — and hew pretty closely to their organized tours. Nepal, it ain’t.

RBS One Pound Note

What to do here in the pit of winter, with its cold — though not quite as cold this year as usual — and daylight that passes so quickly? Take a close look at your collection of colorful but essentially worthless banknotes from far-flung nations. Or in one case, a subnational banknote. This one, dated 1978:
Royal Bank of Scotland One Pound Note 1978Not too many subnational territories get their own banknotes, but Scotland does. I might have gotten this in change during my ’83 visit to the UK, which took me close to Scotland compared to where I am most of the time, but not really that close. Or maybe I picked it up in ’88. I suspect that by ’94, most cashiers in England weren’t bothering with £1 notes of any kind.

Royal Bank of Scotland One Pound Note 1983

Scottish notes circulate in the rest of the UK, and will until that day when the Scots, peeved about Brexit, pull the trigger on independence. At which point they might go ahead and use the euro, and wind up like Greece. But that’s all mere conjecture.

For now, three Scottish banks are authorized to issue banknotes: the Bank of Scotland, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Clydesdale Bank. According to the RBS, it’s been issuing banknotes since 1727 and has an average of £1.5 billion worth of notes in circulation on any given day. It’s also the only one of the three to keep issuing £1 notes.

In October, the RBS issued its first polymer banknote, which was a £5 note. Next will be a £10 note. The one pound probably isn’t worth the trouble.

The Move Up North, 1987

Thirty years ago, I packed up and moved to Chicago. Nothing like moving in late January to make you lose your taste for long-distance moving, but that didn’t stop me from packing up again three years later to move even further, again in the winter. And twice again in the 1990s.

Instead of writing in any detail about the move, I did a schematic in a notebook I used at the time as a diary. I did that occasionally.
Move to Chicago, Jan. 1987The move was fairly straightforward. Load up a rental truck in Nashville, unload at my new apartment in Andersonville in Chicago, take the truck back to Nashville, drive my car and whatever I hadn’t loaded back to Chicago. About 500 miles each way. I guess it was tiresome, but I was young.

Weather wasn’t a factor, except for one incident. While driving the empty truck back to Nashville — and in fact just inside Davidson County — I hit a patch of black ice. For a flash of a terrifying moment, the truck was swaying wildly. But I stayed on the road.

Thursday Residuum

Remarkably rainy January so far. Even when it hasn’t been raining these past weeks or so, the skies have looked pregnant with rain. So it’s been a wet January, not an icy one. That was the case at UIUC, as the last of clinging frozen matter thawed, as it might in a normal northern March.

UIUC January 15, 2017

Blame it on climate change? I’d be tempted, but weather isn’t climate. Besides, there’s a blizzard lurking out there in the near future, or at least heavy snow. Winter will not be denied.

A few days ago, I approached a four-way stop to make a left turn. Directly across the intersection another car arrived to make a left turn. To my left, a third car arrived to make a right turn. We all got there at about the same moment. We all made our respective turns concurrently. Can’t remember when that happened before. Had a fourth car to my right wanted to make a right turn, it would have been truly remarkable, but we had to settle for a three-way synch.

At a World Market last week, I saw bottles of Tito’s Handmade Vodka for sale. I couldn’t ever remember actually seeing any before, as opposed to hearing about it, though I don’t go to a lot of liquor stores.

Last month, I heard Tito himself on the radio, pitching his creation. He didn’t quite sound like his high school self, no one would, but it was him all right. I was pretty sure I hadn’t ever heard advertising for Tito’s beyond sponsorships on public radio (the ad I heard was on a commercial station). Maybe Tito’s needed to up his ad budget in the face of competition.

I’m most of my way through the book River of Doubt, about the Roosevelt-Rondon expedition into the deep Brazilian rainforest. Reading it, you think, how did anyone survive that trip? They faced untreatable diseases, looming starvation, dangerous animals, venomous bugs, an extremely hazardous river, a murderer among their crew, and the potential for Indians to attack at any time and wipe them all out. At one point, a very sick Theodore Roosevelt seriously contemplated overdosing on morphine. Not too end his pain, but to avoid being an impediment to the rest of the expedition. His son Kermit wouldn’t allow it.

Amazing how close TR’s bio came to ending with, “Led expedition down the River of Doubt in Brazil, 1914. Never seen again.”

The Spurlock Museum

Just before bugging out of town on Sunday afternoon, I stopped at the Spurlock Museum on the UIUC campus. I was surprised to find it open. As opposed to the Krannert Art Museum, the focus of the Spurlock — in full the William R. and Clarice V. Spurlock Museum — is ethnographic. I didn’t want to spend a long time, so I only wandered through the first-floor galleries, one dedicated to the ancient Mediterranean, the other to North and South American Indians.

The Mediterranean room offered reproductions of ancient statues and a wide mix of smaller artifacts. It’s always good to run across Augustus, though maybe he should be painted in bright colors.
Augustus, Spurlock MuseumIt’s a plaster cast of a first-century Roman marble that’s in the Vatican Museum, which itself was a copy of a Roman bronze original, ca. 20 BC, which was lost to time.

Next, Artemis.
Artemis, Spurlock MuseumAgain a plastic cast of a marble Roman copy, ca. 2nd century AD that’s now in the Louvre. Unlike Augustus, she’s wearing sandals. The original Greek bronze, ca. 350 BC by Praxiteles, is also no more.

The Doryphoros.

Spear carrier, Spurlock Museum

That is, the spear carrier. No fig leaf for this fellow. No spear, either, though he could pick one up at any time. The original bronze, ca. 450 BC, is lost (of course, sigh). A 1st century AD marble copy is in the National Museum in Naples.

Now for a different aesthetic.

Diablada costume, Spurlock MuseumAccording to the museum, this Diablada costume was acquired by Isabel Scarborough in Cochabamba, Bolivia; the mask, whip and matracas were acquired by Cynthia LeCount Samane in Oruro, Bolivia, in both cases in the late 2000s.

A drum from Andean Ecuador in the 1970s.

Andean Drum, Spurlock Museum

Canelos Quichua Miniature Pottery Festival Group, by Marta Vargas Dugua, Puyo, Ecuador (2008).
South American figures, Spurlock MuseumUpstairs are exhibits about East Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa, ancient Mesopotamia, and ancient Egypt. Guess I’ll have to drop by again.