After a long dark age, it recently became obvious to me, while playing with my three years old daughter, that LEGO was a fabulous source of inspiration and creation.
The discovery of the AFOL community and a few recent amazing TLG sets made me realize how far LEGO had gone since my childhood (we’re talking CS and CC era here).
This immediately made me feel the urge to try building stuff on my own.
A natural inclination towards architecture and organic structures made me want to try building a castle first. Welcome to Arboretum!
Arboretum is an outpost castle situated in a damp tropical region, not too far away from the sea coast (somewhere between the Black Marsh, Stranglethorn Vale, and Belfalas ;-), lying deep within a wet forest where walls have ears and mushrooms have eyes.
Its inhabitants are made of a wide bunch of characters and species, which seem to cohabit in a peaceful atmosphere, as well as a few unwanted guests.
Human guards keep watch of the main entrance on the catwalk (they mostly want to know when they’ll get to eat the turkey), while an unidentified bearded man in black seems to be the only one to know what the heck he’s doing here.
Wood elves keep watch of the weapons and treasure stashes, scrutinizing the horizon with their keen eyes while dreaming about the stars.
Hidden in the shadow of the Great Tree in the Arboretum room, William the Alchemist, lost in his thoughts, is imagining his next recipe while keeping an eye on the skull of his predecessor, freezed in resin.
On the terrace of the arboretum, a Kaï Man and an Orc share a game of apples, while a Dwarf is about to stove an argonian thief in front of the main entrance door.
The courtyard is equipped with a small weapons keep, food and drink for a small feast, as well as a tiny library for 101 situations – how to cook a roast on a rainy night, how to stop bleeding when the enemy just cut one of your limbs, and other useful fun facts.
The chapel is where the phials are kept and alchemical experiments made in the shade of the central oculus.
The conference hall on the second floor of the back tower has a hearth (lit by leds). It’s the room where the most precious – material and intellectual – treasures are kept in deep shadow.
The arboretum itself is kept on the third floor of the back tower. Its Great Tree is all at once the source and fruit of the castle’s inhabitant’s high level of alchemical knowledge and power. The alchemically enhanced tree growing in the room is powerful enough to have broken through the roof and part of the walls of the room now lying in ruins.
The original sparkle for this MOC was Sebaastian Art’s (www.flickr.com/photos/30639040@N02/) great castle tutorial in The LEGO Ideas Book (as is pretty obvious if you compare the front faceted low wall of Arboretum to the suggested model in the book ;-). Trying out some of his very elegant wall techniques led me to try and build a whole new thing; a vertical setup was chosen to save physical space, and because I love towers 🙂
I wanted to try out a few "advanced" techniques (advanced to me, anyway), and online documentation was amazing for this matter. I also wished to use a few "special" pieces out of context (the SW cockpit, the big trans-clear motorcycle rim, the planet hemisphere), which led to some tricky technical problems to solve. Yummy!
Arboretum stands on a 32×32 baseplate. It’s a modular building, which makes it easy to move around : the second floor of the front tower, the second and third floors as well as the roof of the back tower can be lifted up to have access to the room interiors, which have furniture and specific decoration elements.
I spent about a week (four or five nights, to be more realistic) building the castle. It took me much longer than that to set up my own photo "studio" and begin to understand the use of a camera and lighting setup…
Lack of elements and experience led me to some choices I would probably solve differently three months later. It certainly doesn’t pretend to respect any kind of castle building or historical orthodoxy.
But hey, I had great fun building it.
Recette trop facile pour 2 : faire cuire 2 poireaux coupés en tronçons 14 minutes à l’autocuiseur (panier vapeur). Disposer dans un plat et arroser encore chauds d’une vinaigrette : une cuillère à soupe de vinaigrette balsamique, sel et 2 cuillères à soupe d’huile d’olive. Manger tiède ou froid.
Leeks with balsamic vinegar dressing
Easy recipe for 2 : cut 2 leeks in 3 or 4 sections ; cook for 14 minutes in a pressure cooker (steamer basket). Dress in a plate, and season when still hot with 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar mixed with salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Eat warm or cold.
Gay Mens Chorus of Washington DC, Holiday Concert "Baby, It’s Gay Outside" at the Lincoln Theatre
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, DC (GMCW) is one of the area’s most highly respected arts and community service organizations. Its mission is to “entertain through excellent musical performance, to affirm the place of Gay people in society, and to educate about the Gay experience.”
It has more than 225 singing members, nearly 100 support volunteers, more than 400 subscribers, nearly 500 donors, and an annual audience of nearly 10,000. The Washington Post has called GMCW “one of the world’s best male choruses.” (March 2001)
GMCW was established in 1981 after the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus’ historic national tour and performance at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. Following that concert, a handful of committed citizens decided it was important that Washington also have a chorus that would use music and entertainment to create a positive and affirming experience for members and audiences, while educating the community about the Gay experience and advocating for equal rights for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.
Now in its 28th season (2008/2009), GMCW is at the forefront of the gay and lesbian choral movement. It sets a standard of excellence in the arts and community service as it achieves artistic excellence while simultaneously touching lives and changing hearts – both on stage and in the community. The Chorus has performed at a variety of venues throughout the Washington area including the Kennedy Center, the National Theatre, the Warner Theatre, Constitution Hall, the Lincoln Theatre, and Lisner Auditorium at the George Washington University. The Chorus also performed at President Clinton’s second inaugural in 1996, and in 1998, toured three Scandinavian capitals. While in Scandinavia, GMCW was received by Sweden’s Princess Christina to thank chorus members for singing in support of Noah’s Ark, a Swedish AIDS services organization.
During its 20th anniversary season, GMCW performed at Carnegie Hall and Boston Symphony Hall in joint concerts with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus. In December 2002, GMCW was honored to perform as part of the 25th annual Kennedy Center Honors in tribute to Elizabeth Taylor. This performance was televised nationwide, bringing the Chorus into millions of homes across the nation.
GMCW also has a commitment to commissioning new works for men’s chorus. Recent examples include Changing Hearts by Alan Shorter for men’s chorus and chamber orchestra, and Oseh Shalom by Paul Leavitt for men’s chorus and brass quintet – both of which can be heard on our CD, Changing Hearts. GMCW has won a number of awards, including the prestigious Mayor’s Arts Award for artistic excellence in 1989, a Distinguished Service Award from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance in 2003, and a Capital Pride Directors Award for Arts in 2005.
The Chorus can be heard on a variety of recordings, including: Singing Free, Pride and Joy (nominated for both a WAMMIE and a GLAMMA award – given by the national Gay and Lesbian Music Association), Let It Shine!, And in That Moment, I Dream of a Time (winner of a 2002 WAMMIE Award), You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught: The Songs of Sondheim and Hammerstein, with two-time Tony-Award nominee Laura Benanti, and Changing Hearts, our Silver Anniversary Album.
GMCW performs up to four subscription concerts annually: a holiday concert, a winter concert, a spring concert, and a summer concert. GMCW also appears at a number of community events, including programs for PFLAG, Whitman-Walker Clinic, and The Human Rights Campaign. In addition, GMCW sponsors two small ensembles: Potomac Fever, an a cappella close-harmony group; and Rock Creek Singers, a chamber music ensemble. These ensembles serve as representatives of GMCW at many community functions. GMCW also produces an annual Cabaret featuring 12-16 of the Chorus’ most talented members. Two recent cabarets – Love Songs and Other Fairy Tales, and Let Me Be the Music…The Songs of David Friedman – have been recorded.
HIGHLIGHTS OF GMCW’S FIRST 25 YEARS
Compiled by Greg D. Kubiak, with contributions by Roger Bergstrom, Jeremy Brumbelow, Bill Cutter, Rick Rosendall, Duward Sumner and printed, authored materials from the GMCW archives.
June 28, 1981
After the national tour performance of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus at the Kennedy Center ten days earlier, Marsha Pearson had distributed flyers announcing a meeting to organize a gay men’s chorus. The meeting occurred in the old Gay Community Center at 1469 Church Street in Northwest Washington with 18 men, and the GMCW was born. Jim Richardson became the new organization’s Interim Director with the first rehearsals being held at the center, and later at the First Congregational Church in downtown Washington.
September 23, 1981
At the invitation of DC Mayor Marion Barry, GMCW’s debut performance occurred at a reception at the District Building, to mark the opening of the National Gay Task Force’s Washington office (later the NGLTF). Also that month, GMCW established its management umbrella, incorporating the Federal City Performing Arts Association (FCPAA), as a non-profit educational organization whose goal was “to provide first-rate music in performance by and for Washington’s gay and lesbian community and the community-at-large.”
December 12, 1981
With nearly 90 members, the Chorus performed its first holiday concert, jointly with the DC Area Feminist Chorus and Different Drummers, at the First Congregational Church to a standing-room-only audience of close to 1,000.
March 17, 1982
GMCW’s debut concert – under direction of its first permanent music director, Nick Armstrong – was performed at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church on Capitol Hill. Selections were also performed by GMCW’s two smaller ensembles — the Sine Nomine Singers, a 16-member chamber group and A Few Good Men, a 20-member song-and-dance troupe.
September 9, 1983
The COAST (Come Out And Sing Together) Festival not only marked the first “road trip” for the Chorus outside the Washington-Baltimore area, but also provided the experience of performing in a real concert venue – the Alice Tully Hall at the Lincoln Center. It was also the first national gay choral festival – bringing eleven groups together from around the country – established by the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) Choruses.
October 8, 1984
When GMCW was to perform at the National Theatre for its “Monday Night at the National” for a mostly straight audience, their introduction brought palpable hostility. However, concluding their concert with the gospel-style “Walk Him Up the Stairs,” the Chorus received a standing ovation, and one of their proudest moments.
December 13, 1985
GMCW presented an evening performance of its holiday concert, donating the proceeds of $5,700 to the Whitman-Walker Clinic in its fight against AIDS. (The GMCW Holiday Concert was inaugurated in 1984.)
June 21, 1986
The Chorus celebrated its 5th anniversary by returning to the place of its inspiration – the Concert Hall of the Kennedy Center. DC First Lady Effi Barry read a Mayoral proclamation declaring “Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington Day” and introduced the Chorus.
July 2, 1988
GMCW sang at the funeral of Leonard Matlovich, a decorated Vietnam veteran who was discharged from the Air Force in 1975 for declaring his homosexuality. Chorus members walked behind his coffin prior to his burial with full military honors in Congressional Cemetery where his tombstone reads: “When I was in the military they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
October 15, 1989
The Chorus was allowed to participate in the AIDS Healing Service at the Washington National Cathedral under its own name after a significant struggle for recognition. GMCW was asked to participate in the 1988 service, only to have the invitation “rescinded because the Episcopal hierarchy deemed us too ‘political’,” according to one member. (While they did participate, it was not under the GMCW name.) Chorus leadership pursued the issue in 1989 and the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church yielded.
June 19, 1993
A front page feature story in The Washington Post’s Style Section read:
This is the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, in which the men are nicknamed Wanda or Olivia and the budget is $250,000 a year, in which the repertoire ranges from Bach to doo-wop to high-tech contemporary oratorio and at whose concerts you’re as likely to see men howling with delight at some beribboned demimondaine with a five o’clock shadow as weeping with silent but violent grief at a stoic neo-gospel elegy … The Chorus has come a long way in 12 years… In 1981 this was the sort of seat-of-the-pants outfit in which the treasurer could, and did, confuse his own personal funds with the Chorus’ and well, spend them. Now it’s got a 13-member board of directors and a $60,000 stock portfolio and 145 dues-paying members.
January 19, 1997
The chorus performed an 11-number set at the Smithsonian Institution’s American History Museum on the eve of the 53rd Presidential Inaugural – the first time a gay choral group was invited to participate in such a national event.
June 28, 1997
On its 16th anniversary of formation, the Chorus was joined by the Indianapolis Men’s Chorus at the Lisner Auditorium to perform the DC premiere of “NakedMan,” to which a review noted, “GMCW always produces a slick, highly professional staging.”
May 28, 1998
GMCW launched it first overseas tour to Scandinavia, visiting Oslo, Stockholm and Copenhagen. The concert in Oslo was held in the hall at the University of Oslo where Martin Luther King, Jr. received his Nobel Peace Prize. In Stockholm, GMCW was received by Sweden’s Princess Christina and thanked for their singing to support a Swedish AIDS service organization. And in Copenhagen, they became the first gay chorus to sing in the Tivoli Gardens concert hall.
April 2, 2001
The Chorus performed at Carnegie Hall as part of their 20th anniversary season joint concerts with the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus and the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus.
June 16, 2001
The 20th Anniversary Gala Concert was held at the Kennedy Center Concert Hall with special guest, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus.
December 8, 2002
GMCW participated in taping the 25th Annual Kennedy Center Honors – the first nationally televised performance by the Chorus – to be telecast on December 26 on CBS. GMCW was invited to perform in tribute to one of the honorees, Elizabeth Taylor. The audience included the President, Vice President, Cabinet Secretaries, Congressmen and leaders in government, business and the entertainment industry.
June 4, 2005
The Pride Concert not only included a reprise “NakedMan” – with special guests, the Ft. Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus – but also presentation of the “Capital Pride Director’s Award for Outstanding Leadership and Commitment to the GLBT Community in Washington.”
June 25, 2006
Culminating its 25th anniversary season, the chorus closed with “Singing Free!” with special guest Barbara Cook at the Kennedy Center. The single performance concert weekend included an alumni reception celebration the night before, and special chorus and guest party after the concert.
Wax sculpture that I made, one in a series of prototypes for a larger sculpture. Here shown in my hand. The tiny unborn child has head bowed and hands folded in prayer.
I was born outside of wedlock and always thought I was a result of a sin and therefore a big mistake. My tortured mind was relieved when I found the 139th Psalm in 1993 and then I wrote this poem. Yes, it is a self-portrait because I could have been aborted. My prayer as an unborn baby is that my Mommie will not abort and murder me. Be happy, she did not, she kept me and later she found a Daddy for me when I was 3. She and I moved to the farm where Daddy took care of us. I was a flower girl at their wedding.
By Kathie Luther
Out of wedlock I was born
I thought I was a mistake.
Oh, how my heart was torn
I feared that it would break.
But God had planned me
and all of my days.
He knew all that i’d be
He knew all of my ways.
God never makes a mistake
He’s perfect, holy and just.
He knew just what it would take
To make me learn to trust.
I found comfort in the psalm
A verse just meant for me.
This is what God used for balm
To heal my heart, you see.
The Bible is a living book
Because it’s author is divine.
It can’t teach you to cook
But it’s recipes are fine.
7 Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9 If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10 Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11 If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12 Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13 For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15 My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16 Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.
If you know someone born out of wedlock, tell them God planned them. If you know an unmarried mother, please tell her that her child is not a mistake. Give them this poem, photo or this link please.
Explore for November 11, 2007: #100 – Thanks, everyone! If you’ve been following My Live Earth Blog, you know that I joined an organic vegetable co-op. They deliver a box full of local, farm-fresh, organic vegetables every Thursday afternoon. Then I get to plan my week’s cooking around whatever veggies I receive. It’s loads of fun to approach your menu planning this way, even this time of year, when the veggies are mostly roots and hardy green leaves.
I decided to try making borscht out of this week’s beets. I’ve never made borscht before, so I searched the Internet for a recipe. I chose a recipe that involves roasting the veggies before you puree them. When I laid out the veggies on the aluminum foil, they looked so pretty I couldn’t help snapping their photo before I folded up the foil and put them in the oven.
Shooting indoors under fluorescent lights at night, I found it hard to get the right light. Flash produced disastrous results, bouncing off the foil and the wet veggies and totally robbing them of any feeling of life or warmth. So I cranked the ISO up to 1600 and shot with natural light. The result was incredibly noisy (a big problem with the Canon S-series cameras). So I turned up the power on my noise filter and tried to find the best compromise between removing noise and removing detail. The onions are noticibly lacking in detail, but at least the noise is gone. (You should see the original–it looks like it snowed on the veggies!)
Please excuse the long explanation, but I usually don’t do food photos. This is a new experience for me. The borscht was delicious, by the way, although light in color and flavor. The beets are gold instead of red, which probably explains the lightness. (I think beef stock instead of chicken broth might also make a difference.)