...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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May 10, 2005 || 3:23 am

Just surfaced from PIg Roast weekend, which was a fitting ceremonial end to the year (though of course none of use are going home and our projects aren't finished...)

The day began early with breakfast under the Great Hall at the Morisette House provided by the good ladies of Newbern - cakes and coffee. The best surprise at this early point was seeing Fred, one of our longstanding inmates who got out on parole a few months ago, returned and standing spruce and happy at the foot of the steps. After the prize for the best 2nd year effort in their watercolour class (such skills still alive and strong in Alabama) and Big Dave's presentation on his work during the year as the Architectural Ambulance, our little house was first on the tour. Mrs Phillips of course stole the show, moving the crowd to tears when she said a few words as we'd asked her to do, and then, after everyone had gone, unexpectedly starting to cry herself, big tears falling down behind her glasses; she's suddenly very sad to realise that we'll all soon start leaving her. I gave her a big hug, trying not to cry myself. After all the ups and downs with the house, with her reaction to the house and the slow growth of our relationship with her, it was hugely humbling to stand with her on the steps of her new porch and see her so happy, proud and sad at the same time.

Then it was on to Mason's Bend to see the second years house and the thesis 'dirt house' (they are using hybrid adobe made with the red Hale County dirt). After a strange interlude of German dancing by the administrative staff at lunch (don't ask - we didn't witness much as we actually snuck off to have a catfish lunch at a nearby diner rather than the PBJ sandwiches provided), it was on to Marion, with a minor car trouble hitch as my fan belt broke on the way. This meant we missed the school building's presentation and went straight to the park, to the site of the birding tower where nothing is in evidence yet, but soon will be - they have disassembled the tower that has been donated and will be reassembling it on site soon.

Then back to Newbern, to the firestation, then riding on hayrides and (oh joy) the firetruck round to the amphitheatre for the roast pig itself and musical accompaniment by yours truly and a few friends, while a friendly light airplane circled overhead dropping confetti all around. Then, as dusk fell and the local black cowboys appeared in full regalia around us, the speechifying (and the most bizarre spectacle of all, some strange tableau vivant involving the Queen of England, Colonel Sanders and Princess Di - the admin staff really are completely insane), the presentation of our certificates, etc etc and then the real partying began - band first (with, again, yours truly co-opted somewhat against my will into playing along), then our local and lovely DJ Sweet P behind the Morisette till the early hours (or so I hear. Us oldies felt the need to get to bed, would you believe. Blame it on the boyfriend...)

Then a lovely and much-needed lazy Sunday with breakfast outside in the Alamo, a picnic by the Black Warrior River, and an afternoon at the baseball in Newbern - one of the most fantastic community events, with the whole black population parading in their finest, shortest and tightest clothes and their most ornate and fabulous hairstyles, drinking beer, eating fried chicken and catfish, occasionally watching the baseball and more often shouting teasing comments to the visting team of white rednecks from West Blocton. And we all were especially proud to see a Rural Studio tradition renewed with the debut for the Newbern Tigers of Sam Currie, thesis student and star of the day for his champion pitching in the last two innings. We thrashed the rednecks 13-7 or so.

And finally, a special treat for y'all: our 86-year-old client Miss Phillips singing I'll fly away. You're allowed to cry. There's a movie that goes with it that I'll try and get up on here too sometime. In the mean time, I'm also giving you a picture of our breakfast in the Alamo

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