I composed this last night but was unable to post because blogger was down:
I'm sitting in burgundy wingback chair in parlor of The Victoria Inn here in Anniston, Ala. I'm here and not in my room because the free wireless in my room is apparently too far from the router in the main Victorian building. Kind of a nice atmosphere in here, rich oak paneling and trim, tiny fireplaces in each room, hunter green oriental carpet with tiny rose pattern, plenty of chintz china and glass and crystal lighting.
The mellow sounds of the piano playing soft jazz in the next room create a perfect backdrop for a relaxing evening. All I need is a glass of cabernet and a cozy fire to complete the scene. Suppose the fire isn't likely when it's 78 degrees out.
All in all it's been a lovely and productive day here in Anniston. Met some terrific journalism grad students working hard as they explore community journalism. Among the stories they are working on -- The Clay Bowl, how the biggest football rivalry impacts the people of two towns; how funding levels affect an area in which 75 percent of the fire department are comprised of volunteers; and the state of children's health care in Alabama. Good stuff all around. Love the high school football stories. We’re in the heart of Hoover High School country, subject of the MTV series Two-A-Days.
Saw the venue today for the narrative writing conference sponsored by SPJ, University of Alabama, The Anniston Star and the Knight Foundation. It will be held Feb. 6-8 and the working title is, "They Call Us Storytellers." The site is a terrific Spanish Mission-style facility that used to be home to Fort McClellan, which has a fascinating history that dates back to the Civil War.
There are still plenty of signs of military life around here -- retired vets and the sprawling 44,000-acre campus that used to be one of the foremost combat training facilities. Hikers have been known to find bullet casings and other remnants of combat training amid the long-leaf pines and towering oak trees so prevalent here. Anniston itself was built during Reconstruction thanks to the money of an iron master and industrialist and the leadership of a Confederate general.
Sampled a little local cuisine tonight in the form of shrimp and grits – Yum!