Friday, December 31, 2010

Shades of Andalusia

With so much new merchandise arriving in our gift shop the last few weeks, I forgot to mention one new item for our younger visitors. Shades of Andalusia is a coloring and activity book for children that was designed by students in the early childhood education program at Georgia College. It is full of puzzles, games, and pictures to draw and makes an ideal souvenir for children visiting the farm. Speaking of visiting the farm, we have been pleasantly surprised by the number of folks who have been out here in this week between Christmas and New Year's. No sooner had I opened up the house this morning then visitors started arriving. Perhaps it's because the weather has warmed up a bit. Today we're supposed to hit 70! Whatever the reason, we are grateful to all of you who have visited the farm in 2010. This past year we had more visitors than in any year since Andalusia has been open to the public. We especially thank our Friends, those of you who have made financial contributions in the last year to support the work of the Foundation. Your generosity makes everything we do possible. As we ring in 2011 tonight, may you all have a safe and happy new year.
- Mark

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flannery's Favorite for Christmas

Readers of Flannery O'Connor's biography know that the writer often took her main meal of the day at the Sanford House restaurant in downtown Milledgeville. Her favorite dinner was their fried shrimp with peppermint chiffon pie for dessert. As our Christmas gift to you, the loyal readers of this blog, here is the recipe for the Sanford House's famous pie:
3/4 cup evaporated milk
3/4 cup water
3 eggs, separated
1/8 teaspoon salt
whipped cream
6 "Starlight Kisses" (peppermint candies made by Southern Home (or 1 oz. of any peppermint candies with corn syrup, sugar, and natural oil of peppermint)
1 tablespoon plain gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
Keebler's Chocolate Ready Crust
chocolate syrup

Soak gelatin in cold water. Combine milk and water and scald in double boiler. Dissolve candy in warm, diluted milk. Beat egg yolks with 1/4 cup sugar and add to scalded milk. Cook until mixture starts to coat spoon. Remove from heat and add gelatin. Set aside to cool. Beat egg whites until stiff but not dry while slowly adding 1/2 cup sugar. Carefully incorporate egg whites into the custard. Pour into chocolate shell and refrigerate. Spread whipped cream over top just before serving and dribble chocolate syrup over the cream.
The editor of the Sanford House Cookbook, Mary Jo Thompson, adds that "this is a most unusual dessert. Very light and a flavor you won't forget." Unforgettable. Just like the author who enjoyed this dessert so much.
From all of us here at Andalusia....have a very merry Christmas.
- Mark

Friday, December 17, 2010

Recorded Books are Here!

For the first time ever we are pleased to offer for sale in our gift shop both of Flannery O'Connor's collections of short stories and both of her novels on CD. These recently released recordings from Blackstone Audio are superb. I just finished listening to The Violent Bear it Away and thought the reader did an outstanding job. If you are still looking for a present to give that O'Connor fan on your gift list, may I suggest one of these fabulous audio books.
- Mark

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Warming up for Christmas

What a difference 48 hours makes! On Tuesday I nearly froze to death out here. We had all the heat registers running on high and I was wearing long johns - tops and bottoms - underneath several layers of clothing. In spite of the frigid temperatures, a half dozen intrepid souls visited us on what turned out to be the coldest day on record for December 14th in middle Georgia. Today temperatures have climbed into a more normal range for this time of year. It's hard to believe Christmas is just nine days away. If you're venturing out to this neck of the woods, please remember that Andalusia will be closed on December 25 and will re-open on Monday, December 27th. We will also be closed New Year's Day.

It should come as no surprise that a large number of our visitors are Roman Catholic. With that in mind, we decided to order some rosaries for the gift shop. These attractive, wooden prayer beads arrived on Tuesday and are now available for purchase at just $4.95. What better memento could there be of a visit to the home of a writer who herself used this form of prayer?
- Mark

Thursday, December 9, 2010

"Like Patrons at a Diner"

This morning when I went out to feed the peafowl I saw that their water container was frozen over. Not too surprising given the fact that last night temperatures dipped into the mid-twenties. I filled another container and, after a while, noticed that the birds were lined up at it waiting to get a drink. Their behavior made me recall a funny story from one of O'Connor's letters where she describes what happened when her mother bought a creeper-feeder for the calves. Apparently, the calves wouldn't have anything to do with it. Not so the peachickens. One day when Regina O'Connor went out to look at the feeder she saw Flannery's birds "lined up at it like patrons at a diner." (The Habit of Being p. 528) Understandably, Mrs. O'Connor was irritated when she discovered that the peafowl consumed $17.50 worth of calf feed. When it was furthermore observed that Flannery's geese had "been at it too," the author was obliged to reimburse her mother for the loss. Our peafowl have been eating heartily, too. It seems the colder it gets the more they fortify themselves with the special game bird mix they are fed daily. Their plumage is also getting thicker to protect them from this unseasonable arctic blast we're having. As I write, however, the birds are indolently soaking up the afternoon sun atop their perches getting ready for another cold one tonight.
- Mark

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Ah...the sights and sounds and smells of the holiday season. There's a nip in the air this morning, but the sun is shining brightly as we ready ourselves for Christmas. We have it on good authority that the O'Connors took a minimalistic approach to decorating their home for the holidays. Therefore, out of respect for the family, we do not usually put up a Christmas tree, hang lights on the house, or put inflatable snowmen in the front yard. Nevertheless, we do like to get into the yuletide spirit, and so we have put a wreath on the front door and have a crock pot of mulled cider brewing in the kitchen so that when visitors come in the front door they are greeted with the intoxicating aroma of apples and cinnamon. We have also re-stocked the gift shop with some of our most popular titles for your holiday shopping. One of these books, Writers of the American South: Their Literary Landscapes, will be awarded to the winner of our O'Connor trivia contest to be announced in January.
- Mark

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

Want to avoid a scene like the one you see on the right? Instead of fighting the crowds and traffic on this the busiest shopping day of the year, why not come out to Andalusia and experience the tranquility of the O'Connor family farm. What a welcome contrast to the crowded parking lot at the Milledgeville Mall and the line of cars waiting to get into Wally World this place provides. If you're in the area and wish to escape all that noise and hubbub I invite you to visit us. While we cannot offer the same door busting sales as our neighbors to the south, we do have something you can't find there - salve for the spirit and refreshment for the soul. If you are of a mind to do some Christmas shopping our gift shop carries many unique items that are sure to be a hit for the Flannery O'Connor devotee on your gift list.
- Mark

Friday, November 19, 2010


Have you ever wondered what animal is carved on the sideboard in the O'Connor's dining room? Do you ever keep yourself up at night pondering whose portrait is hanging in Flannery's bedroom? If so, I invite you to submit any questions you might have about Andalusia to We are compiling a list of the questions our visitors ask most frequently about the farm. This list and the answers to your questions will be posted on our website in the near future. We need your help in order to make this a valuable resource for anyone who might be interested in learning more about Flannery and her life at Andalusia.

Next Thursday, Nov. 25th, Andalusia will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will re-open on Friday, but you might want to come out now as it's another gorgeous autumn day here on the farm and the week-end promises more of the same. If we don't see you before then, Craig and I wish you and those you love a happy Thanksgiving.

- Mark

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Nice November

It's a common misconception that October is the peak month for fall color. While that may be true up north, down here in middle Georgia November is our month of burnished beauty. And no place is lovelier in autumn than Andalusia farm. This week has been absolutely gorgeous. While we've had to contend with a small army of ladybugs on the front porch - not unusual for this time of year - our visitors have enjoyed some of the nicest days of the fall so far. Monday afternoon was so fine that I decided to go outside to replenish the gift shop's inventory of pond water and red clay. Yes, these may be some of the quirkier items we sell, but there are many die-hard O'Connor fans out there who want to take a little bit of Andalusia home with them and gladly pay $2.00 for this unique keepsake. Speaking of one-of-a-kind items in our gift shop...this week we received a fresh supply of our most popular postcards. They are, of course, the darling portrait of Flannery when she was two years old, concentrating on the picture book in her lap. These adorable postcards are a bargain at $1.00 ea., but the supply is limited.
- Mark

Friday, November 5, 2010

Trivia Contest

You are invited to test your knowledge of Flannery O'Connor and Andalusia by entering a trivia contest we are having. You could win a copy of Hugh Howard's attractive book, Writers of the American South. This lavishly illustrated, hardcover book features the homes of many writers from our region. To enter the contest, correctly answer the five questions below and send your answers to us no later than Dec. 1, 2010 to either of the following addresses:
P.O. Box 947 Milledgeville, GA 31059

We will have a drawing in December to select from the participants who answered all five questions correctly and will announce the winner of the prize shortly thereafter. Good luck!

1. Flannery O'Connor gave her mother a burro for Mother's Day one year. What were the names of the three burros that lived at Andalusia during Flannery O'Connor's time here?

2. Who was the twentieth-century sports legend that Flannery O'Connor admired so much?

3. What did Flannery O'Connor mix with her coffee?

4. What year did Flannery O'Connor acquire her first peafowl?

5. Before retiring every night, Flannery O'Connor read excerpts from what famous theological treatise?
- Mark

Saturday, October 30, 2010

In Celebration of Genius

Just arrived in our gift shop...Flannery O'Connor: In Celebration of Genius. Published in 2000, this aptly titled work edited by Sarah Gordon contains commemorative essays, fiction, and poetry by some of today's most important writers paying tribute to the genius of Flannery O'Connor. There are contributions from those who counted her as a friend (e.g. Miller Williams and Robert Coles) and others who never met her but were inspired by the timelessness of her fiction. This hard-to-find volume sells for $21.95. Supplies are limited. If you can't come out to Andalusia, you can use your credit card (478-454-4029) and we will happily mail you a copy.
- Mark

Friday, October 22, 2010

Deep Roots

Tomorrow Milledgeville hosts the seventh annual Deep Roots Festival. This popular street fair celebrates the heritage of middle Georgia with down-home music, barbecue, and arts and crafts. If you're planning on coming - and I would heartily encourage you to do so as the weather is going to be absolutely gorgeous - why not make a day of it and visit Andalusia, too. There are very few places in town with roots that go as deep as the O'Connor's family farm. Prior to the Civil War -long before the O'Connors acquired it - Andalusia was a 1,700 acre plantation, one of the largest in Baldwin County. Moreover, there are very few families in Milledgeville whose roots go as deep as the O'Connors. Flannery's great grandfather, Hugh Donnelly Treanor, emigrated from Ireland in 1824 and went into business as a grist mill operator. He is credited with being one of the founding members of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, and the first mass ever celebrated in Milledgeville occurred in his hotel room (see Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch - p. 21). Milledgeville can be rightly proud of its heritage, one that was in no small measure enriched by the contributions of the O'Connor family, especially a certain author who went on to become one of the greatest short story writers this country has ever produced.
- Mark

Friday, October 15, 2010

Andalusia Unchained

Things have been hopping here at Andalusia this past week. With visits from college groups, church groups, foreign tourists, and, today, a group of 150 first-graders, we've been kept pretty busy. The weather couldn't be nicer as the days have been bright, clear, and pleasantly warm. It appears we have finally turned the corner from summer to fall. The leaves are changing and I'm seeing more deer and wild turkeys on the property, especially when I drive in first thing in the morning. This afternoon we are expecting a visit from Francis Allen, executive director and president of The Unchained Tour, to discuss the possibilities of doing some filming at Andalusia to promote his group. What is The Unchained Tour? It is an organization that travels by bus around the state of Georgia with performing artists and storytellers to support local, independent bookstores. For more information, visit their website at Finally, don't forget that critically-acclaimed author Mary Helen Stefaniak will be at Andalusia on Monday evening to read from her new book, The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia. Signed copies of the book will be available for purchase in our gift shop.
- Mark

Friday, October 8, 2010

"The Original Tin Ear"

One of the rare privileges for me working at Andalusia is meeting some of the people who knew Flannery O'Connor personally. These occasions are as infrequent as they are memorable. Such a meeting occurred this past Monday when one of Flannery's former piano teachers visited the farm. This enthusiastic nun was such a delight. She shared many interesting stories and anecdotes about her famed pupil who went on to achieve much greater success on typewriter keys than piano keys. Flannery, who once referred to herself as "the original tin ear," took music lessons at the parochial school of Sacred Heart Catholic Church (operated briefly by the Sisters of St. Joseph in the early 1950s). According to the good sister, Flannery was a diligent student who practiced hard to get all the notes right, though this sometimes resulted in wooden, mechanical playing. While Flannery may not have been the most proficient pianist going down the street (she once quipped, "St. Cecilia wouldn't know what to do with me."), the fond memories her former teacher has of Flannery are indelibly etched on her mind. By the way, if you are interested in seeing the piano that Flannery practiced on, come out to Andalusia and see it on display in our gift shop.
- Mark
P.S. All quotes are taken from A Literary Guide to Flannery O'Connor's Georgia - p. 52

Friday, October 1, 2010

Big Doings in October

As preparations are well underway at the farm for our bluegrass concert tomorrow night, we are enjoying a bright, beautiful fall morning. Tomorrow promises more of the same so we hope all of you will think about coming out to Andalusia for a night of music, food, and fun. October is a big month here, what with the bluegrass concert tomorrow, Mary Helen Sefaniak's reading and book signing on Oct. 18th, and several school and college groups scheduled to visit in the next few weeks. But this is also a significant month at Flannery O'Connor's Childhood Home in Savannah. On Oct. 13th, the twenty finalists for the 2010 National Book Award in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people's literature will be announced there by noted author Pat Conroy. The O'Connor home was selected from more than 75 possible venues for this event. Given the fact that Flannery won the National Book Award (posthumously) for fiction in 1972 for her Complete Stories and that last fall the same book was voted the Best of the National Book Awards recipients for fiction of the past sixty years, we believe she is worthy of this additional honor.
- Mark

Friday, September 24, 2010

Bluegrass on the Way!

It's hard to believe that our annual bluegrass concert is coming up in eight short days. This year, the music will be provided by Heart Pine (gotta love that name for a combo from middle Georgia). This fundraiser, which has been held at Andalusia every year since 2004, draws a pretty big audience. Nevertheless, one has to wonder if Flannery O'Connor would have endorsed such an event going on right outside her front door. While the music being performed may not have been exactly to her taste (O'Connor preferred Scarlatti, Haydn, Chopin et. al.), I think it would have delighted her since bluegrass springs from the same soil as so many of the characters in her novels and stories. It is as real, raw, and gritty as a Hazel Motes sermon. And who knows...maybe Flannery might have even pulled up a lawn chair and started tapping her toes to the catchy rhythms of the double bass. The concert runs from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 2nd. Please check out our website for more details.
- Mark

Friday, September 17, 2010

While I was away...

The days continue to be dusty and dry here at Andalusia. Though temperatures remain high for this time of year, the lower humidity makes it considerably more comfortable. Officially, summer lasts a few more days. However, fall is most definitely on the way. A sure sign of this is the number of pecans that have fallen in the backyard. Another sign of fall is the plans that are underway for our Bluegrass concert coming up October 2. While I was away on a short staycation this week, a permanent light standard was erected behind the nail house to illuminate our parking area for this concert and any other nighttime events we might host in the future. During my absence a class of Georgia College students was out at the farm almost every day filming a documentary about Flannery O'Connor and Andalusia. Also, a group of biology students from the college continues to study the pond and its ecosystem. Don't be surprised if you visit us and happen to see students wading in the water taking samples and recording their observations. With an above-average daily attendance of over 30 visitors, I think you can see that it's been pretty busy out here at the O'Connor farm this week. We're never too busy, though, to welcome new friends. If you've never been to Andalusia, we invite you to come and visit us during these balmy days of early fall.
- Mark

Friday, September 10, 2010

Peacock Plaque

At the Decatur Book Festival last weekend, Cindy Horton, Curator of History and Education at Stone Mountain Park, gave Craig a very interesting artifact. Some of you may know that after Flannery O'Connor died her mother gave away a good number of her peacocks to various institutions such as Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers (Georgia). Some of the birds in O'Connor's flock were also donated to Stone Mountain Park. To commemorate Regina O'Connor's generous donation, the park had a plaque made that reads:

Flannery O'Connor's Peacocks
These peacocks, from the flock of the late distinguished Georgia writer, were presented to Stone Mountain Park by her mother, Mrs. Edward F. O'Connor, January 8, 1972

It is this very plaque that Ms. Horton gave Craig and which we are pleased to add to the collection at Andalusia. Thank you, Cindy, and thank you Stone Mountain Park for this unique gift!
- Mark

Friday, September 3, 2010


Early this morning, an anonymous donor dropped off two roosters at Andalusia. We don't have names for these birds yet nor do we know the species. All we know for sure is that they are quite striking in their black and gold plumage and their bright red comb and wattles. They are presently checking out the area around the aviary, seeing what there is to eat - which is quite a bit since I just emptied the remaining cracked corn on the ground there. I am happy to report that our new Andalusians are quickly adapting to their environs. We hope that their stay with us will be longer and happier than that of their compatriot, Rito, who met his untimely demise last fall when he became supper for a hungry fox or coyote.

In a totally unrelated matter, we will once again be represented this year at the Decatur Book Festival in downtown Decatur, Georgia. Craig leaves this afternoon to go up there to get ready. If you are in the area stop by our booth (#524) and learn about all the new and exciting things that are happening at Andalusia. If you can't make it there, consider a visit to the farm on Saturday. The day promises to be sunny and pleasantly cooler. Even if you can't be with us, have a happy Labor Day week-end and remember we will be closed on Monday in observance of the holiday.
- Mark

Thursday, August 26, 2010


I was hoping by this time to announce to the blogosphere the birth of a brood of baby peachicks at Andalusia. Unfortunately, I am not going to be able to do so. More than a month ago we noticed one of the hens sitting on a clutch of eight eggs. Since we didn't wish to count our (pea)chickens before they were hatched, we resisted the temptation to post anything about it on the blog, website, or Facebook. We were, nevertheless, pretty excited about this prospect and planned to hand out candy cigars in the gift shop once the birds were born. A couple weeks ago I went out to the aviary while the hen was off the nest and counted only four eggs. Where did the others go, I wondered? Not wanting to disturb the nest or alarm the mother I chose not go into the coop for a closer look. The same thing happened again last week, only this time there was only one egg left. On Monday morning when I went out to feed the birds, I was able to go into the coop and have a look around. This time the nest was empty. I dug around in the straw to see if, perhaps, the sole surviving egg had been moved. There were no signs of it anywhere. What could have happened? The aviary protects our birds from all predators - except one. Snakes.

An email to one of our visitors, a man who raises peafowl, confirmed what we had suspected all along. According to him, only a snake would eat an egg and not leave behind any shell remnants. Moreover, the culprit(s) had to be pretty large - at least in the 41/2 to 5 foot range - in order to unhinge their jaws wide enough to down a peacock egg. This good man also gave us some recommendations for preventing a similar outcome in the future.

Despite the violence in the aviary, I am happy to report that none of our birds was harmed. Indeed, they seem happier than ever munching on the parrot treats we bought them in the wake of this rather disturbing incident.
- Mark

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fabulous Feat

With our eighteen visitors from the Atlanta Girls School this morning we surpassed the 4000 mark in yearly attendance for the first time in the Foundation's history. We have now had more than 22,000 visitors tour Flannery O'Connor's home in the seven years Andalusia has been open to the public. It is quite a feat considering that we're a bit off the beaten track. In a letter to her agent, O'Connor once quipped, "The only way to get here is by bus or buzzard." (Habit of Being, p. 77) Nevertheless, O'Connor fans by the score manage to find us and never fail to be captivated by the farm home of one of the twentieth century's greatest writers. We thank all of you who have made the trek to Andalusia and hope you'll come back again.
- Mark

Friday, August 13, 2010

Champion Sugarberry

Anyone who has walked the nature trail at Andalusia can't help but be impressed by the majestic trees on either side of the path. Even on the hottest summer day - and believe me we've had a bunch of them this year - the shade trees along Lower Tobler Creek provide welcome relief from the sun. One of these trees - a 92' Sugarberry - was named this week by the Georgia Forestry Commsion as the largest of its species in the entire state of Georgia. While we don't have a blue ribbon to nail into the trunk, we are nonetheless proud of our Sugarberry.
- Mark

Friday, August 6, 2010

Scraggly Squawkers

'Tis the season for birds of all feathers to lose their plumage. The peafowl at Andalusia are no exception. During the last week I have been raking up feathers by the wheelbarrowful. The male is looking especially scraggy these days with only a couple feathers from his once regal train now sticking out at odd angles. Seeing our birds this scruffy reminds us that they have now been living happily in captivity at Andalusia for a year. When we got the birds last August, they were molting as they timidly adapted to their new environs. I am happy to report that they are now thriving.

Just arrived in our gift shop...the 2010 edition of The Flannery O'Connor Review ($15.00). In this beautifully edited journal be sure to check out the review of Lorraine Murray's new book, The Abbess of Andalusia. Murray's much-in-demand account of Flannery O'Connor's spiritual journey is also available for purchase in the gift shop ($16.95).

Last but not least...birthday wishes are in order for Andalusia's executive director, Craig Amason, who passed the half-century mark August 4th. Happy Birthday, Craig!
- Mark

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A birthday of a different order

Today marks the 46th anniversary of Flannery O'Connor's death. Many visitors to Andalusia mistakenly assume that the author died in her bed at the farm. The truth is that O'Connor died at Baldwin County Hospital in the very early hours of August 3, 1964. In February of that year the author had an operation to remove an enlarged fibroid tumor. Unfortunately, this procedure reactivated her lupus and she began to decline rapidly. The last time Flannery felt well enough to receive visitors was on July 25th when her friends Mary Jo Thompson and Fannie White of the Sanford House stopped by Andalusia with food from the restaurant. Flannery got up from her sick bed, dressed, and sat out on the porch in a rocking chair and visited for a short while. By the following week, Flannery O'Connor was extremely ill and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance on the morning of July 29th. The next Sunday, as her kidneys began to fail, she received the Eucharist and was administered last rites by Abbot Augustine Moore of Holy Spirit Monastery. Shortly after midnight, she slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness. She was pronounced dead at 12:40 a.m. on August 3rd at the age of thirty-nine. Her funeral mass was held at Sacred Heart Catholic Church the following day.

Last March we celebrated what would have been Flannery O'Connor's 85th birthday. We had a party at Andalusia in her honor complete with birthday cake and the mayor of Milledgeville came out to the farm to proclaim March 25th Flannery O'Connor Day. Today, August 3rd, we celebrate an event of a different order: Flannery O'Connor's heavenly birthday. Requiescat in pace.
- Mark

Friday, July 30, 2010

We did it!

Actually, you did it. Thanks to the many devoted followers of Flannery O'Connor who have visited Andalusia in the past year, last week we surpassed the previous record for visitations in a twelve month period. It is a considerable feat when you consider the sluggish economy and the scorching summer we're having. It is certainly a testament to the drawing power of Flannery O'Connor. With any luck we may reach 4,000 visitors before the fiscal year ends September 30th.

As alluded to above, this is one of the hottest summers in recent memory. Today and tomorrow we are under a heat advisory and are expecting to see temperatures over 100 degrees. If you are planning to visit us, please exercise some caution. While we would love for you to see as much of the property as you want to, we advise limiting the amount of time you spend outside. You are certainly welcome to linger in the main house which is air conditioned and where we have the refrigerator stocked with plenty of cold, bottled water. All this is to say, don't let a little hot weather deter you from visiting us.

- Mark

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who let the dogs out?

They say there are two kinds of persons in the world - cat people and dog people. Each of these types exhibits certain personality traits. What kind of person was Flannery O'Connor? Characteristically, neither. She was, instead, a bird person. From the time O'Connor was a little girl she raised ducks and chickens. She even sewed clothes for these birds and made up fanciful stories about them that she shared with her classmates at St. Vincent's Academy in Savannah. As she grew older, her flock became more diversified, most notably with the addition of peafowl that she started raising at Andalusia in 1953. Flannery was protective of her birds, too. In the summer of 1957 her friend Cecil Dawkins wanted to give her a dog. O'Connor wrote her back declining the kind offer: "You certainly are nice to want to give me that dog but I'll have to take the thought for the dog. I didn't tell you what I raise: I raise peacocks - and you can't keep dogs and peacocks on the same place. When people come to see us with a dog, we have to ask them to keep the dog in the car - else the peachickens will take to the trees and have nervous prostrations...So I adjust myself to their tastes, including being anti-dog." (Habit of Being p. 230)

Though the present day peafowl at Andalusia enjoy the safe confines of an aviary, we must be "anti-dog," too. Visitors are certainly welcome to bring their dogs out to the farm, but we ask that they keep them on a leash, not only for the protection of our guests, but for the animals' protection, too. If you bring a dog to Andalusia, we also ask that you don't leave your pet in the car, especially during these searing summer months. It's also not a good idea to leave your pet in the car with the motor running. There have been dogs left in idling cars here that have locked themselves in. Since we don't want a similar fate to happen to your pet, we ask that you observe our "leash law."
- Mark

Friday, July 16, 2010

Lilac of the South

One of the joys of living in middle Georgia is that no matter what season you're in something is always in bloom - even in winter when pansies and snap dragons provide much welcome color. In the summer, crape myrtles are bursting with white, raspberry, periwinkle, and pink blossoms. For those of you outside the deep south a crape myrtle is a multi-stemmed, large shrub that can grow as a tall as a tree. Indeed, the one in the front yard at Andalusia is about 25 ft. tall and is topped with frothy pink blossoms. Although no one knows whether our crape myrtle was around when Flannery lived at Andalusia, it is as refreshing to the eye on a hot summer day as a bowl of sherbet. Why not plan a trip to Andalusia this summer to see it? While you're here, check out some of the new (and not so new) titles that just arrived in the gift shop - Jean Cash's pioneering biography, Flannery O'Connor: A Life; Margaret Earley Whitt's study, Understanding Flannery O'Connor; Conversations with Flannery O'Connor, edited by Rosemary Magee; Hank Edmondson's Return to Good & Evil; and the travel book every bibliophile should have, Novel Destinations.
- Mark

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Scorcher

With today's high expected to reach 100, it's going to be another summer scorcher in the midstate. Yet no matter how hot it gets in Milledgeville, the majestic oaks here at Andalusia Farm keep things fairly comfortable. I must say that in the year that I've been working here, the heat has never been unbearable. Granted we have two window air conditioning units in the house - a luxury the O'Connors did not enjoy until near the end of Flannery's life when one was acquired to make the author's final days a bit more bearable. This modern convenience is much appreciated by our visitors - and staff - during these sizzling days of July.

For those of you who may be travelling this summer, check out some of the new titles in our gift shop. While it may not be exactly beach reading, the latest edition of Shenandoah arrived this week. This, the 60th anniversary issue of the venerable literary magazine out of Washington & Lee University, is devoted entirely to Flannery O'Connor. The magazine features critical essays, short stories, poetry, photography, and other art work in tribute to O'Connor. Supplies are limited. If you would like a copy, please visit out gift shop, or call 478-454-4029. The cost of the journal is $15.00 plus tax.
- Mark

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Pictures in a Parlor

Visitors to Andalusia this summer are in for a real treat. In the back parlor we have a new display of some vintage photographs of the farm. These pictures are the generous gift of Frances Florencourt, first cousin of Flannery O'Connor. A number of them, dating from the late 1930s, feature Flannery and her Florencourt cousins on horseback. There are also photos from the same period of Flannery's uncle, Dr. Bernard Cline. Born in 1881, Dr. Cline was a renowned ear, nose, and throat doctor in Atlanta. He was a prominent member of society and served for some time as president of the Piedmont Driving Club. In the early 1930s Dr. Cline purchased the Andalusia property and used it as a weekend getaway as well as a place where he could raise horses and quail. He also entertained his friends with lavish barbecues and hosted special parties at the farm for his beloved nieces. Dr. Cline died unexpectedly in January, 1947. Though he was sorely missed by all who knew him, his legacy lives on at Andalusia. According to his niece, Frances, "the farm and all its land and buildings still speak of him and his love for us."
- Mark

Friday, June 25, 2010

Southern Sauna

It's the first week of summer and already daytime temperatures are in the mid-to upper -nineties. The humidity is just as high. With the steamy days we've been having, you'd think that it might keep our attendance down. Nothing could be further from the truth. Already in June - and believe me it's been hot - we've had 240 visitors. Not bad. O'Connor fans, as I've learned in the year I've been at Andalusia, are a pretty hearty bunch and they're not going to let a little atmospheric unpleasantness interfere with visiting the farm of their favorite writer. The hot weather has brought other visitors to the farm, ones not as welcome as the two-legged variety. Last Saturday afternoon, as I was getting ready to close the highway gate, a four foot timber rattlesnake slithered across the driveway and up the embankment. We've also noticed a red fox prowling around the premises behind the main house. Obviously, he has taken notice of the peafowl, who gladly remain beyond his reach in the safe and secure confines of the aviary. The presence of such critters is just a part of life on a farm and does not present a threat to our visitors provided they exercise a little caution. It is strongly encouraged that, when visiting Andalusia, you stay in the mown areas and do not venture off into the tall grass or woods (except when hiking the nature trail). Remember, the animals out here are timid and are more scared of you than you are of them. Still, a little precaution is in order.
- Mark

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Farewell to an Old Friend

If you have not heard the news yet, you may be saddened to learn that Flossie, the beloved hinny at Andalusia, died last Friday. Since she lived to be nearly 40 years old, her passing was not totally unexpected. Still her absence leaves a palpable void. Personally, I will miss hearing her whinny when visitors came up the driveway, and her uncanny knack for figuring out ways to roam away from her pasture. Flossie had great affection for those who knew her well and would sometimes roll on the ground in delight if a friend would come up to the pasture gate with carrots or Cheerios, two of her favorite treats. Flossie enjoyed a long and happy life and was perhaps the most photographed critter that has ever lived out on the farm. While she may be gone, her memory lives on in the hearts of the Andalusia staff and the many visitors she charmed over the years.
- Mark

Thursday, June 10, 2010

On this day in 1961...

Flannery O'Connor wrote a letter to her friend Betty Hester describing a terrible accident at Andalusia (see The Habit of Being p. 442). A few days earlier Willie "Shot" Manson, a hired farm hand, was sucked into a hay baler up to his elbows. A mechanic had to be summoned to extricate him from the machinery. When they finally got him out he was "pretty badly damaged." The baler "tore out some big gaps of flesh and gave him several third-degree belt burns." As severely injured as Manson was, Regina O'Connor managed to get him into her car and drive him to Baldwin County hospital where he stayed for some time. O'Connor reports that while minor crises were something of a common occurrence out on the farm, this particular incident was a major one.

Major or minor, many of the "crises" O'Connor describes in her letters involve Manson and/or Jack and Louise Hill, the couple he boarded with in the house on the other side of the driveway. It is, therefore, fitting that the next major project at Andalusia is the restoration of the Hill house. Not only did this house serve as an inspiration for some of O'Connor's most memorable stories (e.g. "The Displaced Person"), it is perhaps the oldest structure on the property. Since it is such a significant part of the farm complex at Andalusia, please consider making a designated gift to help us save the Hill house.

- Mark

Friday, June 4, 2010

My Andalusia Anniversary

As I drive to Milledgeville past the blooming mimosas, I am reminded that it was a year ago on June 8th, that my wife, Judy, and I made our first visit to Andalusia. That day will be forever etched in my memory. The day was clear and pleasantly warm. I can still recall turning onto the dirt driveway bordered by the front pasture and canopied in lush foliage. As the driveway bent gently to the right the farm house slowly came into view. When we got out of the car I was struck by the serenity of the place. So peaceful, so tranquil. At the front door we were greeted by Craig who welcomed us and graciously showed us around. Though we stayed for two hours I could have easily lingered there the rest of the day. Little did I realize then that this would be the first of nearly 200 (and still counting) trips to Andalusia. The memory of that first visit still resonates a year later when I come out here. If you've never been, I invite you to visit Andalusia during these lazy, hazy days of summer.
- Mark

Friday, May 28, 2010

School's out for Summer?

With most schools closed for the summer, where might one reasonably expect to find a group of college students on this, the beginning of the Memorial Day weekend? The pool or beach? Cruising around town with their friends? Nope. Try Andalusia. This morning we welcomed a group of 15 students and their teachers from the University of West Alambama. It is gratifying for us to see so many young people who are tuned into Flannery O'Connor and read her stories so enthusiastically. Talk about devotees! After arriving in Milledgeville last evening and taking in some of the other O'Connor sites, they headed out to Andalusia to tour the farm. After a picnic lunch under the shade of the oak trees, they will be on their way to Savannah to visit Flannery's childhood home tomorrow. With temperatures climbing into the low 90s the next two days, that's what I call real dedication. We wish them and you safe travels if you are going anywhere this holiday weekend. In observance of Memorial Day, Andalusia will be closed on Monday.

- Mark

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fecund Fowl

A heavy thunderstorm this morning has kept me from going outside to check on the peafowl. As noted last week, one of the hens has begun laying eggs and is now doing so at the rate of one every other day. She continues to drop them indiscriminately and remains clueless about what she's to do next. To encourage her, we put together a nesting box on Thursday and filled it with wheat straw. It's usually not a good idea to move eggs once they've been laid, but we moved one (the others were discarded) to the nesting box anyway. The hen seemed curious at first, but so far has not gone into the coop to set on her nest. Our visitors are excited by the prospect of little peachicks running around the aviary and so, apparently, is the peacock. To the delight of all, he now fans his tail feathers just about every time you turn around and cries out in jubilation Lee-yon lee-yon, Mee-yon, mee-yon! Eee-e-yoy, eee-e-yoy! Eee-e-yoy eee-e-yoy! Craig and I sometimes wonder what the noise level must have been like when the O'Connors were here with Flannery's flock of 40-50 peafowl. With that many birds running around the place surely she would know what to do to help us with this brooding dilemma.
- Mark

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Barnyard Buzz

What a big surprise I had on Monday morning when I went out to feed the peafowl. One of the hens had laid an egg! Then yesterday, when Craig went out to the aviary, another egg was discovered on the ground. The hens seem clueless about what to do now and have largely ignored the eggs. Ironically, the male demonstrates more curiosity than they do. Since the eggs are sitting on the ground abandoned, they will have to be discarded. Hopefully, Mary Grace's and Joy-Hulga's maternal instincts will kick in soon. Not that we want to breed peafowl mind you - at least not yet. The aviary in its present dimensions can only accommodate the three birds we already have.

In other news, it seems that summer is fast approaching. The Chinaberry trees have lost their blooms as our daytime temperatures approach 90. It's warm enough that we've had to turn on the air conditioners in the house, yet it's still pleasant enough outside and the humidity remains comfortably low. All in all, a perfect time of year to visit this picturesque farm.

- Mark

Thursday, May 6, 2010

GCSU Commencement

On Saturday morning, May 8th, the 2010 graduating class of Georgia College, accompanied by faculty in full academic regalia, will process across the front lawn of the school to receive their diplomas. Of course this is all dependent on the weather, which in recent years has been quite cooperative. When Flannery O'Connor graduated from the school in 1945 - then it was known as Georgia State College for Women - the commencement exercises were held indoors in Russell Auditorium. To get a feel of what graduation in Flannery's day might have been like, readers of this blog are encouraged to read one of her most underrated stories, "A Late Encounter with the Enemy." Georgia College is a beautiful campus and it's worth visiting the school simply to see it. However, of special interest to O'Connor fans, is the Flannery O'Connor Room, a permanent exhibit in the GCSU Museum. There one can see the author's desk and typewriter as well as a number of other artifacts (her christening gown, walnut bookcases, letters, etc.). Also at the college in the Special Collections of the Russell Library are O'Connor's manuscripts. Access to these is limited to scholars and others doing research on Georgia College's most famous alumna. For more information on Special Collections, call Josh Kitchens at 478-445-0982.

- Mark

Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Bonanza

In anticipation of the throng of visitors we normally get once school is out, we restocked the gift shop today with two of our most popular books - Brad Gooch's critically acclaimed biography, Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor (now in paperback) and the venerable Library of America's collection of O'Connor's works. Both of these tomes are must haves for any serious O'Connor fan. Check out these and the many other titles we have in our gift shop, your one stop shop for all things O'Connor. Seriously, we have more books by and about O'Connor here than you're likely to find any other place. And, of course, we have the farm that inspired Flannery O'Connor. So why not come out to Andalusia and browse our gift shop. It couldn't be a better time to visit. April is so pretty in Georgia. As I write, the sky is bright blue, the birds are singing, and the day is warm and pleasant. If you can't come here in person, remember that all gift shop merchandise is available for purchase by calling 478-454-4029. We accept all major credit cards.

- Mark

Friday, April 23, 2010

When in Rome...

Yesterday we received an e-mail from a gentleman in Japan who is planning a trip to the United States for the sole purpose of visiting Andalusia. It always amazes us how far people come from to see the place where Flannery O'Connor penned virtually all of her fiction. She has a big following in Japan. In fact, the largest number of foreign subscribers to the Flannery O'Connor Review are Japanese. Though O'Connor never made it to Japan, her close friend, Maryat Lee, lived there for a short while in the 1950s. With her feigned country bumpkin voice when corresponding with Lee, O'Connor wrote on May 19, 1957: "Greetings from historic Milledgeville where the ladies and gents wash in separate tubs." Confessing a certain unwillingness to bathe in what she perceived to be communal tubs, O'Connor continued, "If I were in Japan, I would be pretty high by the time I left out of there as I wouldn't have washed durng the trip. My standard is: when in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville." If you enjoyed this gem, check out the memorable selection of O'Connor letters in The Habit of Being, available for purchase in the Andalusia gift shop for $24.00.
- Mark

Friday, April 16, 2010

Young Visitors to Andalusia

On this beautiful spring morning we are expecting the arrival of a group of 113 first graders from Blandy Hills Elementary School. Children love visiting Andalusia. There is so much for them to see and experience here. When school groups come we tell the children a little bit about the place and why it is important. Many of the youngters, however, are more interested in hearing about the wildlife and exploring the barnyard than learning about the famous author who lived here. Nevertheless, we hope to create a memory for the children so that one day they might be inspired to read O'Connor's fiction. Welcoming children to Andalusia goes back a long way. Even when Flannery O'Connor was alive, teachers would sometimes bring their classes out here. Flannery and her mother would greet these young visitors and welcome them to the farm. Before the children left, "Miss Flannery" made sure each child received a peacock feather as a souvenir of his or her visit. Some of these folks have returned to Andalusia as adults and have shared with us their memories of Flannery O'Connor and what a gracious host she was. While we can't hand out feathers to each of our young visitors (we give them coloring sheets instead), we hope that everyone who visits the farm - young and old alike - will receive the same warm welcome.

- Mark

Friday, April 9, 2010

Puddles of Pollen

Until yesterday's rain, Andalusia was blanketed in a haze of pine pollen. Even the bright red roof of the main house was covered with the yellow powder. For those of us who have lived in middle Georgia for a while, the arrival of the pine pollen signals the beginning of long, mild spring days and, for some, sniffles and sneezes. Maybe it has something to do with the wet, cold winter we had, but most locals can't remember the pollen being this heavy. Fortunately, yesterday's rain cleaned the air, slaked parched gardens, and created puddles of yellow pollen on the ground. Today the lines at the local car washes will be pretty long as midstaters rinse the pollen off their vehicles that the rain didn't. After you get your car washed, why not consider decorating it with one of our brand new bumper stickers? These one of a kind items are only $4 each and are available for purchase in the Andalusia gift shop or by phone order.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Last Chance to Name the Peafowl

Just a reminder that there are only a few more days left in our contest to name the peafowl at Andalusia. We have three birds - two females and one male - whose names will be decided by vote. Please send us your ideas. Remember...the names must be characters out of O'Connor's stories. The names garnering the most votes win. The contest ends on Sunday. We will announce the winning entries next week.

It is a gorgeous day here in middle Georgia - sunny and warm - and the Easter week-end promises more of the same. Craig joins me in wishing you and those you love a happy Easter.


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Happy Birthday, Flannery!

As readers of this blog may know, today would have been Flannery O'Connor's 85th birthday. To mark the occasion the mayor of Milledgeville, Richard Bentley, came out to Andalusia this morning to read a proclamation declaring March 25th Flannery O'Connor Day in Milledgeville. Also on hand were members of the Flannery O'Connor-Andalusia Board of Directors, dignitaries, and other selected guests. Following the mayoral proclamation, there was a small reception in the O'Connors' kitchen where guests enjoyed a special peacock birthday cake. If you're in the area, come on by and have a piece of cake with us to celebrate the birth of one of the truly great authors of all time. ...Mark

Friday, March 19, 2010

Strike Up the Band

Many visitors to Andalusia ask about the record player in Flannery O'Connor's room. We're asked, too, what kind of music Flannery liked. Though the writer often claimed to have a tin ear and had a terrible time learning how to play the piano when she was younger, she nevertheless had fairly sophisticated musical tastes. Her album collection includes recordings of Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, and Stravinsky that were given to her by Thomas Stritch. Everything outside the classical repertoire, she claimed, sounded like the Beatles. Apparently her birds had similar tastes. Flannery claimed that when she was listening to music the peafowl outside her bedroom window would sometimes join the chorus. The phonograph was a gift to her from the sisters at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta. According to a letter to Stritch (Habit of Being p. 562), someone had apparently given the nuns a new record player for Christmas and so they decided to send their old one to Flannery. O'Connor enjoyed a close relationship with the sisters at the cancer home. From the time she helped them get their book, A Memoir of Mary Ann, published they expressed their love and gratitude by occasionally sending Flannery gifts. Among these is an inscribed crucifix presently hanging on the wall above Flannery's bedside table.

Big doings at Andalusia next week. Next Thursday, on what would have been O'Connor's 85th birthday, the mayor of Milledgeville and other dignitaries will be on hand to proclaim March 25th "Flannery O'Connor Day." If you're in the area come on out and help us celebrate the birth of our favorite writer. We'll even have peacock birthday cake to mark the occasion!


Friday, March 12, 2010

The Twentieth Century's Blake

Many visitors to Andalusia are surprised to learn that in addition to raising exotic birds, Flannery O'Connor also enjoyed painting. During the time that the O'Connor's lived here, many of Flannery's paintings adorned the walls. We all know what a great literary talent Flannery O'Connor possessed, but she was also a gifted visual artist. Like a twentieth-century William Blake, O'Connor's creativity could not be contained by only one medium. The natural beauty of Andalusia ignited her artistic imagination. In a letter from fifty years ago to her friend Maryat Lee, O'Connor describes the frustration of being sick in bed and not being able to get up to do a painting of the gently falling snow outside her window. "Today it is snowing here & were I not confined to my bed taking two-toned pills I would be painting a snow scene. This would be appropriate as I have this large tube of white and snow is white. On this truth, I will leave you." (Habit of Being p. 378)

March in Georgia can be a mixed bag. While it may have been snowing on that Friday half a century ago, today it is warm enough to be in shirtsleeves. Rain is expected in the afternoon, however, so I must close and feed the peafowl before it pours.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Signs of Spring

Though nights are still chilly, signs of spring are appearing everywhere on the farm. The days are sunny, the daffodils are blooming, and many trees on the property are haloed with pink buds. Another sure sign of spring is the uptick in visitors to Andalusia. Last week more than 200 people came through the house and the calendar is quickly filling up with church groups, book clubs, and schools planning tours of the home of one of America's greatest writers. Spring is an especially pretty time of year at Andalusia and, with the 85th anniversary of Flannery O'Connor's birth coming up on March 25th, it would be a perfect time to visit the farm. Another inducement to get you out here is the appearance of acclaimed writer and naturalist, Jack Nesbit, who will offer a guided nature walk on Lower Tobler Creek Trail on Tuesday, March 30th, at 4:oo. This event is free and open to the public.


Friday, February 26, 2010

The Milk-Processing Shed -- Restored

The latest restoration completion at Andalusia is the milk-processing shed, located just in front of the cow barn. The shed dates back to the 1940s or earlier. During the 1950s when Regina Cline O'Connor operated Andalusia as a dairy farm, the actual processing or pasteurization of the milk was performed off site at the cooperative, located fifteen miles north of Andalusia, in Eatonton. The essential function of the milk-processing shed at Andalusia was to keep the milk cool until it could be transported to the cooperative. The shed was equipped with large, refrigerated tanks filled with water for cooling and storing the cans of milk. Hot water, supplied by the tank in a small, separate compartment, was used to sterilize the empty cans and milking equipment before they were placed on drying racks to be used again. The importance of making sure that milk was carefully processed before drinking it is clearly illustrated in O'Connor's story "The Enduring Chill."

The restoration of the milk-processing shed was completed in 2009 and was primarily funded by the Watson-Brown Junior Board of Milledgeville. Additional support for this project came from generous donations from Friends of Andalusia and donations given in memory of Robert W. Mann and Catherine Florencourt Firth.


Friday, February 19, 2010

What a Difference a Week Makes

It's hard to believe that the picture you see on the right was taken just six days ago. Today it's sunny and pleasantly mild (for a change!) out here on the farm. It's been dry for a while too, which makes it unnecessary to put on boots when going outside to tend to chores such as feeding the peafowl. Another welcome change! All the same, last week's snow turned Andalusia into a winter wonderland. Craig took this and several other photos when he came into work last Saturday morning. They were all so good, it was hard to select one for this blog. If you've never experienced the breathtaking beauty of Andalusia in person, perhaps this photo will inspire you to come out and visit us.


Friday, February 12, 2010

Battening Down the Hatches

With a major winter storm on the way and most of the schools in the area closed, we have been busy getting ready for whatever mother nature dishes up. This morning we gave the peafowl some extra feed and several fistfulls of cracked corn, one of their favorite treats. Craig also spread wheat straw in the coop to make the birds' shelter as snug as possible. One of the hens immediately began investigating her new digs (perhaps checking out a place to lay her eggs in the spring). In spite of the winter dreariness, all three birds appear happy and healthy. Though they are not taking food from our hands yet, as they did with Flannery, the peafowl are much more comfortable having us around and are used to our presence in the aviary. Flossie, the hinny, has been around here so long that nothing phases her. She simply retreats to the warm and secure confines of her barn. If we do get some snow, a rarity in middle Georgia, Craig and I have our digital cameras ready. A picture of the farm covered in white would make a lovely Christmas card this year.


Friday, February 5, 2010

Flannery's Super Bowl Pick

Though there is no evidence to suggest that Flannery O'Connor ever saw a game of football in her life, I suspect that this Sunday she would be sitting in front of her little black and white tv set (a gift from the sisters at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Free Cancer Home in Atlanta) to watch the contest between the Indianapolis Colts and the New Orleans Saints. Why would she be interested in this year's Super Bowl, you ask, and which team would she be pulling for? With apologies to our friends in the Hoosier State, there is little doubt that Flannery would be rooting for the Saints. Having visited New Orleans in 1962 where she gave a lecture at Loyola University (and met Walker Percy), Flannery had a great affection for the city. In a letter to John Hawkes she declared, "If I had to live in a city I think I would prefer New Orleans to any other - both Southern and Catholic and with indications that the Devil's existence is freely recognized." (Habit of Being, p. 500) This colorful city, populated by characters that could have walked off the pages of an O'Connor story, chose for the name of its football team the Saints. Flannery would have loved that.

Out here at Andalusia on Sunday we will be hosting the first of our 2010 February lectures. Don Rooney, curator of Urban History at the Atlanta History Center, will be discussing the operations and programs at the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum. The lecture begins at 3:00 and there will be refreshments served afterwards. Come join us. You'll get home in plenty of time to catch the Super Bowl.


Friday, January 29, 2010

Fifty Years Ago

I have spent some time this morning reading through O'Connor's letters in The Habit of Being from early 1960, when her second novel hit the shelves. The first review of The Violent Bear It Away that O'Connor reported seeing was in Library Journal, and it was not very favorable. O'Connor expressed suspicion to her good friend Elizabeth Hester (identified as "A" in the letters) that she expected to see more negative responses in the days ahead. Some commentaries were indeed less than flattering and illustrated a misunderstanding of the writer's intentions with the novel; however, O'Connor had managed to command notable respect since the publication of Wise Blood eight years earlier from reviewers at newspapers such as the New York Times, one of whom described her talent as a writer to be "almost overwhelming." More troubling to O'Connor than the reactions to the novel was an article published in Time magazine on February 29 where the reviewer included a couple of sentences about her struggles with lupus. She made it very clear to Maryat Lee and other friends that she did not want her medical condition to be a subject of public discussion, especially with regard to her work. While it is impossible to ignore the effects that living with lupus certainly had on Flannery O'Connor's life, attempting to interpret her fiction in light of the disease is as treacherous now as it was in 1960. I am satisfied to appreciate O'Connor's stories, recognizing that her unusual vision came not necessarily from her personal suffering, but from a greater understanding of the human condition.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Good Reading for a Foggy Friday

The rains have finally let up here at Andalusia, but the mud, dampness, and chill remain. Our hinny, Flossie, seeks refuge from the dreariness in her barn, while the peafowl retreat to their perches in the covered, back part of the aviary. How do we humans escape the gloom of a day such as this? With a good book and a cup of tea! If you are in the mood to curl up with a good read by the fireplace, let me call your attention to two books we have recently added to the Andalusia gift shop. Writers of the American South is a handsome volume by Hugh Howard that combines literary criticism, biography, and magnificent photography. It also contains some humorous anecdotes about the literary luminaries from Dixie. The other book, American Writers at Home by J.D. McClatchy, is a beautiful coffee table book that reveals through word and photograph how the physical space where an author lived influenced his or her writing. Of course, both of these books pay appropriate attention to our favorite author and the dairy farm in middle Georgia where she penned some of the greatest stories in American literature. Visit Andalusia and check out these two books. You can also buy them and any other items in our gift shop by telephone (478-454-4029). Your purchases support our efforts to preserve this major literary landmark.


Friday, January 15, 2010

A Winter Wonderland

Well not exactly today as Old Man Winter has temporarily relinquished his grip and we're enjoying almost springlike temperatures at Andalusia. Earlier in the week, however, while it was still quite chilly a good friend from Paris visited the farm and took this lovely picture of the pond covered with a thin sheet of ice. As he said when he returned from his wintry walk, Andalusia is "magical."


Friday, January 8, 2010


Is it ever cold here at Andalusia. So cold in fact that there is a thin layer of ice on the pond. In spite of the freezing weather, we are able to maintain a level of comfort in the house that O'Connor and her mother did not always enjoy. In a letter to Betty Hester from 1960, O'Connor talks about the inconveniences of farm life in the dead of winter: "During this last spell of weather, we had no water or lights and the peacocks came down from the tree in the morning with their tails frozen stiff and went limping about until the middle of the day looking very miserable." (Habit of Being - p. 379). When it got this cold, O'Connor's fingers would get so numb that typing became difficult. Nevertheless, she perservered in her craft and maintained a practice of writing at least two hours every morning.

Andalusia is breathtaking any time of the year, but in the winter it takes on an austere beauty that must be experienced. Put on your warm woolen mittens and come visit us!


Friday, January 1, 2010


As we turn the calendar to begin a new year and a new decade, we thank all of you for your support during 2009 and look forward to your continued patronage. 2010 marks a milestone in O'Connor literary history. It is the 50th anniversary of the publication of O'Connor's second novel, The Violent Bear it Away, the 55th of the short story collection, A Good Man is Hard to Find, and the 45th of the posthumous collection, Everything that Rises Must Converge. On top of that, Flannery herself would have turned 85 years old this year. To celebrate this landmark year, why not visit Andalusia this year to see the place where O'Connor penned virtually all her published fiction. You can get here by bus or buzzard.

We at Andalusia wish all of you a healthy and prosperous new year and raise a glass to toast the new decade as Flannery O'Connor surely would have. Cheers!