The Power of Two

You’re not supposed to re-read classics for pleasure, but I do.  To me, that’s the real definition of classic: when something’s so good it transcends the first or second wave of popularity so people return to it year after year, seeing new ties and ideas with each re-reading. so their depth of appreciation grows with age.  Anyone can read a book once and pronounce a judgment, good or bad.  On the other hand, it takes an age to appreciate the depth in John Steinbeck’s East of Eden.  At least it requires an understanding of the Power of Two.

In many ways, East of Eden is the story of two families, the Hamilton and the Trasks.  The Hamiltons are the author’s own family, the maternal relatives he knew and heard about in family gatherings.  The accounts of his grandfather’s gentleness, his grandmother’s fortitude and the bravery and sadness of their children were the first tales that stirred Steinbeck’s imagination and he wanted these stories immortalized.  The Hamilton family tales are mixed in an earlier family saga, already known to most of the world.  The Trasks are the first first family of all, and two sets of Trask brothers follow the biblical story of Cain and Able.  The youngest generation of Trasks live close to the Hamiltons and through their association or the author’s talent, seem more understandable than their biblical counterparts.

 The Genesis story is a bald recounting of sibling rivalry, how only one brother’s gift received praise and the other brother slew him in a fit of jealousy.  However, the Trask brothers, first Charles and Adam and then Cal and Aaron both have a longstanding relationships with their emotionally distant fathers and all of the Trasks experience the confusion and regret that comes when a beloved sibling is also a hated rival.  Even better, the second generation of Trasks experiences comedy and joy along with the drama, making the characters more believable and identifiable than their Biblical counterparts.  Here the boys form a warm relationship with Lee, the family housekeeper, and memorize the series of steps for driving an early automobile before emotion and circumstance pull them apart. 

Lee reveals the central question and dichotomy in East of Eden with the Hebrew word, Timshel, which means “thou mayest”.   According to this passage, the Hebrew verse of Genesis relates that God recognizes the jealousy in Cain’s heart, calls it a sin and assures the boy he still has choice about his future.  Cain can submit to these feelings and do something evil or he can choose to do the work necessary to transcend them.   Lee states that our ability to choose, even in the most extreme circumstances, is what ennobles the human race.  And it the end, this choice is the greatest blessing a wounded father can give his sorrowing son.

To laugh or to cry, to forgive or hold a grudge, to surrender or fight on is the choice humanity faces every minute in every day and our stories grow from the decisions we make.  And it is the attraction of the choice that pulls us into each new chapter.  No matter how many times the hero or villain has declared an allegiance, there is always a chance he or she will change and we read to find those undeclared decisions.  It’s what pulls me back into the classics: the endless power of two.

Living alongside eternity

We move through life so quickly. Children cram play-dates and lessons between study for entrance exams. Letters gave way to phone calls, then email and disappeared with video-chats and tweets. We create five-year, ten-year and twenty-year goals, power-walking our way through life and all we see is what’s before us. But is that all there is? Aislinn Hunter suggests in The World Before Us that what we sense in this accelerated life is the narrowest universe of all.

 Jane Standen is the fulcrum of this story, a quiet woman with a disquieting past.  Years ago, she took a little girl into the forest and the child disappeared in the woods.  Nothing has brought Jane to terms with this loss and now she’s in a career that uncovers lost detail.  As an archivist, Jane works in a Victorian museum, cataloging the data and detail of an earlier age.   The museum’s closure and an encounter with the child’s father occupy her conscious mind.  It does not fill the conscious of the spirits that follow Jane, ghosts vitalized by her search of the past.

These spirits narrate The World Before Us as they watch the present and Jane.  Disembodied but kind, they study parts of the modern world, aware that their mortal lives’ knowledge is useless.  The artifacts Jane cares for act as beacons for the ghosts, tying them to this current age and linking them to the past, because things have memory as well.

The World Before Us is an ambitious book, containing the stories of different time-spans and varying planes of existence. It is a tale that cannot be hurried but observed like a walk through the forest.  There are mysteries here: the child disappears as does a woman from the previous century.  Nevertheless, the ghosts’ presence hints that no one is ever completely lost.  Like energy, souls transform from one state to another and some stay around the living who remember the lives that have gone.

That may be a disturbing thought to a generation invested in speed but it may be comforting as well.  In our self-conscious view of reality, it is history that gives us perspective.  As members of the race we are part of a whole, not a thread left to blow in the wind.   And with that idea, every flower, every bug, and all the matter of our world becomes part of the grand design.

The World Before Us is due to be released on March 31, 2015.  Many thanks to “Blogging for Books” for allowing me to review this novel!

The Essence of a Southern Spring

The flowering dogwood is blooming.  Spring is taking time showing the rest of her sweet face but the dogwood branches are in blossom and their branches look like suspended wedding lace at twilight.  This condition will last about a week until the apple-green leaves take their place and the petals will drift to the gutters.   The temp is still nowhere near 80 but it’s warm enough in the sun.   It’s time to read Fitzgerald again.

If a writer can be tied to the weather, F. Scott Fitzgerald is Summer and Spring.  There’s an exuberance and energy in his early stories match the hope and joy of Spring and the redolence of summer is the setting for Gatsby. Clothes are loose in Fitzgerald stories, smiles are warmer and many characters are on holiday.  Even sad stories, like Babylon Revisited contain memories of warm weather but since we’re talking about a Southern Spring, the the Fitzgerald du jour is “The Ice-Palace.”

 Fitzgerald first saw the South in 1918, while he was serving in the Army.  First Kentucky, then Georgia and finally Alabama in summer where he met his wife, Zelda Sayre.  By the time Ice Palace is published, Scott Fitzgerald has noted a lot about this place and how different it is from the North.  Here, the sunlight drips “like gold paint” and the girls are brought up on memories instead of money.  People move more slowly and so does time so it’s almost possible to die from laziness.  Still, you couldn’t describe this as a “laid-back” place because that suggests a choice can be made to relax.  Southerners before the days of central air lived life by the temperature gauge and that meant a slower pace that many of them never changed.

Still, there always have been a subset of Southerners interested in a different life.   These are often ex-patriots who either run from the restrictions they enounter here or they’re attracted to a different perspective and Sally Carroll Happer seems to be one of those.  Much as she loves the South, she has too much energy to relax there permanently.  Instead, she takes to Harry Bellamy, a Northerner with ambition, and energy in his corner, and decides she’ll make the obligatory visit to her fiance’s parents in land of ice and snow.

The conflict of the story is culture clash between the “poor but genteel” environment Sally comes from and the industrious, nouveau-riche world that claims Harry.  Each culture remarks on the good and bad they see in each other (mainly bad) but Sally marks the difference by categorizing most Northerners as “canine” (open and engaging) while recognizing her childhood friends as “feline” (languid, subtle).  Perhaps this difference disturbs her or the North-South antagonism that grows but in the end it comes down to the cold.  Harry’s culture celebrates the winter with palaces of ice and sports in an environment that would kill an unprotected human.  Sally finds the frozen heart at the center of Harry’s world and decides if she can survive in the North.

In the end, there’s no superior choice to be made, in this story or in life.  A lot of the South’s history is written in blood and on some days, I don’t think much of the North.    And Fitzgerald, for all of his talent and youth, created great pain in his life.  At his best, what he was able to do was capture a mood or a moment that others recognize when they read his stories.  This is the magic of “The Ice Palace” for me.  It invokes the essence of a Southern Spring.

Listen to the Band…

When I hear someone say, “I Love the sound of an Irish Band” I make a few assumptions.   If the person is significantly older than me and/or playing an acoustic instrument I figure they mean one of the Irish Folk groups like The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers or the Irish Rovers.  If the person is around my age and/or playing an electric guitar, I guess they’re probably talking about U2 and Thin Lizzy.  If the person talking shows no sense of humor, they’re probably talking about  Sinead O’Connor.   Me, I’ve got an ear for it all (almost all!) but my favorite Irish  Band today exists only in fiction.  If you want a fast read  that keeps you grinning for days (or a film with a killer sound), let me introduce you to The Commitments.

The time is the late 1980’s and Jimmy Rabbitte has a reputation around Dublin as a man who knows his music.  He buys every record that comes out, reads every trade paper and never misses a pop music show, even the ones he despises.  So when his buddies, Outspan Foster and Derek Scully think their three day old band needs a new direction, it’s Jimmy’s advice they go after.  “Dump the synthesizer, the name and the extra guy in your group” says Jimmy and concentrate on why you want a band in the first place.  Are you looking for money or girls?”  Well, no, though either of those would be nice.   “Are you looking to do more with your life?”  Yes definately.   “Well, be more” says Jimmy. “Be The Commitments: the Irish Band that plays Dublin Soul.”

Off they go, learning the breaks in James Brown and Wilson Pickett records and wondering occasionally what Jimmy means by “Dublin Soul.”  Almost all of the story is told in dialogue with Jimmy looking for the right kind of side men (and women) and lecturing his novice musicians on the kind of pop music trivia (why art school was a decent background for the Beatles but the kiss of death to Depeche Mode) that brings out the music expert in many guys.  Think of him as an Irish cousin of the three guys in High Fidelity.  Jimmy’s mission is helped along by an old horn player named “Joey the Lips” and jerk named Declan who (unfortunately) sings like the late Joe Cocker.  The band becomes a powder keg of talent, egos, swearing, silliness and lust and it’s a hard race to guess which will fuse will light first.

The book is a delight, partly because each of the proto-musicians takes themselves so seriously (for example the synth player announces he’s planning to “go out on his own” after he’s been dumped.  Like he had a choice.) and partly because no one else does.  The Irish accents are audible in the novel’s prose and the novel overflows with swear words so people with tender eyesight should look elsewhere but the humor is constant as well as the affection.  The book became a hit.

The movie adaptation did too and spawned a killer soundtrack and stage show, although it’s hard to find the film online.  (I read somewhere that some conflict with the rights has kept the film off of streaming services.)  I finally had to buy the DVD for myself.  As it is, “The Commitments” is one of the few properties I’ve enjoyed on the screen as much as I did on the page.  It’s the tale of every working-class kid who thought music might be the answer when he wasn’t too sure of the  questions.  It’s not your average Irish story.  But it has some brilliant music.

The Right of Privacy and Harper Lee

I visited Monroeville, once.  In the summer of 1990, I, my husband and a friend were driving home from the beach when one of us spied the interstate exit that leads to the home of Harper Lee.  My friend had (finally) read To Kill a Mockingbird, she was still overwhelmed by the power of the story and she wanted to see Miss Lee’s home town.  My husband knows how much I care about the book and he thought it would be a treat, so he steered us onto the highway.  Once we hit the center of town, the two of them started plying me with questions so they could pick out landmarks from the novel.   How far was the Finch house from the school?  Was the Radley house on the same or opposite side of the street?  My husband suggested (I think he was joking) that, with a bit of research, we’d be able to locate Miss Lee’s new address and he would take us to her door.  I began to feel very uncomfortable.  Not only do I get tongue tied around famous authors, (I displayed something like Tourette’s syndrome in front of Dr. Seuss) I couldn’t get past the feeling we were trespassers here, arriving only to gawk.  A late summer thunderstorm started and I wanted to leave but the two of them kept driving on, looking for clues and making suggestions.  Hail came down and a corner of my mind suggested this was God’s (or Truman Capote’s) way of telling us to “Get the Hell Out.”  When tree limbs started to fall, we turned the car around and finally went back to the interstate.  The rain stopped outside of the town.
I’ve been wishing that weather would come down again on those currently trying to mind Miss Lee’s business.  Years ago, she was just another woman who wanted to write and the world pretty much ignored her.   Aided by friends, an agent, and editors, she developed a novel of transcendent beauty.  When the book was done, Miss Lee lived up to her contractual promises surrounding the book’s publication and its adaptation into a motion picture.  Since then all she has asked for is the same private life most of us enjoy.  In this final area she’s had less success, due mainly to the bad manners of others.
Initially, there were demands that she write still more books, from people who didn’t understand what the first book had cost her.  Then, there was the small but steady army of trespassers who believed their enthusiasm for her work outweighed her need for privacy.  Mixed between these were the sycophants who professed admiration to her face and then exploited her acquaintanceship for fame and fortune.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a town selling itself with her characters or a reporter whose alleged health issues mend once she moves into the house next door.  (If this is true, the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins hospital need to relocate to Monroeville, Alabama.  The town is obviously a modern-day Lourdes.) In my opinion, it comes down to this: any person who makes money from Harper Lee’s life or her work without her documented permission is a parasite and probably a thief.  
All of this was bad enough but things went to hell this year.  The announcement that her first story Go Set A Watchman would be published should have had literary enthusiasts hugging themselves with delight.  Instead, people started worrying that “Watchman” wouldn’t match the quality as  “Mockingbird.”   Then pundits started suggested that publishing Watchman might not be Miss Lee’s idea at all.  The account of the lawyer who located the work (the same attorney who has successfully protected Miss Lee’s rights since her sister’s retirement) is reviewed with extreme skepticism.  (Anyone who believes papers can’t stack up in the back of a law office has never worked in one.)  Now the state of Alabama has gotten involved because a physician, who did not examine Miss Lee, reported a rumor she was seen curled up in bed and uncommunicative after the death of her sister.  This really sets my teeth on edge.  Miss Lee loses her sister, the last member of her closest family and they’re surprised she’s in bed and depressed??  What did they expect, a party?  A river of avarice, curiosity and innuendo has robbed this woman (described as “a national treasure”) of her privacy and everyday enjoyment of life.   If this is how we treat the people we cherish, God help those that we hate.
I think something needs to be clarified: Miss Lee is not her work.  She is no one’s “treasure” to be owned or bandied about.  She is a human being with rights and privileges, including the right to be left alone.  If she doesn’t want to be interviewed, promoted, hash-tagged or dragged out for the public consumption, that is her prerogative.  If her work has inspired or moved you to the point of communication, send her a letter but don’t expect a reply.  The whole point of a thank-you letter is to express your feelings, not promote a correspondence.  If you really appreciate her work, apply the principles of TKAM to your life and be nice to other people.  Fight for the disadvantaged and be sensitive to their needs.  But have some consideration for the author’s wishes and (unless you have clear and convincing, first-hand evidence of maltreatment) leave the poor woman alone.
Miss Lee’s work has a public life and people can treasure or criticize that at will.  If people are worried about the quality of her upcoming book, they don’t have to buy or read it. Since “Watchman” is an early draft, it is unlikely to show the same level of skill as TKAM but it will aid literature students who will see how one story can be molded from another.  No new book can tarnish or impair the quality of To Kill a Mockingbird.  TKAM stands as it has stood for the last fifty years, a clear story about the good and evil in humanity and life in a small, Southern town.  
Although this rant is about separating the art from the artist, it is tempting to give Miss Lee the last word. In TKAM’s climactic chapter, Heck Tate refuses to publicize the service of a recluse because, “All the ladies in Maycomb, including my wife’d be knockin’ on his door bringing angel food cakes.  To my way of thinking…draggin’ him with his shy ways into the limelight – to me, that’s a sin.”
People have been banging on Miss Lee’s door for years now, bringing nosiness, cupidity and gossip.  I hope the finding of the state’s investigation will allow her to close it again to all save those that she wants to see.  If not, Monroeville needs to bring back the rain and get set for one hell of a storm.

The Failed Rebellion that Jump-Started the War

They say there’s one day a year when everyone’s Irish and that’s St. Patrick’s Day.  Well, that’s what I’ve heard in America, where everyone insists they’re part Irish and celebrates March 17th like it was their personal 4th of July.  On such matters, I defer to the late Frank McCourt who said “A well-placed bomb at the New York St. Patrick’s Day parade would wipe out the cream of Irish mediocrity”.  (Thank heavens he said it before 2001; today, a remark like that would land a quipster on the no-fly list).  Me, I wish my family was Irish but my mother’s people mainly came from England and Italy and my dad’s Celtic ancestors sailed to America after they were “unfriended” in Scotland and Ireland.  In other words, they were Ulster Scots.  But, like lots of people I know, I’m a big fan of the Auld Sod and I can give you a reason why.  No one I know can break your heart the way Irish writers and Irish stories do.  And given the time of year this is with the the tide of Easter rising, the Irish tale I go back to is Rebels: The Irish Rising of 1916.  Seldom does a group of armed rebels bring me so close to tears.

Now when I was little, the only Irish history I knew centered around “The Famine” (long ago) or “The Troubles” (still going on).  Ireland was one country when it starved but at some point, it became two.  Something happened in-between those events but I wasn’t really sure what so I had no idea about the first class tragedy described in this wonderful book.  Without sounding the dreaded “Spoiler Alert” I can give you a thumbnail list of events.

In the early days of the first world war, a few extremely devout, not-that-organized Irish Nationalists wanted English Rule out of Ireland.  From what they heard in the streets, most Irish people agreed, not as zealously as the Nationalists but enough to keep them encouraged.  These lovers of Ireland agreed that the time was ripe for revolution although they couldn’t agree on much else since all of them had their own political ideas and every man thought he was in charge (with the exception of Constance Markievicz, all the rebels seem to be men).  At any rate, two or three small groups of men conspired to start a rebellion in different parts of Ireland – a rising, if you will – on Easter morning and they thought the people would join them and throw out the British government.   Well, they failed. Of all the “risings” that were supposed to occur, only the one in Dublin gained ground, where 1,250 Irish insurgents battled 16,000 British soldiers and another thousand Dublin police for five days before they fell.  None of the local citizenry joined the cause and the only government office the insurgents took over (the post office) was surrendered five days after they grabbed it.  The Easter rising sank like the Titanic.

But here’s where the tables turn.  A British General named Maxwell was ordered to clean up Dublin and he entered Ireland as military governor on the 28th, the day before the Post Office was surrendered.  Now, his assignment was a sizable task but public sentiment was, for once, with the British, so Maxwell had a chance to build a peace.  Instead,  he snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, first by arresting about 1,500 innocent civilians along with the 1,800 surviving rebels. Within the week, the accused were being tried by court-martial (though none of them were soldiers) without access to counsel, a jury or judicial review, although those were required by law.  Maxwell confirmed the death sentences and started executing rebels before he’d been there a week.  The first three went to the firing squad the day after their “trials”.   The Irish civilians that were not in the jail thought this was moving too fast.  Arrest the rebels, of course, and make sure that justice is done but if someone’s charged for treason as an English citizen, aren’t they entitled to an Englishman’s rights?    People didn’t like the rush to judgement and now the stories of some British abuses were coming to light.  (Of all the individuals in the book, my favorite is Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, a pacifist and campaigner for equal rights who irritated everyone sooner or later.  He was odd individual as well as brave, caring man and what happened to him during the Rising is a never-ending shame.) Even England became concerned about the haste but they got the news too late.  Fourteen rebels are executed by firing squad before the 12th of May.  The last of these, already dying from his wounds, was carried on a stretcher to the front of a firing squad and tied to a chair because he could not stand.  This was more than Irish citizens could bear.  The failed Easter rebellion became the prelude to the Ireland’s War for Independence.

 So, enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and smile at all the people wearing green but remember a bit about Irish history.  It’s the history of people everywhere.  There are good times and bad times  and some heartbreaking times but there are dreams and people that never quit trying. Whoever they are, wherever they come from and no matter how long it takes, there will always be someone who cares for justice and someone willing to die to be free.  When they fall, someone will remember the dead and someone else will pick up their flag.  And in the end, if the cause is just, the dream will never die.  And that thought could heal a broken heart.

In Praise of a Stubborn Soul

Ordinarily, we don’t honor disobedient people. Our history does, as many rebels are the  heralds of overdue change, but in this world where most folks “go along to get along” the contrary soul is a resented member of a community.  Every town has these intractable dissenters who, even when they are right, still alienate their peers with their hard-headed ways. Born outsiders, these nonconformists follow their own lonely stars though life, with few friends for love or guidance, not because they want to be difficult but because time and circumstance force them into this uneasy role.  That is the theme of T. K. Thorne in her second historical novel, Angels at the Gate, and it stars one of the Bible’s most baffling women: Lot’s wife, the woman who disobeyed a command from God’s angels and looked back, at cost of her life.

 I never understood the behavior of Lot’s wife when I read her story in Sunday School.   To me, when the town is literally falling to pieces around your ears and two white-garbed, winged men suddenly appear, shouting “Run for the hills and don’t you dare look back!” it’s time to follow orders and get the heck out of Dodge.  Yet, she looks back at the disaster, turning away just as her survival is assured.  Why would someone behave so foolishly?  T. K. Thorne creates a reasonable answer for this woman whose name goes unmentioned in the Bible.  Here, she is Adira, a girl with a mind of her own travels disguised as a boy so she can stay with her widowered father.   Adira finds it difficult to obey anyone when her good sense suggests otherwise, even the father she loves and respects.  Then, as a “girl posing in boy’s clothing” Adira can’t help but notice men and women are treated differently in her world.  Eventually she has to choose between the the life she wants as a female and the freedom she’s enjoyed as a male.

 T. K. Thorne combined religious, archeological and historical study to create this story of a woman who followed her own path in the world.  Here at last is an explanation for God’s angels, those messengers who warn Lot and his family of their peril and the rest of Lot’s behavior in Genesis.  Lot is the nephew of Abraham and described in the Bible as a righteous but Thorne recounts his actions and leaves it up to the readers to draw their own conclusions.

And, in the end, this is is not the story of a male who follows orders to escape but the woman who watched him leave before making a choice of her own.  Lot’s wife may have been been a willful and stubborn woman but she had a life and reason for her actions and she deserves a better epitaph than “The Lady who turned into Salt.”  Thanks to T. K. Thorne, Lot’s wife is transformed back into woman, wayward and strong but alive.

March 5. 2015 is the publication date of Angels at the Gate.   Her book is available at Amazon and other booksellers if you live in the area of Birmingham, Alabama, you can  meet the author and obtain a signed personalized copy if you attend her publication party at The Harbert Center 2019 4th Ave N, Birmingham, Alabama 35203 between 4:30 and 7:00 p.m.  Details can be found at

It’s Time for a Southern Book

I think things are headed towards Spring.  That sounds crazy after last week’s snow storm, but Saturday the sun was pouring down like paint over the Sherwin Williams globe and there was a warmth in the light I hadn’t felt since September.  The sunlight is life here in the Deep South and it’s a birthright we’ve come to expect like warm food and good stories.  There’s a lot about this land that’s cringe-inducing but not our warmth and not our stories.  Like the land, they are strong and good and so linked to this place that many could not have appeared anywhere else on earth.  It takes a Southerner to sculpt some of these tales.

The light and heat are characters inside Carson McCuller’s Ballad of the Sad Cafe. The setting is a Georgia summer and if you read it, you’ll fall under the story’s spell and start pulling at the side of your collar to let in a little cool air.  There was none in Georgia, not during those summers before air-conditioning when people woke up sweating and laid themselves down to sleep on damp, wrinkled sheets at night, half way to dehydration.  The heat is an omnipresent character, an enhancer of the scenes and it helps drive the conflict in this wonderful tale of uneven love.

The characters are as odd a triangle as literature has fashioned.  There is Miss Amelia, an ungainly and raw-boned woman more at home with overalls, moonshine and animals than people and as mean-spirited and invulnerable an individual as anyone in the little town could describe until she meets Cousin Lymon.  A deformed and strange little man, Lymon sparks no feelings of friendship and is almost certainly a liar but he’s is taken in by Amelia and his presence transforms her character.  Although no more at ease around people, Amelia softens her sharp business practices and even turns part of her store into the cafe in the evening, all because it entertains Cousin Lymon. She becomes a nicer person and the town is a better place for it.  This good feeling is shattered by the return of Marvin Macy, a cruel, vicious man whose one attempt at good behavior was caused by (you guessed it!) his love that Amelia spurned.  For some reason, Lymon gives the same unquestioning adoration to Marvin Macy that Amelia gives to him.  With allegiance of Cousin Lymon, Macy finally has the weapon to strike back at the woman he once loved.

It’s not surprising this strange tale comes from Carson McCullers.  She was a woman who always felt “set apart” from the rest and she had begun to endure a series of life-altering health problems and romantic disasters by her early thirties, when she wrote this tale.  Although sometimes uncomfortable in her own skin, Carson had an incredible empathy for her characters that shows in her writing and you find yourself caring for Amelia and seeing at least some of the charm Cousin Lymon holds for her.  Carson was able to endow her characters with love and humanity that we start to care for these deformed and scarred people who are, whatever their shortcomings, all helpless in the face of the person they love because, in the end, that’s a feeling we’ve all known. 

I’m not sure how much joy Ms. McCullers got from her life:  she was far too young when she died, she spent too much of her last years impaired by a series of strokes and her writing shows a mind deeply familiar with the pain of loneliness.  But along with all that, she had a rare capacity for love and understanding that brought her deep happiness and the gratitude of many people.  And, as she pointed out,  most people prefer giving love to receiving it if they are given the choice.  That kind of love still grows deep around here.  You can feel its warmth, like the heat in the light.