Sunday, April 28, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

As you can imagine-not too much

And yet, Phil's memorial service was simply beautiful. I asked about eighteen of our friends, family, and Phil's students to remember him through reading from his own work, through poetry he loved, through reminiscences of their years with him, through music. It turned out wonderfully. About 150 crammed into the place. People came from St. Louis, DC, NY, Flagstaff, Ohio, etc. People postponed trips to be there and if one word resonated throughout the service, it was kind. His students, and there were many of them, all concurred on his kindness to them

Some very good friends, hosted a party afterward. The Abbott family felt bathed in the affection every one expressed.

I'll be back. Keep the lights on.

Friday, April 26, 2019

C'est Fin

Philip Reading Abbott was born on October 18, 1944 in New Hope, PA. His father, William Harvey Abbott was in the Merchant Marine  and overseas. Bill Abbott would return and become a shop owner, taking over a business, which had been previously run by his father-in-law, Joseph Reading.  Phil's mother, Beryl, helped run the business.  In 1949, a second son, Billy, was born.
Phil earned a bachelor's degree from American University in D.C. in 1966 and Master's and Ph.D degrees at Rutgers University in 1971. He began teaching at Wayne in 1970 at the age of 25. During his years at WSU, Phil published 14 books, more than 40 articles and countless book reviews.  I will cede a recitation of his academic career to his colleagues.
Phil and I met in the summer of 1965. I was seventeen, he was twenty. We married in 1967 and moved to New Brunswick. In the years since, there has never been a day that Phil didn't make brighter. He was my biggest supporter, my biggest champion.  When I finally found I enjoyed writing, he read early (and later) drafts of every story I wrote and always claimed they were perfect and didn't need a word changed. We always has so much to say to each other, so much to enjoy together. He was the one I most wanted to tell something to, and I know he felt the same way.
His childhood was a hard one and the lesson he took from it was to be the best husband and father he could. I'm sure his colleagues believe he devoted his entire life to scholarship, and indeed he was a very productive scholar, and a devoted teacher. He understood Wayne students were mostly first- generation college kids. Phil was the first in his family to finish high school. His parents did not imbue him with confidence and ambition, and he felt many of his students were also very much on their own too. Every class he taught got his full attention. Every exam he graded did too. He felt it was his duty to talk in class about books, movies, and other cultural events that his students might not hear about otherwise.  He didn't use the classroom to proselytize.  Hopefully educated students would make good decisions about politics through the historical lessons he spoke and wrote about.
But Phil's greatest devotion was always to his family. He was available to us whenever we needed him. And it was all the time. President of the PTO at Grosse Pointe North High school, managing and then coaching baseball teams, taking Megan to art classes at CCS on Saturdays, being the room parent that went to Toronto twice with fifth grade classes on buses. He was very glad his kids were never embarrassed about having him around at school and at other functions. He was so proud of his two kids, both of whom strived to succeed in school, in their professions, as moral people, in life. And having a grandson, we were able to spend a lot of time with for his first ten years was the ultimate pleasure.  And both of his children's achievements were a great source of pride.  
I am sure the time ahead of me will be as difficult as these last years have been. But I so many good memories to sustain me. How lucky I was to have such a long time with such a good and generous man. I want to thank the many people who have helped us shoulder the load of these last years. I am sure it would have been immeasurably worse without the help of family and friends.  As I was lucky in a husband, and lucky with my family, I am lucky with my friends.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

SHORT STACK, Reed Farrel Coleman

This is a collection of stories and poems by Reed Farrel Coleman. The terrific cover is by his son, Dylan. Debuting today, it can be purchased at the usual places. Some mighty fine reading if the stories of his I have read in the past are any indication.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

RIP my beloved husband

Died today at 4:00. He reached for my hand, I gave it to him, he died.

Monday, April 22, 2019


On a temporary hiatus. Love to all.

Monday, April 15, 2019


I don't have much this week. I have barely been out of the house. Phil is sleeping most of the time now although he is in no pain. I hired a new hospice, which seems much better.
I am watching HORACE AND PETE on Hulu, which troubles me a bit because of Louis C..K but boy, there is some great acting: Laurie Metcalf and Alan Alda, in particular. Love BETTER THINGS with Pamela Adlon.
Lots of rain here. There better be May flowers.
Reading TRUST EXERCISE by Susan Choi.
Sticking with THE OA but not sure why.
What about you?

Friday, April 12, 2019


Books I read in 1987.

'Be True to Your School' was written from a  diary Bob Greene kept during his junior year in high school. In it's richness is found it's timeless joy. This is a great snapshot of the awkward, humble, fumbling, funny and adventurous transition from boy to young adult.

Whether you're a man or woman though, Baby Boomer or not, if you love friendships, discovery of the opposite sex, popular music as a soundtrack to life, and fun, fun, fun, you will love this book.

The single most universal reaction from readers of this book, if not spoken, then felt, has to be the frustrating wish that Mr. Greene had continued making entries in his diary past his junior year. You'll love the characters, the small town and the adventures that surely must await.

We want more!!

A wonderful and poignant prologue, of sorts, by Mr. Greene is the also true, "And You Know You Should be Glad".
 P.S This was probably the last joyful year of the sixties before the war and its associated events and traumas tore us apart.  Much of this review was taken from amazon commenters. I wish I could read it again. My only note on the page in my diary was "Fun.!"

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Forgotten Movies: OFFICE SPACE

For a very long time I have heard people remark on how much they like this movie. Having seen it, I can't understand why. It's a pleasant enough two hours, but not half as funny as I expected and really, so tame. Ron Livingstone plays a guy who works in a cubicle for a soulless company. He is unable to voice even a mild complaint about his treatment. When he is encouraged to seek hypnosis to make him more aggressive, he is left in limbo as a guy who just does what he wants. I expected what he wants to be much funnier or at least funny. But it is also too tame. I wish someone would tell me why they liked this movie because I sure missed it. Jennifer Aniston is unmemorable as his girlfriend. She has forged a career with such bland parts. And I don't get that either.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

THings That Are Making Me Happy

Kevin got a dog! His name is Walter and he is 1/1/2 and part Corgi and part something else. This has been a long time coming.

Liked THE MUSTANG a lot. Bruce Dern stole the movie. Along with the gorgeous skies and mustangs.

Started watching THE OA. Not sure if I like it or not. Liked SHRILL (Hulu).

Thanks to the friends who  helped me out this week. None read my blog so I won't bother naming them. But boy, what would I do without the occasional lunch out, breakfast out, shopping trip, etc?
You can never have enough friends. I can testify to that. Special thanks to Karen who took Phil and me to see THE MUSTANG. A long drive for her, but boy there was nothing else to see.

Lots of nice walks. Wish Phil was with me but it's been a long time since that happened. Sort of horrible getting used to bad things.


Friday, April 05, 2019

FFB, GO WITH ME, Castle Freeman

Go With Me tells the story of a young woman's quest for help in dealing with an extremely dangerous man almost entirely in dialog. And what dialog it is, managing to be utterly natural and wholly poetic at the same time. I don't think the vagaries and parlance of conversation have even been put down on paper more convincingly.

This lean book is funny, scary, touching, and unpredictable. It reminds me of both Daniel Woodrell and Cormac McCarthy. But in the end, it's Castle Freeman's totally unique voice and humanity that makes this such a fine book.

Isn't it terrific when you discover a new writer? What was the last book someone recommended to you that was as good as promised?

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

First Wednesday Book Review: MAISIE DOBBS, Jacqueline Winspear

I read this book when it was first published in 2003 and suggested it to my book group a few months ago when they wanted to read a mystery. This is a mystery with some heft to it in terms of setting, character, plot.

It opens with Miss Maisie Dobbs setting up shop in England in 1929. She's not exactly the typical PI, but instead specializes in helping people solve psychological issues, especially problems related to the war. She has been a nurse in France and seen many of the issues confronting people even years later. She has also experienced some herself.

Most of the book is devoted to her background, how she became a servant in a rich household, and how her intelligence and ambition won her the freedom to acquire an education. This is a delightful book, which manages to portray almost every character with sympathy. Highly recommended. A slew of books have followed the first. 

More reviews are at Barrie Summy's blog. 

Monday, April 01, 2019

Things That Are Making Me Happy

We had a quick visit from Megan although she was either on the phone or writing scripts most of the time. They begin shooting in two weeks so she is even more harried than usual. Being a show-runner means there is no detail of any aspect of the show she is not involved with. They are using almost entirely female directors and writers. Since most of the characters are women, it makes sense. USA moved the show to January so it and BRIARPATCH could debut together.
Rereading MAISIE DOBBS for my book group. What a self-assured first novel that was. Although there is very little mystery in this first book.
Really liked the movie TRANSIT if it comes your way.
Started watching HANNA, which seems okay but maybe not terrific. Phil liked the three seasons of BILLIONS he watched.
Enjoyed THE HIGHWAYMEN. Costner and Harrelson make a good team. Maybe TRUE DETECTIVE 4. 
What about you?

Here's the story on Margot Kinberg.