Friday, August 26, 2005


Fall slaps us surely
in the face, shaping us up
for coming winter.

Summer's End Galore

Plenty, and good enough, my grannie would always say. I grew up tin-eared to so many of her odd turns of phrase. I was too easily tortured by schoolmates because my English was lilted. Pure Bantry Bay it was, and I fought my tongue's inclination.  I ruthlessly stripped those phrases from my speech the way a gardener tackles spring weeds in a no-nonsense sort of way while I became mute, lacking for words, between languages, I was. English to English. The ancestral tongue structuring a bearla and nearly a half a century later, I can still hear the Irish word go leor (galore), that meant plenty and enough.  My grannie was keeping the old tongue alive in a transplanted language. How many centuries were those words passed down, an unconscious act, a weed in the garden. English flourishing, despite England's best effort to strip Ireland of its Gaelic. She always said that the Irish beat the English at their own game when they took to writing. Revenge is the best sword. Drop the s and the word becomes the last word. there was nothing left for me to do but pick up the pen, a gauntlet thrown down in the grass. Ten paces at dawn. Summer's end, the end of innocence. Galore. Good enough, she'd say.

This was from my Writers' Group. I wrote little poetry but the prose went deep enough.

Roadside Weeds

Deep summer. Weeds by the side of the road, fallen pieces of the sky. Won't do any good to pluck them. All that periwinkle blue going to waste. A blue blur I acknowledge at 70 mph, as I careen north, crossing the Russian River, muddy, churning. Late rains have confused the flowers. First, the yellow flowers, then the poppies, followed by lupine and chickory. There's an order to the blooming of flowers. As if there was a grand scheme of color opposites at work. Yellow / blue. Orange / purple. The mallows and clarkia have little competition, it's magenta all the way, baby. No complement of color, unless you count the grass, but it's gone tawny as a lion, despite the late rains. All next year's seeds will germinate, only to sizzle under August's hot anvil. Dog days of summer. In my Elderwriting memoir group, Catherine says it's because the dogs always go a little crazy for lack of water. People too. The discussion circles the phrase, hackles raised, a low growl at the back of the throat. What does it mean: end of summer? The threat of disease. Lael says Rabies. A farmer's daughter would think of that. A neighbor lost his cattle when an august dog hankered after a shank of beef. Afraid to drink at the trough, bright green algae curls amid fish and cress. In a fit of domesticity, and brandishing a green thumb, when the mesclun lettuce had roots, I planted a few seeds in the herb box: arugula, and raduccio, not knowing its ancestry. But the lettuce bolted in the heat, reaching for that shiny patch of sky, it flowered and opened its blue hands. Chickory weed by any other name, by the roadside, a weed in my salad bowl, I garnish with sun-ripened tomatoes and basil. I am rabid with desire, all that red and blue and green and purple in my bowl. A bouquet for the dog days, and for what is to come. Sharp tang of fall in the air, knocking on the door of the sky.

This was from my Writers' Group.

Friday, August 5, 2005

Novato woman found dead in pool, Verona Seiter

August 5, 2005 | Marin Independent Journal (San Rafael, CA)Author: Gary Klien | Section: Marin Independent Journal 

A 68-year-old Novato woman was found dead of an apparent drowning yesterday in her neighborhood pool, police said.
Verona Seiter, a longtime resident of the Crossroads area in southern Novato, was found around 5:30 p.m., when a neighbor saw her face-down in the deep end, said Novato fire Battalion Chief Mark Heine.

The neighbor called 911, and two Novato police officers arriving at the scene jumped into the pool and brought her to the surface.

"Initial rescue efforts were attempted, but she died at the scene," Heine said.

Police and the coroner's office are still investigating Seiter's death, but Novato police Lt. Tim Christensen said it does not appear suspicious. An autopsy is planned for today.

It was not immediately known how long Seiter was in the pool, but it might have been a relatively short period of time. A longtime companion, Herman Berlandt of San Francisco, was scheduled to meet her yesterday afternoon but his bus was delayed in traffic. Seiter left a note at her Cheda Lane residence for Berlandt to meet her at the pool.

When Berlandt arrived, police were already there with the bad news.

Berlandt, a poet and theatrical director, said he had known Seiter, an actress, for 30 years. He first met her when she auditioned for a Maxwell Anderson play he was producing.

"We became inseparable friends," said Berlandt, founder and director of the International Poetry Museum in San Francisco.

Neighbors and associates described Seiter as an irrepressible character - active, free-spirited and bold. She was known in the neighborhood both for her distinctive English accent and her penchant for sunbathing openly in the nude.

"She was very theatrical," said Mary Van Muckey, a neighbor.

Residents said Seiter performed regularly as an actress and also did voice-over work. Her recent productions included Samuel Beckett's "Happy Days," "Footfalls" and "All That Fall" at the EXIT Stage Left theater in San Francisco.

"Verona was a delight," said San Francisco director Ugo Baldassari, who directed Seiter in "Happy Days" in 2001. "She was a free spirit, an imp and a very dear old soul. It was a pleasure for me to have worked with her."

Seiter had spent the last several years battling bone cancer, enduring repeated chemotherapy and radiation treatments, neighbors said. Still, she remained active, swimming regularly and traveling. She had returned earlier this week from a trip to Europe.

"She's gone through it all and keeps coming back," Van Muckey said. "She was such a fighter."

Funeral arrangements are pending.