Discolor Online

Weblog of the sweetest person you never want to piss off.



Today certainly felt like spring. Sunny and low 60s most of the day, which I was immensely glad to see. I spent a distressing amount of time on the phone and the web today trying to figure out the best way to solve our citizenship crisis with Kate; I was under the impression that the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 covered her even though we'd never applied for a Certificate of Citizenship or any other such thing (and in fact had been discouraged from bothering with it by the consulate). Passports are running at 10 weeks of delay at the moment, and I expect it to get worse as we approach the end of the year deadline for anyone crossing the border to need a passport. Certificates of Citizenship, on the other hand, are currently about 2 years behind. The border patrol is currently hung up because even though Kate clearly met the requirements for citizenship at birth, she was never issued any official paper other than her birth certificate and so, depending on how the border agent feels, either receives a "oh, yeah, no problem; meets all the requirements" or a "this child is missing form N-600 and stamp I-551 and has never made a legal entry into the United States at any time during the last eleven years of crossing the border!! Commence freaking out!!" I was told by one agency that she could apply for passport or Certificate of Citizenship (though they recommend the passport because it is both proof of citizenship and a travel document), but told by another that one of the requirements for a passport is the Certificate of Citizenship. Thankfully, I think we can put together the documents we need (merely a notarized list of everywhere I've lived/worked/gone to school during my life, my marriage license, my divorce decree, my own certified birth certificate, plus the same for her father...) and be able to resolve this without a two year wait and spending hundreds of dollars. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, in between bouts of governmental bureaucracy, I went out to pick up Sammy from the vet. His neutering went fine and he's pretty much his old self again already, though I have some pain meds to feed him for a couple of days. Next week sometime we have the vet's okay to start the process of trying to actually introduce him to Bonnie.

I'd planned to get a lot of other things accomplished this afternoon but after Immigration all morning and traveling hither and yon to get a remote Flexcar so I could pick up Sammy in West Seattle, I'd barely settled down to get some work done when Kate's school called to tell me she had a fever and I had to come get her. Luckily, I had the Flexcar. Unluckily, that meant I couldn't use the Flexcar for the errands I had intended the rental to cover. After bringing Kate home and making a stop at the grocery store for OJ, Tylenol, and Kate's request of sloppy joes for supper, my time was up.

I got back and decided to just call it a day and get some yard work done while the weather was nice, before the HOA decides to start policing my bushes again. Trimmed away a lot of dead and overgrown plant life and came in smelling of blood and dirt (thanks rose bush!) and rosemary and lavender.

Updated my recipe pages a little with this great recipe for some easy Avgolemono (Greek egg-lemon soup) that we just love. Also fixed the link to the excellent Thai-style Ground Beef recipe; I hadn't noticed it was broken until I went to fix it recently and couldn't pull it up from my own recipe page. Finally, for all the Guinness Cake lovers out there, I finally added the Chocolate Guinness Cake to my recipe pages.

Labels: , , ,



Last night was game night. I set up the fellas with various burrito fixings and even managed to move the story along a bit. Went to bed sometime after midnight. Not exactly sure when I fell asleep but it was definitely after 1am.

2:20am Awake. Get up, pee, get a drink of water. Can't stop my brain. After excruciatingly long time, drift off to sleep.

4:20am Awake. Horrible nightmares keep jolting me awake, as I dream about several gruesome outcomes to Sammy's neutering appointment. Get up, pee, get a drink of water. Can't stop my brain. Eventually drift back to sleep shortly before 7:00am.

7:30am Awake. Have to go get the Flexcar and take Sammy to his neutering appointment.

I spent the rest of the day running errands and feeling that horrible sleep-deprived feeling I remember (and dread) from when Kate was a sleepless baby. I felt sick with fatigue, woozy and weak and dull. My eyes hurt. All I wanted was a little more sleep.

Between 10:30 and 12:45 I tried to catch a nap, but each time I would drift off I was awoken by the phone ringing. Two calls with no caller ID. One distributor. Two different people calling the fax number but not leaving faxes. One telemarketer. One printer. I gave up.

Got my hair cut. Returned to the house and had a message from my ex- with some news that is probably going to disrupt the way things have been (generally nicely settled) for a while now. Got a call from the border police telling me that they let Kate on the ferry to come home from Victoria but I need to take care of her citizen papers "IMMEDIATELY" and she'd better not try to leave the country again until that's sorted. Lovely.

Ran off to a HOA meeting which was three hours of totally wasted time. Mandatory annual meeting, we had to have 50% of homeowners in attendance to have a quorum. We had only 25% of members in attendance (which was still over 100 people) so no official business could be conducted but they took questions anyway. Lots of BS that really leads me to think we're screwed. (May rant about the HOA, Seattle Housing Authority and CDC Management when I'm not dead on my feet. Not now.)

Ran off to pick Kate up at the Clipper terminal, where we were told to be at NO LATER than 8:45pm. Stood around until 9:25 waiting for the kids to be released from customs. Finally home.

SO tired. Losing ability to type. Bed now.

Labels: , ,


February 14th

I asked Chris to bring me some chocolates, now that he works right across the street from Metropolitan Market and their artisan chocolate selection. He certainly delivered! Handing me a bag heavy with chocolate bars he said he hoped it would "get you through the day." It'll do, it'll do...

I ended up spending a couple of hours trying to facilitate the petition process for my Chinese neighbors, with little luck. I went down to the local Department of Neighborhoods and met with Glenn Harris, who was very nice and generally sympathetic but didn't really have much to offer besides giving me the number of a SHA/New Holly community service liaison. The Department of Neighborhoods is kind of like a miniature City Hall, where people can come to pay (or resist paying) fines or utilities, get passports, and that kind of official city business. If we were talking about a community association they have some resources available in the form of grants for cleaning up parks or material improvements but no for private associations like the homeowner's association, even though the HOA deals with issue that affect the "neighborhood" and the "community". Anyway, he didn't blow me off, he just didn't really have the ability to help with, say, getting an translator or intervening on behalf of immigrant homeowners. After that, I walked next door to the office that was labeled "New Holly Management Office" and when I finally got someone to come to the front desk, they also threw up their hands and told me they couldn't help with making sure there was a translator at the meeting on Wednesday or in helping the non-English speaking homeowners. He also gave me the name of the SHA/New Holly liaison and the number for the utterly worthless and awful CDC Management company (who were the people who refused to give me contact information for the board of directors in the past, and with whom I had my long and very costly battle over "delinquent" dues, which I've gone on at length about in the past).

I did go over and talk a bit with Joy, the SHA community building cheerleader. Unfortunately, even though she was sympathetic on some points and helpfully called CDC to lend her name and position to the voice mail, I was again thwarted. She can help with "community" issues but not with things specifically involving the homeowners association. So, for example, she has a budget to translate a flyer into 6 or 8 languages so people in the neighborhood know that a safety or clean-up committee is being formed, but she can't provide any help in getting a translator for homeowner's association meetings, because those don't affect "the community". I did find out there's a yahoogroups e-mail list for interested homeowners and she was happy to provide contact information for the board members, so it wasn't a stonewalling situation... still, I'm frustrated.

I returned home and sent a request that the petition be added by the board to the agenda for next week's meeting and that translators be found so that a full and fair discussion could take place with these homeowners, even if they're just bi-lingual volunteers from the community or something. I was told that the budget only provides for translators for the annual meeting and "we" need to decide what "we" are willing to pay for... a discussion that is not taking place on a mailing list of 156 people (some of which are not even residents but are SHA or CDC employees) out of a community of between 560 and 840 actual homeowners)... and received a very strongly oppositional response from one of the list members right off the bat ("Using my capital to support people that ignore me and people like me is simply out of the question. In short I will not support any effort designed to make life easier for those that look down on me and people like me." and "I be damned if my funds will be used to support them in any fashion.") Of course, he's "not a racist". ::sigh:: Am I the ONLY person who has thought, "Hey, there's a Chinese Baptist church just on the other side of Beacon Avenue, maybe they could help us find an volunteer." or "High school students have a community service requirement for graduation, maybe we can find a couple of kids from the local high school willing to put in a couple of hours translating."?? It's us vs. them right off the bat?

Anyway, after that series of disappointments, I went home and got started on dinner.

A little baguette, a little brie, roasted beet, pistachio, and pear salad and some pan-seared scallops on linguine with tomato-cream sauce. I finished up with two individual chocolate chunk bread puddings (so rich I couldn't even finish mine but Pramas really liked his).

Awoke today with a nagging headache and touch of sore throat. Hope I'm not coming down with the plague that Jess came bearing on game night! We leave for New York Comic Con in a week and I just don't have time to feel like crap. Popping vitamins and echinacea and have some Zicam at the ready if it's needed. Ug.

Labels: ,


The revolution will be translated

Today a man from our neighborhood with a very thick Chinese accent knocked on the door and, with the help of a printed petition and much pantomiming, asked me to sign a petition protesting the increase in home owner's association dues. I happily signed the petition. Even though the actual increase in dues doesn't affect me as much as it does others (it's the people in the duplexes and townhouses who are most affected) I object to the rate of the increases on principle, especially after hearing at the last homeowner's association meeting I attended that the strategy of the Seattle Housing Authority to set the initial dues low (below a sustainable level for the services provided) and make up the deficits until the homeowners took control of the association themselves, increasing the dues every year along the way. It's a terrible "strategy" to bait people with a mandatory homeowner's association fee that is artificially low, knowing that the rate is flat-out unsustainable.

Anyway, as I've mentioned before, language is a barrier in our community. Many cultures are represented here and many languages are spoken. People from all across Asia and Africa are represented and it's a struggle to convey basic information let alone organize and work together. I was glad to lend my name to the list.

Several hours later came another knock at the door. The original man had returned, this time with another man whose English was a little better but still not great. They wanted to know if I could do something, something to do with the petitions. I thought maybe they wanted me to walk the neighborhood with them, talking to the residents who speak English (or who don't speak Chinese). With increasing frustration we tried to communicate, the new man even tried to call his daughter on the phone (apparently she provided the English for the petition in the first place) but she didn't answer.

It was then I struck upon an idea: I'd see if I could ask my neighbors for some help translating. I suggested we go next door. I knew they were home because I'd been out to get the mail earlier and had seen them through the back window making dinner. Knock. No answer. The first man rapidly rang the doorbell a few times and then the mother peeked out the blinds. She seemed very suspicious at first, while the two guys gestured at me, so I smiled and waved (which basically comprises the whole of my relationship with them these last six years) and with recognition she started yelling. Soon their teenage son came to the door. The poor kid was promptly put on the spot as the two men and his mother started talking back and forth explaining the situation. Thankfully the kid's English is good! He was able to tell me that they wanted to make copies of the petitions and have me deliver the petitions to the board of directors at the meeting. Now, I received a notice of a meeting happening on the 21st (the day I leave for New York) but they're insisting that no, it's in two days and they'll bring me everything tomorrow if I would agree to represent them, since none of them speak English well and don't think they could bring their case effectively (and they're right).

So. That's how I agreed to become the representative proxy for the petition-signers who object to the large increases in homeowner's dues. I also got to meet and talk to the kid next door (Kevin) for the first time since his parents sent him over here to find out where we'd bought our lawnmower about six years ago. I've also met two of my perfectly nice fellow New Holly residents despite the language barrier we suffer from. Plus I get to help out. Regardless of the outcome, these homeowners deserve to be heard and I'm honored that they felt I was approachable enough to ask my help.