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Somerset Community Association Board of Directors - responsibilities Francis Brito Diane Fern Marie Vieth Sue Sander Gary Albert Pete Mansfield Kristen Iversen Muriel Mittelstrass Johannes Grad Charlie Bofferding

President Vice President, CRC Chair Treasurer Secretary Landscaping Chair, Signs Emergency Preparedness Chair Membership Chair, CRC Welcome Chair, School Liaison Communications, Website Manager Covenants Review Committee

Yiyi Guo


Allan Yeung


The SCA Directors are elected at our annual general meeting and serve a 3-year term. Our officers of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer are chosen following election to the Board. If you are interested in getting involved, or aren’t sure who to contact with a question, please see our website or send an email to

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Letters to the Editor Welcomed

November 12, 2021 – Winter issue February 11, 2022 – Spring issue May 13, 2022 – Summer issue August 12, 2022 – Fall issue

Do you have a question or comment about the Sun newsletter or about what’s going on in the Somerset community? Ideas for a topic you’d like us to cover? Submit your thoughts today! The SCA welcomes Letters to the Editor. Share your ideas, questions, and concerns with those around you. Send your email to us at

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A big THANK YOU to all of our community members who have paid their 2021 dues to the Somerset Community Association. To date, we have 808 paid members this year, representing about 52% of the homes in Somerset. Your dues go toward continuing to maintain our neighborhood entrances, promoting safety and emergency preparedness, supporting the Covenants by protecting neighborhood Views, and publication of this newsletter. Thank you for helping us support the neighborhood!

Congratulations to Somerset resident, Effie H. (age 6) for her artwork being chosen as the cover for this issue of the Somerset Sun!

Dear Neighbors, As I write my message, I look out of my window onto a balmy summer day… blue skies, blond lawns, and flowering bushes… I am grateful that we live in Somerset. However, by the time you get this edition of the Somerset Sun, we will likely be entering autumn and things could be quite different. The 4th of July Parade and Picnic was a huge success. Our awesome Board members Yiyi Guo, Johannes Grad and Charles Bofferding worked closely with the City and vendors, followed all guidelines, got all the needed permits, enabling us to spring into action when the State and City gave the green light on June 30. The response from the community was joyous and exceeded our expectations on attendance … we had to make another run for hot dogs! The Fire and Police Departments not only provided the fire truck and police vehicles to lead the parade, but also made themselves available to answers questions, and the kids loved being showered by the fire truck. Prizes were awarded for children and family costumes, and stroller/tricycle/bicycle decorations; there was music, games and support from our politicians. Kudos to our exuberant volunteers and Board Members for helping run the picnic … your contributions were critical.


The Somerset Neighborhood Walk with the City of Bellevue’s management team was held on July 27, and the Grand Opening of the Newport Way sidewalk and bike lanes was held on July 30; both events were sponsored by the City of Bellevue. Photographs and reports can be found in the following pages of our newsletter. On a personal note, our cul-de-sac project has been completed and a small reception was held on July 20 that was attended by City Councilmember Conrad Lee, as well as Theresa Cuthill and Mike Heilman from Community Development. The City’s MATCH program that provided a grant, covered 50% of project costs, was critical for the project, and I do hope the City continues to fund and support this program, as it promotes beauty and community building – our project demonstrated a unique value of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity … our cul-de-sac is diverse, as over 50% of the residents are first generation immigrants from Canada and different countries in Asia; the project is inclusive, as 100% of the residents invested in the project; our cul-de-sac has equity in their homes, and this project will further contribute to our home equity. Note, the grant can only be obtained for projects on City property. Francis Brito SCA President

Block Group Activity Report Over 30 neighbors turned out for Block Group Eight’s picnic in early August. Neighbors took the opportunity to meet or reconnect and share stories and personal histories while indulging in the many contributed appetizers, main courses, deserts, and drinks. A brief presentation was provided covering emergency preparation and safety topics. Everyone had a great time and we are intending to do it again next year. Block groups serve a critical first step in increasing

neighborhood resilience to disasters and crime by giving us a chance to get to know each other a little better. There are many opportunities for block groups to be formed in Somerset. Please refer to and click on the PREPAREDNESS tab for more information. If your block group has a gathering please email details to so we can include a brief report here in future issues. Pete Mansfield, 4520 145th Ave. SE WA Bellevue, Preparedness Emergency Chair

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Grand Opening of Newport Way Sidewalk & Bike Lanes On July 30th, the City of Bellevue hosted a celebration of the completion of the multi-use pathway and bike lanes along Newport Way. The event was well attended by City Council, staff and officials, including our neighbor Councilmembers Jennifer Robertson and Conrad Lee, along with many long-time supporters of the project. It was a wonderful and long-anticipated day! This project was advocated by a group of volunteers who wanted to make Newport Way safe for pedestrians and cyclists. The group was initiated by Barbara Spindel, who began promoting the idea of a sidewalk along Newport Way over 10 years ago. Volunteers joined from many neighborhoods, representing a broad constituency: Boy Scouts, school teachers, ministers, bicycle clubs, Library Boards and everyday citizens who took the time to sign petitions, give feedback during planning sessions, and attend City Council meetings. Among the group were Somerset residents Kristi Weir, Jan Medley, Randy Brown, and Curt Allred. It has been a long journey but a real lesson in how a small group of citizens can work together to bring about beneficial change in their community. Kudos to the City of Bellevue for listening and working in partnership with us to make our neighborhood safer. And thank you Kristi Weir for keeping us Somerset Sun readers up to date on the progress of the project. If you haven’t had a chance yet, put on your walking shoes or get on your bike and experience our new, transformed Newport Way. It’s a wonderful addition to our community, and I'm sure you'll enjoy it! Curt Allred, Somerset resident Newport Way Sidewalk Committee

Neighborhood Walk Well Attended On a Tuesday evening in late July, over 60 Somerset residents attended a Neighborhood Walk with City of Bellevue leadership to share their concerns and experiences relating to Somerset. Mayor Lynne Robinson, City Manager Brad Miyake, Parks Director Michael Shiosaki, Transportation Director Andrew Singelakis, HR Director Joy St. Germain, Deputy City Managers Kate Berens and Nathan McCommon, Community Development Director Mac Cummins and Police Department staff represented the City of Bellevue, among others. After meeting at Somerset Elementary, the group circled through the neighborhood while sharing both what is unique to Somerset and emerging concerns. Neighbors expressed

appreciation for the quality of local parks, schools, neighborhood diversity, electronic permitting and the annual 4th of July community event. Emerging concerns included an increase in rental properties and unoccupied houses, speeding, vandalism, homelessness in the Factoria and Eastgate areas, and continued opposition to PSE’s Energize Eastside project. Everyone who attended deemed it an enjoyable experience and time well spent. It was encouraging to see the amount of support from the City of Bellevue for the Somerset neighborhood, and numerous requests were made to have the Neighborhood Walk be a recurring event!

By Councilmember Conrad Lee Last year, I wrote about how Bellevue was blessed with a robust economy boosted by unprecedented growth. It has become a global city and one of the most diverse in the region. We were poised to become a global technology center; then the COVID-19 pandemic struck! What a time we have gone through since then. The pandemic triggered an economic downturn worse than the Great Depression. The virus infected over 36 million Americans and more than 600,000 died. Many businesses have closed and people were unemployed. Families and lives were disrupted as schools shut down. On top of it all, the pandemic exposed the nation’s historic racial strife led by the disproportionate impacts to the minority population, death of George Floyd, and riots in the cities fueled by political division and polarization. Bellevue is no exception. So, how did we fare? Bellevue has fared reasonably well. Because of the City’s prudent fiscal policies and financial management, we have adequate resources to weather the tax revenue shortfall. We continue to deliver essential services to keep the City safe and preserve the quality of life in our neighborhoods. In fact, we increased our public safety funding without increasing property tax rates to assure we continue to protect our residents and their businesses. While many cities and their business centers were shut down by rioters and vandalism, Bellevue did not lose a single life or property due to riots. Bellevue has grown to become an urban center. Change will be the norm for a long time to come. What do we have to do to be prepared for the change? We have to keep the City and community safe. Public Safety has always been a top priority for the City Council. Transportation is the next important challenge to tackle. With more people coming to live and work in Bellevue, traffic congestion is getting worse. One option is using new and developing technologies that use machine and artificial intelligence. One such example is the Autonomous, Connected, Electric, and Shared (ACES) technology platform. Bellevue must work seriously to develop this platform and make it a reality. We are spending lots of money on mass transit, but last-mile connections, multi-modal, and technology options have to be developed to reduce congestion and improve safety.

Housing is another issue. People want to come to live here but demand exceeds supply. We have limited land and infrastructure to build on; both land and building costs are rising out of sight. Innovative ways to build homes more affordably for everyone have to be found. The City of Bellevue

COUNCIL CORNER is working with private developers to encourage innovative solutions to build more affordable homes to house young families, less affluent, as well as old-timers who wish to age in place. We are making good progress and the City is currently developing policies that promise more affordable units than other cities in the region. These efforts and solutions through technology are creating many side benefits such as a cleaner, sustainable, and safe environment, and more efficient use of resources. It brings people together to work on solving common problems. I believe that Bellevue has the opportunity to be a model in bringing people together. At least this is my hope and my commitment as a long-time Bellevue resident. The City needs to develop more space to encourage people of different cultures and ethnicity to come together and work together on projects of common interest and learn to discuss and develop common goals. One of my Council projects is to develop a cross-cultural center for people of all cultures to gather and work on common projects and to know, share, and develop relationships. It’s difficult for people from different cultures to know each other. They remain strangers. We must bring together people of all cultures in our neighborhoods to engage in common activities such as developing common visions and goals and working together to make Bellevue what we want it to be, through our long-lasting values of: Accountability, Trust and Engagement (ATE). With us working together, Bellevue will continue to be “The Shining City on the Hill!” Born in China, Conrad grew up in Hong Kong and has lived in Bellevue since 1967. He and his wife Winnie live in Somerset, where they raised their children, Christopher and Jennifer. He can be reached at

Somerset residents and their families enjoyed the 14th annual Somerset Parade and Picnic on the 4th of July. Though the 2020 event had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, high vaccination rates in Bellevue made the outside event less risky this year and we decided to proceed with this popular community party. After meeting by the SRC, Bellevue firefighters and police officers led the parade down to Forest Hill Neighborhood Park where hotdogs, chips, cookies and drinks were served. Relay races were run and prizes were distributed for the “most patriotic,” “best transportation,” and “best family costumes.” We were so happy to be able to bring back this popular event and have such a great turnout. Hope to see you next year!

View Obstructions at Intersections Are you having trouble seeing around the corner at a Somerset intersection? Have your neighbors’ landscaping plants grown to the point where you have to strain to see if it is safe to pull out? These are some of the reasons the Covenant Review Committee asks homeowners that are

COVENANT CORNER revising their landscaping to submit their landscaping plans so they can be reviewed for sight line interference issues. It isn’t only about views of the city, lake, and mountains. The city also has guidelines that regulate safe sight distances too, Bellevue City Code 14.60.240, Street Intersection Sight Obstruction. The city code covers 4-way intersections and “T” intersections; both uncontrolled (no stop or yield sign) and controlled types. Since Somerset/Foresthill divisions only have one 4-way intersection, let’s skip that type and look at the guidelines for “T” intersections to see what safe sight distances are all about based on our streets with posted 25 MPH speed limits. First, let’s look at the uncontrolled intersections with no signs or only having a Yield sign.


From the above drawing, sight line set back limits are determined from the observation point 25' back from the edge of curb line of the intersecting street.

Next, let’s look at controlled intersections. From the above drawing, sight line set back limits are determined from the observation point 14' back from the edge of the curb line of the intersecting street. Intersections of this type have no traffic control on the Major street and a STOP sign on the Minor street. Where obstacles such as pre-existing permanent structures, elevated contour of the ground, embankments, or other elements preclude the reasonable enforcement of the setback lines specified above, these setbacks may be modified at the discretion of the city traffic engineer. Yes, driveways are covered too. The setback point is 10' instead of 14' and the sight distance is reduced from 250' to 150'. In cases where the driveway is on a curve, the setback can be further reduced to 8' and the sight distance reduced to 100'. Driveways with major obstacles or possess special view problems, see the city traffic engineer. Within either the controlled or uncontrolled intersections above, obstructions in the sight areas shall not be permitted if they are higher than two and one-half feet above the street surface; so low growing ground covers or landscaping materials are allowed. Sight obstructions that are higher than seven and one-half feet above the street surface are permitted; for example, permitting a tunnel/sight line view under overhanging tree branches. For a full description of sight obstructions, see BCC 14.60.240. Please think about sight lines when maintaining your landscaping around street intersections and even your driveway, it’s important for you and your neighbors’ safety.

Grandfathered trees We have recently received numerous questions relating to grandfathered trees and the erroneous assumption that they are protected from cutting. This is not the case. Grandfathered trees are certain trees that were in place when the Covenants were recorded which already interfered in the viewline of another house when it was built. Those homeowners cannot complain about the trees, since they always interfered, because the situation has existed since the house was built. However, such trees are not allowed to grow into the protected view of ANOTHER house. The final point to make is that as printed previously, any tree on your property can be removed without CRC approval, including grandfathered trees. They are not protected from cutting; they are protected only from certain view complaints. We encourage homeowners to keep them well trimmed or remove them if necessary. Diane Fern, Chair Covenant Review Committee

Good Reads Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir, 496 pages (2021)

A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen, 352 pages (2018)

High school science teacher Ryland Grace wakes up, groggy and alone, on a spaceship hurtling through space. He soon realizes that he has been sent to save the earth and humanity from an extinction-level threat. From the author of The Martian, this is a space adventure for those who enjoy science fiction with actual science.

Recommended for ages 8-12, this novel follows a girl who must escape to freedom after the Berlin Wall divides her family between east and west. Trapped on the eastern side, Gerta makes plans with her brother to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly; no one can be trusted. The novel’s strong setting and tense climax will keep readers engrossed and holding their breath until the last page.

A fun and exciting read (and makes you feel clever to understand the science, even if just momentarily)! Rumor has it that MGM has already purchased the movie rights, with Ryan Gosling to star! Diane Fern, Somerset resident

My husband Guenter and I always commemorate August 12, the anniversary of the building of the Berlin wall that divided east from west. Guenter’s family was trapped in the east and not united for 28 years. My family was also affected. Muriel Mittelstrass, Somerset resident

Somerset Ranked #1 Elementary School in the Puget Sound Region


Somerset Elementary is a highly rated public school. According to state test scores, 91% of students are proficient in math and 93% in reading. As we all know, the pandemic that began last year has had a big impact on our children. As the new in-person school year begins, we want to provide our children with better teaching resources and more enrichment activities. Our fall fundraising event is going on now, and we need our whole community to come together and help our children.

Ingredients: 1 prebaked ready-made pie crust 2 cups fresh strawberries (slice if desired) 1 cup fresh blueberries 1 cup fresh raspberries 1 cup water 3/4 cup sugar 2 Tablespoons cornstarch 3 Tablespoons Jello raspberry gelatin

Where are our funds spent?

We set a $150,000 fundraising goal and so far, we’ve received $34,265. Thank you to those who have donated -- we couldn’t do any of this without you! Each dollar donated will help support our children. Your donation will keep our General Student Assistants helping in classes, which is the number one request from our teachers, will ensure our programs such as Chess Club and Math Circle keep running, and will provide our teachers with class supplies. Your donation and support provide the financial and moral support to continue our mission. Thank you! You can go online to make your donation at, or you can drop off a check made payable to Somerset PTSA in the PTSA mailbox that is located in the school office.

Serves 6

Directions: · Mix water, sugar, and cornstarch in a 2 quart saucepan over medium heat. Heat just to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute, then remove from heat. Stir in gelatin until dissolved. Refrigerate about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until mixture thickens. · Fold berries into the gelatin mixture. Pour into your crust. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until set. Serve with whipped cream. Store covered in refrigerator. (modified from an old Bon Appetit recipe) Muriel Mittelstrass, Somerset resident

2021 Recap and Improvements - COVID-19 brought many challenges and changes to how SRC operated this season, but in the end, families made great memories as members were able to enjoy the pool and socialize outdoors with friends and family, and kids were able to take part in all the fun and competition of swim team and group swim lessons. Thanks for a great season and we look forward to 2022! Improvements this Year - This year’s improvements included overhauling SRC’s entire electrical system and tree trimming to retain the view and improve the appearance within the pool deck area. Progress will continue over the coming months. Slide replacement efforts continue, but as president Michael Ketchum can attest, this process continues to be difficult. We are still hopeful for a positive outcome. Follow us on FaceBook for updates on the slide! The largest improvement project tackled has been the NEW AND IMPROVED court revitalization which expands the courts’ use beyond tennis to include 3 pickleball courts, a halfcourt basketball court, and a badminton court! Like all construction around our community, SRC is experiencing delays with the new court, but aims to open the courts by Oct/Nov with a new online reservation system. When the courts are completed this fall, they will be made available in the offseason for an hourly fee, including use to nonmembers. Help us reach our Fundraising Goal - As of 8/3/21 we have raised $5,500.84 of our $50,000 fundraising goal to help with the costs of court improvements! Thank you to all those who have donated!! If you love SRC, please go to and click on Donate Today! THANK YOU in advance! As a reminder: SRC is a 501(c)(3) corporation and charitable donations to SRC are allowed as tax deductions by the IRS. SRC is also eligible to receive additional “matching funds” for donations made by individuals working for various employers in the area. Please consult with a financial advisor or tax professional to understand how charitable donations would impact your tax status.

2021 Swim Team Recap - Our Division II Somerset Stingrays had a different but amazing and fast 2021 summer swim season. We had 110 Swim Team swimmers and 12 Sharkies. For 10 weeks, these kids did a lot of swimming and made tons of stroke improvement. We saw many new faces and we hope everyone will be back next summer. Three graduating seniors swam their last season as Stingrays -- Isaac, Jack, and Jamie -we wish you the best of luck! In addition to placing 9th out of 26 teams at Midlakes Champs, we saw some fast swimming including two SRC pool records being broken: · Sean Broadwell, 15+Boys, 50 Freestyle, 7/26/21, 22.78 This was a SRC record that was 43 years old!!! Even before Jim’s time, if you can believe it! If anyone knows Brad Hales and/or his family, please let them know his SRC record was one of the longest standing! · Sean Broadwell, Jackson Castle, Ian Crowley, Jack Ketchum, 15+Boys, 200 Free Relay, 7/26/21, 1:35.18 Another SRC record that was 43 years old!!! A HUGE thank you to our coaches - Katie and Megan - thanks for making this season AWESOME! We hope to see back at the pool next year! And of course, SRC couldn’t do any of this without the amazing swim team parent reps tag team of Shannon Gregory-Lowe and Liane Harnar who navigated COVID protocols smoothly, rolled out a swim meet and new timer technology and app, and who worked extra hard to put on an amazingly “normal” summer swim season for the kids! THANK YOU FOR ALL THE HARD WORK! SRC Board needs your energy! Join us! - Attention new and returning members! The Somerset Rec Club needs you.If you love the club and the community we have here, please consider joining the SRC Board to help guide its operations, future priorities, and improvements! We will have numerous board positions opening up in the next year and we invite you to reach out to president, Michael Ketchum at Join us at a board meeting or our annual membership meeting on Tuesday, September 28, 7 pm at the pool and learn about what the Board is doing to make SRC a gem in the community and for its members.

A Peek into Our Energy Future In today’s column, we take a peek at coming changes in our energy system that will affect every PSE customer in the next year or two. Although some of the details may change, PSE is already pursuing these changes to meet state mandates for clean energy. Pilot programs will be introduced next year. Imagine that it’s 2027, and Somerset residents Josh and Carly are reviewing their latest energy bill from PSE. It looks quite different than it did a few years ago. For example, the charges for natural gas are much lower than before. Josh and Carly replaced their gas furnace with a very efficient electric heat pump controlled by a “smart thermostat.” The heat pump is about three times more efficient than their previous high-efficiency furnace, reducing the couple’s heating bills in the winter. However, their summer bill is now higher because the heat pump provides air conditioning, which they didn’t have before. Now that many summers often have days with temperatures over 100 degrees, Josh and Carly are happy to have the option of keeping the house comfortable. The couple will have solar panels installed soon. The panels will cut their electric bills to almost nothing for at least six months of the year. Another new feature of the bill is “time of use” rates for electricity that started in 2023. The variable costs reward customers for shifting consumption away from peak usage hours in the morning and early evening. This helps make the grid more efficient (lower costs for all customers), cleaner (less emissions), and more reliable (fewer outages). By being a little smarter about when we use electricity, it’s a win-win-win for the affordability, sustainability, and reliability of our electric service. Also starting in 2023, Josh and Carly can log into their account on PSE’s website to monitor their energy consumption. The web page shows how much electricity they are consuming and at what price. It updates fast enough that the couple can track their usage in almost real time. Josh notices high consumption during the past few days of warm temperatures. Their heat pump has been running to keep the house cool. By programming their smart thermostat to cool down the house a little more when

electricity is less expensive before 5 pm, then they can mostly coast through the period of more costly electricity from 5-8 pm. If the hot weather persists, they will save quite a bit on their monthly bill.

CENSE UPDATE Josh and Carly also signed up for a special rate for owners of electric cars. By programming their electric pickup truck to charge between midnight and 6 am, the electricity is less than half the cost of the fixed-rate plan. Since the truck is the biggest consumer of electricity for their household, the late night charging schedule makes a significant difference on their bill. In 2027, climate change is still a big concern for the country and the world, but technology and smart policies are providing hope that future generations will have a livable planet. This is good news for Somerset as well. The introduction of variable rates and technologies like solar panels and batteries brought an end to PSE’s “Energize Eastside” project, which would have installed unsightly and dangerous 230,000-volt transmission lines and huge metal poles through the neighborhood. After almost a decade of debate, the company finally agreed with CENSE – modern alternatives made more “sense.” (Note: PSE has not withdrawn its Energize Eastside proposal as of August 2021, but CENSE remains hopeful and highly engaged in the debate. Questions? Send an email to Don Marsh CENSE President

Who’s Got Your Mail? This past June 15, Somerset residents were invited to a virtual townhall-style meeting with the Bellevue Police Department. About 25 residents attended. One of the top-reported crimes in our neighborhood turns out to be mailbox and package/porch theft. There has been a rash of activity on our streets with thefts occurring at all times of the day. More than

EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS likely, you have experienced this first-hand and perhaps you are wondering what can be done. During the meeting, United States Postal Service (USPS) Inspector Nelson Rivera described some of the challenges with responding to mail theft. He is one of only seven inspectors assigned to a region stretching from the Canadian border to the Oregon/California border on the west side of the Cascades. He alone receives about 1300 reports of mail theft each month. His priority is to go after the criminals that manage to steal something of considerable value. He wants all of us to know that if you have reported your mailbox broken into and have not received a response, be assured the messages are being received but he simply does not have the time to follow up with everyone.

What are thieves after? Valuables and your identity! He did provide some tips for improving mail security, reducing theft, and protecting your identity: · Use a locked mailbox. This is not foolproof since locked mailboxes can be pried open (as several Somerset residents can attest) but at least it limits thefts to only well-equipped thieves and slows them down a bit. · Make sure there is nowhere for a thief to hide when accessing your mailbox. Trim back vegetation around mailboxes that serve to hide a would-be thief during the act. It is best if you can see your mailbox from your home.

· Make sure you are signed up with USPS for “Informed Delivery” or specifically opt out of the service. Informed Delivery allows you to see what pieces of mail are scheduled for delivery on a given day. If you are not signed up or opted out, a criminal may be able to sign up for your address without you knowing. This allows the criminal to watch what mail is expected at your home on any given day. Once something of potential value is expected (credit cards, debit cards, etc.) they know to target your mailbox on that day. · Get a box to keep your sensitive mail secure. Provide your PO box number to banks, credit cardcompanies, and others who may communicate personal information or send items of value. Otherwise, you can still get your holiday cards and junk mail the usual way. The smallest PO box at the Midlakes Post Office (Factoria) costs less than $20/month. · If you are an Amazon customer, have packages delivered to an Amazon hub if you are not going to be home when a delivery is expected. This ensures packages do not sit on your doorstep for extended periods during the day. There are several hubs near Somerset including within the new Amazon Fresh store at the Factoria Mall. · Implement a credit freeze with the three major credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, Experian). Personal information in stolen mail can, for example, help criminals attempt to pose as you when applying for a credit cards or take out loans. When a credit freeze is implemented, you control who may see it and when. This prevents access to your credit history if anyone tries to apply for credit in your name. · Check your credit card statements each month to be sure there are no unexplained charges. Call your credit card issuer immediately (number usually on the back of the card) if you have any questionable charges. In general, we should all be keeping our eyes open and call 911 if we see suspicious activity. Note descriptions of people and, if a car is involved, try to get the license plate number. Then call 911 and provide all the information to the operator. Together we can reduce this ongoing problem.

Where There’s Smoke… Last September we endured several days of unhealthy air due to regional wildfires. Smokey air made it difficult to be outside and we were advised to remain indoors as much as possible. It goes without saying that smoke is unhealthy to breathe and can be particularly hazardous to people with lung or heart conditions. What can you do to prepare and protect yourself and family? · Check for air quality reports and listen to your local news outlets for advice. If the advice is to stay indoors then minimize your travels outside. If you must go outside wear a protective mask. The mask must be rated N95 or better and have a NIOSH marking. Keep several of these in your emergency supply for each family member as they must be changed periodically if used heavily. You will know a change is necessary if it becomes hard to breathe through. Surgical masks commonly used during the pandemic will not protect you from smoke. Similarly, paper dust masks often found in hardware stores are designed to keep out large sawdust-type particles but will not protect from smoke. · Keep indoor air as clean as possible. Keep windows and doors closed. If your home has forced air heating, you may be able to turn on the recirculation blower alone to continuously move air through your filter without heating the air. Make sure your filter is rated for smoke (MERV 13 or

higher). Also, if your system pulls air in from the outside, make sure to close the intake and only recirculate air in the home. If you have a stand-alone HEPA filter for allergen control this will help filter smoke as well. · If you feel smoke is still uncontrolled in your home, create an isolated clean area. Select a room or set of rooms, including a bathroom, where you will stay most of the time. Keep windows closed and use towels under doors to keep smokey air out. Dust with a damp cloth frequently to trap and dispose of settled smoke particles. In this case, wear your N95 mask when leaving the clean area. For more information, please consult Pete Mansfield Emergency Preparedness Chair

Confessions of a Somerset Housewife It was a day like many others during the pandemic, chasing the kids around yelling things like “IPAD” and “mask” while simultaneously desperately following two dogs and a baby who were all experiencing some gastrointestinal distress. To add to that, I was having a poorly-attended pity party because my mom had just let me know that, once again, she would not be able to come visit, this time because her insurance wouldn’t cover any COVID-related issues. I was interrupted from my self-indulgent thoughts by a smell wafting past. On that particular day, there was a certain “je ne sais quoi” in the air. If you don’t speak French, “je ne sais quoi” here roughly translates to “unpleasant stench.” At that point, I had become a veritable expert of excrement because I quickly determined that the source was my sweet son. As I performed my motherly duties, I gazed at him with love. This was what it was all about, right? This little being, staring up at me, this made it all worth it. I felt a warmth growing over my abdomen and thought to myself, “This is what love feels like.” Well, dear readers, it turns out that it wasn’t love at all. It was pee. My baby boy had peed on me. Again. There was no time to change, so I threw a sweater on over my love-drenched shirt, put Finn in a carrier, yelled about chargers and water bottles, and started the trek to school. I managed to get my daughter to school on time and walked away slowly, in a bit of a daze, wondering whether I should try to actually do something productive or go home and eat the Häagen-Dazs I had hidden under a few bags of frozen broccoli. The Häagen-Dazs won, but I looked down and saw that my shoe had come untied. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to tie your shoe while balancing a baby in a carrier, but it’s a delicate dance. Every time I tried to lace up, my baby would dangle upside down and start complaining. I hadn’t had enough coffee for that acrobatic challenge, and I just stared at my feet, defeated (ahem). Suddenly, a woman appeared, bent down, and began tying my shoes. I can’t tell you exactly how it felt to see this stranger bent down on the pavement tying my shoe for me.

At the height of a pandemic, the moment was intimate and raw for me. Gone were the 6 feet of distance. It was just a woman helping another woman, doing something we do for our kids, a motherly gesture. Whether it was the day I’d had, the news from my mom, this woman’s act of kindness, or a combination of it all, as she walked away, tears began to stream down my face, and I stood on the sidewalk, looking a right mess. The woman’s maternal act stayed with me, and the next day I tried to find her. I spotted her at the elementary school and motioned to her. “Hi”, I said (I have a way with words). She said hello back and I tried to tell her what her action had meant to me. I think I described it eloquently by saying “thanks for tying my shoe.” We struck up a conversation, and, from that moment on, we met almost every day. She introduced me to another one of her friends, and the three of us and our kids spent many afternoons together. They became like family to me, carting my baby around the field to give me a break, helping with pick-ups, and feeding me homemade dumplings. But above all that, they love my baby. Their eyes light up when they see him. They make funny noises to try to make him laugh. They fuss over him and talk to him and share those amazing baby moments with me. The gift of having another adult enjoy your children is a tremendous one. As unlikely as it was for a woman from Nova Scotia and two women from China to become fast friends on the playground of Somerset elementary, it is a story that I will carry with me. My little Finn now has a Chinese name and a family of friends that I cherish. In this world we are living in, we are often raising our children on our own. In the pandemic, many of us have struggled to do it all without any support. We are missing our village. But sometimes, if we look hard enough, the village is right there, at our feet. Renee Kip lives in Somerset with her husband and four children, and is kind enough to share her musings with the community.


Somerset Community Associaton PO Box 40531 Bellevue, WA 98015

BEST TIME TO WATER PLANTS IN HOT WEATHER The best time to water your garden in summer is from 6 am to 10 am — before the heat of the day sets in, giving your plants plenty of time to drink up and any moisture on the leaves to dry off before nightfall. If watering in the morning isn’t possible, the next best time is from 4 pm to 7 pm. But don’t worry if all you can do is a midday watering — any water is better than none at all, and the belief that watering on a hot sunny day will damage your plants is a gardening myth. Sunburn, which often appears as bleached areas on the foliage of plants, is caused by simple overexposure to the sun, not by water droplets that supposedly magnify the sun and scorch the leaves. Just like people, plants need thorough hydration during times of excess heat. This is especially true of outdoor container plants, as well as new plantings that haven’t yet established their roots. In the height of summer, these potted plants need special attention and may require watering every day or even several times depending on exposure. A good rule of thumb is to water when the first 2 inches of potting soil feels dry. Remember: Infrequent deep soakings are better than frequent light sprinklings. Aim the water right where it’s needed — at the root zone of your plants — to reduce the chances of runoff and evaporation. Gary Albert SCA Landscaping Chair

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