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Saturday, May 31, 2003 AD
Congratulations, Howard and Ali!

More pix from my choir director's wedding.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/31/2003 07:08:00 PM • Permalink
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It's quarter 'til 5 in the morning. I'm finally leaving the office. I caught up on a few things, but I'm still impossibly far behind. I will try not to fall asleep on my way home!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/31/2003 04:52:00 AM • Permalink
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Thursday, May 29, 2003 AD
Thoughts on Prayer
Each week I send out a prayer reminder to my church's "prayer wrestlers" -- a collection of folks who have committed to praying for an hour each Saturday in a sort of relay of prayer to cover the whole 24 hours. Along with any prayer updates and reminders, I usually try to include some scripture verses related to prayer and some devotional thoughts on those verses. Since I don't have anything else to blog, here's what I sent this week:
Pray with thanksgiving. In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Then in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 he says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

Doesn't that seem crazy sometimes? I mean, sometimes the "everything" and the "all circumstances" includes a lot of suffering and injustice! How can we give thanks then? Being a colossal ingrate myself, even under the most ideal of circumstances, I find this sort of all-the-time thanksgiving very difficult. As I have struggled to cultivate a more grateful attitude, I've had to really embrace two truths about God.

First, God is perfectly sovereign. There is not any circumstance that is out of his control. As one writer put it, there are no maverick molecules in this universe. Every event of our lives unfolds exactly according to God's perfect plan.

That truth by itself is pretty scary, so it's vital to know the second truth, as well: God is good -- all the time. He doesn't wield His sovereignty in a cruel and capricious way, but always with two good ends in view. First, He does all things for His own glory. Second, He does all things for the good of His people (Romans 8:28).

Since God is utterly in control and utterly good, we can trust that He's not just pulling some good rabbit out of the hat of messed up circumstances, but that these circumstances are His best for us -- His perfect means to bring about His glory and our benefit. Will we always see clearly what exactly He's working out in whatever situation we find ourselves? No. But even when we can't see it all, then we can at least see one thing -- we can see that He's giving us an opportunity to trust Him more without seeing it all.

A few weeks ago, after reading in a book some things about the sovereignty and goodness of God, I took a walk. During that walk I began to give thanks for the difficult things in my life that I've so often in the past complained to Him about: the abandonment and abuse I experienced as a child, the disappointments and loneliness that come with singleness, even the frustration and suffering I've brought on myself through my own sinfulness. I had such an amazing sense of peace after that. But the bigger challenge has been in the day-to-day things. (Big, dramatic gestures always seem to come easier for me than nitty-gritty practical living.) When the birds sing loud enough at 3 a.m. to wake me up, will I give thanks to God that it's all in His perfect plan? What about when I spill something all over the outfit I just pulled out of the dryer? Or when I'm running late and I get lost? Or when my boss makes an unreasonable demand of me? Or when someone parks in front of my driveway? Or when I stub my toe? Or when...[fill in the blank with all manner of irritating circumstances in which I find myself tempted to whining, griping and tantrum-throwing]? Sometimes over the past few weeks I've managed to give thanks in these circumstances. Sometimes I haven't. I suspect I'll spend the rest of my life learning to give thanks in everything. I'm grateful for a Faithful Teacher who won't quit giving me lessons!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/29/2003 10:46:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, May 27, 2003 AD
Halfway There
I'm reading through one of those One Year Bibles, which has OT, NT, Psalms and Proverbs portions pre-arranged for each day, and made it to the halfway mark yesterday. Of course I started in January 2002, so I guess I'm not doing so great at keeping up with the plan, eh? I go through periods where I just can't seem to open the Bible. Can't concentrate, I guess. Then there are times I just can't seem to put it down. Happily, I'm in one of the latter phases right now.

I remember when I first really began to value the Scriptures. I was reading The Hiding Place and was deeply struck by the lengths to which Corrie and Betsy Ten Boom went in order to have a Bible while they were imprisoned. I began to think of the Bible as God's Word -- a stunning and precious gift -- not just some vaguely interesting book. Alas, I still don't value it as I ought.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/27/2003 08:38:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, May 25, 2003 AD
More Drawings

Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/25/2003 07:44:00 PM • Permalink
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I Got a Google Hit for "Circumcision Party"
Is that anything like a Bris shindig?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/25/2003 06:59:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, May 24, 2003 AD
That's Progress, I Suppose
I just hammered my fingers...twice...and managed not to say more than "Ouch!" instead of my usual stream of rather less ladylike language. But I hope I haven't hurt myself too badly, 'cuz I need to be able to play the guitar for the offertory tomorrow.

As for what I was hammering, I decided to put some drawings on the walls of my office at the church, so I dug through my boxes and boxes of college drawings to find the few that weren't nüdes. These are the ones I got put up today. Perhaps I'll get the rest up tomorrow. Click for the full image.

The third one was a particularly fun assignment. We each wrote down the directions we take to get to class -- not the street directions, but things we noticed on the way. Then we swapped directions and had to draw someone else's route. Obviously the person whose directions I got still included some street names. I don't think I ever saw the drawing from my directions.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/24/2003 04:12:00 PM • Permalink
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Wednesday, May 21, 2003 AD
"Going Garver" v. "Going Garner"
I'm sorry, but I just have to strongly disagree with those who say the term should be updated. You just don't go around changing things like that. I mean, anybody could take a break from blogging, and we'd have to go around changing it every time. And somebody's feelings might get hurt because it wasn't named after them, and the term might be split between "Going Smith" and "Going Schnickelfritz" if two bloggers are put forth as heirs to this meaning in search of a word. I say it stays "Going Garver." Who's with me?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/21/2003 10:19:00 PM • Permalink
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Why Do We Give?
One of my elders sometimes asks this question before the offering is received, and invites responses from the congregation. He asked it this past Sunday, and Paulo turned to me and whispered, "Because we don't want our pastors to starve!" If I'm brave enough, I might respond with that next time.

The other thing I was tempted to say was, "Because it's fun!" But then I thought people would think I was weird. Does anybody else get excited when they get to write another offering check?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/21/2003 08:58:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, May 19, 2003 AD
Galatians 2 -- An Issue of Racism?
I was challenged this weekend to consider that the circumcision/uncircumcision debate in Galatians was primarily a matter of race, not of ceremonial law. Here’s the key passage:
Galatians 2:11-14 (read in context):

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?"
Here’s the argument: The circumcision party folks are freaked out by the massive influx of Gentiles into the Church. (It was OK when there were only a token few, but dagnabbit if they ain’t takin’ over…and there goes the neighborhood!) So they wanted to re-erect the old covenant barrier between Jew and Gentile, essentially recreating a court of the Gentiles within the church -- a separate but not quite equal Lord’s table. Peter caved to social pressures. He wanted these guys to think well of him so he compromised on one of the key points of the Gospel, the tearing down of the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:11 ff).

Here’s the most convincing evidence to me: Acts 10 shows us the conversion of Cornelius, an event that caused Peter to exclaim, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (v. 34). I’m not going to try to figure out the Greek for that statement, but the language in various translations makes it very clear that Peter was very clear on this point: “I most certainly understand now...” (NASB); “I now realize how true it is...” (NIV); “Most certainly and thoroughly I now perceive and understand...” (AMP). And it is very clear that he was very clear what he was very clear about: not just that old covenant ceremonial requirements were no longer in effect, but that ethnic and racial partiality is totally out of the picture in the new covenant. In chapter 11 we even see him convincing the circumcision party of this very thing and the lot of them putting a cork in it re their objections and letting out all the stops in their celebration of this marvelous new understanding of God’s grace: “When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, ‘Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life’” (v. 18).

So what happened? Evidently the circumcision party re-exerted itself after awhile and seems to have focused some of that exertion on Peter.* Since nothing could have been clearer to Peter than that the ethnicity was not a deciding factor in the granting of repentance (Acts 11:18), that purity is not a matter of race (Acts 10:28), he had to have been pretty deliberate in turning a blind eye to that fact by the time the events of Galatians 2 came about.

Then in Galatians 3, Paul brings his discussion of justification by faith back to ethnicity again -- “...if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise” (v. 29) -- and continues that line of thought (sons and heirs, flesh vs. promise) through chapter 4.

Then there was some application from that, which I don't have time to talk about 'cuz it's after 9 and I need to go home. Maybe another day.

*It’s interesting to note that these men came from James, who wrote, “...if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” I’m guessing that epistle came later? No time to look that up now.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/19/2003 09:04:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, May 17, 2003 AD
My Week Off
In answer to Chuck's question (and any other enquiring minds), I took the week off because I wanted less potential for distraction at work. My boss was on vacation, which means it's easier for me to get caught up on some stuff without getting new tasks assigned more quickly than I could complete the old ones. Did I get caught up? Of course not. But I did get a major part of the writing, editing and layout done on our annual report (400MB PDF), including plotting hundreds of sites on the map. Unfortunately, one of the fonts appears to have gotten screwed up in the transfer to PDF. The titles that are in that serif italic type (at least on my monitor) are supposed to appear in Caflisch Script. Side two, which I didn't PDF, has a note from our president, a list of our board and management team, and a list of donors. I would really, really appreciate any constructive criticism from you design-savvy types.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/17/2003 03:09:00 PM • Permalink
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They Paved the Parking Lot and Put Up Paradise
Our church office parking lot has been a mess of car-destroying rubble since I've been here. As I type, two gentlemen (my heros of the day!) are laying down new blacktop. Of course in a couple years, if our building project ever gets under way, it'll all get torn up again, but in the meantime, it looks heavenly. Of course "heavenly" is a relative term. In the midst of the urban blight that surrounds us in Pen Lucy, even fresh, smooth blacktop can seem like a touch of paradise.

Hmm....the boss appears to be trying to figure out why one section seems to have so much give to it. Hope it's not too big a problem.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/17/2003 02:42:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, May 11, 2003 AD
Briefly Garverizing
No more blogging 'til Saturday. A trustworthy person has been handed the keys to the blogdom and I will be locked out for the rest of the week. If you catch me commenting on y'all's blogs, please send someone to beat me over the head with my keyboard. I really need a brief cyber-detox. Well...I could probably do with a much longer one, but this is as brave as I can be for now. I'll still get comments from here, of course, and will be accessible by e-mail. See ya!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/11/2003 05:12:00 PM • Permalink
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At 9 last night, I was beat. Tuckered out. One tired puppy. Ready to hit the sack. So I put down the book I was starting to doze over and headed up the stairs for a rendezvous with the sandman. I'd made it about halfway up the stairs when I was sucked by an irresistable force back into the dining room. Before I knew it, an impromptu scriptorium had been constructed. By midnight, I had outlined an illuminated capital B, colored in part of it (and made a mental shopping list of inks I needed to buy) and sketched out the first verse of Psalm 1 twice (and it might get done a third time, as I haven't quite figured out how big to do the lettering). So alla youse guys that egged me on yesterday are responsible for that three hours of sleep I didn't get and for making me late for Sunday School because I overslept! Sigh...but it'll be totally my fault if this project, like so many that have gone before it, gets stuck in a box somewhere never again to see the light of day. Now if it comes to pass that I actually complete an entire illuminated Psalter before my mostly-brown-with-a-few-strands-of-grey head goes down to the grave, that will be entirely the fault of the gracious God for whose glory I hope to get it done.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/11/2003 05:09:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, May 10, 2003 AD
On Second Thought...
I got home last night to find an NSF notice from the bank. (Yay for overdraft protection!) But I think I'll take that as a sign that I really can't afford to be buying any illuminated manuscripts. And of course it would be nice if I did things like got new windows installed so i could paint the walls before I hang any more pricy artwork on them!

In the meantime, perhaps I should stick to my own crayon calligraphy (click for the full images):

The one on the left, which hangs in my living room, is a paraphrase of something I heard in a sermon a few years ago when I was much in need of assurance of grace. It seemed an appropriate indulgence to color with crayons on an expensive sheet of parchment. The one on the right, which hangs outside my cubicle at work, I did one evening when I'd invited a friend over for dinner. A former art teacher, she was complaining that she hadn't done anything creative in ages. So when she arrived, I announced that we were having kindergarten. We ate PB&J sandwiches and had fun with crayons and gel pens and paper and scissors.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/10/2003 12:22:00 PM • Permalink
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Monkey Business
"Give six monkeys one computer for a month, and they will make a mess.

"Researchers at Plymouth University in England reported this week that primates left alone with a computer attacked the machine and failed to produce a single word.

"At first, said Phillips, 'the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it.'

"'Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard,' added Phillips...."

Read more.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/10/2003 10:21:00 AM • Permalink
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Friday, May 09, 2003 AD
Anybody Know Anything About Illuminated Manuscripts?
I'm being very tempted by a Google ad from Kelly's blog, but I don't know nuttin' 'bout nuttin', as my mom is wont to say, so I don't want to go spending money without a bit more education.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/09/2003 05:33:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, May 08, 2003 AD
Hab You Seed By Face?
Just got back from three hours at the dentist's. I react strangely to Novocain -- get the shakes. Then I went to McDonald's and got another shake.

UPDATE, 4:54 P.M.: OK, the Novocain has worn off and, having skipped breakfast and been forbidden lunch, I am now hungry!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/08/2003 02:14:00 PM • Permalink
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Wednesday, May 07, 2003 AD
From 15K to 150K in Three Days!
Of course the 15K was my site visitor count and the 150K was the odometer on my '95 Escort. I got the car in '97 with 72K already on it -- it was a former driver ed training car. I had to replace the engine at 112K three years ago.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/07/2003 04:00:00 PM • Permalink
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Tuesday, May 06, 2003 AD
Faux Pas
I got an e-mail from Paulo this morning saying he was going to be meeting some other Baltimore bloggers at Harborplace for lunch at noon. So I scampered over there, arriving at about 5 minutes late, and spent 15-20 minutes searching for Pau. Finally I gave up and was going to head back when he, having arrived late, spotted me and we joined the rest of the group. The introductions went very quickly, so I missed a couple names, but I caught Dean and Amy McK, and Daniel Bergey. That's when I made my big faux pas. I said to Daniel, "Oh, your son Steve reads my blog." Of course Stephen is Daniel's brother, not his son, and Daniel was quick to point that out. Duh! So I said, "OK, then, some young male personage of your relation." But I felt pretty dumb, anyway. So now y'all can go ahead and laugh at me. :-p
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/06/2003 01:27:00 PM • Permalink
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Monday, May 05, 2003 AD
Nicer Than God
"Prudish pietism falsely passed off for godliness is due for a good clubbing." (Read more at Tim V's blog, May 3 entry.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/05/2003 10:22:00 PM • Permalink
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Defensiveness Regarding Correction
"I never ceased to be baffled by people's defensiveness against correction. Not rebukes, but simple correction. Here we were, a group of people who had invested significant time and expense to attend this camp, one run by instructors whose expertise had attracted us all to the camp. But when one of those instructors would try to give a camper individual criticism, the excuses and arguments would just come pouring out." (Read more at Rick S's blog -- the May 2 entry, if the permalink doesn't work.)

As an editor, I've run into this attitude many, many times. Happily, in my current job, most of my colleagues are very receptive of my ministrations 'pon their writing. One guy used to call me the "style nazi." When I protested, he switched to "style dominatrix." I didn't much care for that, either. But 'twas all in jest. He valued my work, and now that he works elsewhere, he misses having me around to make his writing better.

I wonder if people who don't receive criticism well are responding, at least in part, to their expectation of a complementary (not complimentary!) sin: harsh, arrogant criticism of the "You got this wrong because you're a stupid, no-good nincompoop who's not worth his component chemicals" variety.

Pride is a many-splendored thing, innit? And I oughta know, having myself been guilty of a multitude of varieties thereof. Thank God for grace!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/05/2003 06:16:00 PM • Permalink
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Check out the name under "Evangelism and Church Development" on the PCUSA site.

Just for fun, here's DW's googlism.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/05/2003 04:13:00 PM • Permalink
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Someone's Been Busy
A sign of hope from my referrer log! [Update, 5/6: Ah...he's removed it.]

Woo-hoo -- another good sign! (News from Barb.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/05/2003 02:13:00 PM • Permalink
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Sunday, May 04, 2003 AD
Melissa's Wish Is My Command
Melissa -- and this time I am referring to a Bloggenspieler -- suggested that I post photos of the blouses I mentioned in my Easter post. I'm finally getting around to obliging. Clockwise from the top left we have details of the pink blouse I did not wear on Easter, but I am wearing today; the mosaic-patterened dress my mom made while she was here; the lavender blouse I wore on Easter; and the floral skirt I wore on Easter.

My mom also made me an apron from this fabric:

She thought it was very silly fabric, but I thought it was fun, and it was on sale for 88¢/yard. I realized later that it was actually Halloween fabric.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/04/2003 03:15:00 PM • Permalink
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Saturday, May 03, 2003 AD
I've got 24 Easter Sunday photos posted on my church website. (Code shamelessly stolen from my 15,000th visitor.)

Who can find me in three of the pictures?
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/03/2003 06:35:00 PM • Permalink
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"This is precisely how peace breaks out. Suddenly, one side just stops shooting back. And if you would stop your barking, you might find that the other puppies might follow suit. Wouldn’t we better spend our time praying that God would be glorified in this, that just once in church history we might handle a dispute in a way that honors Him? Instead you are like the scrawny kid safely in the second row of the circle of other wanna-be’s shouting 'Fight! Fight!' in the school hallway. Wouldn’t you rather be known as the peacemakers? For they shall be called not the sons of dog, but the sons of God."

Read all of R.C. Sproul Jr.'s open letter to Thunder Puppies.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/03/2003 11:20:00 AM • Permalink
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Definining a Gentleman
Just in case anybody missed it, Kelly and her 2˝-year-old son came up with a too-cute definition of a gentleman: "A gentleman is mean to the monsters and sweet to the ladies." Works for me!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/03/2003 11:16:00 AM • Permalink
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And the Winner Is...
The Dane! Or someone else on cox.net who uses Seth's link page and visited my blog at 2:23:39 Eastern this morning. No prizes except the great honor of being my 15,000th visitor since I installed SiteMeter on October 9.

Thank you to everyone who visits and reads and comments!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/03/2003 10:40:00 AM • Permalink
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Friday, May 02, 2003 AD
Another of Paulo's Creations
My Heart Is Empty. Impressive, Pau.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/02/2003 05:28:00 PM • Permalink
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Who Will Be #15,000?
My Site Meter account will likely reach 15,000 today or tomorrow. Will it be a real person or a 'bot? Visit me lots over the next 12-24 hours, and it may be you! (No, I am not offering prizes.)
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/02/2003 04:14:00 PM • Permalink
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Thursday, May 01, 2003 AD
Dave and Melissa
No, not the Bloggenspielers, the two victims subjects of last night's "Extreme Makeover" episode. Having just watched my brother's favorite movie a couple weeks ago, I kept expecting "EM" to end with a pair of caskets full of goop -- the result of complications that had complications. Living in a world that created "EM" rather scares me. Perhaps Brazil was a documentary rather than a work of fiction.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/01/2003 01:37:00 PM • Permalink
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Shoot the Birdie
Is it just in the city, with enough light pollution to emulate pre-dawn, that birds start singing at 3 a.m.? It was warm enough last night to sleep with the windows open, but I didn't get much sleep because of all the blasted chirping.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 5/01/2003 01:25:00 PM • Permalink
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