Turtles All the Way Down

Robert was outside moving the old bricks that were dumped next to the side of the house, so that he could get the ladder in there, so that he could work on the library window – the windows were not only painted shut, the bottoms had been caulked on the outside – so that we could go ahead and paint the woodwork in the library – but only after we have put on the second color coat and put down the shoe molding.  It’s turtles all the way down.

This phrase in its present form is from Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, with variations back through Bertrand Russell, William James, and Thoreau, who cites a Hindu myth that the world is supported by an elephant who is supported by a turtle.  The question is, of course, “What supports the turtle?”  I often quoted the phrase in my career as a programmer and systems analyst, where there often seemed to be an infinite regression of prerequisites or errors to be fixed, and progress was measured by new error messages which indicated that one problem had been fixed and giving a clue to the next one.

As long as he had moved the bricks, I decided to try cleaning up the rest of that area.  There was what appeared to be the edge of a concrete slab beside the house.  So I got the hoe and started uncovering it (after removing another ton of English ivy) and it was clearly where the garbage cans used to be kept.  Which was a much better place than they are now.  And there was a huge pile of rocks under the ivy at the corner of the house, where they were directing water into the foundation.  So we ended up re-sloping the dirt away from the house and building a set of shallow stone steps up to the the garbage can area.

During this Robert did get the second window in the library loose, so it opens more or less.  Now we have to get the top sashes, which have dropped, unstuck,  so we can raise the top sashes, stop the air leaks, and be able to lock the windows.

Someday we will be able to paint the woodwork.

Now the Tale Can Be Told


We had an offer on our Texas house.  Not a wonderful offer, but a starting point for negotiations.  We immediately countered and held our breaths.


Breath-holding had become difficult.  The buyers’ agent intimated they really couldn’t come up much.  We said we would consider a counter-offer.


Having given up on a counter offer and continuing to strip wallpaper and other tasks, a counter arrived, closer to our asking price.  After lots of discussion, we accepted.  The title company asked for all our information.


The buyers hadn’t gotten an inspection yet and asked for an extension of their 7-day, “need no reason to cancel option” (for which they had paid a small amount, deductible from the price if the deal went through).  We granted it.  What followed was several roof inspections by the inspector, our roofer, the insurance adjuster, their roofer, a hailstorm, another option postponement, several amendments, and 119 e-mails (I didn’t keep track of the phone calls).  I won’t even mention the hot-tub repair, which was not aided by the total lack of information on what the inspector thought was wrong with it.


We were in constant communication with Robin, our agent.  Closing was supposed to be March 31 (postponed from March 17), but the buyers, having signed the “as-is” contract, were still trying to negotiate.  We were all planning to check ourselves in to the nearest mental health facility if it ever closed.  I alternated between “Que sera, sera”,  pacing, anger, and despair.


Finally, the closing.  We had had a lovely time the day before.  The title company didn’t email us our documents to print, sign, and overnight back  until 4:38 – and didn’t think to say beforehand they needed to be notarized.  The UPS office closes at 6:30.  We had already driven over there to make sure of the hours, location, and quickest route.  Fortunately, Robert Googled and found that the public library had a notary, called to verify she was there, we printed, drove to the library, signed, copied, drove over to UPS, and were done by 6.  The library notary and the UPS clerk were both wonderful; made up for the title company – who had had all our information for a week, and didn’t put it in the paperwork – we had to fill it in.

I wasn’t about to assume the deal was going to close until it did, but I did spend the waiting time on-line cancelling all the utilities, so I must have had faith.  Finally, the title company notified us that the deal had “funded” , but the money didn’t show up in our account.


I was convinced that something would go wrong with the wire and would take additional days to straighten out – and that paying off our mortgage here was going to be a hassle.   But the proceeds hit our bank account on Monday morning; the 1 p.m. closing hadn’t funded until after the wire transfer deadline of 5 p.m.  on Friday.

I spent 10 minutes on hold but got the payoff amount for our mortgage here and was told we could just walk into our nearest branch and pay it off – so we did and it was that easy.  We went down to the bank and wrote a check and it’s done…

Almost Heaven (8)

Morgantown is number 9 in the Small Cities Rankings – 2009 New Geography Best Cities for Job Growth, of 173 small cities in the country, and 13th among all cities.  Charleston has moved from the small to medium cities category, and is 37 of 103 medium-sized metro areas, and 114 overall.  Smaller job markets  like Clarksburg and Parkersburg aren’t included.

Toledo, Hickory, NC, Sarasota, and Dayton, all places West Virginians long went in droves, are the bottom four medium-sized cities, and near the bottom overall.