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.

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