Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image


corinne backyard 500 wide.jpg

I’ve been away a long time. Sorry about that. We bought a house…at least three months earlier than we expected to.

As you may recall, Carol and I drove down to Phoenix back in May for two weeks in order to interview neighborhoods for a winter place. We hadn’t intended to look at individual properties, but after meeting a local real estate agent during a walk through one of Phoenix’s parks, we decided to accelelerate the process, and saw ten or twelve homes before we ran out of time.

Elva Weissman (who is perhaps the single most expert and energetic agent we’ve ever worked with) plugged our parameters into her MLS portal as a sort of stored query, and the system has been emailing us listings for a couple of months now. We jotted down a short list of properties we wanted to look at during our planned August trip, including a couple that stood out, one in particular in the NE corner of Phoenix that checked more of our boxes than nearly any other. It was about $50K too expensive by my reckoning, but it was at the top of our list as the closest match so far. We figured if it was still listed in August we’d arrange a showing. We were also following another strange and wondrous house that had a patio and a swimming pool right smack in the middle, with the rooms arranged in a rough pentagon all around them. That one sold about a month ago, but it was very cool.

Then, on July 7, the seller cut the price by…$50K. Suddenly the house was dead-center in the crosshairs. Carol and I looked at one another, ground our teeth for a minute, and then got on the phone to arrange a trip in record time. By that Saturday morning we were on a plane, and on Sunday morning we were walking through a 3000 ft2 one-level Southwestern midcentury ranch, which had been gutted to the walls and rebuilt in 2003. I gulped. This was a winner. I took some notes and some pictures, and we walked through another three or four properties that same day. All those other houses just pointed up how close we had already come to a perfect match. By the end of the day we had submitted an offer. 24 hours later, the seller accepted it. We were both nervous wrecks. But hey, do the math with us:


  • It’s all on one level, and (like all of north Phoenix) over a mile lower in altitude than Phage House here in Colorado Springs. My lowest blood oxygen reading there was higher than my highest here.
  • It’s on over 5/8 of an acre, with 75″ block walls on two of three sides of the backyard.
  • It has a separate one-car garage to serve as a workshop. I may build a bigger shop later on, but for the time being, as soon as I have an AC unit installed, it will do.
  • There is no homeowner’s association, and having been built in 1966, the deed restrictions are simple and mostly concern setbacks. There is no mention of antennas whatsoever, and there are guys within a block or two with 50′ towers and rotatable beams.
  • The back yard has a great deal of vegetation (including several ginormous palm trees) but nothing with thorns. Carol and I did thorns when we lived near Cave Creek in the ’90s, thank you very much. No more.
  • It has a small walled courtyard with a newish 6-person hot tub.
  • It has a gorgeous PebbleTec pool with a gas heater and a granite-rock waterfall. There is room for a solar pool heater, which is in our five-year plan.
  • It has a nice 25-bottle wine fridge and a huge standalone freezer.
  • It has a dedicated fenced dog run, with a doggie door into the laundry room.
  • It has a huge tiled great room spanning 40 feet at its greatest extent. Good party house.
  • It has a pair of gargoyles to either side of the front courtyard gate. Or at least there will be when we cut enough of the vines down so you can actually see them.
  • The leaded glass design in the front door looks like it has a little Space Invaders guy at the center.


  • The walk-in closets (like all the ceilings) are ten feet high, with three ranks of clothes bars, one right at the top. They’ll hold a great deal, but you have to fish your less-often-worn shirts down with a hookie thing on a long wooden handle.
  • The pool still needs a fence, to keep doggies out of it.
  • The walls around the yard and front courtyard are covered with some as-yet-unidentified thornless (whew) creeper vines that shed foot-long bean-ish seed pods.
  • It’s no longer $50K overpriced, but it was still $50K more than we had hoped to spend. Ahh, well.
  • There’s a grapefruit tree. I like grapefruit a lot, but I can’t eat them on one of the meds I’m now taking. Bummer. Maybe someday.
  • It has a gigantic wet bar in the corner of the great room with an icemaker, a fridge, and a two-keg beer keg cooler and taps.
  • It’s painted dark gray.

So as you can tell, the pros win by a Phoenix mile. Most of the cons can be fixed. In fact, we’ve already talked to Keith’s handyman, who says he can get rid of the mirrors behind the wet bar without much trouble. Whether we should keep the wet bar itself is something I won’t know until we throw a couple of parties. Such a thing might well be handy for buffet dinners. The beer taps will have to go, though. I have a reputation to maintain.

As I’ve already told my inner circle, the real work starts now. We’re going from 4400 ft2 to 3000. I will have nothing like my 12 foot high library wall with rolling ladder. We will have to manage two houses for at least a year, while we get Phage House ready to sell. I’m already throwing stuff in boxes to give Rescued Hearts, and our trash can is getting a workout every week.

We may well keep a (small) place here in Colorado, but what and where we just can’t know yet.

As for everything else, stay tuned. I had hoped to mount several ebooks (including The Cunning Blood) before the end of July. Not going to happen, sigh. May not happen in August, either. We’ll see. But the cover art for Ten Gentle Opportunities is going to be spectacular. A novella I’m calling Fire Drill is growing in the back of my head and starting to hammer on the inside of my skull to be let out. I really really want to be a writer again. The word “triage” looms large in my near future.

Whatever. With Carol by my side and an extra-large economy-size jar of Aleve on the shelf, we can do it. Gonna be a wild ride but a good one, trust me.


  1. Mike Weasner says:

    Welcome (almost) to Arizona. Once you get settled, we look forward to having you and Carol come down to Oracle and visit Cassiopeia Observatory.

    1. Looks like about 150 miles on MapPoint. I think we can do that. You two are (or will be, once we settle in) always welcome. I’ll be pouring a permanent pier for my long-neglected 10″ Newtonian, like the one I poured at our North Scottsdale house right before we moved.

  2. TRX says:

    That pool cried out for a robot shark…

  3. great unknown says:

    If the ceilings were eight feet high, you wouldn’t have a top bar in the closet to use. So, if it’s inconvenient, just pretend the top bar doesn’t exist.

    I seem to recall an article by you about being at at poolside on a clear, extremely hot day in Phoenix, when suddenly the skies opened with a barrage of enormous hailstones – which hissed when they hit the very hot water in the pool. Hope you avoid that kind of weather.

    1. Yes indeedy–that was July 1990, and we were having a PC Techniques author party at our rented house on 10th Avenue in Phoenix. An hour after it started, 10th Avenue was a river, with pieces of wooden fence floating forlornly by. Parked cars got hammered by the hail, and our family room flooded and had to be mopped out. There were foot-high drifts of hailstones between the houses. We have DVR tapes somewhere. It was surreal.

  4. Tom Roderick says:

    Congratulations Jeff! As we say around here, “Welcome South Brother!” I know it is a bit west of “here” but the sentiment is the same. The no HOA or covenant thing is, in my opinion, a requirement for a Ham! I helped put a 4 band (40 – 1 element , 20, 15, 10) meter beam on his 55′ crank up last year. His 100 watts does some amazing things now.

    The 10 foot ceilings are something you can get use to. I grew up in a house with 14′ foot ceilings, but no insulation and at first no indoor plumbing — the ceilings never bothered me!

    1. I watched the late K7KR struggle with his antenna farm, and decided I would be happy with a ground-mounted trap vertical, like the one I had at the edge of the strawberry patch when we lived in Rochester NY in the early 1980s. It was a Hy Gain 18 AVQ, and it worked well, probably because that was the low spot on our lot, and the soil was always soaking wet. (The strawberries loved it, as did the snails that ate most of them. Mr. Byte would gladly eat both strawberries and snails during those times he got away from us and went back there.)

      I don’t know yet what I’m going to put up yet, but an HF trap vertical, a 6M ground plane, and a VHF discone are the most likely candidates. You’ll hear about it here as it happens.

  5. Gratz on finding the (almost) dream house! Phoenix is great in the winter.

  6. Bob Fegert says:

    Sounds like you are going to have fun with the new sounds great!

    I really miss the desert southwest, would love to move back some day.
    Family obligations are keeping us here in Missouri right now.

    I’m sure you checked out available internet options, does the place have fiber available?

    1. No fiber, alas. There is cable and DSL, which I have to research before we order service. (It’s high on a very long list of things I have to research in the coming few weeks before we close on the property.) I don’t stream video much, so our cable service here has always been more than adequate.

  7. wrm says:

    You need to start brewing beer. If you havn’t dabbled in that already, but if you had, you would want to keep the taps…

  8. jimf says:

    Sounds like a great place! congratulations.

  9. Bob says:

    I also think living at lower altitude is healthier. I grew up in Nogales, AZ (~3900 ft), moved to Tucson (~2700 ft) with my family to go to the UofA, then got a job in Phoenix (~1500 ft). I now live in Silicon Valley (~50 ft). I swear I felt better overall with every move down.

    I worked in Phoenix at Goodyear Aerospace in the early 1970’s. I spent a few months in the Scottsdale area spring of last year and the whole place is getting too much a Los Angeles feel for me. But you know what you are doing since you lived there before. I do hope you know what you are doing: the forecast for today Aug. 15, 2015 is 116F high and 88F low. But its dry heat. Yeah right 🙂

    1. We lived there for fourteen years, and so we know in excruciating detail what we’re getting into. In truth, it’s not that bad when you don’t have to commute in the heat. We’ll have 5/8 of an acre for the dogs to run around in, a pool big enough to do laps in, and no intrusive HOA. The elevation where we’ll be is about 1450, and my blood oxygen readings are always better there (often a LOT better) than here. The heat is manageable. It got up to 123 degrees F in the summer of 1996, and we had to shut the company down for a couple of days because the crotchety old AC units couldn’t keep the place livable. As long as you don’t have to drive and park your car in the sun, it’s ok. We’re very much looking forward to it. I miss swimming pools.

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