Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image


Dead Rat and Squid - 500 Wide.jpg

We had another estimator come out today for the move. After she was gone, once again Carol and I collapsed on the couch and didn’t say much for awhile. The reason is interesting: After working on this move for as long as we have (and with about 150 boxes stacked up to prove it) we get worn out thinking about how much we still have to do. We’re going to drive down to Phoenix in November with a small U-Haul trailer and no dogs, to make sure all the work on the new house was completed and done correctly. Then we fly back and kick into high gear on packing in preparation for a December move.

A fair amount of stuff will remain in this house so that we can come back in the spring to finish repairs and stage it for sale. That will take a couple of months, and we’ll have to have the ordinary machineries of life available while we work: clothes, a bed, a kitchen table, a coffee maker, a couch, kitchen implements, etc. Resistors and capacitors, not so much. So we’ll need to have a second (much smaller) truck bring down what’s left when the house goes on the market.

Among (many) other things, we packed the stuffed animals today. Some people have knicknacks (and we have our share) but a lot of the odd items on our shelves are stuffed animals. Not all are animals; I have a stuffed Space Shuttle, created by my very brilliant seamstress sister Gretchen Duntemann Roper. Decades ago, in the Age of APAs (google it; blogging didn’t come out of nowhere) I wrote an APA called “A Dead Rat and a String to Swing It On.” So she made me a dead rat, complete with a string to swing it on. (Above.) Nearby was the closest thing to an action figure that I own: a giant squid with posable (is that the word?) tentacles. I’ve never actually handled a dead squid and it’s not on my bucket list, exactly, but I’m wondering how well one would hang together if swung in a circle by one of its long feelers. (I suppose it depends on how long it had been dead.) However, someday, perhaps in some saga I have not yet imagined writing, somebody will grab a giant squid by a tentacle and swing it in a brawl. The image smells a little like a Stypek story back in his ancestral Realm of Tryngg, but no promises.

A book came to hand on its way to a box today that I think I’ve mentioned before: Conjuror’s Journal by Frances L. Shine. (Dodd-Mead, 1978.) I see that numerous hardcovers are available on Amazon for 10c plus shipping. Read the first review of the book, which is mine. If you want a quick, cheap read that will, at the end, both bring tears to your eyes and make you want to stand up and cheer, this is it.

Tomorrow is Halloween, and we’re having our first and last Halloween nerd party here at Phage House in Colorado Springs. I’m of way more than two minds about leaving here, but the little box I just clipped to my finger says my blood oxygen is at 88%. Better than nothing…but it’s not enough. And so the move goes on.


  1. Tom Roderick says:

    When I read your last paragraph I realized I had no idea of how high Colorado Springs is!

    I knew Denver was called the Mile High city, but Colorado Springs has it beat. Phoenix, however, is down at close to the same altitude I am at just about 1,000 feet. I am sure that will make some difference Jeff. So, not only welcome south for the winters, but welcome down to denser air!

    1. We’re actually on the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain, and the Daft Logic altitude app puts us at 6,500 feet. Downtown Colorado Springs is about 500 feet lower. Our old house at the far north end of Scottsdale (up near Cave Creek) back in the ’90s was at 2167. The new house is a good ways south of that, and Daft says 1400. The Daft app is cool and I keep forgetting to put it in an Odd Lots:

  2. Rich Rostrom says:

    Ah, the age of APAs I remember your zines – before Dead Rat, you had Grin Without a Cat, with a logo drawn by Phil Foglio IIRC.

    1. You recall right. I don’t remember why I changed the name, to be honest. I had all my APAs in a cardboard box on the floor of my shop building in Scottsdale, and the termites got into it some time in 1996. The whole box went into the trash can, and none of them have survived.

  3. RH in CT says:

    Did you notice that there is a 2nd book by Francis Shine on Amazon?

    Johnny Noon

    1. Yes. It was her third and last novel. Kirkus reviewed it well, though I haven’t read it. Her first novel was The Life Adjustment of Harry Blake, which I read about ten years ago and found that it came close to making no sense at all. Kirkus basically mocked it:

  4. Thomas Bridgeland says:

    88%! In the hospital we apply supplemental O2 when the patients get that low. Do you feel faint if you stand up suddenly? Try deep breathing.

    1. I get winded walking up stairs–and hills, of which there are many here. Deep breathing is pretty much how I get back on track. My pulsox has reported O2 levels as low as 77%, and when it gets that low, I feel it.

      I do a lot better in Phoenix (1400 feet ASL) and that’s a major reason we’re moving there. Oxygen readings stay above 90%, generally in the 93%-96% range, and I’m good with that. Also, we bought a midcentury ranch, which has no stairs.

      Breathe, or breathe not. There is no try.

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