The Devil Queen

How my wife and I sold our souls to the Queen Anne Victorian we tried to save.

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Location: Crow Mountain, Arkansas, United States

Synopsis: This is a cautionary tale. A seriously disturbed couple find the charming, old ruin of a Queen Anne Victorian in Russellville, Arkansas, and buy it for $1.00. They tore the roof off, cut it in half, and had it moved to some land they owned sixteen miles away because they didn't know any better. Since then, they have hired and fired contractors, had all of their tools stolen, re-wired, re-plumbed, insulated, and essentially rebuilt the entire house. Their only problem is that after four years it still isn't finished. Now they are tired, broke, and wonder what in the hell it is they've done to themselves. And, it's haunted.
(Last updated on April 3, 2008)

Press: Russellville Courier Article - December 2003, HGTV website article, AP story - October 2006, and Victorian Homes Magazine - February 2008 (link coming soon).
Art: From time to time, I receive requests for my art. If you would like to look at more of my art, go to The Failed Artist. If you would like to buy my art, email me. I am more than happy to answer any questions you might have. Thanks!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bring Out the Gimp

The older I get, the more I believe that I am my own nemesis. Somehow, I am subconsciously hell bent on my own destruction.

Thanksgiving came and went without too much fanfare. Visited with family, gorged on rich, fatty food, and, at the end of the day, fell into bed in a bloated, semi-comatose state.

Friday I went to the Queen to kick some serious home improvement ass. My goal for the remaining three days of holiday weekend were: strip down & refinish the claw-foot tub, sand-stain-seal the master bathroom floor, and enclose more of the crawlspace.

I started with the tub. We'd recently acquired a new, high-pressure nozzle for the pressure washer, and I was eager to try it out. It is a rotating, high-pressure nozzle (click here for a picture) that produces 3500 psi. I figured this would do a great job on the tub. I was right, sort of. The pressure washer completely stripped the paint from one side of the tub in a matter of seconds. The paint on the other side of the tub was very resilient. They must have done a better job of priming and sealing it I guess. After about 15 minutes of blasting away at it, I gave up. A few sections reluctantly surrendered their paint, but I wasn't making any real progress.

My backup plan was a wire-brush grinding wheel attachment for a drill. I got our one corded drill, attached the grinder, and got to work.

The grinder worked well. I was working on the tight spot under the lip of the tub when my laziness and stupidity paid off.

It was fairly cold Friday, and I had bundled up for the pressure washing. Nothing like getting soaked with water on a brisk autumn day, right? I put on a cheap, plastic poncho and a pair of plastic dishwasher gloves worn over a pair of knit gloves to waterproof myself. Yes, I looked like a total dork, but, after a life time of experience, you become inured to these sort of fashion gaffes. For whatever it is worth, my retarded fisherman outwear worked really well. When I moved on to the grinder the poncho and rubber gloves came off. Since it was cold, I absentmindedly (willing negligence?) left my knit gloves on. This was mistake number one.

As I worked the grinder-brush up under the tub lip, it bent back the bristles in such a manner that they snagged the knit glove on my left hand. I think you see where this is going now (had I worn leather work-gloves, the following never would have occurred).

It happened so fast that an accurate description isn't really possible. I think the grinder brush caught the fabric on the back of my hand between my thumb and index finger. This pulled the whole drill over towards the back of my hand bringing my thumb with it. The only thing holding it in check were the four fingers of my left hand. The glove's finger tips had also caught on the bristles pulling the glove most of the way off (not all the way, my fingers were wadded into a ball inside the palm of the glove) and were wrapped around the shaft of the grinder. This brought the drill's movement over my hand to a stop, sort of.

Mistake number two. This drill has convenient feature that allows you to lock the trigger down in the "on" position. Since I'd been grinding for over an hour, I'd gotten tired of constantly squeezing down the trigger, so I locked it down. When my accident happened the motor just kept humming. As soon as I felt the brush grip on my hand, I reflexively released my grip on the handle. Normally, the drill would have stopped at this point if the trigger hadn't been locked down. Since it was, the correct procedure to unlock it is to squeeze the trigger and then release. It took me a couple of desperate grabs to get the damn thing shut off.

At times like this, it's funny how the mind works. As one part of my mind calm works at turning off the drill and untangling my hand, there is someone else that is also me yelling, cussing, and jumping around. Odd.

Once I've freed my hand and thrown the drill, I'm rolling around on the ground with my left hand cradled close to my chest. As I'm doing this, the detached part of my mind is keeping up a constant monologue. Damn idiot, you knew better. Look what you've done to yourself. Moron.

And then I start laughing between moans. I'm picturing what this scene would look like to another person. Here, in the middle of nowhere, is a man wearing a storm-trooper respirator mask, goggles, and sound muffling earmuffs, flopping around like a trout freshly pulled from a stream. In a schadenfreude sort of way, it's hysterical.

Finally, I drag myself to a lawn chair and examine my hand. While I am not a medical professional, I come to the conclusion that I haven't broken any bones. I do decide that I've probably pulled, strained, or bruised ever bit of soft tissue in my left hand. Nice.
Delusional, I sit there for twenty minutes hoping that I'll feel well enough to finish the tub. It doesn't happens.

I'm supposed to meet my wife in Russellville at 3 PM, but I decided to head home first. I manage to put everything away with my right hand, which was quite a chore. Once I get home, I shower and put on some nice clothes.

My wife does a double take when I get out of the car and then looks suspicious.

"You're awfully dressed up. Are we going somewhere special?" she asks.

"Well, I was hoping that if I looked nice you'd stay with me for my dashing good looks even though I'm a moron."

She laughs. "What?"

Then I showed her my hand.

"John! I'm going to kill you."

Since I don't have smarts or money, I must look better than I think because she's still with me.

You’re probably thinking, "Wow, what a total moron!" (Correct) or "What a crappy Friday!" (Also correct), but the weekend gets even worse. Some people are born with Fortune's favor, but I was born with a lightning rod strapped to my ass.

However, the ache in my hand tells me that the rest of the story will have to come later. Sorry y'all.


Blogger Greg said...

Yikes! That reminds me of 9th Grade shop class. My friend John had hair half way down his back. He was using the drill press when all of the sudden it snagged his hair. It pulled his head right in to the housing with a clang and then ripped out a good chuck of his scalp. Watching that happen has saved me from making a lot of painful mistakes.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Carol said...

My you are the literate one! I enjoy your use of the English language. Are you really FROM Arkansas????? I have never read the word 'schadenfreude' in a blog. My other favorite german word for which there is no English substitute are 'weltschmerz' which roughly translates to 'world pain' (which you may have), or more exactly "mental depression or apathy caused by comparison of the actual state of the world with an ideal state". Which could be the ideal house in your mind.
Keep up the good blogging.


3:55 PM  
Blogger Patricia W said...

I'm very sorry you were injured but I can't stop laughing :), your deptiction is hilarious and the get-up you had on reminds me alot of how I look when doing home improvement work. Sometimes you just don't care as long as you achieve the results you were looking for.

On the tub, my clawfoot is the same way. I think it has something to do with one side of the tub being exposed and having water run down only one side when people get in and out of it. The paint came right off of one side while the other side was difficult to remove.

4:58 AM  
Blogger John said...


First, thank you. I'm flattered.

Second, I'm reluctant to admit it, but, in truth, I'm damn Yankee.

However, I've lived in Arkansas for over 20 years, and I'm entirely a product of the state's public schools and a private, in-state college.

My wife is far better educated than me, and she's a native.

There are quite a few literate sons and daughters of the state, but most of them leave home to make a living.

And, Danke for reminding me of that lovely word, weltschmertz. Very applicable to our situation I think.

Eskimos have 37 (?) different words for snow, while the Germans seem to have just as many for suffering. God bless those tortured souls.

1:55 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

Schadenfreude is one of my favorite words, and I'm from Alabama! :)

Sorry to hear about your gimpy hand. It sounds like precisely the sort of accident Darwin would warn me about ahead of time, but I would ignore him and gimp up my hand anyway.

10:30 AM  

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