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!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

The "Girly Hand" and Much Ado About Nothing

I haven't been feeling well today (nothing to do with the gimpy hand), so I hope this post is reasonably coherent. Also, sorry for the utter lack of photos. Our cheap digital camera has evaporated. The Mrs. and I are talking about buying another one soon if it doesn't materialize. I've provided a short version for your convenience and long one for those who like all the torrid details.

The Short Version

I am a retard. My wife thinks I'm a retard. People make fun of me because I'm a retard. We didn't get much work done on the Queen. It rained a lot. We were nearly hit by a couple tornadoes. We went home and went to bed.

The Long Version

Saturday, we didn't work on the Queen. I couldn't work, our babysitter was out, and we were all tired anyhow. It wouldn't have been too bad of a day except that I was grumpy because I'd mashed my hand and my wife was miffed for the same reason.

The worst part of doing something stupid and injuring yourself is that you don't get any sympathy. When my wife was possessed by Satan and burned a mountain of poison oak in California, I swelled up like an over-ripe fruit. I looked gene-therapy-gone-bad, and I got a lot of sympathy. That was nice. Mutilate yourself with a drill and all you hear is stuff like "dumb ass," "I'm going to kill you," "what were you thinking," and laughter in general.

And, since you screwed yourself royally, you have to take all the ridicule. I mean, what is a good come back? "Leave me alone, at least it wasn't the miter saw!" Instead of confessing the whole thing, I should have made up a story about fending off a crazed wildebeest or pulling a family of four out of a burning car. Thinking on my feet has never been my strong suit.

This all should go a long way to explain why I never, ever drink while working on the Queen. I know some folks like cracking open a cold one while they scrape wallpaper or paint the living room, but not me. I know there is an excellent chance that a pint of stout plus scraping wallpaper will end with me being identified by my dental records.

For the first couple of days after the incident, I walked around doing my Napoleon impression, my left hand held close to my stomach or chest to keep it from thumping into things. My wife and mother-in-law started calling it my "girly hand," since I look fruity with it tucked close.

Can you feel the love?

Sunday, we were determined to make some progress. We charged up to the Queen and went to work. Jack decides to come along too (something about wiring in the kitchen). My "girly hand" and I (coked up on ibuprofen) were sent to do some sanding in the master bathroom while my wife took on the claw foot tub. She finished sanding it down without incident and began priming it. Things were looking good when it begins raining. I help her haul a piece of backerboard over the tub and drape a tattered tarp over that.

Frustrated but still determined my wife comes inside to help with the sanding. She quickly decides the belt sander is the Devil. The obvious solution is that I drive down to my in-laws to borrow their palm sander. I'm more than willing to go at this point, the Mrs. is in one of her moods. It's safer to humor her at this point.

As I'm driving across the top of Crow Mountain, I notice the grey clouds have become inky black. As they drop low, trailing wispy tendrils I decide that it looks a lot like a wall cloud. That is never good. By the time I get to Atkins, the police are slowly cruising the streets with their warning siren playing. The wind is really picking up, so I gun it for my in-laws.

When I get there, my mother in-law comes out and says, "Where is everyone else?"

"What do you mean? I just came for your palm sander and some turkey sandwiches."

"The palm sander is on the porch, but come look at this," she says walking me in to the house and over to her computer. She has the National Weather Service online and there is an ugly storm front cutting across the state. It is sitting right on top of Atkins.

We watch the weather for about 15 minutes. A tornado over in Yell County is predicted to hit Atkins at 5:51 PM. It's 5:10 PM. I get back in the car and head up to the Queen to tell everyone it is time to leave. It takes me forever to get there. The weather is getting worse, but what really slows me down is a fire truck. I don't know what they were doing, prepositioning themselves for the storm? Their sirens aren't on and they are crawling along at 35 mph. After an eternity, I manage to pass them.

I get to the Queen and come running in (palm sander in hand). My wife is sitting on the master bath floor. She looks sour. "Where have you been? You've been gone for nearly an hour."

"We need to leave now. There is a tornado on its way here. Where's Jack?"

We lock the Queen up and drive off into the storm. We ride it out at my in-laws and head home after it passes.

But, the worst news was yet to come. I didn't hear about it until I got to work Monday. My favorite liquor store in Blackwell, Arkansas, was destroyed. A tornado hit it dead on doing over a million dollars in damages (I'm guess that was mostly inventory, the building was crap). The crappy liquor store that caters to the frat-boy crowd on the other side of the interstate survived unscathed.

So, that was my great three-day work weekend. I lost my thumb (sort of), my pride (all of it, for good), and my favorite liquor store, and all I have to show for it is a sanded down tub and a half sanded floor.



Blogger derek said...

Man, I usually get more sympathy than that, even if I do something stupid. Well at least you didn't hurt yourself too bad. My father in law is missing some fingers from a radial arm saw accident, so I always try to take all the safety precautions I can. I had the table saw kick back on me in high school, made a perfect arc on the bottom on the piece I was cutting. Be safe.

5:26 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

You are so funny, John, even in the face of such adversity. :) I'm very sorry to hear about the liquor store. A good liquor store, like a good man, is hard to find.

10:35 AM  

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