The Devil Queen

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

My Photo
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!

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Butt Munch Principle

The Butt Munch Principle: the well established scientific principle which states that there is always someone, somewhere doing something that will make your life more difficult than it conceivably should be. It bears some similarity to Chaos Theory except that the Butt Munch Principle functions with more stupidity and/or malice (think 300 pound moron with a sledge hammer vs. a butterfly flapping its wings in the Amazon).

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'm a Bad, Bad Boy

I had a great Christmas, the best I can remember in a long time, but I didn’t do jack on the Devil Queen. I don’t know how it happened. I just woke up one morning and it was time to go back to the office. I'm a very bad boy.

For the first time, we hosted Christmas at our house. As the resident food-whore, I was a one man cooking machine. My idea of living on the edge is inviting a dozen people over and preparing a menu full of dishes I’ve never made before. Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas brunch are my life in microcosm. It pretty well tells you how I ended up with a decrepit 115 year old house with no construction experience. I seem thrive under conditions that seem to preordain failure.

On this occasion, I succeed in spite of the odds. There were no fires or explosions (my mother-in-law has burned down two kitchens to date, so this could have really happened), and I successfully incorporated 2 ½ pounds of butter into two meals. How can you go wrong when you cook with that much butter? It went so well we’ve decided to tempt Fate and try it again next year.

I wracked up an unbelievable mountain of loot, but I’m a little scared. My wife really went all out and buried me in some awesome Christmas gifts. I love them, but I’m worried that she’s trying to prepare me for some bad news. As close as I can figure, it’s probably one of the following:

1) I am not the father of her child.
2) She’s having an affair with a younger, smarter, richer man.
3) After nearly seven years of marriage, she’s decided that she’s a lesbian.

On the upside, I don’t think she’s bought any more old houses for us to fix up. At this point, I think I’d cry if she did that.

My dad gave me an awesome home improvement book by George Nash entitled, Renovating Old Houses. I haven’t had a chance to dig into it, but a quick perusal provided answers to two long standing questions I had. The chapter on foundations alone is enough to justify buying this baby. If you have an old home or you’re thinking about buying one, get this book. It’s cheaper than fixing any one of the 1001 mistakes you can make while working on an old home. It’ll pay for itself.

My wife got a cool book, New Orleans Then and Now, by Richard and Marina Campanella. It’s probably a little out of date after what Katrina did to N.O., but it’s still a very interesting book. The book has photos of prominent buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries, and photos of how the building or their sites looked in the late 1990’s. It strange what buildings survived and which didn’t, and it’s depressing how much was deliberately destroyed from 1930-1970. Still, it has lots of great photos and architecture. If you’re interested in New Orleans, check it out.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Black Beast of Christmas

I’m nervous.

As an adult, Christmas has been a tribulation: Plague and pestilence (the year my sister brought the Norwalk virus home from Boston is particularly memorable), financial disaster, and a logistical nightmare iced with guilt, arguments, and ill will. For me, Christmas is a Black Beast, my own personal Grendal.

For the first time in years, I’m getting into the Christmas spirit. I think I may have evaded the Black Beast of Christmas. It just doesn’t seem possible. When things start looking good, I get anxious. I know that it’s just there to distract me from whatever doom is barreling down the road at me from the other direction. It’s hard to enjoy things when you’re always looking over your shoulder.

I’m still trying to sort out why this year seems different.

The first good omen was the bottle of Crown Royal I got at the company Christmas party. Normally, it is a white elephant gift affair, but this year I got the best gift with out a doubt. The dark was illuminated by a beam of pure, white light. I saw the light, and it was good.

What I’m really excited about is that the “official” family Christmas will be held at our house (not the Devil Queen, but our Smurf Blue House).

My wife and I both have divorced parents, three of which have remarried. This makes for a precarious juggling act. Divorced parents are volatile chemicals. If mixed in the wrong combination, a fatal explosion can occur. As part of out juggling act, we have traveled over 300 miles on Christmas Day in years past. By the end of it, we’re both tired and in foul mood. We spend the whole day worrying about getting to the next place on time, so we never relax or enjoy ourselves much.

Apparently, this juggling act isn’t all that uncommon, check out Opinionistas’ entry about it here. I don’t think I could say it better myself.

Not this year. Since our son is the first and only grandchild for everyone involved, we have a lot of leverage. He’s a massive sun pulling all the planets and space junk into his irresistible orbit. They didn’t stand a chance.

On a more somber note, a lot of the traditional Christmas traditions of my family and my wife’s family have fallen into disarray over the last few years. Since my grandmother died, my family has lacked its center of gravity. My wife’s grandmother hasn’t been in the best of health so no one wants to burden her with Christmas at her house. My mother-in-law has had a hard year, and her heart isn’t really in it. Our Christmas is an arc for refuges of Christmas past.

In any case, it should be an interesting Christmas. And, like any hopeless house whore, I'm already trying to figure out how much time I can devote to the Queen over the 5 day weekend. I'm a sad, sick bastard.

I'll be off with family and working on the Queen for the next few days, so no new posts until Wednesday. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and wonderful holiday weekend.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Balls of Solid Brass

When the Devil Queen first came to roost at Houseblogs, there was a small community of about 50 other blogs already there. Over the last seven or eight months, the number of housebloggers has swelled to 165 as of today. Personally, I think this is pretty cool, but it has a downside. Mainly, there are more houseblogs than I can reasonably expect to keep up with. I’d have to sell my house, quit my job, and leave my wife to devote my full time to reading houseblogs. Nothing personal, but I just don’t see that happening.

However, I had a few spare minutes at lunch today, and I perused through some of the new additions to the neighborhood and found this and this.

My question is, how in the hell did no one notice this before? I mean holy fuck, a missile silo! Wow. Talk about balls of solid brass. And I thought moving and restoring the Devil Queen was an insanely ambitious challenge. It sounds as easy as tying your shoes by comparison.

Fitz, as one crazy person to another, you are completely and total insane. You have my utmost and undying respect. I wish you the best of luck. I know you’ll need it.

I’m not even sure where you’d begin on a project like this. I’d guess pumping the 100 some-odd foot deep water out of the main silo would be a good start.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Living Room Floor Mystery

The Devil Queen’s previous owners did a number of strange, ugly, and unfortunate things to her. However, no matter how bad their taste was they always had a reason for what they did, until now. Perhaps this is an overstatement. I’m guessing there was a reason, but I can’t figure out what it is.

In the living room, there was what appeared to be a patch in the floor. It looked like someone had nailed a piece of tin (approximately 9x12 inches) to the floor. I’d assumed that it was there to plug a hole in the floor. While I was crawling around under the Queen working on the fireplace, I took a closer look. From the underside of the floor, there are no obvious holes. Perplexed, I went up into the house and took a closer look.

The tin patch was actually a very old piece of tarpaper (old enough that the carpet tacks had been laid over it) tacked down to the floor. I pulled it up only to find a piece of tin. It too was tacked to the floor though it was smaller in size, approximately 6x9 inches. I pulled it up and found nothing. No holes, no rot, no gouges, no nothing. It was just wood flooring. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. But, it is weird.

I keep thinking that I missed something. The lighting in that corner isn’t too good, maybe I’ll see something if I drag in the halogen light? I doubt it though.

There is another one just like it in the master bedroom too. Does anyone have a clue what these “patches” are?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Urine, Because It's Funny: The 2004 Dumbass Award Winner

The holidays are a stressful time for many folks. The newspaper my wife works for keeps someone in the newsroom over the holidays to cover the seasonal increase in obituaries. A cheerful thought, no?

To ease some of the holiday stress, I offer the story of the 2004 Dumbass Award Winner.

The 2004 winner was Charlie, my wife’s grandfather. Charlie is retired, but he occasionally works at a flower shop in Morrilton, Arkansas. Morrilton is about 15-20 minutes away from Atkins, so it isn’t much of a drive. Charlie also had the distinct pleasure of making this drive in his new Volkswagen Beetle. It’s a nice car, nothing like the old, classic VW Beetles. It has air conditioning, seat warmers, a CD player, and a lot of bells and whistles the old one never had. And, it’s a turbo diesel, which means it gets over 40 miles per gallon. The only thing I have against it is that it is an automatic transmission. Still, it’s a nicer car than mine by far.

One night while driving home from the flower shop, Charlie was over come with an incredible urge to pee. I don’t know much about geriatric medicine, but I’ve heard that bladder control becomes a bigger issue as people get older. This is one of the many reasons why I think being eaten alive by a pack of hyenas when I’m 50 may not be such a bad thing. Call me vain, but I really don’t want to die in a diaper.

Anyhow, for whatever reason, Charlie didn’t want to go back to the flower shop to use the bathroom. He didn’t want to go to one of the gas stations he’d just passed either. He was very anxious to get home. Could he hold it? He didn’t think so.

In a fit of inspiration, Charlie pulled into a self-service carwash just off the road. No one was around and it was getting dark. So, you’re thinking he circled around to the back, found a wall that hid him from view, and relieved himself. Nope. That would have been too easy.

Instead, he circled around to the back of the car wash and parked by one of the trashcans. He got out of the car and fished a large, big-gulp styrophome cup out of the trashcan. Then, he went back to the privacy of his car, got in, and relieved himself in the styrophome cup. Everything was going well, or so it seemed (I’m still wondering what he planned to do with that cup of steaming hot urine).

About the time he was finishing, he noticed that the driver’s seat was getting really warm. He briefly wondered if there was something wrong with the seat warmer, and then he noticed the hole in the cup. It was small, but it managed to drain the whole cup onto the driver’s seat before he was finished.

Charlie, not left with any other good options, drove home in his brand new car soaked in piss. So, how did we find out about this? Charlie, unlike some previous winners of the award, did not rat himself out. His wife did.

All of his cunning could not conceal the urine soaked pants, the bucket of soapy water, and the hour spent scrubbing out the driver’s seat of his new car. His wife knows and sees all.

After the voting confirmed Charlie as the 2004 winner, he complained to my wife that he didn’t think that he deserved the award.

“I don’t think I should have won. I mean, Debbie drove to Chicago instead of Arkansas on her way home from Kentucky. That is a lot worse.”

“True,” my wife said, ‘But urine is just funny. You can’t beat urine.”

A Qualified Success

This weekend was a success, I think. The front bedroom floor is solid and level for the first time in God knows how long. The gaping hole for the fireplace-that-never-was is sealed. Well, 95% sealed.

When I started this project, I thought it would be a relatively quick job. Frame in the 4 ft. x 6 ft. hole, lay a sheet of ¾ inch plywood, and voila! Easy, right? Nope. Nothing is ever easy. I think I spent more time fixing the sagging floor than I did framing in the hole.

The Devil Queen has huge, true 2x10 joists for her floors. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any 2x10’s, old or modern, in my salvage piles. Instead, I reluctantly used 2x6’s. I spaced them on 12” centers to make up for their smaller size. I probably over-built the framing, but I prefer that to the alternative: under-built floor caves in sending the wood burning stove, full of red-hot embers, crashing through the floor in the middle of the night. What can I say? I’m an optimist.

Once I finished framing in everything, I figured laying the plywood would be a cake-walk. The problem was I couldn’t find a single 4’ x 8’ sheet of ¾ inch plywood. Apparently, Tony Anderson used them all up when he was working on the hall floor. Fortunately, there were a lot of scraps available, but they were all the wrong size. The smallest span of plywood I am willing to use is 24 inches. Most of the scraps are 23 to 23 ¼ inches long. This leaves me with a hell of a puzzle. So far I’ve manage to lay about 75% of the plywood without having to double up any of the 2x6’s to make-up the difference.

I probably could have puzzled out that last 29 x 36 inch section, but it was getting late. I was tired and starting to make stupid mistakes. I have one board that could conceivably fill this gap in one go. I did not want to mess it up because I was too tired to make a good measurement or cut.

Besides, the Devil Queen is creepy as hell when the sun goes down. My wife’s best friend grew up less than a quarter of a mile from the Queen. She still maintains to this day that the woods around the Queen are haunted. According to her no one in their right mind would be out in the woods at night. It sounds a bit melodramatic, but maybe she’s right.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The 2005 Dumbass Award Winner

Since Vanessa (and Nightmare on Elm Street) asked, here it is.

This year my mother-in-law, Fidget, won the Dumbass Award.

My mother-in-law lives on 100 acres of woods on the side of Crow Mountain. Her house is built on a broad shelf of rock sticking out of the mountain. The land directly behind the house climbs up toward the sky, and the land in front plunges into a deep gorge.

Fidget has three dogs and three cats. On the whole, they all get along just fine. There isn’t any of that interspecies animosity so prevalent elsewhere. The third cat, Pansy, was a new addition to menagerie. She is a tiny black Persian; she can’t weigh more than two or three pounds at the most. She is also entirely declawed. As with every Persian cat I’ve met, Pansy isn’t quite right in the head. Think Ed, the Hyena, from the Lion King. Since she’s “kind of squirrelly,” Pansy was being kept inside so she could acclimate to her new home and the dogs. I should mention that the dogs are kept outside and the cats are indoor-outdoor pets.

One fine day this spring, Fidget was home alone. She was enjoying the quiet and cleaning house. Everything was good.

Then she went to let Pugsley, one of the other cats, into the house. Pansy ran out as Pugsley came in. Fidget tried closing the door, but couldn’t without closing it on the cats. Pansy was out and away.

Pansy hadn’t been outside in several months. Apparently, her master plan didn’t account for what she ought to do once her escape was complete. She darted around unsure of what she should do. The two youngest dogs, huge 100+ pound creatures, were very interested in the new cat. Curious, they started following her around. They didn’t growl, snap at, or chase Pansy. They simple followed a few paces behind her.

Pansy was freaked out. She ran down the mountain and deeper into the woods. The dogs followed. She picked up her pace, and they matched hers. It escalated. Soon they were following Pansy at a dead run down into the gorge.

Fidget followed after them. As soon as Pansy bolted out the door, Fidget gave chase. Unfortunately, she didn’t manage to catch Pansy. She was worried the dogs might get caught up in the chase and forget the, “Thou shant eat the house cat” commandment, so she grabbed an old paint roller on the way out the door. She was going to use it to beat the dogs if the need arose. I might also add that Fidget was barefoot.

Fidget didn’t catch up with Pansy until they got to the bottom of the gorge. By then the little Persian was bug-eyed and frenzied. With some difficulty, Fidget grabbed Pansy by the scruff of her neck and picked her up. That’s when the cat attacked.

The two-pound titan locked a Kung-Fu death grip on Fidget’s face with the only thing she had, her teeth. It seems Pansy hit something juicy because blood went everywhere. Her top two teeth went in Fidget’s check just above the jaw line, and the bottom teeth went in just below it. Fidget later said the only thing she could think was, “The cat hit my jugular, I’m going to die, and no one is going to find my body down here. The dogs are going to eat me.”

Fortunately, Pansy quickly released her death grip. Fidget wrestled the cat away from her face while maintaining her grip on the scruff of Pansy’s neck. She then did the only thing someone in her situation could do, she stripped off her house dress. She somehow managed to stuff the cat into the dress and tied it off like a sack.

Since Fidget had gone “commando” that day, she was now naked, blood streaked, toting a cat tied in a dress, and fending off two dogs with a paint roller as they tried to nose her private parts. And, after all that, she still had to hike her way out of the gorge while barefoot.

When she got back to the house, she locked Pansy in the pantry and called the vet. She wanted to see if he had any advice about treating cat bites. To the best of my knowledge, she never called or went to the doctor.

I’ve know people that have walked away from traffic accidents that looked better than she did. The left side of her face swelled and turned yellow. The only exception was the purple-red whelp and four tiny, bloody holes. The iodine stains didn’t make it look any better. We’re talking about some serious, fugly damage. The first time I saw her, I was shocked.

Me: “My God, what happened to you?! Are you okay?”

Fidget: “I’m okay, really it looks worse than it feels.”

Me: “What happened?” At this point I’m still thinking car wreck or a serious brawl.

Fidget: “I was attached by Pansy.” She looks abashed.

Me: “Pansy?! Pansy did that to you?” Fidget tells me the story and I nearly die laughing.

Even Jack, her husband, thought it was pretty bad. Having spent six years in the Navy and being a man in general, Jack has a high threshold for gross things. Not much bothers him, but, when Fidget pressed the inside of her check with her tongue and stream of puss sprayed out of her face, he nearly stroked out.

And, as if this wasn’t bad enough, Fidget had a similar experience two or three years ago. The particulars were different, but the gist of the story is running through woods to break up an animals chase can only end badly. Without going into too much detail, this episode ended with her laying naked in the woods at night with a broken toe, a bloody dog, and a dead raccoon.

The general consensus was she should have known better, so she won.

Can you see where pulling your thumb off with a drill & grinder attachment might not rate in this family?

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

The Dumbass Award

God bless them, my in-laws are some of the oddest people I know.

I know every family is peculiar in its own fashion, but I’ve never met a group of people this colorful. For instance, every Thanksgiving they award some lucky family member the Dumbass Award. They even have a plaque on which the winner’s name is inscribed every year. This tradition started about five years ago. I forget what exactly made them decide to do this. It probably went something like this:

“I can’t believe Relative-X actually did that! What was he thinking?”

“I don’t know, but he should get an award for it.”

“Hey, you’re right. Lets make one!”

After Thanksgiving dinner, everyone gathers around and the nomination process begins. Without fail the stories are hilarious and 100% true. After all the nominations are made, a vote is taken and the winner is named.

So far, I haven’t won the award. However, I am sure that I will be nominated next Thanksgiving for the whole tearing my thumb off incident. On the other hand, I’m almost certain that I won’t win. The competition is very stiff. For instance, my wife’s cousin was driving home to Arkansas from Paducah, Kentucky a couple of years ago. She didn’t realize she’d taken the wrong interstate until she ended up in Chicago. And, she didn’t even win the award that year.

I mention this because I thought it might explain my families’ apparent lack of sympathy after my thumb accident. In this post (The Girly-Hand), Derek commented that, “Man, I usually get more sympathy than that, even if I do something stupid.”

The maternal side of my wife’s family is Scot-Irish, and, until a couple generations ago, they were poor, miserable sharecroppers and cotton pickers. For those of you who have read Grisham’s book, The Painted House, they are the hill-people, literally (my wife’s grandmother recognizes most of the families portrayed in the book). I think all the generations spent at the bottom of the economic ladder colored their view of the world. In short, their life philosophy is, “Life is pain.” Since there isn’t anything you can do about it, you might as well laugh at it. Only the weak cry.

So, if you injure yourself, they’re going to make fun of you once it becomes evident that you aren’t going to die. Really, you have a lot more to worry about if they don’t make fun of you. It would mean that 1) they don’t like you, 2) they thought you were going to die, or 3) both.

I’m feeling a little impish today. Not that it has anything in particular to do with the Queen or houses in general, but I may start posting some of the winning Dumbass Award stories. Everyone needs a laugh now and then. Interested? Let me know.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


One of my coworkers steered me to this site, If you like any of the cartoons that appear on the Devil Queen, you can buy copies of them as postcards, t-shirts, prints, etc here.

Sorry for the limited selection. You have to sign up and pay for premium membership to get the full range of options. Since I have no idea if anyone would actually buy any of this stuff, I’m reluctant to spend money I don’t have. If there is something you’d like to buy, I can juggle the options around some (basically rotating the items around on demand).

And, if anyone has information on the Sims or Combs families (1830-1930) of eastern Kentucky or the Cherokee of Kentucky, please let me know. Email me at Thanks!

Mending My Ways

My sister called this weekend. We’ve both been busy, so it had been a while.

“Bro, you haven’t been posting much on the blog. I check everyday but there hasn’t been much lately. What’s up?”

This is an excellent question. Mostly, I’ve been very busy, injured, and bedeviled by a series of plagues. A lot is going on, but it hasn’t had too much to do with the Queen lately. In fact, I’m starting to get anxious because so little has gotten done since the weekend I tore my thumb off and the tornadoes came through.

I’ve been milking that lame hand excuse for a couple of weeks now, so it’s time for me to get off my ass and get back to work. If nothing else, I have the blog to consider.

Since everyone in my family is now sick or recovering (wife – recovering, son – ill, in-laws – sick & recovering), I went up to the Queen alone to work on closing in the hole in the floor where the fireplace use to be.

As you would expect, the first thing I did was find something else I needed to fix first. As part of the process, I spent a lot time laying in the shallow end of the crawlspace pondering out my problem. It was almost cozy with the halogen lamp and all that shiny, new ductwork. I took or tried taking several pictures with our new camera, but I’m having trouble downloading the images. So, you’re stuck with my long, confusing explanation instead.

My problem is two fold. First, the closet addition to the room sucks ass. Second, the front bedroom’s floor has settled and/or pulled away from the interior wall which houses the fireplace and closet.

The problem with the floor is pretty obvious. If you stand close to the wall and look down at the trim, you can see into the crawlspace. The floor is also very springy, particularly close to the fireplace. At first I thought I’d have to jack up the floor, brace it, and maybe add a couple of piers, but I was wrong.

If you are standing in the front bedroom facing the fireplace, the floor joist run from left to right across the room. As such, the floor boards are laid perpendicularly to the joists or front to back if you rather. From what I can tell, the room has been deformed by the bedroom’s front wall being pulled forward away from the back wall housing the fireplace. This has pulled the end of every floor board loose from the joist next to the wall. This means that the last 16 or so inches of the floor is just floating in air. If you got someone big enough to jump up and down on them, they’d go straight through. Lovely.

The solution seems simple enough. Crawl into the crawlspace and nail a 2x4 (or something of the like) into the original joist. The floorboards will be supported, the weight will transfer to the joist, and the bouncing fat man ought to be safe and happy. I tried this out on the floor to the left of the fireplace which houses the closet. It seems to have worked.

The downside is that I discovered just how bad the closet addition to the room was while working on the floor.

This closet was added to the Queen somewhere around 1970 when the most damage was done to the house. The trim is the standard, 3-to-4 inch pine crap they still sell at Lowe’s and the door is a louvered, “accordion” door on a sliding track. It does a great job of blending in the original 1890’s look. The dribbled on polyurethane gives it a vintage used look.

The most immediate problem I have with the closet is its door. The wall the closet is set in has three studs in it. One stud is all the way to the left (joins the wall facing the main hall), one is all the way to the right (butting up to the fireplace) and one is in the middle of the wall. When they cut out the closet doorway, they cut through the middle stud. They didn’t build a header (well, none of the old doors seem to have headers) or frame in the opening with 2x4’s either. The tongue-in-groove wallboards are being held in place by the door trim. This also means the closet door is being supported by its trim as well.

I discovered that there was something wrong with the closet door/wall when I was pulling up the half-assed “threshold,” an ugly, misshapen board occupying the space between the closet floor and the bedroom floor. Really, it doesn’t even deserve the distinction of being half-ass. It’s all hairy ass with several ominous, smelly cracks. As I tried to pry it up, I noticed the whole wall was moving. I pulled off a piece of door trim and discover that it was floating, more or less. Later, while I was pounding in nails in the crawlspace, a couple boards actual popped off the wall. I have no idea how the closet has lasted this long. I consider it a testament to the holding power of dirt, dust and mouse shit.

Anyhow, I don’t want to burry you in all the minutiae of my shitty closet. Actually, it’s my circumspect way of saying I’m tired of thinking about the damn thing, but it sounds better if I give an altruistic spin to it. And, as my wife said later that night, it’s not like we weren’t going to overhaul it anyhow.

Monday, December 12, 2005


No one ever thinks that it could happen to them. Life was good: decent job, loving spouse, and good friends and family. Then, when you least expect it, you find yourself hoisted upon a cold, hard alter. Ghoulish fiends, minions of your dark mistress, pin you down. A corpulent, damp hand slithers into your pocket and seizes hold of your wallet. Tearing your pocket with ruthless enthusiasm, wads of green dollars, credit cards, and tarnished bits of pocket change vanish into the sacrificial fires. One fiend leans in and whispers, “More, she demands it.” And you wonder, what did I do wrong? How did my life become this nightmare?! And, in your heart, you know there is no end to it.

As my friends and family know, I have several hours a week were I am a captive audience of sorts. I can’t work on the Queen or other “must do” items on my daily to-do list. However, I can occasionally pull out my sketchbook and pocket watercolor set to pass the time. Over the last couple of years, a series of Devil Queen related cartoons have emerged. I’ve never considered myself a cartoonist, and I didn’t consciously set out to make a series. It just happened. At the urging of friends and family, I’ve decided to share a few on the blog.

This cartoon/picture was painted several months back, and I would like to refer you back to the “Open Letter to the Devil Queen” post and comments section. Brenda’s comment, “Beg all you want… nothing will placate her bloodlust but offerings of burnt cash wads,” was just too perfect. I can only assume she has been look through my sketchbooks. Perhaps she’s clairvoyant? In any case, I am suspicious.

For the rest of you who are not actively spying on me, enjoy.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Five Grand WILL Buy You Love

The Black Beast of the Christmas is nearly upon us. So far I've received two Christmas cards. Who are they from? Not my sister, not my in-laws, and not from one of my distant cousins.

I've gotten a card from Lowe's and one from Greenfield Millworks.

Lowe's and I have a very close, personal relationship. We spend a lot of good, quality time together: searching for cpvc fittings, kitchen ranges, and 15 amp breakers; returning "excrement" smeared pcv fittings and other emotionally trying activities. We're almost like a very drunk and disillusioned married couple. No matter how bad it gets, we keep coming back together for more. If Lowe's hadn't sent me a Christmas card, that would have been deeply insulting, but, in the end, I'm sure I would have gone back to her. I always do.

Greenfield and I have a different relationship. It was very nice of Greenfield to think of me during the holiday season. We only had a one night stand, and, while I felt used and violated at first, I think we both got what we wanted out of it.

I got two Christmas cards and it only cost $5,000.00 a piece. Who says you can't buy love? They obviously didn't spend enough.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Bed Bugs

In case you’ve missed the recent headlines, bed bugs are making a comeback in the United States. And you thought the good old days were a thing of the past. Thanks to the increasing speed & ease of international travel and the banning of good ol’ DDT, these little blood suckers are finding their way back after a 50+ year absence. It makes you wonder which is more important, saving the environment or a good night’s sleep. It could go either way for me.

Personally, this freaks me out. I’ve lived with mice, piss smelling carpet, and other freakish things. I didn’t enjoy it, but I manage well enough if you don’t mind the whining (sort of kidding). Bugs or anything besides my wife, do not belong in my bed.

My wife is wealth of odd information. When I mentioned the bed bug article to her she said, “Do you remember that cast iron bed we use to have?”


“In the old days, they used to put a dish full of turpentine or kerosene under each post of the bed. That way the bugs couldn’t clime up from the floor and into your bed. It helped if you made your bed up tight too.”

“Tight as in military tight?”


“Where did you hear about that?”

“Oh, my grandmother told me once. When I was little, I was terrified of bed bugs.”

“You know the weirdest crap.”

“I’m supposed to. Journalists are supposed to be experts in everything for day.”

Maybe I could start a cotage industry for those hardcore home renovators, mail order bed bugs. You know, provide some grit to really make living in a historic home "authentic." We could give away free chamber pots with every order. I can see it now, Devil Queen House Goods: making the good old days as uncomfortable as you never remembered. Order now!

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Tao of Not Giving a Crap

Things did not go as planned this weekend. This used to drive me crazy, but, as this project has progressed, I’ve cared less and less. I’m not sure what kind of perspective I’ve cultivated: fatalistic, patiently philosophical, or I just don’t give a crap anymore. In any case, it’s a lot more relaxing.

Saturday I received a once in a lifetime invitation to a Cherokee gathering with my wife. She’s writing a story about them for Russellville Courier, and they said she could bring her spouse. This was a very private affair which was closed to the public. I was the only 100% whitey invited, so I thought I’d be an idiot not to go. I can’t say too much about it (I don’t want to scoop my wife’s story), but it was very interesting. We didn’t get home until very late that night, so the work day was completely shot.

Sunday should have been a very productive day, but it didn’t happen. My wife has come down with the flu or strep throat. She’ll need a visit to the doctor to know for sure. In any case, she is feverish and very sick. My son spent the weekend with his grandparents. We’re hoping he won’t catch whatever his mother has. I spent most of the afternoon cutting firewood with my in-laws. The weather has been very cold (by our standards), and sick folks and cold weather don’t mix well. My wife may be sick, but, damn it, she’s warm if nothing else. If you want a real work out, try hauling a tree out of a gorge in 4 to 5 foot sections. It's right up there with hauling bricks or plywood. It sucks even worse if you have to haul it out of a briar patch (which we did).

I did go up to the Queen to check the plumbing. I wanted to make sure our water main was insulated enough to keep it from freezing. While I was there, I discovered that our electrician has been very busy. We have light, lots of it. The front hall, living room, dinning room, rear hall, and back porch all have lights!

Sunday night I didn’t get near enough sleep. My wife isn’t sleeping well, so I made her hot-toddies and sat up watching DVDs with her. I knew it was going to be a long day when I woke up this morning. I didn’t know where I was or why I was awake. That is never a good sign.

Since she’s sick, I’ve begun my slow slide into a paranoid-hypochondriacal state. Every ache, sneeze, or twinge is a harbinger of my doom. It should make for an exciting week.

On the upside, my thumb is healing nicely. My palm is no longer black or swollen. I’m slowly regaining a full range of motion too. Another week or so and I may be back to normal. Well, healthy at any rate. It’s debatable whether I was ever normal.

Friday, December 02, 2005


Sorry for the prolonged silence. I haven't been feeling well the last few days, so nothing is getting done.

Before I lapsed into a fitful illness, I did manage to buy a new digital camera. It is nothing fancy. Actually, you couldn't buy one any cheaper without getting something with Mickey Mouse on it. Hopefully it is better than nothing.

The weekend looms before me. My wife works Saturday, so I'll be alone up at the Queen. I think I'll either work on the crawlspace or sand the floor. I'm staying the hell away from the tub for now (per the Mrs. instructions). Maybe I can avoid tornados and bodily harm and have a quiet weekend at the Queen.

Free Web Site Counter
Website Counter