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, October 31, 2006


Well, I’ve been tagged by Maryam at My Marrakesh. Since I am now “it,” I am supposed to reveal nine weird things about me. After reading Maryam’s list of nine, I am feeling rather vanilla; physical deformities and neurosis are rather blasé. Now, my wife could give you all something to think about (not that we’re competing, but comparisons are inevitable).

It wasn’t easy coming up with nine things (that I would publicly disclose), but, after some soul searching and consultation with my wife, here is my list:

1) I was born with sixth finger on each hand. The medical term for this is polydactyl or hexadactyl depending on what you read. One had no bone; the doctors tied a string around it to cut off the circulation. It shriveled up, died, and more or less fell off. The second one had a rudimentary bone but was in no way functional. It was surgically removed. I have the photos and scars to prove it.

2) My name legal name is essentially a made up name. In theory I’m the fourth John Ahlen. The first one, my great-grandfather, was an immigrant from Sweden. If I remember the story correctly, his name last name was Oskarson since his father was named Oskar. I’m not sure what the Swedish version of William was, but that seems to have been his first name. However, when he came to America, he changed his name to William Ahlen. As I understand it, in Sweden, Ahlen is pronounced something like “Olen” (long “o”). However, the pronunciation he used (and passed on to the rest of us) is “Allen.” Apparently, Ahlen is also a German last name and they pronounce it “Allen” too. Sometime around World War One, when all things German became un-patriotic in America, my great-grandfather started going by the name John. We’re guessing that William sounded a little too much like Wilhelm (as in Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany). He named his second son, my grandfather, John Ahlen II. My father is the third and I’m the fourth according to our birth certificates. However, my grandfather is really the first, my dad the second, and I’m the third. And, we all should be Oskarsons too.

3) Since the age of two or three, I’ve had a life long fascination with all things German and the Second World War in particular. I can offer no explanation as to why.

4) I have a bastard accent. Granted, the only people that would probably notice are other Americans. In the South, it’s still pretty obvious to the locals that “you ain’t from ‘round here, are ya?” but they usual can’t tell exactly where it is that I am from. In the North, people tell me that I sound Southern; really, I don’t unless you mean that I talk slower and use “Southernisms” like “puttin’ things up” the occasional “y’all” and “fixin’ to do something.”

5) This quirk didn’t develop until later in life, but, when under intense emotional duress, I bake (there is a post here somewhere about this). After the birth of my son (a horrible experience, the doctor’s nearly managed to kill both my wife and son; fuck-wits), I went home and baked a Key Lime Pie, a Tequila Cake, and two loaves of bread. My mother-in-law was staying with us to help take care of everyone; I didn’t learn this until after the fact, but she was seriously concerned about my mental health.

6) I once bought a house for $1, cut it in half, and moved it sixteen miles with no real master plan for what would happen next.

7) I can turn myself “invisible” in plain sight. I have walked through a crowd of people (all of them knew me on a first name basis), and not one person noticed me leave the room (some of them even stepped aside to make room for me). This is not an uncommon occurrence.

8) I once pretended to be a deaf, mute, German exchange student to avoid an awkward social situation; it worked.

9) Women (and some men) covet my hands. This ranges from, “God, I wish my hands and/or nails looked as good as yours,” to “You’re not really my type, but I’d over look it for your hands.”

Anyhow, I'm not sure what kind of insights you may have gleaned from all of that, but I’d love to hear about some of your peccadilloes and idiosyncrasies.


Blogger jm@houseinprogress said...

I think that you must post pictures of your hands now!

2:29 PM  
Anonymous Maryam in Marrakech said...

Whaddya mean vanilla? No one can top that six finger thing. My God! Do you have a six sense too?

2:37 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Yea, the hand thing is weird, with the extra fingers and all, but with the addition of item number 9, it made the whole thing even weirder. I can’t help but wonder if the additional fingers, now removed, are the source of the envy, or is it something else.

7:41 PM  
Blogger John said...

Pictures? Sure, I can do that. I see if I can get my wife to take some.

8:42 AM  
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