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!

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Paintin' Fool

Scarlet, since you asked for it, here's Laura's picture.

What can I say, drugs always make for happy painters.

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The Strange Tale of the Triple Sash Window

I'll start with my disclaimer. Some of the following is what I've read into the facts as I know them. I can't help but make a story out of this.

In a previous post, Brenda of Flatbush commented on the peculiarity of our triple-sash window. Mainly, she'd never seen one before, and, until we made the Devil Queen's acquaintance, neither had we. The other old homes in the area certainly don't have windows like this one.

Including the trim, the window is roughly three feet wide and ten feet tall. To accommodate the third set of weights, the trim is built out into the room. The pockets are eight to ten inches deep total. If you open the bottom two sashes up, the opening is tall enough for someone like me to walk out onto the front porch.

So, why did they build this particular style of window? My wife and I are not sure, but, as you might imagine, we have a theory.

The Devil Queen's original owner and builder, Van Boswell, married Amelia, a girl from New Orleans, Louisiana. Her father was from Georgia and her mother was daughter of two French émigrés. Somehow, they all came to live in Russellville, Arkansas, after the Civil War, and it was there that she met Van.

I don't know how much of her life Amelia lived in New Orleans, but it seems that she was old enough to remember the long, floor to ceiling French windows that grace the city. Perhaps there was some warm, happy memory tied to them which she carried with her years after she'd come north to Russellville, more a glorified frontier town than a proper city.

Van and Amelia had been married for several years before the Devil Queen was built. First they lived with her parents, and then in a home of their own on Commerce Street. Van was a blacksmith, carpenter, and contractor, but, judging from the remaining homes from that time, windows of this sort were unheard of there. This window was something special for his wife, as was the house. As Scarlet says, the Devil Queen is a lady's house if nothing else.

Sadly enough, several years after the Devil Queen was completed, Amelia died. She was in her early thirties.

* * *

Most windows of this type operate more like doors, two huge sashes full of glass panes which swing inward on hinges. A Google search turned this one up on eBay.

[Outside frame. 51" WIDE X 3" THICK X 94 1/2" HIGH]

On the outside, shutters are typically hung. The shutter hinges are still mounted on our window's exterior trim, but the shutters have been gone for at least 40 years.

My wife and I always wondered why our triple-sash window didn’t look more like the one above. Maybe Van Boswell wasn't entirely clear on what his wife wanted? Maybe this was his approximation of it based on the styles he was familiar with? Then, while searching for images for this post, I found this picture.

A floor to ceiling, triple-sash window in New Orleans. The Devil Queen's window is exactly how it was meant to be.

After years of looking, why didn't I find this before? I just don't know. So, thank you for the comment Brenda. You inadvertently led me down the road to solving a long standing riddle. It leaves me with a small sense of satisfaction which has been hard to find.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Devil Queen - Great Pyramid Connection

And, I don't mean that they both obviously have seen better days either.

First, sorry the last post was rather curt. I just didn't have anything more in me yesterday. I had to work late on the day job yesterday, so I didn't have time to do anything except eat dinner and go to bed early last night. I feel much better for the sleep too.

In any case, I'm sure that you'll be glad to know that I've finally resolved one of the great mysteries of the world over the weekend, how the pyramids of Egypt were built. It wasn't sorcery, aliens, kites, or any of the other oft proposed bunk. Simple answers are best, remember Occam's Razor people? The pyramids were built with lots of people and beer and bread. It seems like that was a rallying cry for a revolution (Russian?) of some sort, maybe I'm imagining that?.

As I mentioned in the previous post, this Sunday we had six people working on the Devil Queen for roughly 5 hours. And, as the pictures in yesterday's post illustrate so nicely, those 30 hours of combined labor worked a minor miracle on the Queen.

I'm sure that asking nice (begging) helped a lot, but there is a certain amount of give and take in organizing a volunteer work crew who actually shows at the appointed time. In our case, we varied some from the ancient Egyptian's methodology of beer and bread (and no tyrannical priestly class, pompous monarchs, or other overt coercion either). Tastes change with the times after all. Instead we substituted fresh brewed coffee, Coke, Crown Royal, and two loaves fresh baked Honey Wheat Bread.

For those of you with no interest in baking, skip the next part.

[Honey Wheat Bread: warm to cups of milk to roughly 100 degrees (slightly warm to touch, not hot). Add to packets of yeast. Let it stand for five minutes or so. Wisk in two eggs and a 1/4 cup of honey. I only had 1/8 of a cup of honey, so I substituted sorghum for the remainder. Add 6 cups of wheat floor, two teaspoons of salt, and 3/4 a stick of butter at room temperature. Mix in Kitchen Aid for 7 minutes or kneed by hand for 10 minutes. I went the Kitchen Aid route except I finished kneading by hand for a minute or so. I have trouble telling if the dough is ready until I lay hands on it. IT ought to be "smooth & elastic." Cover in lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for two hours (should double in bulk). Punch down, form into loaves, let rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Bake at 375 for 40 minutes. Makes two loaves. Excellent sliced with butter and peach preserves.]

With the food and drinks, the help was kept pretty happy and hummed along through the afternoon. And, we passed a small milestone, Gideon stayed onsite for the project. We took turns playing with the baby, but, for short stretches, he entertained himself and stayed out of the way. And, he loves the blue which is good since four walls of his room will be this color.

Anyhow, with yet another of the "great riddles" of mankind solved, you can sleep a little easier tonight. Based on our experience this weekend, I believe that if you gave out enough fresh baked bread and booze to anyone who'd help roll rocks around for a few hours a day, you'd have a pyramid built in short order. And remember: the answer to all questions great or small may be found in the Devil Queen because she is the center of everything. Or, at least connected to everything. All it takes is a little time, legal drugs, and an open mind.

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Shellac vs. Paint on Rim Locks

Actually, this post is mainly for my wife's benefit. She likes a good compare & contrast.

Here is one of Gary's rim locks with shellac & dye:

Here is a replica with what looks to be a painted finish:

They both look good to me, it is just a matter of what you like & want.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

People, Better than Zombies

This weekend my mom, Jack & Fidge, and Laura spent Sunday afternoon helping us paint our nefarious mistress' main hall, foyer, and Gideon's bedroom. I spent most of the day trying to finish off the prep work with my lovely wife's assistance.

Here is a hall wall before we scrubbed it down.

Again, closer.
And after a good scrub and de-tacking.

The first bit of priming. In case you are wondering, rollers worked like a charm on the wall boards.

A shot of the hall with two coats of primer on the wainscotting & trim and one coat of paint on the wall.

Again, with me lurking in the background.

Fidge at work in Gideon's room.

Some people keep skeletons in their closets, Gideon has a grandpa in his.

Gideon's room.

The cold I spent all of last week fighting came back with a vengence Saturaday. I'm just now starting to feel better albeit exhausted. I'll try post some more when my brain isn't cased in cotton.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Slouching Toward the Weekend

The weather has been great, I think I'm nearly over my cold, and no new horrific surprises have hurled themselves my way in a while, so you'd thing I'd be feeling pretty good about things. Instead I'm feeling tired and more than a little overwhelmed. The most frustrating thing is I've been working on the Devil Queen every day, but, since I've been sick, I haven't been finishing as much as a normally do. It sucks, I suck, or both, or something.

Instead of wallowing (but it is just so easy . . . ), I'll try to focus on the good things. Work on the hall and Gideon's room have been progressing (at the expense of the laundry room). Saturday, I am going to go shopping for a miter saw. Nothing fancy. If I can't find an okay one at a pawn shop for around $50, I probably won't get one just yet. Sunday, I have three or four folks coming over to prime and paint. Amazing things could happen. Rooms could be painted or five gallons of blue latex could get spilled down the return-air vent. I mean, we'll have no fewer than one Dumbass Award Winner and several nominees. Anything could happen.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Rape of the Lock(s)

So many locks, so little time.

As I mentioned in this post, I'm trying scrounge up enough working, salvaged hardware to put proper doorknobs et cetera on the Devil Queen's doors. Again, here is the space I'm trying to fill.

If I can find locks and knobs that match this profile, I will save my self a ton of work. No modifications or additional work should be needed. I can simply (what a misleading word!) install the new hardware and voila.

Here is our first contender, a hardware set salvage from the Davis House in Atkins.

This set was immediately disqualified for use in the hallway because it is the wrong size. It isn't wide enough and it is too tall. However, since we used doors salvaged from the Davis House for the master bathroom, laundry room, pantry, and my son's closet, I thought we might be able to use it in one of those locations. I decided to look at its guts which is simple enough. Only one screw holds these locks together, and it is easy remove. Here is what I found after I cleaned out the dead Brown Recluse spiders.

Here is the lock with the dead bolt removed.

And, a closer look reveals that the spring (a band of tempered iron or steel) is broken in half. You might be able to make a replacement spring. I vaguely remember an eighth grade science experiment where we tempered a soft strip of steel (similar in size and shape to this spring) in a Bunsen Burner. You'd super-heat the steel in the burner flame and then plunge it into cold water. The rapid cooling changed the physical properties of the steel and made it stronger. This meant that if bent it would spring back to its original position.

In any case, the set can still be used for a door that you do not want locked, the pantry or closet perhaps?

And here are two photos of the latch. I was going to go into how to reverse the latch to accommodate either left or right opening doors. However, this latch can only face in one direct, so that tangent will have to wait until later. In case you're wondering locks two and three can be reversed, but that will be a different post perhaps.

Our second lock is this one.

This lock is from my mother-in-law's stash. I was very excited with this one because it is same size as our missing locks. However, I was disappointed to find that the deadbolt mechanism is broken. I'm not sure if it is missing a piece or the deadbolt is bent or misaligned. When I opened the lock, the deadbolt was shoved all the way into the lock. Once I freed the bolt from its jammed position, I encountered a second problem; the "tab" on the underside of the deadbolt, which catches on the key to lock/unlock the bolt, hangs down into the key hole. It is positioned in such a way that you can't fit a key into the hole. No amount of fumbling with the bolt solved the problem. Either it was jammed into place or it blocked the hole.

I suppose I can still use this lockset for the living room if I cram the bolt back into the jammed position. I mean, I can't think of any particular reason I'd need to lock myself in my living room. Unless the Gestapo is after me. And, if they were, do you think a rim lock is going to stop them? Doubt it.

So, this lock is rated as a maybe. Not my first choice, but I'll use it if I must.

And, here is the third lock.

Again, this lock is a perfect match to our missing ones.

To make it even sweeter, this poor lock's ugly face conceals a fully functional mechanism. And, in addition to the key operated deadbolt, it has a second, smaller deadbolt that is manually operated with a switch on the lock's underside. So, if you really want to be left alone, this is the lock for you. No sneaky rat-bastard is going to get in just because he can pick your lock. He'll have kick the damn door down. Needless to say, this lock is going on the master bedroom door. I like my privacy.

They only thing that I don't like about this lock is that it has the same spring-strip mechanisms that the first, broken lock had. I'm afraid that with use, this lock will break too.

At this point in the evening, I was running out of time so our misadventure must come to an end for now. Besides, how many rim locks do you really want to see disassembled?


Rim Lock Eye Candy

This rim lock recently sold on eBay for $46 plus shipping. Iron with brass wash finish. Good stuff.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Trivia and Miscellaneous

Sorry, I was working on a fabulous post on rim locks when the computer ate it. I don't have it in me to write it again at the moment, so you get this crappy post instead. Progress on the Queen and everything else has been slow this week. I've been fighting off a mild cold, and my butt has been dragging all week.

Maryam, here is the picture of that clock you requested. I'm still not exactly sure where they found it. I'm guessing a local discount or outlet shop. Or, Hobby Lobby?

And, here is a little piece of car trivia too. How much does a replacement rear windshield for a 1998 VW Beetle cost? New: $800, used/salvaged $300, for my father-in-law: $150. See, we try to stay on his good side for a reason. Downside, the windshield in question is in Fayetteville. Upside, my wife was able to go down and pick it up after work. The fact that it wouldn't fit in her car, priceless. I don't know what Plan B is yet, but I suspect that it involves a truck and a very long drive.

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Real Estate Developer Courts Eternal Damnation

I saw this on the news last night. This is one of those things that makes me so mad that I will refrain from commenting too much on it. I'll just sound like a demented psychopath.

Apparently, KTHV ran a story on this house last week. Within days of the report, the house was torn down. While I think the original intent was to generate public interest in saving the house, I think the report hastened its demise. I think the people at Diamond Developements saw the story and ordered immedate demolition before someone sued them and tied the property up in court. That is what I would do if I were them.

Read the article and I'm sure you'll see why. I just hope that there is a special pit in hell for pernicious (is there any other kind?) real estate developers.

[the text is taken from KTHV's website as are the photos. You can watch the video clip at their site.]

Civil War House Torn Down; Sixth Grader Upset

On Friday, Shelby Estell showed off a house on Highway 5 in Bryant she loved because it's full of history.

“Even though it's torn up, it's still so beautiful," she said.

Monday, the Civil War era home was torn down. Diamond Development II owns the land and leveled it to turn the area into a housing addition.

Shelby says, "I'm disgusted about how they would do that just for the money."

Lisa Lake from Diamond Development II says the company had plans to demolish the home for some time. She says the house was beyond repair and had been stripped of anything of historical value worth saving.

Shelby disagrees. She found some papers at the house dating to the early 1900s and one she thinks is from the Civil War."It lists all the superintendents in the war and if you flip it over, it says something about people attacking," says Shelby.

Full of determination, the 11-year-old says she's not giving up on a home once occupied by Henry Rector. He was Arkansas' sixth governor who decided the state would secede from the Union during the Civil War.

"If we could save some of the ground, we could use some of the old wood and rebuild part of the house," says Shelby.

Her teachers aren't giving up either.Brandy Brazeale says, “Put a marker there to show this is where the house once stood and the historic significance to Arkansas and the nation.

"Shelby and her family believe there is still history buried under the rubble, but getting to it will be tough. They've been told before archeologists can dig, they need permission from the property owners. Diamond Development II tells Today's THV they won't allow it.

Shelby says it's unfair."We worked really, really hard and then they just decided just to tear it down and didn't even give us a chance," she says.

Jerod Clark, Reporter
Created: 2/20/2007 8:22:01 PMUpdated: 2/20/2007 10:41:31 PM

The house last week:
This week:
What really kills me is, "She [Lisa Lake] says the house was beyond repair and had been stripped of anything of historical value worth saving." Stripped of anything of historical value? What about the goddamn house? Besides that, very few houses are utterly beyond repair, it is just a matter of how much time, money, and effort is required to do so.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Rim Job

I'm probably getting way ahead of myself, but I'm obsessing about door hardware. Sure, the Queen isn't painted, I really need to be doing some serious prep work, finishing bathrooms, and what not, but what I really like to do is strip and shellac my doors and fit them with rim locks.

I never really thought about it until I read this post over at the Emery Restoration, but some of you, particularly bungalow dwellers and all that came after, might not be familiar with these buggers.

From the little reading I've done, rim locks were very popular (if not the only real option) at the end of the 1700's through roughly 1900. Prior to 1830, most if not all rim locks were imported from Great Britain since there were no manufactures in the states at that time.

The Devil Queen was built in 1890, and, judging from ghostly voids like the one shown below, all of the Devil Queen's doors were equipped with rim locks.

So, where did the locks go? During those long years that she sat vacant waiting for some dumbass like me, someone stripped her of all her hardware. Lucky me. The prices for replacements, whether antique or reproduction are sky high, particularly when you are looking to buy eight to ten of these things (go here and here to look at some of the beauties out there). That could easily add up to $400-$500 at the minimum. You can't even get a good deal on most of the ones on eBay either.

These two reproduction locks are fairly modest and probably what the Devil Queen had. The first set is about $60 and the second around $90.

So, I'm just a poor bastard left selling his ass on a street corner to finance his addiction to old house hardware, right? Mercifully, no.
For once, I am a bit of a lucky bastard. When we torn down the old farm house in Atkins, we stripped all of the doors and hardware. Also, when we bought the Devil Queen, my mother-in-law bequeathed her antique doorknob & hardware collection to us. And, the good folks at Nightmare on Elm Street sent us some more. So, at no cost to ourselves, we have quite a collection from which to chose.

Now, the real question is, will all or any of these locks fit our doors?
And the answer to that will be another post.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Canon PC 430 Personal Copier for Sale

[There don't seem to be any takers on this one, so I've posted it on eBay as of February 16, 2007. If you've decide you might want it afterall, click here to go to the eBay auction.]

Since I had such good luck with the wallpaper steamer (Jennifer, it's in the mail as of today), I thought I'd post this here to see if there were any takers. Otherwise, it'll be off to eBay. I know that this isn't a home improvement item, but, by buying it, you are getting it out of my way so I can paint my son's room and you are buying paint or primer for the Devil Queen, so there is a tenuous home improvement connection.

There is a bit of a back story for this item. This copier is new, in-the-box and has never been used. It has been stored in its original shipping box since June 2006.

Why have I had a brand-new copier in storage purgatory for 8 months? My wife is working on an extensive research project that requires a lot of onsite copying. She requested that I look into buying her a portable, personal copier. I spent a lot of time looking online, and I settled on this model. I ordered it and a toner cartridge from Amazon. A couple weeks later, the box arrived. My wife opened it, looked at the copier, and told me that it wasn't the one she wanted. According to her, this one is too big to be truly portable (as a big, dumb man I disagree, but I digress). Anyhow, she asked me to return it which I tried to do.

According to Amazon (see the fine print), this item is not returnable. Splendid. I've been meaning to get rid of this damn thing for a while. I'd forgotten about it until I found it cleaning out Gideon's room last night.

Here are a few pictures of the copier.

Here is a link to the copier at Amazon. It makes 4 black & white copies per minute and weighs around 18 lbs. Shipping weight is around 30 lbs (includes the toner cartridge). I'd be willing to take $199 for it plus shipping or your best offer. I just want this thing to go away.
Let me know how you'd like it sent and I'll give you a price on it. I randomly picked two zip codes to get an idea on how much it would cost via the US Postal Service.

Eureka, CA

Parcel $25.06
Priority $43.40
Express $71.60

Buffalo, NY

Parcel $18.83
Priority $32.00
Express $71.60

And, I'd recommend insuring it too.

As I said, it's never been out of the box or used. Since it is brand new, I assume it is 100% functional. However, there is always that 1 in a million chance. If you have any questions, please let me know.


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Seeing the Light

Several weeks ago a momentous event occurred; my father-in-law set foot in the Devil Queen for the first time in over two years.

He didn't come willingly though. The only reason he came was he'd just picked up my wife and her broken down VW off the side of Interstate 40. With an armload of baggage and my wife in tow, he reluctantly made his grand entrance.

My father-in-law has never liked the Devil Queen and has been up front with the fact that he thinks it is probably the worst project that we could have decided to undertake. It is hard to hold that against him because he has paradoxically helped us more than anyone else. Stupid or not, if his daughter wants to do this, he's going to help. If he hadn't helped us, this project never would of happened. Whether that is good or bad is moot at this point.

Since the front entrance is still pretty rough, he wasn't too impressed at first. I showed him the orange & blue hall bath. "Loud but nice," was his only comment. Then I showed him the kitchen. He walked into the middle of the room and looked around. He was quiet for a moment and then said, "This is really nice. If you can make the whole house look like this, it'll be worth some hellacious money. I never thought it would clean up this well."

I couldn't have been more shocked if Jesus Christ told me he liked eating newborn babies. This might not sound like much, but having your biggest naysayer telling you this is like winning the lottery. We took it as high praise indeed.

Now the tricky part, finishing the house.


Screwing Around

We're trying to recruit some family and friends to come out to the Devil Queen at the end of the month to help us paint. Since everyone is willing to paint but no one likes doing prep-work, I'm trying to get that finished up before everyone gets here. Last night I was working on my son's room, and I got sidetracked when I found my new heat-gun. I swear, I'm like a 16 year old boy with his first real girl friend with this thing. I just can't keep my hands off of it.

And, fifteen minutes later this is what I had to show for it.

I'm thinking boiled linseed oil and amber shellac.

Afterwards, I tore myself away and went back to work striping bits of canvas and nails off the walls. Once I finish, then I get to wash the walls with bleach. I can't wait.
What I really want to do is finish up so I can make it back to the laundry room. It's about ready to have the floor refinished (hand sanding, too small for a drum sander) and plumbing fixtures.

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Hobo Mirror

As a good neophyte of the cult of shellac, I've been using amber shellac on some small projects. Here is my most recent use of this miracle liquid, the reviving of a hobo mirror.

Actually, I don't know that a hobo ever owned this mirror. It came to the Devil Queen by way of one of my wife's friends. Her friend picked it up at a yard sale for a couple of bucks, and, after living with it for a while, decided that it "was too creepy" to keep. She thought we'd appreciate though, and we have.

I don't know what style this mirror is. If I were a furniture egg-head, I might call it something like "Early 20th Century Vernacular Furniture." Even when this mirror was new, it was a rough piece of work. It looks homemade to me. It looks like someone had a small beveled mirror and made frame for it out of some left over beadboard.

The frame is face nailed, and, instead of being driven in all of the way, most are bent over and pounded into the wood. The mirror is held in place with two thin slats of wood which look like they may have been salvaged from an old packing crate (the same kind of wood that you'd find used for an old shipping crate for Coke bottles). My guess is this mirror dates back to the 1930's. No particular reason, that's just the feel I get when I run my hands over the wood and look into the glass. I suspect some farmer, sharecropper, or working Joe put this together with whatever was at hand. Just a little something for his house, functional and civilized.

It looks like the wood was shellacked originally, but most of it has been worn away. I like how the mirror has aged; the worn wood finish and the imperfections in the glass where the backing has flaked off the mirror all add to the appeal for me.

The two slats backing the mirror were loose, so I carefully (don't need 7 years bad luck) tapped in a few brass brads to snug them into place. I lightly sanded a couple of spots where white paint had been splattered onto the frame and scrubbed it down with some denatured alcohol. Once it was dry, I brushed on a single coat of amber shellac. I figured this would seal the exposed wood and refresh the remaining old finish.

And, here is the end result. Not too bad for a beginner I guess.

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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Eating Poor

No matter how much money I make, I always feel poor. And, a majority of the time, I actually am too. Sure, the bills get paid, the house gets worked on, and things inevitably get taken care of, but there is seldom much if anything left over at the end of the day.

Back in 2002, we were completely wiped out. I had to drop out of graduate school, we sold one of our cars for cash, my wife couldn't find a job, and my job wasn't paying enough to survive. It was in this time that my wife taught me the art of eating poor. She in turn learned this fine art from her mom and her family; as poor Southern sharecroppers, this art was perfected over several generations. Surprisingly enough, you can eat pretty well on $20.00 a week if you juggle things just right. Hell, I've seen my wife feed 14 people for $4.00. I have yet to top that.

Since we are struggling to remedy our chronic financial woes, I've decided to take up the fine art of eating poor. Fortunately for me, we have a small stockpile of food we've horded over the last year or so. One of the tricks of eating poor is making do with what you have on hand.

To this end, I've spent the last couple of days digging through our kitchen trying to figure out what I have to work with. In addition to my neurotic need to bake, I have a complimentary need to horde flour. I have white flour, wheat flour, stone ground flour, corn flour (for tortillas), cake flour, and corn meal. Add two packets of yeast and some time and you have all the materials for a sourdough starter and several weeks of homemade bread, biscuits, corn bread, and tortillas. That can go a long way.

Unfortunately, not everything in our kitchen is so versatile. In fact, some items are a complete mystery to me. Not only do I not remember where they came from, I don't know why we even have them. Case and point, sorghum.
In my life time, I have never tasted, eaten, or cooked with sorghum. Until yesterday, I didn't even know what it was exactly. However, at some point lost in the haze of the past, I was so impressed with this mystical elixir that I bought (???) not one, but two jars of sorghum.

So, the question I am left with is what in the hell do I do with over two pints of sorghum?

Even my ever trusty William & Sonoma Kitchen Companion (a dictionary of all things kitchen related) failed me. According to Wikipedia it is used mostly in the South for baking, barbeque sauce, baked beans, syrup, and cakes. And, it is healthier than processed sweeteners since it won't dissolve your liver like high-fructose corn syrup. More interesting perhaps is that it is used to make a beer in Africa.

Today's Menu:

Breakfast - Half a pot of coffee (free).
Lunch - Two Pop Tarts ($ 0.65).
Dinner - Homemade refried beans (black), homemade salsa verde (tomatillos, onions, Serrano peppers), and corn tortillas (roughly $2.00).

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The Zombie Files (Part 2)

Behold, the marvel and wonder of zombies at work.

It's amazing how much better the tub looks with the walls painted.

Now, for their encore performance, the ceiling. A lesson we learned the hard way: no matter how much you think you need to hurry, always scrape down salvaged wood before you install it, particularly if it is going to be a 16 foot high cathedral ceiling.

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A Prophecy for the End Times

Ms. Scarlet and I had one of the those grim planning sessions I so look forward to this weekend. Over dinner and coffee we had a vision of things to come.

1) The Devil Queen will be painted inside and out & the floors will be refinished by May 7, 2007, whether I get to sleep or not between now and then.
2) Based on our skills in divination, the Queen ought to appraise for enough to pay off two loans and a truck load of debt. This will leave us with a mortgage we can barely afford to pay (because we spent way too much fixing the old whore).
3) Ms. Scarlet will probably be in self-imposed, wage-slave exile until October.
4) The moment the ink dries on the mortgage papers, the Devil Queen and our rent house will go up for sale.
5) If or when the Queen sells, we will probably sell a majority of our furniture because we haven't missed half of it since it's been in storage.

Of course, all futures are possible. In the interest of courting the most favorable outcome, we've decided to be as proactive as possible. Mainly, we're trying to increase our monthly income by $200. Sure, it sounds like a feeble amount, but, since this will be going directly into debt retirement, every bit counts. And, any expenses we can cut out of the budget would be a major help too.

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Monday, February 12, 2007

You've Got to Be Kidding Me

I mean, really? Haven't we already suffered enough? I would have taken pictures but it slipped my mind. I was a little worked up.

So, what in the hell am I talking about? I'm sure that all you regular readers are quite familiar with the circus of decrepit, shit-bag cars ad nauseam, so I'll spare you the recap. As of Saturday, the VW was quietly sitting in our driveway. Aside from the thoroughly sodomized cooling system, nothing was amiss. Sunday afternoon, we are on our way to visit my mother-in-law. As I round the corner, I am confronted with a sight no car owner ever wants to see: the rear windshield to the Beetle is shattered. Somehow the glass is still hanging in the frame, but it has cracked into tens of thousands of safety glass pellets.

"You've got to be fucking kidding me! What the hell happened to the car?! It was fine yesterday!"

After some brainstorming, my wife and I concluded that our son is the most likely culprit. My wife and Gideon were outside playing Saturday. As little boys are prone to do, he was lobbing small rocks and gravel. Gideon just turned three, and his aim is pretty poor. If you're standing together throwing rocks at the pond in front of you, there is about a 50% chance that you will be hit in the side of the head even though he's trying to throw straight ahead. Scarlet said she heard a loud noise while they were outside but couldn't figure out what had caused it. In hindsight, it does explain why Gideon kept trying to tell us something about the "home-car" (Giddy-speak for the VW).

Even if it was a stray throw, we need to sign him up for baseball camp because he has a lot of potential. The window didn't crack, it exploded like a body had been thrown into it. He must have a great arm.

Of course we don't know for sure if it was him, and, even if it was him, it was an accident so there is no one to punish. It is just another bit of shitty luck that has been kicked straight up our asses.

So, what do you do? I taped a plastic drop cloth over the gapping hole (the middle of the window collapsed later), and left this monument of ruin parked in our drive. I don't have any idea how much this is going to cost, and I don't care to find out at the moment.

Eighty percent chance of rain tonight; I might need to reinforce my patch job.

And, for those of you sick of the shit-car-saga, the next post (hopefully tomorrow) will actually be a house post.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Wallpaper Steamer Looking for a Home, Good or Otherwise

I need money for paint more than I need a wallpaper steamer. This steamer is roughly one year old and has only been used for one wallpaper stripping project. I'm sorry that it looks so unforgivably grungy in this picture, but I was too tired and lazy to clean it off last night. I do promise to give it a proper cleaning before I ship it off to you.

Here is link to it a Lowe's. It gets good customer reviews, and I don't have any complaints about it. Sorry, I just can't bring myself to wax poetically over it. I mean, it's just a wallpaper steamer and I hate all things wallpaper out of principle (I'd rather did post holes). Now a heat gun or amber shellac would be an entirely different story.

If you have any questions, please let me know. I'd take $15 for it or your best offer. I'd recommend USPS priority shipping for it ($8.10). If you are interested, leave a comment here or email me at thedevilqueen(at)hotmail(dot)com.


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