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, July 02, 2007

Fiscal Olymipcs or Sodomy by Another Name

I have to say that I’ve missed you all. Sure, I’ve been lurking around Houseblogs for the last couple of weeks, but I haven’t been spending a lot of quality time with you.

Things have been chaotic and complicated of late. The last week and a half has been hell.

We closed on the Devil Queen’s mortgage. It is a nice feeling, but it certainly hasn’t been the cure-all that I hoped it would be. In addition to all the drama that went along with this particular transaction, we’ve had some other problems too.

For one, all three of our cars are broken and in the shop. The Dodge’s motor is burned away. The coolant line was nicked and the radiator drained before we knew what happened. I’m not sure what is wrong with the Saturn. Two weeks ago it started burning a lot of oil. Now it sounds like a lawn mower and doesn’t have as much power. I think it lost a cylinder. I suppose that could happen after 286,300 miles, right? And, the VW Beetle still has some issue. Little things like the missing rear windshield and possible damage to the cooling system.

With me working in Little Rock and the wife up in NW Arkansas, this just wasn’t going to work for us. Charlie loaned Scarlet his car for three weeks while we tried to work out this mess. He was willing to loan the car more or less indefinitely, but neither Scarlet nor I felt comfortable with this. There is something innately sad about being this dependent on parents and grandparents as your 31st birthday lurks just over the horizon. None of our cars are going to be out of the shop anytime soon, so we did the one thing we sworn we’d never do in our lifetime. On the same day we closed on the Devil Queen, we bought a brand new car.

You may wonder how we could afford a new car. On the surface, it doesn’t look like we should be able to make this purchase. I mean, I thought it was a long shot, but what the hell.

It took some determined juggling. First, the dealer offered a $1000 rebate you could use as a down payment. That helped a lot. We are also the beneficiaries of a strange paradox: we have really good credit even though our finances are in shambles. This meant we could finance the car for a long enough time to work the payment into our budget. And, to sweeten the deal, my genius wife found us a new insurance company. She saved enough money on our premium to nearly pay for the car's monthly payment.

Now, we’re trying to sell off some of the houses we’ve been accumulating over the years. We’re hoping to meet with a real estate agent tomorrow to list Mr. Blue, our first house. Our renter is moving out this summer and we’d just like to be rid of the damn thing. Once this is accomplished, we’re going to be doing some more financial olympics until we get everything to fall into place. This includes paying off credit cards, refinancing loans, and making sure that we make more than we spend on a consistent basis. Not working on the Devil Queen day and night has really helped with this. I was looking over our books for the last couple of years, and we were consistently spending no less than $1000 a month of the Devil Queen. During a couple of peak months, we were spending an averaging $5000-$6000 per month. Nice.

In addition to all of this, we had to clean out our storage room. I think I may have mentioned this already. July 1st was our deadline. I tried to clean it out myself, but it just wasn’t going to happen for me. Even if I had gotten all the bloody boxes out myself, I can’t move the wardrobe, the dresser, and rest of my furniture. So, as has been my penchant of late, I hired a couple of professional movers to finish this project for me. I’m glad it’s over with but there is a downside. All the crap we had in storage filled the bay-window room and spilled out into the hallway. I honestly have no idea what 75% of this stuff is and looking at it just pisses me off. I see a bonfire in my future.

I’m not sure what else has been going on lately. Taking sick cats to the vet, dealing with appraisers, bankers, lawyers, real estate agents, and others. It’ll certainly wear you out.

Anyhow, I hope that explains my long absence.

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14 Comments:

Anonymous kingstreetfarm said...

Very happy to hear an update from you! Even though the whole remortgaging thing wasn't the total panacea you were hoping for, at least it's one monkey off your back.
Congrats on the new car, too. Having owned way, way more than my share of shitbox autos, I can honestly say that I now sleep a lot better at night knowing that I have a 100% reliable car in my driveway at all times!!

1:30 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

Welcome back. I thought you had gone on a drinking binge with denatured alcohol!

1:35 PM  
Anonymous Tarr said...

Glad you are ok. I suspected you had headed up the road to the massive hippie love-in being held in your neighborhood.

3:52 PM  
Anonymous mindy said...

Congrats on the new car - having something that actually runs when you need it to should be a huge relief and worth the monthly payments. I just upgraded my own rustbucket, and I feel like a princess driving around something that you can't hear coming from 3 blocks away ;)

Good luck selling the other house, hope it happens quickly and without too much drama!

5:49 AM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Yowsa, John you remind me why I love reading your blog (your humor, your wit, and your ability to make me feel much better about my situation. :P

What sort of car did you all get? Good luck on the overflowing room, we have similar issues in our place and it is just from me finally deciding to go through all the junk we piled into the back bedroom when we moved in January!

I was wondering if you were planning to sell Mr. Blue. Maybe you should apply to that one show they have out there called "Design to Sell" where they help you fix up your place with $2k or less and usually sell your place right away (that could be a time warp for these shows tho - they might have been in a better market)

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Brenda from Flatbush said...

One new car beats three half-dead cars any day! May it be uninfested with evil spirits. Bonfires are illegal in NYC, bummer; hope yours rocks the Fourth...

7:29 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Any old artwork in those boxes? I'd be interested in seeing it...

8:58 PM  
Blogger Poppy said...

I'm trying to get caught up after a lengthy absence of my own...

Congrats on getting a mortgage for the Queen :)

Congrats on the new wheels!

Best of luck on selling Mr. Blue...quickly!!

oh...and welcome back :)

6:31 PM  
Anonymous Patricia in Jackson said...

Congratulations on getting things done and buying a brand-new jalopy!

My wagon has 175,000 on it and just recently started to smoke. It's okay while driving or at short stops but when I idle for any length of time I turn into "smokey Joe". I really just want to become the "unknown driver" and stick my head in a paper bag that has eye holes! I can definitely feel for your automobile blues. Soon I may be down buying my own new car.

4:32 PM  
Blogger John said...

Thanks everyone.

Gary, you actually aren't too far off . . .

Tarr, missed the love-in, sounded pretty wild though.

Julia, we got a Hyundi Elantra. I think. Not only does it get great gas mileage, but it friggin' runs!

Jenn, not sure about the art work. We'll start un-packing this weekend.

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