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!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Rum Diary

Hell, I have no idea where to begin. First, I need to remind myself that I will not complain. I’ve made a vow to you, and I aim to keep it. I will endeavor to be informative. If I slip into editorializing, I’ll make an effort to vent and not whine. No one with a rock solid home-improvement woody and a sperm count to make Freyr weep would stoop to whine. No! We’ll relish every infernal moment and thank the gods of the Underworld for this opportunity to prove ourselves worthy of their wrath.

Or, this is another way of telling you that I decided to try my hand a plumbing tonight. I mean it was a pretty good day so I had to ruin it somehow, right? I didn’t actually start the evening with plumbing; I screwed up a few other things first and decided to end the evening with a spectacular show of first-class fuckery.

Well, what did I do first? I watered the garden. Sounds pretty simple, but you’d be wrong to think that. For instance, you need to water your tomatoes from the bottom, where the stem meets the earth, and not just spray the whole plant. If you spray the plant from the top down, you’ll rot the fruit. That’s right, I just had to learn that the hard-way once but not tonight. No, I got into trouble weeding the garden. I may or may not have stuck my arm into a poison oak plant. It snuck up on me. In any case, I beat it to death with a hoe and then went inside to wash off with cold water.

Why cold water? You use cold water because hot water will open up all of you pores and the plant’s oil will seep deeper into your skin ensuring a spectacular reaction. Getting into a hot tub with your wife and drinking a bottle of champagne is absolutely the worst thing you could do next to burning it or eating it. All I can say for sure is that I’ve never eaten it.

Due to Poison Oak’s evil nature, I won’t know if I’ve got a good rash for three days. So, Friday night I should know. Sweet.

After my nice, cold washdown, I decided that I’d cut out hole in the entertainment center built-in so I could thread the stereo wires up to the TV cabinet. Should be easy, right? One bloody hole 2 3/8 inches wide in which to stick one 2 3/8 inch grommet. Sure, I really wanted a nice brass grommet, but all I got was this plastic one from Lowe’s because I just don’t give a shit about stuff like this anymore. Besides, the only place I could find a friggin brass one was a shady online site that was probably a front for a Chinese human trafficking ring. So, screw that. I have enough fun as it is.

Of course drilling one bloody hole was utterly beyond me. Why? I mean you just bought the correct sized bit didn’t you? Yes, I did. The problem is the only 2 3/8 inch bit Lowe’s had was from a company called Lenox. And instead of having one glorious hole-cutting unit, you have to buy the circular saw and the drill-bit guild as two separate pieces and put them together. It’s a great idea, right? Why would anyone want to just buy it all in solid piece when you could buy two? I’ll confess that putting the bit set together isn’t too arduous of a process unless you can’t find your Allen-wrench set. I could blame their temporary loss on having our storage room dumped on us, but I can’t find it because I’m disorganized. I’m afraid it’s a terminal condition. After wasting 20 minutes digging for them, I decided to apply Blitzkrieg military tactics to my situation. I bypassed this point of resistance and moved on to a project on which I could theoretically begin work.

As you may have suspected, the Devil Queen has lingered on in a Patomkin Village state since the appraisal. That is, looks often deceive. Here is the problem with our sinks.

That is right. They don’t work. Why? They do not work because of this feed-line. We bought these faucets off of eBay and I’d say that the feeds are not standard. Aside from the freakishly small connection that is screwed deeply into the faucet’s neither-regions, there is the ½ inch connector for the cut-off valve. The problem is we used ¼ inch cut-off valves because it is a standard size. I know, we’re idiots. You go along with the herd for once and you get screwed. We should have known.

Since we plan ahead, I didn’t confront this problem until around the midnight before our 9 AM appraisal. The evil genius that I am I opted for the obvious solution. I taped everything to the underside of the vanity. Nothing says class like half-assed, right?

Now it was time to make this Gordian Knot of plumbing functional. Since I managed to fit in some fore thought, I had everything I needed for this project on hand. Here it is.

The key to making this work is the threaded, ½ inch brass adaptor. Note the “hex nut” in the middle of the adaptor. This is very important. Without this “nut” you wouldn’t have any purchase to keep the adaptor from spinning when you screw the feed-lines on to it. The idea is to screw a normal sink feed-line (1/4 inch to ½) onto the cut-off valve, connect it to the brass adaptor, and connect the freak feed-line to the adaptor and then to the faucet.

It is important to note that you should not use plumber’s tape or putty on the adaptor in this case. If you look into the feed-line’s ½ inch connector, you see a rubber washer. The idea is to seat the adaptor so tightly that it makes a watertight seal with the washer. If you use tape or putty, it may keep you from seating the adaptor. And we all know what happens then: you get a leak.

The adaptor was easy to install. It was so easy that I am embarrassed that I didn’t do it earlier. That is until I remembered the first rule of plumbing: no matter what you do or how good of a job you do, the plumbing will not work. Ever. Remember this, it is a rule to live by if you do home improvement.

So, now that I’ve got the adaptors in place, it’s time to try them. First, open the faucets. Second, pick your cut-off valve of choice (I picked cold) and turn it on. Third, watch water spray out of the connection between the cut-off valve and the feed-line. Fourth, freak-out and turn off the water. Fifth, call yourself a fuckwitted dumbass for not remembering that you only hand-tightened the connection while setting up your Patomkin Village. Sixth, tighten the connection with a wrench and try again. Seventh, listen to the air clear out of the faucet and then the water pour into the basin. Eighth, congratulate yourself prematurely for a job well done. Ninth, watch water trickle onto the floor from the drainpipe. Then cuss for as long as you feel necessary. Turn off the water and mop up the mess. See! You’re getting the hang of it. Now you too can be a DIY plumber!

Anyhow, even though I know the drain leaks, I decide to try the hot water too. Fortunately, it works. Unfortunately, it flows like it has an enlarged prostate. Lovely. Then I remembered that you should take the mesh screen of the faucet’s nozzle when you first turn on the water. This is why.

Dirt, PVC shavings and whatever else that goes into a pipe while you're building a house. Removing this improved the flow, but it was still lacking. I start fiddling with the faucet thinking that maybe it isn’t open all the way. My efforts are rewarded with a fount of water squirting out of the hot water knob. Fuck. I quickly close it and think, “Shit. I broke the bloody faucet.” While pondering this, I crawl under the sink and try to tighten the drain trap to stop the leak. No luck. I need a second person to keep the drainpipe from spinning as I tighten or membership at gym so I’m strong enough to do it myself. Disgusted, I decide that it’s time take a cold shower (see poison oak comments above) and to get ready for bed.

As I wander the house fully naked looking for a towel, I’m thinking about the hot water faucet. Maybe it’s just clogged with the same junk that built up in the nozzle screen? I wander back to the bathroom and start messing with the sink when I swear that I hear someone whistling at me. I look around and out the huge window I’m standing in front of (no window treatments yet of course). No one. Then I think I hear it again. And again. I pull on a pair of shorts and go outside. There is no one there. Great. There is a crazy person in these woods somewhere and it is me.

Just for the record, I think that I’ve got the hot water fixed so I won’t have to completely disassemble this faucet. Now I can go to work on the second sink.

Anyhow, a cold shower and a glass of rum later, I was feeling much better. Sort of.

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Anonymous marye said...

oh no!
THAT was (please forgive me) hysterical. really. I am glad it wasn't me.

12:08 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Maybe it was one of your ghosts whistling at you!

12:35 PM  
Blogger Kelli said...

Wow, your posts are so full of allusions and references... it's like reading Joyce or something. I believe yours is the most literary house blog I've come across.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Christine said...

ROTFLMAO!!! I have tears streaming from my eyes and the family is looking at me like I've lost my mind. Thanks for the good laugh.

6:39 PM  
Anonymous Trissa said...

And so where was the whistling coming from? My plumbing projects usually involve a minimum of three trips to the hardware store trying out different parts. Is it now fixed?

7:37 PM  
Blogger EGE said...

Sounds familiar...

4:13 AM  
Blogger John said...

Marye, you are forgiven. I'm glad it wasn't you either.

Julia, the thought crossed my mind . . .

Kelli, thank you very much. Sorry for all the typo's; I read back over this post and nearly choked on them. My quality control has been lacking of late.

Christine, your very welcome.

Trissa, I have no idea where the whistling come from. And I've been to Lowe's three times this week. Finsihed? Let's just say that it is a work in progress.

Ege, doesn't it though. At least I'm not in the emergancy room like your poor boy.

2:03 PM  
Blogger HomeImprovementNinja said...

I HATE plumbing too. Every grey hair I have, I call "plumbing".

2:39 PM  
Blogger Jenny said...

John! This blog is fantastic. Will you please email me? I've got a question for you about advertising on your site.

jenny at blogher dot org

7:21 PM  

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