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, January 15, 2008

It's A Disaster

[I found this draft post today; it was supposed to have gone up a couple of weeks ago, so sorry if it's dated. It should have gone just before or after this one.]

See, it’s not just me who’s become disillusioned with the whole process.

The problem with spending a lot of time navel-gazing about your house, your life, and your universe, is that eventually you start thinking that everything relates to you. I know, very narcissistic. Song lyrics are the worst. What started as a midnight raid on the last of the Christmas Krumkake with a glass of milk ends up with you cackling like the Mad Hatter in with a mouth full of cookies because you have found the theme song to your home improvement efforts:

"It's a disaster
It's an incredible mess
But it's all we've got now
Yeah it's all we got
Howling with laughter, panic
alarm, and distress
But it's all we've got now
Yeah it's all we got"

Fortunately (?), no one was home at the time.

While I'm on the topic of the many moods of home improvement, I can’t help but wonder if there is a cyclic timeline/pattern that all home improvement projects move through. Something like this maybe?

Year 1: Euphoria of acquiring said house and beginning work with naïve gusto.

Year 2: Saddled with the realization that this is going to be much harder than you anticipated, you still manage to dig-in and keep working hard. On the upside, if you haven’t accidentally killed yourself, your skill level should be steadily improving at this point. It’s definitely a small bonus, no?

Year 3: You can feel the cosmic screws tightening on you. You work harder out of a sense of desperation and secretly begin wondering if this really was such a good idea.

Year 4: You are so fucked and you know it. You might manage one last desperate push to end it all, but chances are you fail. If you have any luck, the house is mortgaged and you have enough money to make your monthly payment. If not, foreclosure might be a blessing.

Year 5: If you’ve made it this far, you’ve abandoned belief in lists, plans, budgets, or organized progress at any strategic level. To save you sanity, you’ve come to embrace the beauty of tactical victories. If you can make yourself tackle one tiny project at a time ad infinitum, you may finish. Self-medication or prescription drugs may be necessary to maintain you calm.

Year 6: You list the house for sale whether it’s finish or not. Or, you resign yourself to the fact that you are work not on a home but a mausoleum. The house will never be finished and you will die here. And, you are okay with this.

Year 7: Success is not an option. You move on with your life. Hopefully this involves a substantial inheritance, winning the lottery, and a book or movie deal. Bugger the house.

Some of you have been at this old house, DIY thing a lot longer than me. What do you think? Does this sound right to you?

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Anonymous Kate H. said...

Look at it this way: You can sing this plaint because you've actually been working on your old house, unlike some of us shatter-brained, shiftless louts. You didn't expect it to get itself done by magic-- and by gum, you were right!

BTW-- "The Mad Hater." That's a great Freudian slip. Or was it?

2:29 PM  
Blogger Derek said...

We're entering year 4, and it seems to be getting better. We have all the tools and the know how, and we're starting to work on projects that actually will be seen, not just making sure the house won't fall down. Maybe once we start to work more in the living space, I'll feel differently.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Jamaila said...

I think I'm ahead of the curve. I'm just starting year 3 and I'm already at "bugger the house".

4:11 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

We are soon to enter year 7 of our 3 year project. Of course we have Elizabeth as our reward and she is a time magnet. The key is to never lose sight of your end result. We are so far over the hump that it would be a shame to slack off now. Of course I know I will have projects for another 10 years but that just gives my life meaning. It's better than sitting on my butt watching Jerry Springer! I am more in tune with reality than I was 6 years ago.
Always remember. If at first you don't succeed, use a bigger hammer.

7:09 PM  
Blogger Gary said...

You have been tagged by the Linky Love Train:

Whaaaahahahahahahahahaha! (maniacal laughter)

9:03 PM  
Blogger John said...

Kate, that is a lovely Freudian slip. Guess we all know what's on my mind. Hmm.

Derek, having the tools definately helps. It was much easier working on the house before ours got stollen in year 2.

Jamaila, Amen.

Gary, good point. The trouble is long this goes, the more impatient I become. Grrr. As for the "Linky Love Train," is that the blog equivalent of a STD?

6:12 AM  
Blogger John said...

Damnit. I meant to say the "the longer this goes . . ." in the comment above. Oh well.

6:13 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

I started reading your blog when I found out your fam used to own my house. This post is soooo true.

we are on year 13 of a damn bathroom renovation. Everytime we save enough $$$$ to finish the thing, a water pipe breaks/radiator explodes/roof leaks and ruins another room. stupid house. I will die here.

7:01 PM  

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