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 08, 2008

Modus Operandi

A Happy New Year to you all.

I know I’ve been away for a while, but no shabby apologies or promises of future fidelity. We both know better than to believe that now, don’t we?

As you have probably anticipated, we here at the Devil Queen have been thoroughly entertained with the end of year holiday season. Christmas was a success. Without hyperbole, I can confidently state that it was so good that Gideon nearly peed himself Christmas morning.

New Year’s Eve was uncommonly good too. The last several years, even predating the Devil Queen, were relentlessly circling down a death-spiral. Every New Year’s Eve, we’d hope for a better year to come only watch that year become even worse than its predecessor. There seemed to be no end to funerals, financial troubles, and perfidious ankle-biters. And, strangely enough, I find this year may be no different in some regards, but I’m without my black uniform of dread and woe. So, what is different?

I think attitude is great part of it. I know most people relegate their introspective navel-gazing for the run up to New Year’s Day, but I had an early start this year, think early November. Ever the man of extremes, I’ve given myself a pretty hard ride. After years of trying variations of the same thing, I finally came to the belated conclusion that my modus operandi was not working. In fact, it was eating me alive.

I’m not sure if there is a good way to parse this beast out into its base parts. My drive to finish the Devil Queen at a racecar’s pace had burned me up and out. I’d been reduced to an ill-tempered, high-functioning zombie. My tires had long since blown, but I was spinning the rims as fast as I could. They bit deeper into the road until the car ground to halt. No amount of swearing and wicked mojo could get it moving. The time for something new had come and gone, but, miraculously, it was still waiting for me.

Then an email from the good folks at requesting our New Year Resolutions made me do some thinking. My first thought was, “HA! Resolution? Easy! Finish the Devil Queen!”

Then, I spent a couple of days thinking about what it would actually take to accomplish this feat. An easy, pleasurable frolic with sunshine, butterflies, and woodland nymphs with a little, “refinishing floors, painting a few rooms, and landscaping,” on the side soon became a bleak, five-page list of winter without end. Every room needs something. The flight back from the sweet fantasyland of denial did not end with a smooth landing. Hell, the plane didn’t even crash in the right country. My remains were fished from the forest’s canopy and crammed into an oversized picnic basket.

A generous estimate is that it would take the better part of 2008 to “finish” the Devil Queen.

Instead of the usual gnashing of teeth, the whining, and general woe-is-me carrying on that I usually do because I want it done NOW, I decided that something else was in order. Angst had not finished the house nor made the process move any faster. Instead, it had made me very tired and unhappy. So, bugger the Devil Queen. Finishing the house would no longer by my number-one preoccupation. Instead of complaining about how I didn’t have time for this, that, or the other because I “need to work on the house,” I will now do what I want, when I want without guilt. Then I’ll see about working in some home improvement time. Since I haven’t done much of anything except fret about the house for the last few months, maybe more will actually get done this way, right?

This has been my circuitous way of saying my resolution 2008 is to have some fun and to try finishing the Devil Queen with out being evil. Getting a convertible would be nice too.

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Blogger Sandy said...

Fun is definitely important. Without it you fail miserably at life. Happy New Year John & Scarlet.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Brenda from Flatbush said...

Now you're talking mental health and spiritual fulfillment, sir! For a look at how this works out renovation-wise, check out our peeling dump...but in those 21 years, we've had a lotta fun. Not the house-finishing kind of fun, but fortunately (as Gideon knows well) there are many other kinds...Happy new Year!

11:19 AM  
Blogger John said...

Happy New Year Y'all.

Sandy, thanks. So true.

Brenda, yeah I had that thought too. "Hmm, now I see why some people spend 20 years 'working' on their homes."

12:42 PM  
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