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, April 02, 2008

Communication, Or Lack Thereof (An old post written in February)

[A photo of the morning after]

You know, if you tracked me down when I was 16, 18, or even 21 and asked me what I thought I might be doing when I was in my thirties, I doubt I would have said, "Standing shin deep in wet snow, at night, on a forested mountain top, in the middle of nowhere, trying to make a call on my cell phone." As I stared up into the hellish orange-pink glow of street and city lights on the snow clouds and tried to ignore the melted snow in my boots, I wonder what had I done that was so wrong that I'd ended up here.

And, why would I be doing this? One of the great perks to living in rural Arkansas is that a lot of the amenities really are not that great if they even exist at all. Over the last year or so, our phone line craps out after we have a lot of rain. Apparently, back to back snow storms with a thaw in between also has this effect. What is even worse is that I can hear everyone, but no one can hear me. It makes for a very frustrating and confusing conversation until I figure what is wrong.

I called the Century Tel, our phone company, on my cell phone a couple of days ago to complain about it. They said they'd send someone out to check on it. The next day the phone seems to work so I assume they've fixed it. Then, it snows again and the line craps out again. I try calling them from home this time.

Me: "I'm calling because I'm having trouble with my phone line."

Century Tel: "I'm sorry, I can barely hear you."

Me: "I KNOW YOU CAN'T HEAR ME, THAT IS WHY I AM CALLING. I CALLED A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO FOR THE SAME REASON. WHY IS IT NOT FIXED?" In case the all-caps didn't tip you off I was standing in the middle of my kitchen screaming. This was the only way the Century Tel girl could here me, though I suspect I sounded a little irate. Okay, more than a little probably.

Century Tel: "Oh. Oh. We'll have someone out tomorrow morning."

Really, it's unfair to be grumpy with the poor Century Tel girl on the phone. Actually, on the whole, everyone at Century Tel I've dealt with have been very polite and responsive. The problem is that our phone just doesn't work all that well.

According to the technicians who came in the morning, the problem is not with the Devil Queen's phone lines, the line from the Devil Queen to our service box, or even the line from the service box to the "pedestal" ("the green box in my front yard" is not the correct, technical term I'm told). It's the branch line from our "pedestal" to wherever in the seven hells the thing goes. This problem is being caused by moisture leaking into the line somewhere. The problem is that by the time the crew made it out, the phone line had started working of its own accord. And, to pin-point the problem area, they need the line to be crapped-up. So, my phone works for now, but the problem is still unresolved.

"Give us a call as soon as it starts acting up and we'll try to isolate the problem," the technician said.

So, poor Century Tel girl, when some deranged man calls up and starts screaming at you through a bad connection, remember that it's not you, it's the phone line. And, I'm sorry anyhow. If it's not snowing, I'll walk or drive out an try to call you on my cell phone.



Blogger kingstreetfarm said...

Hey, John, if it makes you feel better, we have the same problem and we're like 20 miles outside of MANHATTAN. We have notoriously unreliable phone service in the spring & fall, and our electricity is usually out a few times a month as well during those seasons.
Hilariously, this is what's considered the "country" in New York. Never mind the fact that we pay out the nose for the so-called privilege of living here, and that this town is populated by an ex-president, his senator wife, and numerous movie stars and captains of industry.
Bottom line: utility & phone companies suck, no matter where you live.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Sandy said...

I had that problem for two years. Every time it rained, you either couldn't hear, couldn't be heard, or you had NO phone at all. Zilch. Dead air. They said it was my phone (not so), they said it was my answering machine (not so), they said it was my caller ID machine (not so) and THEN they wanted me to take apart a box on the side of the house and test it (I don't think so -- that's what I pay you big bucks for). They finally found that an OLD underground cable had become porous (not even remotely close to my house) and every time it rained it crapped out the phone. They replaced it and, knock on wood, it hasn't crapped out during a rain since (I just know the next time it rains the phone is going to be gone by saying it's fixed).

5:48 PM  
Blogger John said...

Kingstreet, funny. And, you are right, they all do suck.

Sandy, that is exactly what happened to us except that I don't think the crapped-out line has been found and replaced yet. Still, the phone worked fine last night and the weather was horrible, so maybe they have?

7:05 AM  
Blogger Gary said...

I had this problem a few years back. I started to notice a crackling noise on wet days that went away after a couple of dry days. So I suggest you do what I did. Go outside and look at your line between the pole and your house to see if the casing has rubbed off in any spots. Then, on a good sunny day when the phone is working spray a spot with a garden hose and call someone. Eventually you will find the problem spot. It is likely to be due to rubbing of tree branches or where the line attaches to your house.

7:16 AM  
Blogger John said...


Thanks for the tip. There is a problem though. We ran our phone in through the same conduit we ran our power lines and buried it from the drop-down pole to the house. The telephone company's line from their box to ours is buried too. They checked our line all the way back to their main box and everything is fine on our property. The weak spot is out in their greater system somewhere.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

I always found Centurytel reps to be polite and well mannered. Meanwhile the company delivered less service than they promised, for significantly more money, month after month, until I canceled. Now I just use a cell phone.

I'm glad they have nice reps, but I wish they'd work on the rest.

9:01 AM  
Blogger John said...


If I lived some place with cell phone reception, I would too.

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