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, May 29, 2008

Troubles and Respite (Part 1)

The last few weeks have been very busy.

First off, I sold off my VW Beetle. It had been in the shop for the last five or six weeks. Actually, it's been in two different shops during that time. I got it out of the first shop, and it ran for three days somewhere in the middle these six weeks. Then it broke down again. I dropped it off at another shop since shop number one obviously didn't fix the problem. During that short period that it ran, I decided to buy a new used-car. I was driving the VW to the dealer for a trade-in estimate when it crapped-out. Lovely. A definite deal-breaker. In hindsight, it is almost funny. Actually, if it was someone else's life, it would be.

The most recent update I had from shop number two was that they were still trying to figure out what was wrong with the car's electrical system. One of the car's fuse boxes had melted, so they had to replace it before they could start looking for the real problem. That's right, a melted fuse box was, "symptomatic and not the real problem with the car." Anything that causes your fuse box to melt is not good and most likely very expensive.

I don't know much of anything about cars, but I do know that every time the Beetle goes in for some work, I'm probably looking at $1000 shop bill. I was terrified as to what the "real problem" might be and how much that would cost.

Then, I received a miraculous phone call. A man called and said that he'd like to buy the car as-is and he'd pick up the shop bill. After several phone calls and talking to the mechanic, we came to an agreement. I sold the car and a great deal of worry. He got the title and a car that would have been shot and sent to the glue factory if it were a horse.

I'm still looking for a replacement car. My father-in-law has been kind enough to loan me one of his cars until I find something. Before I go any further, let me preface this by saying that I am in no way complaining about my loaner. It's free and it runs. I have no complaints. This is particularly true if you compare it to some of the other fine cars that I've borrowed from my father-in-law over the years. When you consider that no less than fifty-percent of them have exploded, the fact that it runs is fantastic. Okay, I have to admit, the whole exploding car thing is a bit of hyperbole. Only the engines did. And they didn't some much as explode as melt, lock-up, and squirt oil everywhere. And smoke.

My current ride is 2003 Cavalier. For those you who might not be familiar with this fine driving machine, it's Chevrolet's version of a compact-sedan something like a Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic except that it's made out of plastic and pressed tin.

While the Cavalier is condom like in that it should be bought new, used once, and thrown away, it is not a car that will get you laid. In fact, if any of you have a teenage boy with a driver's license and you do not what to become a grandparent in the immediate future, buy them this car. With an engine that revs like a farting zipper and trails a cloud of noxious gray-white smoke, this car will impress the ladies.

This particular Cavalier leaks or burns (or both) roughly a quart of oil a day. With the correct combination of deceleration while in gear followed by aggressive acceleration, this car lays down an impressive smoke screen like one of those cute little World War Two destroyers trying to screen the aircraft carrier from a Kamikaze attack.


Gideon has named the car Stinky-Pete.

While I've never been too concerned about my car's appearance, it's been hard learning to live with Stinky-Pete. I feel guilty that every time I drive this car, a huge swath of the Amazon Rainforest dies and global temperatures creep up a degree or two. I find myself deliberately avoiding high traffic pedestrian areas because it's embarrassing to pull away from an intersection when you get a green light, and all the poor people collapse, writhe, and die in the crosswalk.

In addition to this car drama, we've been doing what we can to survive the recession. I know that technically this economic downturn has not been named a recession by very authoritative sounding bean-counters since we haven't had two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth, but, if Warren Buffett says he thinks it's a recession, I'll believe him. He a lot smarter than me and more successful than the average bean-counter, so I figure he'd know.

The best thing that has happened in the last few weeks is that we've acquired two new renters both by the name of Anna. If we find one more, I think that it will officially qualify as a collection. We helped one Anna move in since she was an acquaintance of my wife. That went pretty well minus the fact she lived in a pseudo-ghetto and she nearly got us into a fight with someone who was probably a Latino drug-dealer and/or gang member on accident.

My other attempts to find extra money have not been nearly as successful. Selling artwork and miscellaneous junk on eBay used to be a great source of beer money in times past. Now, not much of anything is selling. I've gone so far as to look for a second job, but there isn't much out there. I'm hoping that my cost-of-living-adjustment for the next year, plus the two renters, plus cutting back on a bunch of crap will keep us afloat. I think it will, but I still don't feel good about things. I've been granted a respite but not a solution.

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8 Comments:

Blogger Amalie said...

How I sympathize with this post...I, too, have a VW Bug-- an '03, matter of fact-- and I want rid of it so bad I can taste it. My final straw was when the water pump blew at 50k miles between Fayetteville and Fort Smith in Chester. And when I called the roadside people and tried to explain to them that there's really only one road in Chester, the woman couldn't get her head around a town with one exit from the highway (I think it's lucky to have that). Then it was in the shop for 2 weeks while they told me it would be ready "tomorrow" every single day.

Not to mention the near impossibility of changing a headlight without breaking something.

I. Want. Out.

Our other car is a '99 Cavalier. Surprisingly, it's still hanging in there.

6:41 AM  
Blogger John said...

God, I forgot about changing the headlights. Who ever designed that set-up should be shot.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi - I'd like to buy one of oyur paintings. How can I contact you directly?

7:05 AM  
Blogger John said...

Laura,

Please email me at thedevilqueen(AT)hotmail(DOT)com. Just let me know what you are interested in and I'd more than happy to get it to you.

Thank you for your interest. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks!

John

2:39 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

My sister drives a Cavalier... worst car ever.

Good luck with the money... it's a rough economy. We are hunkering down to stay a while, in a house we thought we might sell next year. We'll just keep plugging away with the sweat labor!

9:32 PM  
Blogger John said...

Jennifer,

Thanks! And, you are not kidding about the Cavalier. My father-in-law likes them because they generally don't loose any value after they've been trashed and he has to repo them (did I mention he's a used car dealer?).

10:54 AM  
Blogger Jenni said...

The "not recession" has hit us hard as well. Several large projects the contractor husband had lined up cancelled. These would have been enough to take us through the summer. I worked as a consultant in the furniture industry. No one is buying furniture=no consultant work. Work is very hard to find right now. The only things we are getting done on the house are things we already have supplies for.

2:42 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

LOL!!! My husband drives a Cavalier (but the more "masculine" 2001 z24 whatever that means). Its not as fugly as the standard model but your description still matches perfected!
I had a 2001 VW Jetta that needed a full transmission replacement ($3000 bill!!!). I traded that sucker in.

11:27 AM  

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