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!

Monday, June 30, 2008

Congratulations to My Marrakesh

In case you missed this post, check it out. I believe we have our very first Houseblogger book deal. Congratulations Maryam!


Her Best Asset is Getting a Good Nip & Tuck

Hopefully, these pictures speak for themselves. The bay window's paint job is in the process of being upgraded to the non-zombie 3.0 version. Even though most of the "Clear Corona" or orange still needs to be finished, but it's looking a lot better in my opinion.

And, please excuse the fact that our brick walk is in desperate need of a mowing.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Millions of Peaches, Peaches for Me

After spending the last four years completely consumed with the house, the rest our life has been demanding some attention. Apparently, it was tired of being ignored. So I've had a lot on my mind lately, but not much of it has involved the house. Unless you count gardening, I haven't done anything besides the laundry and dishes. While tending the garden offers a Zen like satisfaction and the home grown tomatoes and peppers are wonderful, they don't make much of a post.

The search for new car is officially over because I can't afford anything that runs. Hell, I've even seen wrecked, non-running cars that I can't afford. The price of gasoline isn't the only thing going up these days. My solution to the car problem is having our old Saturn's engine and transmission replaced. While this is not cheap, it is cheaper than buying something used. If things go well, the rebuilt car ought to give me roughly two years of service before any major maintenance or repairs are required. This is based on putting roughly 40,000 a year on the car.

My father-in-law, the used car dealer, thinks this is a horrible idea since the car "is worn smooth fucking out." To my mind, if the engine and transmission have been replaced, that should pretty well take care of that, no? He suggested that I buy a 2001 Honda Civic with "some front-end and hail damage." Since the money we have from selling the VW wouldn't cover the purchase price for this fine automobile, he suggested that we charge the difference on our credit card. My only response to that is no fucking way.

No one else has expressed much enthusiasm for this solution besides Scarlet. The last time opinions aligned this way, we moved a house. That didn't turn out so great, but in spite of all the portents otherwise, I'm hoping for a better out come. Really, our finances don't offer any other options.

My little sister is putting our home improvement efforts to shame. She is on the verge of finishing all the remodeling and renovation work on her house in under a year. Of course a house is never really finished, but the only major work left is painting the living room, installing some baseboards and trim, painting and installing new cabinet doors in the kitchen, and the bathroom (needs sheetrock, paint, and to have the toilet and sink reinstalled since it was completely retiled). I did have the opportunity to shine as a Home Improvement Superhero, but that tale will have to wait to be told. Maybe next week?

Despite everything we've had going on lately, I've managed to fit in a lot of extracurricular reading. At least once a year, I go on a manic reading spree. Apparently, that time has come. I've knocked out Beauvoirs' The Mandarins and She Came to Stay, Camus' The Stranger, Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, and O'Brian's The Fortune of War. I started A Clockwork Orange this week, and I am thinking about rereading Conrad's The Heart of Darkness if I can find my copy of it. Some other possible future reads are more O'Brian, Andrew Green's The Story of A Marriage, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Beauvoir's The Second Sex, The Lucifer Effect (forgot the author's name), and Pullman's His Dark Materials series. More possible re-reads are Orwell's Animal Farm and Selected Essays, and Machiavelli's The Prince. I don't know if I'll make it all of the way through that list, but if I do, does anyone any suggestions?

No major house related activates are planned for the weekend. I'm hoping we might go and pick some white peaches this weekend and gorge ourselves. Since last year's crop was destroyed by a freak freeze, it's been two years since we've had some fresh-picked goodness. I can't wait.

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Evil Shrub: Official Plant of the Devil Queen

I stumbled across this the other night. Who knew the Devil Queen had a plant species named after it?

Here is the plant's basic information from the USDA:

"Phaulothamnus spinescens A. Gray
Common names: Devilqueen, Snake-eyes
Phytolaccaceae (Pokeweed Family)
USDA Symbol: PHSP2
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.

Plant Characteristics
Duration: Perennial

Habit: Shrub Size Class: 6-12 ft. Breeding System: Dioecious Fruit Type: Drupe Fruit Color: White

Bloom Information
Bloom Time: Aug , Sep
USA: TX Native Habitat: Thickets
Growing Conditions
Water Use: Medium Light Requirement: Part Shade Soil Moisture: Moist Soil Description: Sandy Sandy Loam Medium Loam Clay Loam Clay

Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. BenderSearch More Titles in Bibliography

Additional resources
USDA: Find
Phaulothamnus spinescens in USDA PlantsFNA: Find Phaulothamnus spinescens in the Flora of North America (if available) Google: Search Google for Phaulothamnus spinescens
Record Modified: 2007-01-01Research By: TWC Staff"

And, here are some pictures of it.

Look at the freaking thorns on that thing. They're huge! And, since it is from the poke weed family, you can bet that it is poisonous. As a thorny, poisonous weed that thrives in a hot, god-forsaken climate, I hereby name Phaulothamnus spinescens A. Gray (aka devilqueen) the official plant of the Devil Queen.

Now all we need is an official song and flag and we'll be well on our way to being a semi-autonomous kingdom of misery and woe. I wonder if we could transplant some of it here at the Devil Queen's homestead? The yard looks so bad that I'm sure one more thorny, invasive weed wouldn’t be noticed.

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