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!

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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5 Comments:

Blogger Amalie said...

Mm. I love Orwell's "nonfiction"-- Down and Out in Paris and London and Road to Wigan Pier. I did my thesis on those and have sufficiently forgotten enough of what that whole project was about that I was just thinking a reread might be in order. That and Hanif Kureishi's Buddha of Suburbia, also of the thesis days. That one never gets old.

8:41 AM  
Anonymous denise said...

I had a year, probably around 1994, where I had to dump $4000 into my 1987 VW Cabriolet for various things, including replacing the transmission. People were telling me it wasn't worth putting the money into, including my mechanic brother-in-law, but like you it would've cost a lot more to buy another car. So I did it anyway. I'm happy to report that the car is still going strong at age 21! Same transmission, same clutch. Good luck with yours!

9:34 AM  
Blogger John said...

Amalie, I read a gob of Orwell a few years ago. While I've always like his work, I really loved his essays. Great stuff. I haven't read Animal Farm and 1984 since high school, so it'll be interesting to see what I get out of them know.

I've never heard of Hanif Kureishi before. I looked him online and it sounds like a good book. I finished England's Dreaming by Jon Savage earlier this year which covers roughly the same time period. It ought to make for an interesting companion book. Thanks for the recommendation!

Denise, awesome! That is exactly the kind of story I needed to hear! I got 289,000 miles out of the first engine, 220,000 miles out of the first transmission, and 50,000 miles out of the second transmission (if you include the pre-used miles you get a total of 220,000 for that transmission too). The replacement ones have 87,000 miles on them, so I'm hoping for 200,000 more miles on the engine and 140,000 on the new transmission.

10:00 AM  
Blogger StuccoHouse said...

I once owned a Saturn until at just under 5 yrs the engine imploded. Hated that car, still do (spit). I too would go with the Honda.

Wow, we have similar tastes in lit. My all time fav is Moveable Feast. Have you read Hemingway's The Dangerous Summer? How about Midnight Express? I'm about to reread To Kill a Mockingbird.

3:11 PM  
Blogger John said...

Stuccohouse,

Honda's are good cars. I had a Civic back after I graduated from college. It was a really good.

I could see where you'd hate your Saturn. I've heard that the quality of them has really gone downhill since the first came out in the 1990's. Or, maybe yours was a lemon? They certainly are not my idea of a dream car in any case.

Regarding literture, I really haven't read much Hemingway. I read a Fairwell to Arms in high school and the Old Man and the Sea in junior high. I don't have the clearst memory of either. A co-worker of my wife's LOVES Hemingway. She recommend A Moveable Feast, so I thought I'd give Hem another try. It was a good read, but I'm still mystified by the very militant following he has. He's a good writer, but I'm still trying to cypher out what exactly it is that he does that drives people (usually aspiring writers and journalists) wild.

7:50 AM  

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