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, October 27, 2008

Back When I was a Kid . . .

Complain about the cold and you'll get one-upped in no time. I got this email from my mom regarding this post.

"Read your blog entry on turning on the heat. You might find it interesting to know that we had no heat at night when we lived in the apartment building in Chicago. They had a coal fired furnace (steam heat with radiators). The heat went off at 10 and didn't come back on until 6 or 7. The janitor wasn't going to get up and shovel coal at night. Also, there weren't any storm windows. It got mighty chilly!"

I also seem to remember my mom or one of her siblings complaining about waking up in the morning and having snow on the inside of the window sill. Nice.


Saturday, October 25, 2008

Bloody Hell

Home improvement cock-block strikes again.  Spent all day cleaning, painting, and preparing the front triple-sash window so I can put up the storm, and I finished it.  I got the top storm up with no problems.  Went to clean the lower storm and cracked the bottom fucking pane.  My fault of course.  So, I call Lowe's, not because I actually believe they will be able to help, but it's like doing due diligence.  They don't have any glass big enough.  No surprise there.  Saturday night in BFE Arkansas.  It's be Monday before I can even find glass for the storm. Grrrr.

On the upside, I did get all of the living room storms up.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Competitive Freezing

Funny. I didn't realize that freezing to death in your own home was a competitive sport until recently. I read this post which I thought was cool because of the story behind it. Then, I had lunch with my sister, and she told me about some friends of hers who see how long they can go without turning on the heat in Boston. I might be mixing my stories, but I think November 1st was their minimum goal for this year. As far as my sister knew, it wasn't an issue of money or economy, but a competitive need to see if they could do it.

As for me, I don't have a target date. My goal is to go as long as possible without turning on the heat. Then, once the dirty deed is done, the goal is to run it as little as possible. For me, it is all about money. I could have had a nice European vacation for what we spent on heating the Devil Queen last winter.

So far, I haven't been tempted yet. However, this week is the first one that has actually been cold at night. Last night the temperature made it down to 48 degrees. According to the thermostat, it was a cool 60 degrees in the Devil Queen this morning. Tonight should be a real weenie shrinker though with low around 38 degrees. But the heat won't be coming on tonight. I'll just wear a sweat shirt if it gets nippy.

What is interesting is how much just being at home adds to the house's temperature. I've been closing the living room door to the drafty main hall this week. This segregates the thermostat and the living room, dining room, kitchen, and the bathroom/laundry from the rest of the house. That is about 756 square feet. Just by coming home and being there, the temperature will rise 1 degree within the first 30 minutes to an hour. If I cook and turn on most of the lights, you can add another couple of degrees over the evening. If you run the dishwasher and run the washer and drier too, you can bring the temperature up by five or six degrees by bedtime.

I'm thinking that if I get the rest of the storms up this weekend and re-hang the transom over the living room door that it ought to be possible to keep this part of the house pretty warm for a while, particularly if I use an electric space heater.
In any case, it ought to be an interesting experiment.

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Maybe It's the House?

The other day, I went to visit my sister at her house after work. This time of year, I have to drive directly into the setting sun, so I had my sunglasses on when I got there. My sister was out in the yard and gave me an odd look as approached her house. After I got out of the car, she said, "whoa, for a second there, I had no idea who you were. You looked like that sheriff, the Devil, in O Brother Were Art Thou?"

Nice. I guess I can see a semblance. I blame the Devil Queen. I think it's getting to me. Maybe it's time to move?

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Living Small

I know that this has become a trendy topic since the economy flushed itself, but I've always been fascinated with the "Living Small" movement. The Devil Queen is the largest home I've ever lived in with its 1850 square feet. You know what? Even with a family of three, it was more than I ever needed or could use.

I saw this little story on CNN today:

"João Pessoa, Brazil

I have lived in a 25-foot sailboat, a 28-foot motor home, a 32-foot sailboat, and now an 800 sq ft apartment. I was happiest with the 25-foot sailboat.

When you have a lot of "stuff" it owns you. You have to care for it, worry about it being lost, stolen, or destroyed, insure it, and maintain it.

When I had very little, I was free to do as I pleased every day. I had a car and could take off to visit friends and relatives whenever I wanted. Being on a boat, if I wanted to sail away for a day or a month, there was nothing to stop me. "

And then there are the folks at Tiny Tumbleweed Houses. Here is another CNN story featuring them. While I'm all for smaller, I think I'd like more than 100 square feet even it was just me living there. Personally, I like the Enesti with it's 681 to 774 square feet depending on the version. Too bad they don't have a version with higher ceilings. I love the Devil Queen's 12 foot ceilings, and while I'd like less floor space, I'd miss those airy heights.

So, has the whole home improvement experience gotten anyone else day dreaming about living in a shoe box?

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's talk crap

You house people might find this article interesting. I'd never given the whole water vs. paper culture much though. In fact, I didn't know it was an issue until I read this. While there seem to be many compelling arguments for a bidet, they sure are pricy. The cheapest ones cost four to five times more than the toilets we bought for the Devil Queen.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Battening Down the Hatches

The cold has been creeping in lately. This is to be expected just two weeks out from November, but I am not happy about it. Sunday, I managed to put up two storm windows which was one shy of my goal of three for the day. When your in-laws show up and ask if you want to go sailing on a sunny, blue skied afternoon, how can you say no? And, the sailing was great.

The storms should be a quick project in theory. Just sink six screws per storm and they are up. Sounds easy. However, these storms have been in storage for two or three years now and they're filthy. So, after they are wrestled out from under the back porch and matched to the correct window, I disassemble them and wash them down while being careful to not get bitten by a brown recluse or something equally nasty.

Really, the storms are not all that bad, but the windows are. Invariablely, while washing the windows, I discover all sorts of nasty bits I feel the need to take care of before the storms go up. I'm not going for a perfectly redone and restored window just now since we don't have that luxury, but these windows look so fucking bad you could just cry.

The side of the Queen that I am working on now is especially bad. The worthless ass-monkey "professional" painter not only painted this side of the house the wrong color, he also over-sprayed the shit out of these windows. Sure, as he said, you just take a razor and scrape them clean, but that takes time. And, stupid me, I thought the dumb bastard would be doing this as part of the job. Wrong, but you already knew that. At that point, I should have known better too. Oops! Just one more for the school of hard knocks and bruised balls.

As I'm scraping off the over-spray, I notice twenty or thirty places around the window trim that need caulking. So far I've been using one tube of caulk per window. I don't see this trend changing any. I'm hoping to put up four more storms this week, which I might manage if the weather holds. After that, I only have seven (five for the bay-window room, one for the master bedroom, and one for the laundry room) more to go before I'm finished. Who knows, it could happen.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Exorcism of Winged Evil

Even the wicked need a home of their own.

The home improvement monkeys and their close cousin, the flying monkey, have taken on a life of their own. As with any other creature of evil intent and origin, they take over once you invite them in to your home. Since this is still ostensibly a houseblog, I thought I'd move them out before the totally dominated the Devil Queen.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Almost Ready To Go

Minus scraping out the edges and corners so the sander doesn't tear up the baseboards and pulling a cluster of staples compliments of the previous owners, this floor is ready to sand after a couple heady hours of toxic fume inhalation.

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A Product Made Possible With A Tiny, Bloody Hole


Thursday, October 09, 2008

I Am Not A Carpenter

We made just a little progress on the house last weekend. We hung curtains and a rod in the master bedroom closet. The curtains went up without a hitch. Sorry no photos of the window treatments. It also illustrated what a genius Scarlet is when it comes to picking colors.

Me: "Wow, the curtains match the clawfoot tub! That looks great! Did you do that on purpose?"

Scarlet: "Thank you. Yes, I did."

Me: "Genius!"

Maybe I'm easy to impress?

We've been putting off hanging the rod in the master bedroom closet since we moved into the Queen. We kept hoping that we'd save up enough money to have it lined with cedar and have some built-in shelving installed too. Gasoline at $4.00 a gallon and rising food prices sucked up all of our financial slack a long time ago, yet the dream lingered on. Finally, we decided just to hang the damn rod so we could unpack all of our clothes and get all the freaking boxes and tubs off the floor.

Hanging the rod was pretty easy, and it went really well except for the part where stuck a 1 1/2 drill into the back of hand just below my thumb. I was drilling out a hole in a block of wood to hold one end of the rod. I'd already done the one for the other side, so this was the last one. At the very end, the bit hung-up in the hole, jumped, and slashed a checkmark shaped cut in my hand. It was a new bit, so it was a very clean cut. I experienced profuse bleeding and a moment of total shock as I convinced myself that I'd cut it all the way down to the bone. In truth, it was deep, but only skin deep.

This illustrates two important points. First, I have a great imagination. Second, I am not a carpenter. While I theoretically know how to use tools and occasionally do so with some success, I am not a carpenter. Instead, I am pretender at best or at worst, a man with a latent death wish and an inability to recognize his own limitations. To be honest, if I wasn't a damn snob who liked to build his own canvases for oil painting, I'd probably sell or give away all my power tools once we're done with this place. It's something to think about at any rate.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Damn Cheap Monkeys

Not all monkeys are created equal. This are two misprints from a large order I'm working on now. I can't ship them for obvious reasons, but I need to do something with them. The shirts are new, size large, and in excellent shape. If you don't mind the misprinting, they are yours for $5.00 each which includes first class postage to you. Email me or leave a comment here if you are interested. Thanks!

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