Saturday, December 18, 2010

Pecan Place Is For Sale???

After much consideration, we have put the fabulous Pecan Place on the market.  While our stay here has been relatively short, we have decided to downsize and seek something with a bit more outdoor space.  We will remain in the area, as Donnie's family is close by, but in the meantime, Pecan Place is looking for her next caretaker and one that will continue to care for her so she will remain front and center for generations to come.  Pass the word along if you know of someone who might be interested in this beauty. 

Here is the listing information from

These are some of the listing photos:

Monday, November 1, 2010

After 8 Long Months...

The front parlor floor is finally finished!  I put the last coat of varnish on it Saturday afternoon.  It was worth every hour put into it.  This was one of my "little projects" while Donnie was working elsewhere.  It turned out fabulous!

Now for the month-long wait so we can put the furniture back. I want it to be well-cured before adding any weight to the new finish.  After the months of work, I don't want to blow it at the end!

From the Peacock Parlor

From the Foyer

You can't have the after pictures without at least something to compare it to, so here is the just waxed floor right after we bought the house.  As you can see, the design was very subtle due to the deterioration of the 30 year old finish.

I didn't keep track of the number of hours this took, but I'm guessing at least 2 hours per square foot.  Worth every second!

While the following won't be very interesting, this was the process I used as well as some of the things I discovered by experimenting with various methods.  The method I ended up using was the most time consuming, but provided the best quality result.  Hope it lasts a very long time.

The process and outtakes:
This entire project was done on hands and knees.  Since part of it was top nailed and the 2x2 squares aren’t real thick, I didn’t want to use one of the big sanding machines to sand off the old finishes due to the amount of wood surface they remove. 

It was February and cold, so I thought I’d see how the heat gun worked on it.  It worked well and warmed p the room which was great, but didn’t get the residue out of the grain and it became apparent that I was probably going to have to go over it again with a liquid stripper and a wire brush to get the old stuff out of the grain.  I tried a section by sanding off the remaining finish with the orbital sander and skipping the liquid stripper.  The end result was lighter in color and it seemed like the sanding kind of embedded the old finish into the wood as opposed to removing all of it.  It would have been OK, if I hadn’t seen what complete removal looked like.  Needless to say, I had to restrip that whole area. 

 Most of our projects are learning experiences with experimentation of various methods just to see how they turn out and what happens if you approach them different ways.  It seems nuts, since most people like to just get it done, but I like to play and learn while I work even if it means doing something over again.  Here’s the process that gave the best result.  Since this is something I just made up out of what seemed to be common sense, I have no idea of its longevity.  Guess we’ll find out in a couple of years.

Around here, we like oil-based products for hard surfaces.  It’s a personal preference that we believe provides the best durability, cleanability, and accentuates the natural characteristics of the wood, so this process will be based on oil products.

Here were the steps I used that I found produced the best results:

Step 1:  Preliminary stripping of old finish using Kutzit and a putty knife to remove the majority of the finish.

Step 2: Second coat of Kutzit with a fine bristle wire brush to remove old finish from the grain until all the finish has been removed.

Step 3:  Scrub with paint thinner and a vegetable brush to deactivate the stripper and remove the gray color caused by the wire brush, wiping everything clean with a shop towel.

Step 4:  When stripped area is dry, sand with the orbital sander with a 60 grit pad, sanding down to raw wood and removing any remaining ashy places.

Step 5:  Resand area with the orbital sander and with an 80 grit pad.

Step 6:  Mix linseed oil and turpentine mix at a rate of about 2/3 linseed to 1/3 turpentine.  Apply to prepped section with a paint brush and let it soak in for several hours.  Adding the turpentine thins the linseed oil and allows deeper penetration of the oil into the wood.  Adding the oil to the wood intensifies the richness and grain of each species of wood far beyond the results obtained by skipping this step.  Once most of the oil has soaked into the wood, wipe the excess off with a shop towel or that area will become gummy.

Step 7:  Apply another coat of linseed/turpentine mix.  Allow to penetrate for several hours then spread the remaining oil evenly across the finished area.  If desired, apply additional coats using the same process.

Step 8:  I applied 2 coats of Minwax Tung Oil Finish to the completed sections to seal those areas from the dirt, dust, and shoeprints and also to begin applying the sheen.  The MinWax tung oil dries solid like a poly or varnish, but not as hard so it makes a good temporary finish on something like a floor.  I use it on furniture as a finish coat all the time as furniture doesn’t get the hard use that a floor does.  I really like the stuff.

Step 9:  Once the entire floor was stripped and had a couple of coats of tung oil on it, I allowed it to dry for a few days then went over the whole thing with varnish.

Step 10:  Then varnish was allowed to dry for a week, then I sanded the whole thing down with the orbital sander and a 220 grit pad which knocked all the little nubby bits and dust particles that had settled and left a silky smooth surface on which to apply the next coat.

Step 11:  I vacuumed the floor then ran over the whole thing with a tack cloth to remove the extremely fine sanding dust that the vac didn’t pick up.

Step 12:  Before applying the finish coat, I ran over the area again with the tack cloth in small sections, maybe 18” wide and the length of the room, immediately before beginning to apply the varnish.  For this coat, I thought I’d experiment with the 9” foam roller which worked out pretty well.  After rolling on a section, I used a brush to help even out the finish, removed the bubbles, and knock off the “orange peel” effect that the roller tends to produce.  I did the whole thing in sections about 18” wide, the length of the room, and immediately cleaned with the tack cloth prior to the application of each section.   It worked great and got the job done in a more timely manner than using the brush alone.

Step 13: (optional) Given that there are several layers of protective coats on the floor already, I could forgo an additional coat.  We have a huge mess we need to make in there when we work the rest of the room.  There will be a lot of dust and grit that will likely create tiny scratches in the finish.  I’m considering doing one more coat once we’re finished making the mess.  I like at least 3 coats of finish on a floor, so at some point yet to be determined, I want to put on one more coat.  I imagine I’ll decide to do another one next week and maybe a fourth once the room is done.  We’ll see.

If we were going for a semi-gloss or satin finish, the final coat is the time to apply it.  I had heard this once from an old refinisher and I also discovered it on a project that I worked a few years ago as well.  Must be some truth to it.  Gloss finishes have no additives for changing the characteristic of the product from a visual perspective.  Semi-gloss, satins, and flats contain additives that produce a duller finish which is why it is important to stir them often while you’re using them.  Those additives add a little bit of a milky (for lack of a better word for it) quality with each coat that is applied.  Several coats of a non-gloss slightly obscure the characteristic of the wood which reduces its richness.  Applying the undercoats in a gloss and the final coat in a non-gloss helps retain the clarity of the wood characteristics while giving the satin of semi-gloss finish desired. 

The project I was working on when I discovered this was a walnut colored faux finished door.  The gloss was just too loud, so I decided to go with a satin.  There is a little pool in the corner of one panel where a small drip occurred.  It’s a tiny bit milky and is really bugging me, but I remembered what the guy had told me.  Had I been working with something that was lighter in color, I never would have noticed, but looking at that area with the thicker finish, it all made perfect, provable sense.   Just in case you were dying to know.  :)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Riding History

This morning (8-2-2010) the Neil House pulled off its lot to begin its trip to Jackson.  We were invited to ride in the house on its way out of town.  This was taken on High Street.  We got on at "Mae West Curve" and rode it down to past the old Peabody High School.  Our friend, Jesse, the guy in Confederate uniform, stayed on until the trip concludes for the day.  Not every day that you get to ride a house!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Lift Off!

Today's big event.  It was pretty cool.  This morning they removed the second floor of the Neil House in preparation for its move to Jackson, TN.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Neil House Update

I've added this to the Neil House blog, but since plenty of "Neil House" Google searches pull up this blog, I thought I'd post it over here as well.  It's good news.

This was broadcast on WBBJ News Monday evening.  The house is indeed on its way to Jackson to reside at the Casey Jones Village where it will join several other structures that have been saved by the Shaw family.

Video Broadcast: Moving History

Text version: Moving History

To read the plan for the Neil House, please read the "In The News" article on the Casey Jones website:  "Neil House Announcement"

Old Country Store

If you're ever in the Jackson, TN area, please take time to stop by the Casey Jones Village for a visit and to say thanks to the Shaw family for saving the many endangered structures that now reside at the village.  While you're there, check out the great menu at the Old Country Store as well as the Casey Jones home, Railroad Museum, the fascinating things that can be found at the Shoppes, and don't forget to stop at the authentically recreated 1890s Ice Cream Parlor & Fudge Shoppe!

The Shoppes

Please check out their website at for information about what the Village has to offer.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so check out their photo album for a preview of the many things the village has to offer.  Personally, I'm adding it to my list of places to go this weekend!

 Casey Jones Railroad Museum

The source for all photos is

COMMENTARY: America Is Still A Rose

This Letter to the Editor was also written by my brother and appeared in the Cannon Courier this week.  A nice reminder of the things that are important as the holiday approaches.

COMMENTARY: America Is Still A Rose

I have a rose bush next to my carport and often the thorns snag me when I’m getting in and out of my car. The bush was there when we moved in and from the looks of the height it must have been there for many years. Too often I notice how many thorns are on that bush and don’t notice the big, puffy, gorgeous roses it produces on the end of its thorny branches.

As the 4th of July approaches, I think it would do us some good to reflect on just what occurred on this date and what that meant in the history of our great nation. At times we appear to be a nation where thorns have overtaken that old rose bush planted by our Founding Fathers so many years ago.

Many thorns of our past are still so vividly visible today. It is true that America held slaves and continued for many long years the segregation of our fellow citizens. It is true that America forced Native Americans off their land and recklessly killed them to gain our “manifest destiny.” It is true that America did not allow women to vote and often treated them as second class citizens. It is true that during WWII America interned and confiscated the property of Japanese Americans and carpet bombed our enemies. It is true that Americans torched villages in Vietnam and took away the human dignity by humiliating Iraqi prisoners at Abu Grab. It is true that many such instances have occurred over those long years since our birth as a nation.

Yes, America has committed many indiscretions and even atrocities in its 234 year history which should be amended where possible, and at the least learn from our mistakes and vow to never let those mistakes happen again.

It is also true that these thorns in our past often cloud the big, puffy, gorgeous roses that many others have found in this great nation. Freedom of religion and from tyrannical kings was the first rose that attracted many seekers. Another rose was seen in the Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent blood spilled to correct this shameful wrong. The Statue of Liberty has been a symbol of the rose that has brought countless millions of “huddled masses yearning to be free” to “the land of the free” for 124 years.

Roses were also seen in WWI and WWII as we took part in the liberation of millions of oppressed and exploited people. Another rose is political freedom found for those who fled repressive totalitarian and communist regimes. If we continue to peel off thorns, we may even see a rose in Iraq where people, even once subjugated women, are voting in free elections and holding public office; and where schools and hospitals have been built.

Here at home roses are seen in our attempt to amend the wrongs of the past with ended slavery and segregation, giving women the right to vote and equal status, and acknowledging the wrongs on interment and abuses. Yes, thorns still and will probably always will show up as political corruption, extremists’ fanatics on both the left and right, and just plain old regrettable mistakes, but they have not nor do they need to ever destroy the roses in our historical past.

The world loves to point out our thorns and say “see, they aren’t as good as they think they are. They need to become more like us.” I’m not here to argue over who has bigger roses or who has fewer thorns. What I am suggesting is that we, as Americans, acknowledge our thorns, but never forget to look at the roses; learn from the past and commit ourselves to making more roses - our own way.

Let’s continue to stand by those immortal words of our Founders: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

No other nation has a rose like that. Let’s not let the thorns overtake and choke our roses. May God continue to bless America on this 4th of July. And may we continue to bless others with our roses.

Perry F. Louden, Jr.
Woodbury, TN

My Little Brother...

...and my little sister too!  They have a deep caring, giving goodness that makes them so much better people than I will ever be.  I doubt that they know how proud I am of them.

This is an article from the Cannon Courier, a weekly paper serving Cannon County.

CAB Driving Force Behind Baby Shower For Young Mothers

CAB Driving Force Behind Baby Shower For Young Mothers

Perry Louden of the Cannon County Community Advisory Board helped organize the baby shower.
The Cannon County Community Advisory Board (CAB) sponsored a baby shower for teen and young adult mothers at Sunday at the Woodbury Lions Club.

At the shower mothers received needed baby equipment, supplies, clothes, and information from public assistance agencies such as the Department of Human Services, Department of Children Services and SAVE.

Those in attendance heard stories of the issues faced by young mothers and the obstacles they have to overcome, along with information about how to find services that can assist them.

There were experienced sponsor/mentor mothers on hand to answer questions and give practical advice and information.

During one of the presentations, participants heard the story of one teen mother, Kelly Cosgrove, who said via a letter and YouTube video, "I look as things as a mom now, not as a teen ... the most beautiful things in our life can sometimes come from our most awful mistakes."

Perry Louden, who serves as the facilitator for CAB, said the event was one of the efforts the organization does to "give back to the community."

Jessica Tucker, who works for DCS, spoke about the Tennessee Early Intervention Services programs and other assistance offered by the agency. "We want to help you find resources in the community that can help you with those things that you and your child need," she said.

Lisa Baird, who is the director of SAVE, Cannon County's agency to assist victims of domestic violence, said, "Hopefully you will never need our services, but we are here if you do." Baird said SAVE could also help with diapers, clothing and educational materials.

Shirl Louden, who works with DHS and is station at Middle Tennessee Medical Center, talked about Tennessee's Families First program, which can help with signing families up for health insurance, transportation, clothing, food stamps and other necessities.

Perry Louden said CAB is still in need a car seat and two cribs for three of the girls.

Louden added, "We would like to thank these organizations for helping us make this possible: Woodbury Lions Club, Jenny Grady of River Park Hospital, Cannon Community Church, Adventist Community Services, Women’s Ministry of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, Bags of Love, SAVE, Millennium Hair Salon, Hot-Spot Tanning and Briar Rose."

Any agency, organization, church or individual that would like to help people in our community is welcome to be members of the Cannon Co. CAB. Meetings are the first Tuesday of each month. Contact Perry Louden, CAB Facilitator, at 796-7020 or


Friday, June 18, 2010

The Park at International Place Towers

Recently, I had the opportunity to work a contract located in the International Place Towers in Memphis which had the most delightful park in the space between the three towers.  The first time I saw it, everything was in bloom and it was spectacular!  Once the onset of spring had passed the overall look became more wild like something you might see in the woods with tall trees and an undergrowth of smaller trees and bushes.  Upon further investigation, you could see that all of the undergrowth was actually comprised of flowering bushes and trees or trees with colorful foliage and that none of it was accidental undergrowth that comes with neglect or self-population.  Whoever the architect was, he (or she) did a fabulous job.  Not only is it beautiful, interesting, constantly changing with alluring views, it's also human friendly with walkways between the buildings, seating areas, and the constant sound of peaceful waterfalls that beckon you into it's shady delights.

So, with that, I'll share some pictures!

This is the view from the back door of the building where I was working. 

Beyond the front entrance is one of the busiest streets in east Memphis but from the serenity of the park, you never even know notice there's a road out there.

Here's an overhead view of the area.  It's not really that big but it seems to go on forever.  To put things in perspective, all that concrete behind the building is the parking lot.  It's amazing that such a treasure could be packed into such a small area and be in the middle of the busy city.  Needless to say, I enjoyed my breaks.