Two Blocks North

It’s Sunday. My thighs and calves are hurting today. Seriously sore. As a general condition, the muscles I typically exercise are two fingers on each hand for keyboarding, my butt, for sitting too much, and the little one between my ears. Yesterday I joined a dozen co-workers and family (yes, my 15 year old was there running a nailer) to install a floor we donated to the Two Blocks North project. This is definitely not work I do each day, in spite of owning a flooring company. The ups and downs, the kneeling, the bending over. I’m not in great shape, clearly.

two blocks northTwo Blocks North an ad hoc project put together by a few folks to help out a guy who was hit by a car while riding his bike to work. The driver was an 84 year old man who ran a light. He stayed to help at the scene.

The rider is a father and husband, and outdoorsy and well-liked in all the ways Portlanders are. He’s now confined to a wheel chair. The two story four square in North Portland couldn’t work for them anymore. The website tells it better, but the short of it is they were able to buy a one story nearby, and needed to upgrade and make it accessible.

Corey Omey, a friend of his and a principle at EMA Architecture & Urban Planning rallied people and the makeover got going fast. Corey called me about needing some beams. Sure, and how’s the flooring there? Well, the living room and hall are Pergo (retch) but there’s no money in the budget to replace. Okay, we can come up with something, and I might know some folks who would install it.

TwoBlockNorth_ASo sure enough, we found a batch of 500 square feet of our Tradewinds, and barely a word was needed for co-workers to jump in to help. In fact, ever try to install a floor with almost too many people? There was a fair share of jumping over each other, team choreography, and tangled hoses. But one seriously focused install happened nonetheless, from 8 in the morning to about 4:30, with barely a stop for donuts brought by sweet Ashley. At about 3 I started to get dizzy and realized I was way too dry in the throat. We all were. Kate looks up and says, “Hey I’m from California and I always have water in my trunk.” I don’t really know what she meant, but it was delicious water, and now I’m going to carry water too.

TwoBlockNorth_BTradewinds seemed like the perfect floor. We make it from crating and shipping material that comes into U.S. ports, inbound from China, typically. It’s a totally haphazard mix of Indonesian woods. I see meranti, teak, and a bunch that I’ll never know. It’s really not one of our best sellers, I think because its lively mottling and mixing is a powerful look. I love it, though, and Jennifer, our GM, even put it throughout her own home. It would be a good choice here due to its toughness and its visual interest, perhaps.

TwoBlockNorth_CNear the end of the day the new owners happened by. We were experiencing a rare rain-less day, so they had come over to check out progress, and continue to get a feel for their new home, and yard. I was describing the source of the wood to Hanne and Brian, and I mentioned its not for everyone, I suppose feeling a bit self conscious. “But it is for us,” said Hanne.

Yup, my legs are sore. Magnificently, screamingly, wonderfully sore.

Jonathan