My father was – still is – a devoted dad and husband in the Ward Cleaver/ Cliff Huxtable mold without the annoying canned laughter. He’s wise. Reasonable. Fair. Funny.
He does, however, have a tendency to croon phrases from old songs at inopportune times. Children of singing parents know how awkward this can be. Say you’re sitting at your big brother’s baseball game when a summer breeze stirs. Your dad, if he is anything like mine, will break into "Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise." Or maybe your mother, never a fan of public displays of affection, or private ones either for that matter, brushes off your father’s hug in the mall parking lot. His response? “I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to start a flame in your heart." Certain songs were accompanied by the bwabwabwabwaaaaa sounds meant to suggest a big band horn section, or possibly Bing Crosby.
Before the age of 10, you might consider Dad’s antics amusing. After entering your double-digit years, however, chances are good such spontaneous aural outbreaks will leave you feeling just this side of mortified. Hang in there. Eventually, you will experience a peculiar emotion known as nostalgia. Until then, your fears of spontaneous serenades are genuine and valid. Real life is nothing like a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical though, unfortunately, a little bit like a particularly bad episode of Glee.
In honor of old-fashioned singing fathers, and modern ones who blessedly remain silent with ear buds because they're listening to the lyrics that must not be spoken, we offer some dad-appropriate home stuff.
Check out Boy’s Fort. What started as a seasonal pop-up shop in downtown Portland now has permanent digs. If stuff can embody the fun and adventure of being a kid, it's probably here. Things like rough hewn wood shelves. Crazy clay moose heads. Found object lamps. As for the repulsive dollhead vases that look like face transplants gone horribly wrong with green things growing out their skulls, I plead girly. They creep me out. They've joined forces with Salvage Works and Solabee Flowers & Botanicals.
Canoe is doing some clever things working with local companies to produce exclusive-to-Canoe products. Beckel Canvas, a company that's been making tents in Portland for some 40 years, created a dad-worthy garden tool carrier that will not be mistaken for a man purse. They're onto something because the Eena Garden Tote, $60, is sold out. No problem. Give the home gardening dad a spade and an I.O.U. Also check out the iWooly from The Good Flock collection of phone, laptop and pad covers made from Pendleton wool. These are the right combination of hi-tech usefullness and rugged Northwest tradition.
Hardware stores with their displays of pulls, hinges and shiny faucets completely suck me in even though I have never been, nor will I likely ever be, particularly handy with a hammer. The fact that one doesn't actually use a hammer to put in a faucet reveals the extent of my non-handiness. Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. has lots of hardware-y things to browse and also furniture, accessories and their staple -- vintage repro lighting. I find the Lift lamp, $99, at top, particularly fetching.