The Top 10 Things My Father Taught Me

dad 2Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there. You are badasses and we love you for all the badass things you do for us! This one is for my Pappy who has been there for me since, well, birth and will continue to be my rock forever.

Readers: Each part is a song title and the links take you to the song, maybe even a music video 🙂 Also the numbers are of no particular value since these are all priceless lessons he’s taught me. Enjoy!

If I had a hammer

Oh the art of doing stuff. Dads are great teachers of stuff. All kinds of stuff! My dad taught me to ride a bike, throw a ball, check my oil, change a tire, care for tomatoes, navigate, fish, the list goes on and on and on…..

It’s funny; we were just talking about this last weekend! Dad was complaining that in the age of technology, there is no room for the grease monkeys of the past. I think he was feeling a bit devalued amongst all our technology and the fact you can Google anything these days and it will give you the answer, with pictures, and detailed instructions.

All of us, in earnest, completely admonished the notion. Sure a user’s manual is great but knowing a guy who doesn’t need the manual…. So much better! Am I right? Thank God I know a guy…. And that guy is my Dad.

I like it like thatdad 1

If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself. I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I know a big part of that comes from Dad’s meticulous attention to detail …especially when it came to the cars. Good lord! You know that guy who wipes the car with a diaper… well maybe not that extreme but damn near close. If it’s a sunny day, you bet the cars are out being washed, waxed, and shined like they were going to a show later that day. And if you came home with a ding, dent, scratch, thread out of place, you better look out, there would be hell to pay. You don’t want to know about the day I totaled the Cabellero (GMC’s version of and El Camino, a collector’s edition) I feared for my life! Since the minute I got my very own first crap-tastic car, I have never been invited/allowed to drive it again. It still sits in the driveway, in mint condition, taunting me!

I may not take as good of care of my car as my father does his but the principle is still there in theory. When it comes to the things I’m passionate about: teaching, cooking, writing, photography, hosting, gardening, etc. If it’s not perfection, I won’t stop until it is… and then I’ll blog the sh*t out of it!


This is everything in our family. If ever a disrespectful or foul word was said to an elder, well, you’d get your ears boxed! Plain and simple. It’s just not how we do things. Elders get respect and reverence for their efforts and contributions to the family. When growing up in my extended family, pecking order was very important. Age and experience defined your position and the relevance of your opinion. Being one of the youngest for the first 20 years of my life, didn’t bode well for my notions being considered valid. However, it taught me respect for those who’ve been around longer and probably possess greater knowledge and experience than my own.

It’s a Family Affair

dad 4I will never forget the time that my cousin, Cindy, and her family were in from Michigan circa 1999. I was bartending/ hosting/ serving at Black Angus. I had made arrangements well in advance to take the evening off so I could go see my cousin. You see, she was born and raised in Washington, same as I, and  practically a sister. When she got married, she moved to Michigan and I rarely had opportunities to see her. Needless to say, it was a big deal when she came home. So, of course, I planned ahead (I’m a big planner) and took the evening off 2 weeks prior. Well, one of the managers at the time often butted heads with me (I was 21, I butted heads with everybody, let’s be real). To prove a point, I’m pretty sure his dominance, he told me I had to stay and work the evening shift since someone called in. To put it mildly, I was upset. I called my Dad and asked him what I should do. He raised me to always listen to my higher ups and put up with the crud, but this crossed a line… His response was simple “Family comes first. You haven’t seen your cousin in a long time and this job is not your career. If they fire you, we’ll cover you until you get a new job.” I was so thankful and grateful for his response. I walked up to my butthead boss and told him I was walking. He suspended me for a week and when his boss got back from vaca, it was his ass on the line, not mine. I win!

Still, family always comes first in everything. It’s the keystone of our family traditions and love.

I Say a Little Prayer

It never ceased to surprise me that whenever things went South, both of my parents would encourage me to pray. I grew up in a Lutheran community and spent many of my formative years questioning everything about my religion, and everyone else’s for that matter. In the end, the one principle that supersedes all others is to have faith. Whether it’s in God almighty, or human kind, you have to have faith.

When Mom would throw up her hands at my crazy ways, my dad would spare a little more patience and tell me to pray. So I keep the faith. Whatever that may be, I believe.

Won’t back downdad 5

Perhaps you could call this stubbornness. Perhaps tenacity. I prefer tenacity. I leave the stubbornness to the men folk. My father and Mountain Man in particular. When it comes to something I believe in, to the core, I was taught to dig in my heels and stay the course. So many times I’ve found myself out there on the edge of a cliff alone, and I had to just grit my teeth and go for it. Even still, I could hear my dad rooting me on in the back of my head, telling me to go after it. The cheese might stand alone, but at least it stands!

I Love to Laugh

The Plumber and Parrot Joke:

A lady was expecting the plumber; he was supposed to come at ten o’clock. Ten o’clock came and went; no plumber; eleven o’clock, twelve o’clock, one o’clock; no plumber.

She concluded he wasn’t coming, and went out to do some errands. While she was out, the plumber arrived.

dad 6He knocked on the door; the lady’s parrot, who was at home in a cage by the door, said, “Who is it?”

He replied, “It’s the plumber.”

He thought it was the lady who’d said, “Who is it?” and waited for her to come and let him in. When this didn’t happen he knocked again, and again the parrot said, “Who is it?”

He said, “It’s the plumber!”

He waited, and again the lady didn’t come to let him in. He knocked again, and again the parrot said, “Who is it?”

He said, “It’s the plumber!!!!!!!!”

Again he waited; again she didn’t come; again he knocked; again the parrot said, “Who is it?”; “Aarrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!!!” he said, flying into a rage; he pushed the door in and ripped it off its hinges. He suffered a heart attack and he fell dead in the doorway.

The lady came home from her errands, only to see the door ripped off its hinges and a corpse lying in the doorway, “A dead body!” she exclaimed, “Who is it?!”

The parrot said, “It’s the plumber.”

That is one of my all-time favorite corny jokes. Told by my father over the dinner table. There are so many, I can’t even begin. It could be a whole other blog post! I’m sure my sense of humor is a direct descendent from my fathers. He could always always always make me laugh! Whether it was his impeccable Grover impression or just his laughter over an ironic situation he had me belly laughing right along with him.

Human Behavior

Mistakes are human and we all do it. Sure when he made mistakes it was often followed by a string of pseudo explicatives similar to those mentioned in “A Christmas Story” but a little more ridiculous. The one I remember more than anything, and I share it often, is the GOD DAMN FIDDLESTICKS! Honestly if you’re going to say God Damn, you may as well follow through with the rest.  But fiddlesticks is what always came out, every time. It’s become a joke in my life. If something went wrong, was it fiddlesticks worthy?? I found some for sale at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. I immediately snapped a pic and sent it to my dad with the message, “Do you need some? If so, what size?” He laughed.


Still, mistakes will be made, and for the ones that involve inanimate object, try throwing out a “FIDDLESTICKS” and see if it works for you…. Worked for my dad!

Strongerdad 3

“Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” Ever heard that one? Did it come from your dad? Yeah, me too. Oh it irritated me when I was young. As kids, we take everything so literal. I wasn’t wearing boots! And if I was, they were probably velcro…. it was the 80’s. But now I tell it to myself all the time. Not even thinking about the origin or the literal meaning. Just remembering that my dad is in my corner and that’s what he’d tell me if I told him what was going on.

Straight Shooter

The No. 1 part of being part of my father’s side of my family has always been to sniff out the bullshit and squash it. I don’t tolerate it and I don’t dish it out. It’s a point of pride in our family. If you could design a family crest for us I’m sure it would look like this:

Ok gross but really, we don’t put up with it, at all.

Why is that such a big deal? Its how I gauge who I bring into my life and who I don’t. If you’re not honest with whom you are, what you’re presenting, or how you feel about me, you won’t last long in my world. Frankly I’m a happier person for figuring out how to apply this to all relationships. The people I keep close tell it like it is, always, and I love them for it. I would have never had the wonderful relationships I have without my father’s guidance on this matter.

So there you have it. The wisdom that is my Father. Happy Father’s Day to one and all. The soon to be and the ones who have been that many times over. We love you for everything you’ve taught us. Thank you!!

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