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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

U is for umbrellas

Somehow when I think of this word Mary Poppins comes to mind.  We have little rain in the desert, so an umbrella isn’t needed often.  When we lived in Oregon, we needed one every time we left the house.  I never saw so much rain in my life.

The umbrella originated in China years ago.  It’s also called a parasol, but generally the parasol isn’t waterproof and is used as protection from the sun, not rain.

Umbrellas can be collapsible, including the handles, but some are made so just the canopy is collapsible.  They’re used on patio tables, picnic tables and at the beach in the summer.  Handles can be wooden, plastic or metal.

The earliest records about umbrellas dated back to 21 AD, but parts for a Chinese collapsible umbrella were found in an old tomb on an archeological dig in the 6th century BC.

Umbrellas were also used in the Middle East, ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, India, Siam, in the Aztec Empire and Europe.

Today the original silk canopy is usually replaced by cotton, nylon, or plastic.  Currently the US Patent office employs four full time employees just to oversee all the different patents coming in for umbrellas.  Today’s umbrella has been streamlined to improve their response to wind.  This is a good thing, as I had an umbrella years ago that would invert in heavy wind, thus not doing the job of an umbrella at all.

In 2005, A Dutch design student invented a storm umbrella that can withstand winds up to 70 MPH without turning itself inside-out.  This umbrella is sold under the license by Totes in the USA.  I have no idea how much one of these new umbrellas cost, but I suspect it’s quite a bit.


  1. Are you an umbrella loser or an umbrella collector? It seems like some people can't keep track of their umbrellas while others seem to find them everywhere.

    1. Liz,

      I currently don't own an umbrella, but it seldom rains in the desert.



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