Sunday, November 21, 2010

Combining 2 of my Fave Things....

Well, everybody who reads any of my posts knows how I feel about umbrellas.  But did you know there is a whole other side to my life?  It's true.  I also love swords!  In fact, I love swords so much that for the past several months I've been studying sword fighting twice a week at Academie Duello.

And now Academie Duello has combined umbrellas and self-defence with a 4 hour course called, what else, Umbrella Self-Defence!  The class is today and I wish I could take it, but this just isn't a good time.  They ran it last month too and had more than 20 people turn out, so I know they'll be doing it again soon and I hope to take it in the near future.  When I do, you can be sure I'll blog about it!

This workshop is sort of an offshoot of their Bartitsu class, which combines stick or umbrella fighting, jiu jitsu, savate and English pugilism in a very Victorian form of self-defense.

Obviously, one doesn't go around looking for trouble but it's always helpful to be know how to keep yourself safe.  Living in Vancouver pretty much guarantees you'll be carrying around an umbrella for large portions of the year.  Doesn't it just make sense to know a few moves to make with it?

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Thoughts on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is just around the corner and I've been thinking.  We go through so many stages.

I remember being a little kid and my dad helping me prepare breakfast in bed for my mother.

I remember being a young mother and being on the receiving end of those breakfasts.  (They usually featured burnt toast for some reason.)

I remember the handmade cards.

I remember helping my kids buy a gift for their grandmother.  I know, she wasn't their mother but we still did that.  And I know she appreciated the "Best Grandma" mug more than the restaurant dinner I gave her.

Now, I'm the mother of 4 (3 adults and a 7 year old) and a grandmother of 4 (ages ranging from 7 years to 2 months).  I saw my adult daughter, Michelle, come home today from her oldest daughter's preschool presentation with a brand new bead necklace, hand made with love.

So, remember your mother and grandmother this Sunday.  A lot of people will be taking their mothers out to dinner or buying flowers but those things don't last.  As nice as they are in the moment the gifts I remember (both giving and getting) for Mother's Day are the tangible ones.  It's funny in a way because I'm a big fan of intangible ones on many occasions, just not for Mother's Day!

If you're looking for a gift for your mother, how about an umbrella from The Umbrella Shop?  And don't forget to have it giftwrapped for free!

I love my new folding umbrella!  It has that great tone on tone pink roses pattern on top (the one I showed in a deeper red here) but has a floral print inside!  I love that unexpected touch.  It goes perfectly with our unexpected weather!  Right now it seems that we get periods of both sun and rain pretty well every day, so it makes a lot of sense to carry a small umbrella in your purse at all times.

So, go buy your mother an umbrella.  And make a hand made card to go with it.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow

You're always a day aaaawaaay!

Yes, it's the procrastinators theme song.  I'll do it Tomorrow.  But it's true.  I've been trying to find time to get in to The Umbrella Shop (as I said in my last post!) but I'm really, truly, going to do it tomorrow.

You know what I should do right now?  Well, besides go to bed (because it's almost midnight and everybody else is asleep).  I should go clean out my little purse, the one I haven't been using for the past couple of months.  Then I can take it with me and see if the umbrella I choose will fit in it.  Clever, don't you think?  Yes, and take the camera too so I can take pictures.

Besides, if I go choose a new umbrella tomorrow the rain might actually stop for a day or two.  And if it doesn't, so what?  I'll have a cute, new umbrella to keep me dry!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

New Stuff!

There are a whole bunch of new umbrellas in stock at The Umbrella Shop and I've been dying to see them but things have been really busy and I've been putting it off.  No more!

For one thing, I've decided that I need to treat myself to a new umbrella for the spring and I have to pick it out!  I think the one I'm replacing is my old 2 fold, because smaller really is more practical for me.  The stick umbrella sits in the back of the car ready to get me through any unexpected downpours when I'm driving somewhere but I don't always have my car!  Some days I trade my car for the van and that always seems to be when I end up dodging raindrops.  A folding umbella fits in my purse and is always at the ready.

So, I'll be looking and, of course, I'll post some new pics very soon!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunshine and Parasols

The weather has been beautiful again recently.  On the news tonight they talked about how crowded Stanley Park is and how many people are flocking to the beach!  It's hard to believe it's still winter, isn't it?

When I was driving home on Friday I saw a lady using an umbrella as a parasol.  Now, this isn't an entirely unusual sight here in Vancouver but I particularly noticed her for all the wrong reasons.  I really wish I could have taken a picture but I couldn't because I was behind the wheel and it was only one of those 5 second opportunities.

Anyway, let me paint you a picture.  She was using a very small umbrella.  It was a solid navy blue and one of the tips was off, so the one rib was poking out.  Forget the fact for the moment that it wasn't stylish; it wasn't effective either.  First of all, if you're going to use an umbrella to do double duty as a parasol, you should at least use a light coloured one!  A slightly bigger umbrella would have protected her from the rays better too.  It doesn't have to be a golf umbrella, just a decent size.  The one she was using wasn't much bigger than a child's one (and cheap to boot with ugly blue plastic tips) but I can't imagine anyone marketing such a blah colour for kids.  And then there was the damage.  In a crowd you might actually run the risk of poking someone with that exposed rib and the material wasn't stretched properly so it wasn't protecting her as well as it could have done.

All I could think about was, if she'd bought the umbrella at The Umbrella Shop, she could have gone in and gotten it fixed.  Sewing repairs are free and other basic repairs cost $5!  It would have looked so much nicer then, but it would have still been all wrong for a parasol.

I've never really done it, but I love the idea of using a parasol.  I burn easily, then peel and burn again so I try to stay out of the sun.  I know I ought to use sunscreen all the time but it's a habit I really haven't been able to develop.  I try every so often but I really hate wearing all that goop on my face.  But a parasol.  How elegant that sounds.  Maybe I'll try it this summer.  I went searching online, knowing that the kids do sell some parasols and I found the perfect one for me!  I adore all things Victorian, purple is my favourite colour and I grow lavender, so when I saw this one came in lavender I just had to click!  What do you think?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


No, not the TV show or the way everybody seems to be feeling now that the Olympics are over.  Lost, as in "lost and found".  I read an article in the paper (which I no longer have to refer back to because Tuesday was recycling day) that talked about the incredible lost and found setup for the Olympics and all the different kinds of items that turned up there.

Of course there were about a zillion pairs and singles of the ubiquitous red mitts, toques, cell phones, you name it.  Then there were a few stranger items like strollers, which seems like a pretty big item to misplace.  Or perhaps you lost a retainer?  They had at least one turned in.

Then, of course, there were the umbrellas.  Hundreds and hundreds of poor little umbrellas, separated from their owners.  Will their people check for them, going through the stacks, looking for their own umbrella?  Or will they quietly go and buy a new one?  It's a little more daunting perhaps, to have to go through so many that were left behind at various Olympic venues than it would be to go back to the coffee shop or client's office where you may have left your umbrella on an ordinary day.

But just because it might be easier to locate doesn't mean the owner will actually come looking.  I saw one of these little orphans 2 or 3 weeks ago at the Starbucks at 3820 Oak Street and it looked so forlorn I just had to take a picture.

It was tucked away behind some milk crates and up against the wall.  I wonder if she was ever reunited with her owner.  While I didn't pull the umbrella out for a complete check up, she looked to be in good shape and was cute as a button with all those perky little pink dots.  Hmm, did you notice how the umbrella morphed from "it" to "she"?  Why can't umbrellas have personality or gender?  I just hope this umbrella ended up back at home with a relieved owner!  I keep meaning to go back and check but I'm just so busy that it never happens.  Pity, because I even have an unused $5 Starbucks card.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Today Show!

There's international media all over this city right now.  When they don't have a news story about one of their own athletes for 30 minutes or so, they run around and look for somebody to interview, often about something unique to Vancouver.  Interestingly enough, a number of them are beating a path to The Umbrella Shop.

Maybe it's because they've finally realized that Vancouver isn't the Land of Ice and Snow that many of them believed it was beforehand.  Snow?  We don't do snow in Vancouver.  Rain is where Vancouver really shines, if you know what I mean.  If you're going to be stuck in the rain, you'd best have a good umbrella.

Or maybe it was because they like the fact that the store has the only remaining umbrella factory in North America.  It's quaint and quirky to look at how an umbrella is made, kind of like going to look at how the Amish put buggies together.  Well, guess what?  You're probably never going for a buggy ride but I'm willing to bet that you need an umbrella, at least occasionally, no matter where you live.  And if you live in the Pacific Northwest you probably need one at least 4 to 5 days per week during the so-called winter.

Anyway, whatever the reason, the Today Show was at the Broadway store on Monday and the material they taped is supposed to be shown on Friday morning's show!  Yes, I'm serious.  Matt Lauer and the Today Show were there!  I talked to Scott about it, but he didn't reveal any details so I guess I'm just going to have to watch to see if he's on it.  Uh, "he" being Scott, of course.  I know Matt will be on the show!