Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Erin vs. the Patio Umbrella

When Tom and I bought our first house, my parents gave us their dark green patio umbrella. It was a generous gift (my mom had purchased a higher quality umbrella than Tom and I would have purchased for ourselves), but likely a calculated one as well; I knew she wanted a new umbrella, so giving us hers created the perfect now-we-need-a-new-umbrella situation on her back deck.

That first umbrella treated us well throughout our five years as homeowners in Michigan, but after less than one year in Texas it began to show quite a bit of wind-related wear and tear. Then about two months ago, when the umbrella finally looked more like Swiss cheese than a sun cover, we put it out at the curb for the garbage man. (Note: the umbrella was gone within two hours, long before the garbage man arrived. Apparently someone really wanted a dark green patio umbrella with Will-sized holes in it.) Let's say this all took place on day #1.

We planned to host an end-of-the-season party for Will's baseball team and their families, so I added replacing the patio umbrella to my immediate to-do list. It took five trips to four different stores, but I eventually found another umbrella in the right color and of the right size, lugged it home, and set it up. This all went down on days #2 and #3.

The following morning - day #4 - the umbrella was gone. I ran outside and asked Will, admittedly somewhat accusingly (I assumed he'd figured out a way to pull the umbrella out of the base and use it as a sword), what he'd done with it. I could tell from the confused look on his face that he'd had nothing to do with the umbrella's disappearance, but he willingly helped me look for it anyway. After close to 10 minutes of searching the backyard like idiots - I mean seriously, where could an umbrella hide?! - we finally found it.
I didn't trust Will enough to let him "stabilize" 
the ladder while I climbed on the roof, so I 
saved getting the umbrella down for Tom. 
This experience - the wind blowing the patio umbrella right out of its stand - taught me two things: 1) the wind is strong, and 2) the stand is weak. So that evening, after Tom retrieved the umbrella from the roof, he put the umbrella back in the stand and tightened it, and tightened it, and tightened it, and broke it.

So on day #5, I went back to the home improvement store and purchased a new stand. I brought it home, set it up, put the umbrella in it, and tightened the screws. Then I went back inside and patted myself on the back for a job well done.

An hour later I looked outside and the umbrella was GONE. AGAIN.

This time we found it more easily...because it was upside down - and SNAPPED IN HALF - in the middle of the backyard.

I put the second umbrella out at the curb for the garbage man. (Note: the second umbrella was also gone within two hours, long before the garbage man arrived. Apparently someone really wanted a dark green patio umbrella that had been snapped in half.)

On day #6, I went back to the home improvement store for the 1,482nd time, this time with my kids in tow. It was not a fun outing - shopping with Will and Hallie is kind of like trying to simultaneously contain the Energizer Bunny (Will) and stifle Bart Simpson (Hallie) - but when we finally left the store, I was the proud owner of a third umbrella and a third stand that the store employee guaranteed me would hold the third umbrella in place.

We arrived home, at this point just three or so hours before the baseball party, and I opened up the stand box. The cement base of the stand was crushed on one side and disinigrating on the other. COME. ON. Can't a girl catch a break?! I may have uttered a few curse words when I made this discovery.

It was so late in the day, however, that I didn't have time to go back to return to the home improvement store. So I gathered up my tools, took apart the second stand, and McGyvered pieces of the second stand and the third stand together to create a hybrid stand that actually held my third umbrella in place. I felt like a rockstar. A super sweaty, pissed off, and considerably poorer (having recently purchased a ridiculous number of patio umbrellas and stands) rockstar, but a rockstar none-the-less.

Here are the many pearls of wisdom I pocketed (in no particular order) during this six-day battle:

1. Respect the wind.
2. If you can't find your patio umbrella, check the roof.
3. Make sure your umbrella and stand are compatible BEFORE you bring them home.
4. Open the stand box BEFORE you pay for it.
5. Don't put anything out at the curb that you aren't 100% sure you want to get rid of, because once its out there, it'll be gone before you can walk back up the driveway to your garage.
6. Don't shop with Will and Hallie.

Well, if we're being honest, I guess I already knew #6...

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