Sunday, April 23, 2006

Who'll stop The Rain

Winters in Miami are usually dry, but come April the rains start. Not this year! We've hardly have a drop, the Everglades are dry and grass fires out there are filling the air with smoke. It seems to be a cycle we go through every 20 years or so. At least we've had easterly winds. I remember in years past when west winds carried the smoke towards the coast, enveloping the city, and everybody was coughing and sniffling, eyes tearing. It's bad enough that the pollen this time of year does that anyway. The smoke made it all the worse. And this year is a bad one for pollen. On the positive side it's a great one for dramatic sunsets.

I guess it was close to 25 years ago that my daughter Elena bough me the first folding umbrella that I'd ever seen, a Knirps I think it was called, made in Germany. They were expensive, maybe $20 or more back then, and came in a zippered case. It made for a nice Father's Day present. Eventually it got tattered, torn, and discarded. For the next few years I got by with a regular umbrella.

Then maybe three or four years ago I was wandering around a new place called 99 Cent Stuff and saw a huge bin of umbrellas. I bought one - what could I lose? It wasn't quite the quality of the German product, but not bad at all, and of course no zippered case. I went back a few days later and bought a ten dollar bill's worth. Boy, was I popular with the ladies! "My God, your going to ruin your hairdo! Here, let me give you an umbrella! No, no, KEEP it, it's a gift!" Since then whenever the supply under my front seat in the truck runs low it's back to 99 Cent Stuff.

They're made in China, of course. What's amazing to me isn't that they can make them and sell them at that price so much as that they can even ship them half way around the planet for that price! Anyway, I'm down to just a couple, the rainy season WILL get here, so I should plan on blowing another ten bucks pretty quick. What I'd really like to see for ninety nine cents would be a crummy little bracket with a shoe for an electronic flash, a clip for the umbrella shaft, and a pivoting fitting for a light stand. Why do photo umbrellas have to sell for a small fortune?

Maybe this year I'll paw through the pile and pick out half a dozen white ones to play around with. If nothing else they're a LOT more compact than the ones at the photo supply. It'd be really nice to be able to pack "studio lighting" in a light weight shoulder bag.


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