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July 10, 2020 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Umbrellas, the new mask.

Many blue umbrellas floating overhead. (Mariordo/

With so much up in the air, umbrellas have naturally emerged as the go-too item.(Mariordo/

With wide arching arms, umbrellas cover so much. Now a masking option – despite the fact that they need careful handling and their point is always hidden waaaay above your head.

How delightful to disappear beneath one

A secret dome.

A cave sheltering from pirates.

An outpost on another planet.

An umbrella, a kid accessible escape module.

Never found Mary Poppins’ mode of transportation believable in the least. That bag much too heavy. She’d have rotator cup injuries.

Honestly, her flighty departures were probably foreshadowing of much in adulthood.

That’s the way the wind blows

A not so thinly disguised wish to flee or not let others see.

Useful at times.

Like in that Freshman English class –

During the era where it was standard procedure to have 50% of first semester students to fail that course.

The universal concept was if the student couldn’t write a decent paragraph or essay with ideas well stated in logical, coherent fashion using correct language and mechanics, that individual did not belong in higher education: Either unprepared, lazy, or stupid. No matter the reason, a failure would free up a slot for a student ready, willing, and able to learn at an intense pace and level.

High school teachers determinedly dug in. Threw all the possible writing scenarios at students during the senior year.

We were warned.

So when crammed into that room with the other first semester lumps, I waited in eager anticipation.

Umbrella free ranging in nature. (sculpture Rihanna, walk of lyrics, Austria/Basotxerri/

Farm-raised umbrella free ranging in nature. Something university students would appreciate. (Basotxerri/

What challenge would be flung at us? Bring it!

Would the instructor fling a tomato at the wall, whip around before abruptly darting out of the room, saying “There’s your topic.” (That urban rumor was legendary. Everyone swore it was true. We had been prepared.)

Her chalk screamed across the blackboard: “Write on ‘Why it is good to have a refrigerator.'”

And she sat down with her head over papers at a desk to wait.

The room shuffled nervously. What trick was this?

Noting the clock, I walked thoughts’ tightrope

To take this as a open-ended, no holds barred permission to be wildly creative?

To take the mundane, to twist, and fly with it like Mary Poppins?

Or is the umbrella simply an umbrella.

Intent and purpose can be easily masked. I was wary.

Opted for the basic umbrella essay pattern, which may be Plain Jane, but is functional and will not fold up on you no matter the torrent or deluge of red ink.

You know the one:

The start with a topic sentence (And never write “I think that” because you are writing the darn thing and therefore, everyone knows it’s what you think, so scratch those words out of that sentence. Hey, I am not your mother and will not be following you around for the rest of your life so listen to me!), pick three ideas that support your topic like the ribs of an umbrella keep it up, then write one or two supporting/explaining sentences under each subtopic/main point to act like the fabric between the umbrella ribs so it actually functions. Then once you’ve got a handle on that, finish with a strong closing restating your topic sentence.

The fall back position whenever you didn’t know what to do or where to start.

I think our schools had that invisibly tattooed on the back of our writing hands.

My paper was completed and turned in before the hour was up. No point to keep stabbing on it.

It got an “A”.

And I got the sinking feeling it was going to be a long boring semester.

MAn walking in rain under umbrella (Emmanuelkwizera/

A paragon of CDC approved social distancing who is demonstrating proper use of weather and umbrella to stay safe.  Of course he has on a mask. You stop at stop signs when there’s no traffic and no one can see, right? The same holds true of masks. Honor system.(Emmanuelkwizera/

You think adults know how to use all sorts umbrellas – and they do…

They still duck behind them and hide when useful.

Or when they want to pretend.

Or escape.

Like using the word “unacceptable”. An umbrella word covering so much, it’s trite, useless.

A word popularized by parents who were advised to never ever use negative words “bad”, “wrong”, “NO”, and “Don’t do that”.

Wishy-washy stupid.

A little kid has no clue what “unacceptable” means – or why they should care. Older ones just smirk.

A perfectly good word that has folded its’ meaning into “I don’t like what you are saying/doing”

Used as a shield by those either too chicken to say what they actually want or for cover while doing some political or social polka. Wimping out.

Vague by design. No specifics.

In reality, only a personal opinion.

The immediately response to any “unacceptable” heard ought to be, “Why? By whom? To whom? And exactly what is the criteria used to determining that?”

You might also add, “Who made you the High and Might Mucky-muck? You don’t seem to be able to convey a solid thought.”

But if you do, they may spin up as quickly as a you-can’t-reach-me Mary Poppins exit.

(Do you ever wonder if she dropped the bag or lost a solid footing shoe? Chances are…)

Between mask mandates and umbrellas, who can actually see people these days?

Covert operations?

Maybe just the new invisibility cloaking.

Flying and sighing under it all.

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

vintage dressed girl with umbrella ( 1900. Wendt/USPD., artist life/

That covers it. Just waiting on the next up-lifting breeze.Surely, Mary Poppins recommended long skirts and many petticoats in case parachuting is required.(USPD/









Leave a Comment
  1. easyweimaraner / Jul 10 2020 6:27 am

    I like umbrellas, they are a perfect distance holder… sadly they often come with rain ;O)

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 5:30 pm

      I want one of those umbrella hats! It’s really hot here – it makes me smile when I see people carrying umbrellas on sunny days – often immigrants picking up kids at schools (or they used to)
      My Grandmother had a parasol and said “Ladies never let the sun on their face.”
      And of course umbrellas are always good for Zorro sword fights…mom would get mad.
      We’d love some rain, but umbrellas will only be catching rays here for a bit.
      Thanks for twirling up a comment


  2. Spinster / Jul 10 2020 7:49 am

    “Flying and sighing under it all.”


    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 5:31 pm

      At some point, all that can be said has been said.
      Thanks for slipping by to chat. (Maybe you’ve got some rain from that little tropical storm – will trade you some nice dust for a bit of that rain!)


  3. pensitivity101 / Jul 10 2020 8:17 am

    I might try the umbrella shove next time I’m in the supermarket. Let the grockles get out of MY way or be kebabbed!!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Kate Crimmins / Jul 10 2020 9:46 am

    I remember my first long essay in freshman high school. We could pick our topic. I couldn’t decide. On the day we had to give the topic I said sea life. I had no idea why. It’s not like I lived by the sea or had any knowledge. I started by saying “Let me begin.” My wonderful teach crossed it out and taught me a big lesson that stayed with me (mostly) throughout my writing career. Write quickly and carry a big eraser to get rid of pet phrases! Maybe I need an umbrella. I tend to forget them wherever I go.

    Liked by 2 people

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 5:41 pm

      Umbrellas may be required as defensive social distancing in grocery stores? (“Get back or it’ll be re runs of Zorro sword fights in the aisle…” HAHA)
      Isn’t it funny how some of the most simple lessons are the best and are used the most and longest?
      I’ll never forget that crossing off of the first 3 words either. A life lesson! HAHA
      Thanks for skipping in with a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Irene Tobias Rodriguez / Jul 10 2020 10:46 am

    See more umbrellas at Umbrella Alley and (My artwork is currently on display a few doors down from Umbrella Alley.)
    My husband’s teacher used to put a word on the blackboard and said, “create a sentence.” Didn’t mater if it was true or made sense. Years later, he is still making up stories. Sometimes hard to tell if his stories are true or if he is making it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 12:23 pm

      Great teachers – wait, make that great facilitators for learning are rare. Lucky are those that lucked into having them. A true education.
      My Puerto Rican neighbors tipped me off to their umbrella displays in San Juan. The pictures are fabulous – seeing such art installations in person must be a constant delight. Thanks for the links! Very cool – the sight and concept

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Ally Bean / Jul 10 2020 12:43 pm

    I guess I must be living under an umbrella because I’ve never heard of “the basic umbrella essay pattern” but I understand what it is. We were taught something similar that involved a triangle inverted above three rectangles above a triangle right side up. Very visual, in my mind to this day.

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 5:54 pm

      Probably region differences. That’s a very good visual pattern to learn.
      Actually in 3rd grade we didn’t have illustrations – only Roman numeral I with A,B,C under it then Roman numeral II (closing/summary sentence) and wrote paragraphs, By 5th grade we were doing outlines and 5 paragraph papers. Research papers started the next year and every year after that ( grades 7-12 did 3 research papers a year: English, History, Science) We wrote until our fingers were little nubs. English essays/compositions every other week. Gads those teachers must have been blind before age 30yrs.
      The umbrella illustration( and others) was used with kids who just didn’t get outlines. A different approach- if a kid didn’t learn the concept the first time, no need to drag him/her through the same thing again – must use a different approach until that light goes on in their eyes….teachers used to adjust and teach to mastery. Not sure that’s a thing any more…have to be able to evaluate what the kid needs and flexible enough to find other strategies.
      For most, pictures are the key to lasting memory – worth a thousand words ( If it’s in focus HAHA)
      Thanks for stacking in a comment

      Liked by 1 person

  7. jacqueslebec / Jul 10 2020 3:42 pm

    “That bag much too heavy. She’d have rotator cup injuries.” Great observation, I laughed long after reading this sentence, so funny.


  8. disperser / Jul 10 2020 5:27 pm

    This is acceptable.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. disperser / Jul 10 2020 5:29 pm

    Except for the sentence beginning with “I think” . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 5:58 pm

      HA! You found it! (Forget that rule and an English teacher will haunt you….which explains the exhaustion today…)
      Thanks for marking up a comment


  10. sustainabilitea / Jul 10 2020 5:50 pm

    I’d like to work in “Don’t rain on my parade” but don’t know how and don’t want to spend too much time contemplating it, rather than my navel (orange.) Ha, sorry for the silliness. I put my umbrellas into storage when we moved to Arizona and doubt I’ll have much need of them, although I will take one when I drive to Wyoming. I’d love to whip the top of an umbrella around to block out those few covidiots who still don’t want to wear their masks in a state experiencing a huge spike. Sigh. And the covidiots on the internet, the Karens and Kens, (pity those sensible people named K or K) should be prodded quite hard with the top of the umbrella. That might give them something real to complain about.

    Cheers! 🙂 Hope I didn’t rain on your parade. Ha,ha,ha!! Got it.


    Liked by 1 person

    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 10 2020 6:06 pm

      How about “Rain drops falling on my head” (Couldn’t get that in either.)
      It’s surprising how many use umbrellas for sun shields around here – we used to see them as kids were picked up and walked home from school – sigh. So picturesque.
      One of my grandmothers had some elegant parasols from when she was young/traveled abroad. Much more elegant accessories than what people have now.
      You might want to keep an umbrella out…how else are you going to have Zorro sword battles in the grocery stores to back people off? HAHA
      I keep thinking…one of those clear bubble umbrellas that curved all the way down to your elbows…cooler than a mask – but would it work? Hmmmm. Will ask to ask some medical types. Masks are darn hot…fevers are worse, though.
      Stay cool and thanks for kicking the sand off a comment to leave here

      Liked by 1 person

      • sustainabilitea / Jul 10 2020 9:14 pm

        In France, we visited several towns where lace was done and saw an extremely elegant parasol, elegant but not useful for anything except for looks, which is fine.


  11. shoreacres / Jul 10 2020 6:13 pm

    Bumbershoot. That’s what it should be called (and has been, since about 1890). After all, with a bumbershoot, you can shoot all the bumbers who annoy you!


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 11 2020 2:57 pm

      How on earth did they popularize the current name for those half moons on a stick? Bumbershoot is so much better…especially considering the bumper-snarl sporting events on crowded sidewalks of elementary schools? (Oh, I guess that’s an experience that will no longer happen.)
      Smile is definitely my umbrella with your comment


  12. The Coastal Crone / Jul 11 2020 2:52 pm

    Heck, I think it is hard to recognize anyone wearing a mask. And if I smile no one sees it. Might as well add an umbrella to complete the isolation. I remember having a paper one with flowers as a kid and thought I was cool. And one would be useful in the summer heat. Stay well.


  13. Curt Mekemson / Jul 14 2020 9:31 am

    We are supposed to be enjoying the beach next week. I’m not a beach-type person unless its wild and filled with towering rock sculptures, crashing waves and zero to few people. But if I have to face an eastern-type beach, I want a comfy chair and a good book. And an umbrella. Baking in the sun gets you baked. But who ever thought one might be a handy tool in keeping a pandemic at bay!
    Somehow, I’ve come to like the look of masks on people. Am I weird? Maybe it is because it leads me to focus on eyes, the windows to our souls. As for you taking the safe path on writing your essay, Karen. Who would have ever guessed? 🙂 –Curt


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 14 2020 10:02 am

      The lone wolf that lives long, recognizes the trap. Safe or practical, either allows to live to hunt another day.
      Some things are simply not worth battling.
      Battling the beach sun has never been attractive to me – too much Gidget HAHA or sail driven…and umbrellas try to promise wind swept, but ending up stuck in the sand with their smiles turned upside down.
      Thanks for sifting up a comment to leave. Have fun running with your pack!


      • Curt Mekemson / Jul 14 2020 10:59 am

        Yep, too much Gidget! 🙂 I get more than enough sun when I am out wandering in the wilderness of weedwhackjng out in our five acres. As for the beach umbrella, it makes the experience barely tolerable. Does curmudgeon come to mind? 🙂 –Curt


    • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 14 2020 10:14 am

      The thing that bothers me about masks is the potential how it affects society is this: car behavior. Some people get inside their cars and are so isolated (with the AC, radio, dark windows) that they become another person…sometimes not a nice/safe person behind the wheel – especially with the isolation induced anger around these days. They feel know one can see them…so their angry inner self?)
      Masks have that potential. A wall to hid behind. Easy to dehumanize those in front of you – maybe even to the point of seeing them like images in a video game.
      Eyes are the window of the soul it is said. SO many have such narrow vision now, few bother to even glance at the eyes, much less search them for meaning.
      Why children need to not wear masks or be around adults/caretakers who do. They are still working on body language, trying to figure out their place in the world, and deciphering facial expression is critical for development. (Autistic kids have to learn this skill – it is not natural to most of them causing additional problems fitting into society)
      This virus is causing damage we have yet to know


      • Curt Mekemson / Jul 14 2020 10:54 am

        I don’t feel the same way about it, Karen. To me, someone who wears a mask symbolizes someone who cares. I don’t see them as threats. If I can save one life by wearing a mask, it is worth it to me. Actually, I find masks attractive. –Curt


        • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 14 2020 11:11 am

          Your maskings is completely understandable.A health issue and appreciation of responsibility. Recommended (and we wear them)
          Just pondering the unexpected/long term psychological consequences for children development – and those marginally borderline who are not coping well (or never did but are flying under the radar) or those with personality disorders that are enhanced by a feeling of being hidden/anonymous. Behind a mask you can be whomerve/whatever you wish ( is it like hair color or makeup – the one in the bed in the morning looks nothing like the one you expected? HAHA)
          Society is messy with no clear yes or no about things. Medicine/health either.
          Now if you want to talk Mardi Gras ( here or NOLA where we lived a bit) or Halloween, that’s a whole different thing. I am amused by those now buying masks with designer logos….it’s just like sneakers now! People are hysterical (as in “so funny”…haha and peculiar, right?)


          • Curt Mekemson / Jul 14 2020 11:34 am

            Peggy made some with dragons on them for our grandkids, Karen. Some fun. I wanted one. 🙂 I do get your point about how kids might relate. Kind of like how some kids react to clowns. Scary! There’s no doubt that this will be a defining for young people. Some parts of it may very well be positive, like spending more time with parents. –Curt

            Liked by 1 person

          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 15 2020 6:52 am

            And people have rediscovered bicycles, puzzles, and boardgames.


          • Curt Mekemson / Jul 17 2020 6:14 am

            I think Peggy worked her way through at least a dozen puzzles. 🙂


          • philosophermouseofthehedge / Jul 17 2020 6:36 am

            While finding and defending a space for a puzzle is hard here, we do have a couple…saving them for hard times HA HA. (There has been so much more “walking/strolling” and bicycle traffic around here, we may need turn signals for lane changes as people step aside to give some distance. Interesting activity development – a positive one)


          • Curt Mekemson / Jul 17 2020 6:49 am

            Our dinner table was sacrificed! 🙂 We have seen and appreciated coronavirus polite behavior. Always welcome. –Curt

            Liked by 1 person

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