I guess at one time or another everybody has been wrenched awake from a pleasant, sunny mid-afternoon snooze in their zero-gravity chair by a patio table, nine-foot umbrella, cell phone, camera, binoculars, half drank vodka/tonic, pair of glasses, music speaker, fly swatter, can of insect repellent, and everything else that had been on the table when the snooze began, on top of them.
I remember the day a couple weeks ago when that happened to me. It quickly closed out a nice dream and left me unhurt, but floundering a bit as I tried to prevent the breakables that weren’t already on the floor from falling there. Those who have tried to arise from a zero-gravity chair know it’s not as easy, at the best of times, as falling off a teeter-totter. Since I start out with the equivalent of a big bag of cattle feed nestled comfortably on my body between the boobs and the belly button I found myself flailing even more awkwardly at that moment.
Once extricated - no harm done - I thought about the silliness of a patio table trying to hold up an eight-foot stick with a nine-foot diameter kite at the top. How many times over the years have I been among a table of friends who have grabbed the table with both hands during a wind gust to minimize the sloshing of drinks and the spilling of peanuts, chips and dip into our laps? And how often does the umbrella in a table actually shade where we’re sitting, anyway?
Mostly we spend the mornings sitting at the next table west of the one with the shade umbrella. In the afternoon we shashay, drinks and snacks in hand, over to the table east of the one with the umbrella throwing the shade.
And where in the world do you buy replacements for those little plastic rings that sit in the table hole to protect the umbrella shaft and the table from chafing damage?
Here are pictures of my solution. A little piece of plywood, with a hole drilled in it to fit the umbrella shaft, screwed to the top deck rail. Placed between two tables one umbrella provides shade to one or the other of the tables at any given time, and even makes a small table itself for those moments when the sun is overhead and the shade is directly underneath. And during a rain.
I’ll probably make some improvements. These were constructed on the spur of the moment with some half inch plywood scraps I had handy. A slightly larger surface would provide a nice bistro table effect, for one thing.
The little tables are sturdy as a tombstone, both for holding food and drink and for securing the umbrella.
Nobody has asked for advice, so I won’t offer any. But, if anyone were to ask, I’d say, “When you find yourself at the bottom of an avalanche, look for the eureka moment.”