the skinflint philosopher

Attempting to thrift our way to a better life, with a toddler in tow!

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Time and Tide…

I posed a seemingly simple question to a few friends and bloggers a while back, asking them ‘Do you wear a watch?’. Most people didn’t want to answer with only an easy yes or no, but rather wanted to explain their decision making to me. I wonder now if that was because they expected me to leap to some random philosophical conclusions, and felt they had better spare me the (possibly wrong) analysis, or does the ethereal concept of time really prey heavy on all our minds? A quick google of ‘time’ and quotes’ seems to show many with far greater minds than me certainly seem to think so.

This all started with my watch, going strong for around fifteen years by my reckoning (and an Argos purchase at that can you believe) recently needing a new strap and a new battery at the same time. To be fair, in that time period this watch has gone through so many re-incarnations that only by peering through the scratched window glass and angling my wrist just so, can I even discern it is still the same original face. It is still therefore, my watch, just not exactly the same as it started out. I damage watch straps. I get them wet in the sink, and stretch them with weighty carrier bags of shopping down over my wrist, and I occasionally forget to take it off when kayaking. There is clearly no point buying an even moderately expensive watch as I cannot be trusted.

With a healthy dose of skinflintery, the realisation set in that for the cost of a new strap and battery, I might as well buy a new watch instead (and actually be able to read the time easily for a change rather than having strangers ask me if I am OK every time I have to stop and spend five minutes squinting up my sleeve). But then I thought, do I actually need a watch? Digger never wears one, as impractical for his work, and as he says, if he needs to know the time he looks at his phone. A realisation now, that Tiddler is growing up a little bit behind the generation of kids that won’t have watches, or need to learn to tell the time with a movable hand clock face book, because of the latest iphone in their pockets. I thought I had it easy growing up in the 80’s with a digital Casio, but this is a whole new ball game.

So for six weeks, I trialled being without a watch. True, I had a phone in my bag if I needed to check, and most rooms in the house have a clock for those unexpected time emergencies, but I managed just fine. I managed more than fine in actual fact, going away on holiday, a state of affairs where normally I’m obsessed with being in the right place at the right time, of having to wait, or being delayed, and watching those battered watch hands go round either faster or slower than you need them to. Instead of this expected stress, I found a real revelation. I didn’t worry. Not having a watch meant I couldn’t monitor time. I was no longer responsible. I would find out the time when needed, but I wasn’t constantly checking in on myself. I began to enjoy not knowing exactly what the time is. What does is matter? If we felt hungry we ate, if we felt Tiddler was getting tired we went home. I felt free (of my own auditing of my days).

I’d like to end this blog on a happy note, saying that the watch and myself have parted company for good, but unfortunately, I did have to bite the bullet and bought a new model (with birthday money as a good Thrifter should) as the day job means I need to be very precise with timings- like Pavlov’s dog responding to a bell. What I have learnt though, is to take that watch off as soon as I get home at the end of the day, and not put it on for the days I don’t work or at the weekends. And when we do ‘get the time’ to go a little bit off grid ourselves, then I think that watch can only come out on special occasions. Who knows, I might get even more than fifteen years out of this one.







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Truth About Plastic

Re-blog: All that info all in one place! Thanks to Ecogreenlove for this post. Click on the ‘original link’ below for the flow diagram to end all flow diagrams!


Did you know EVERY piece of plastic ever made still exists today?!

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Life is an echo….

Going back to work today after a break, Thrifter is definitely feeling a bit frazzled. While I like to think I’m up there with the best of them at multi-tasking and ‘keeping all the balls up in the air’, once you spend a bit of time away from the day job it means you have to hit the ground running to get back into what had previously been routine. Thrifter teaches, and so faced with the eager (and not-so-eager) faces of the students, all shiny shoes and new haircuts for the first day of term, Thrifter has to perform, entertain, enthuse and organise.
Tiddler then lost a favourite toy during a walk, a lurid pink flamingo that she loves to rock-a-bye-baby, and cried all the way home asking for “Mingo come back peas”, (*please), and my attempts to suggest he had maybe flown away to live with his family in Timbuktu didn’t do much in the cheering-up stakes.
Digger himself ended up doing a favour for someone that caused more trouble than expected.

All told therefore, a bit of a day. So we are thinking of this quote,


and remembering all the good we can strive to do, all the small impacts we have on other people’s lives without really realising, how teeny tiny elements of chaos theory can branch out into ripples and echos.
So Thrifter is suggesting to keep ‘shouting out’ the meaning in your life with everything you do, and every day that passes, and the good vibrations will surely come back, and make the bad days a little less so.

Rocking with you here Joni, but try a bit of skinflint philosophising to think about ways to make a change instead:
‘And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game’.

Make the change. Get off the carousel.




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Contemptible, moi?

“Miser, one who makes use of contemptible economy to keep money,”1700, slang; literally “kind of person who would skin a flint to save or gain something,” from skin (v.) + flint. Flay-flint in same sense is from 1670s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Translating that into more ‘frugal’ language, a person is skinning that flint by wearing it down until it is a thin as skin through use, rather than replacing it before there is the need to do so. The definition above though, does make Thrifter a little sad today.
Feel free to see thrift, minimalism and zero waste as ‘contemptible’ in your throw-away society. Fiddle while Rome burns. But not on my watch.
Embrace your skinflintery!

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Creeeeyeeeyeeak-thud (is it the sound of falling trees?)

We all have heard, contemplated or indeed scoffed at the famous philosophical question as to whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound if there is no-one there to hear it. Now the details to explain the ins-and-outs of that old chestnut (pun intended, I chuckle to myself) are far better explained elsewhere on the web, for example here at the OUPblog, so read through that to your heart’s content if you need a refresher course.
The Skinflint philosopher has been dwelling on this lately when considering the ideas of noise, sounds and silence. With Tiddler on constant yabber-dabber-doo overdrive, learning new words every day, our waking hours are filled with a whole range of sounds and words, and there is of course a true joy in witnessing this. But sometimes Thrifter longs for a few minutes of sound minimalism, aka, the sound of silence. Paul and Art clearly knew what they were singing about: in our multi-communication society do we really ever switch off? For so many of us our working days are all about talk and interaction, followed by ‘relaxation time’ where we continue to pipe music, noise and all-around-sound into our heads as well.
We tend to think of ‘Eastern cultures’ being aware of the consequences of this, and hence have perfected ways to listen to the silence and in essence act as noise minimalists. Tai-chi, yoga, and Japanese tea ceremonies are amongst many examples, but you could argue the sharing a smoking pipe by Native americans, or the Australian aborigines walkabout has exactly the same concept. It is not therefore about location, but perhaps about time. Down time, quiet time and think time. In a typical rat-race society, so many of us no longer designate time to do nothing, and therefore we are never able to hear nothing. Perhaps we would all benefit therefore from going back to our roots (slipped another tree reference in again there in case you were wondering) and think about giving ourselves some sound head-space.
Now those of you who want to go and live as a solitary hermit in a cave, or join a silent community, you may have the opportunity to reduce your personal soundscape. I can’t go to that extreme, but I will consider the vibrancy of sound, with those crashing creaking timbers of the tree twisting and falling, the disrupted fluttering sputter and calls as roosting birds take to the air, and the soft whump as it returns to the earth.  And I’ll enjoy the silence that follows it even more as a result. Yin and yang, my friends.