the skinflint philosopher

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

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All full of frolics and fiddle-de-dees

A few days in and I’ve been dosed up to the eyeballs with various fb shares, memes and blog posts itemising exactly how everybody (and their dog) plan to make 2017 the very best they possibly can. Home on the ranch, we are in a slight hiatus wth potty training, so beyond the immediate necessity of asking Tiddler every fifteen minutes whether a bodily function is required, (please note she is indeed living up to the alternative meaning of her nom de guerre, and it is a good job Santa brought her plenty of pairs of knickers, say no more) I haven’t had much time to get my head round ‘improving’ things for myself.

My beekeepers course starts tomorrow evening, so I think that counts as something new and possibly challenging, although the new term also starts tomorrow and I must confess I am looking forwards to that with a downward exponential curve of enthusiasm. Suffice to say, now we have made a decision to leave our jobs this summer in search of the good life (or at least the good gap year if it doesn’t pan out) it is difficult to drum up the same level of motivation for something you know you are going to leave behind. So of course our ‘steps to happiness’ or ’17 challenges for 2017′, or however else you want to parcel up and buzz phrase the notion of change for the better, has to take into account all of that going on behind the scenes.

Interestingly enough, though modern day resolutions are usually to either get rid of bad habits (smoking and similar ilk) or to take on beneficial habits, the original resolutions from the Babylonians prove they were skinflinters (or at the very least minimalists) at heart as their focus was to pay off debts and return borrowed goods to the rightful owners. Medieval knights resolved to stick to their moral and ethical code of chivalry, and perhaps even Lent and Yom Kippur have some links to these ideas too. Makes our western world resolution to join the gym which we then give up on before February seem a little bit petty.

So my take on the best way forwards for the new year has come inspired from Tiddler’s choice of bedtime reading.


Julia Donaldson’s ‘A squash and a squeeze’ documents (in rhyming couplets of course, for toddler satisfaction) the sorry tale of a little old lady complaining her house is too small, and on taking the advice of a wise old man (dressed rather like a 1930’s Jesuit for some reason), introduces the hen, then the goat, a pig and finally a cow into her doily-laden house, and as you can imagine, this farmyard menagerie play merry havoc till she implores the wise man to help her again. His advice this time is to take all the animals out, and lo and behold, she discovers her house that was ‘weeny for five, was gigantic for one’. So happy is she in this new state of enlightenment that she is ‘full of frolics and fiddle-de-dees, it isn’t a squash or a squeeze’.


Reading this on a grown-up level, my thoughts are:

  1. Be happy with what you have in the first place. This reminds me of that (probably terribly misquoted proverb) “I cried because I didn’t have any shoes, and then I met a girl who didn’t have any feet”.
  2. Small is beautiful.
  3. Less is more.
  4. Do we make our own lives a squash and a squeeze, and if so, why?
  5. Are our stresses of our own making?
  6. Bring on the frolics and fiddle-de-dees!