the skinflint philosopher

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


2 Comments

Tidy house, tidy mind?

Seven days left until we leave the island- myself, Digger, Tiddler and a loaded up car of our final possessions. The house is currently deceptively full of things, because we have no cupboards, chests of drawers or storage units to put things in any more, and so our personal effects are like a shifting mass of tumbleweed that Tiddler moves from one room to another as the whim takes her. In reality, there is not much left here at all. The house is pleasantly empty.
‘Tidy house; tidy mind’ I tell Digger. ‘Do you feel an sort of unburdening because we don’t have stuff any more?’
‘We have stuff in abundance’ he says ‘it’s just all at your parent’s house’.
‘True’ I muse, ‘but this little taste of minimalism may be a good thing. To get us thinking about what we “actually” need? To get used to living with less before actually jettisoning off everything?’.
‘Maybe “empty house; empty mind” is also true then?’ he chuckles. ‘let me look in your earhole and see if I can see out the other side’.

ed3a17407698c590171b55e78959d2cf--empty-quotes-feeling-quotes-empty

Once Digger had recovered from the withering look I sent him, we talked about how even with the worry and fraught feelings of this move, in reality we felt so much more stress free than a few weeks before. The removal of ourselves from the working environments in recent weeks (though Digger is still eking out every hour this week to bring in the last pennies either of us my earn for a while- but this time working for someone else so the responsibility and organisation is no longer his) has made a remarkable difference. I felt I had been a bit like Atlas, labouring under a heavy load for so long, it was only once it was gone I realised what it felt like to be without it.

MR8e5370

bb448b07fa3171fc8d0c23be538d670d--decorating-small-houses-home-decor-quotes
On top of that, despite my initial worries, we have sold over the last few days most of the remaining bits of furniture we own. I may even have to ask the village church if they can lend me a few chairs so we can sit round the 1930’s oak table (the one thing that steadfastly will not sell) in order that we are not eating off the floor.
My little desk has gone to a lady who wants to use it for a sewing machine, and keep all her threads and buttons in the little secret compartments.
The tumble dryer has been picked up by two Sri Lankan brothers who have just moved to the island.
The swivel chair is being picked up by someone who gets out of hospital tomorrow, and thinks it will help her with her movements.
The storage units, a wicker basket and a christmas cactus I gave away for free to an ex-student of mine who has just moving into her own little flat and starts her first accounting job the day we leave the island.

All of our little items, that we either didn’t need or couldn’t take with us, are going on to be part of someone else’s story.
I kind of like that feeling.

2ec5d80b27e190de49117bbb5897f1ae--foot-quotes-place-quotes

 


3 Comments

Movin’ on up

The proverbial ‘they’ do say that the three most stressful things are weddings, a new baby and moving house. We are nearly-sort-of-not-quite hitting all three this week- so you can see why it has taken me a bit of jiggery pokery to get sat down in front of this keyboard at all recently.
Let me clarify- no new baby, though Tiddler still requires oodles of attention that means it is quite hard to pack up and move off an island while simultaneously playing ‘the monster game’ (don’t ask, please!) and taking back all the pet snails out of the house. Again.
Wedding bells are also on the horizon this weekend, when Tiddler will make her flower girl debut, and Digger and I are to be the witnesses for the signing of the register. Tiddler of course thinks she is dressing up as a King for the ceremony, as it is the only way we could persuade her to don the outfit. Well, purple is a regal colour I tell myself to dispel the guilt. And some of them did wear some glittery flowery footwear too you know- I did take in a little bit of Versailles on the good old BBC. I’m just hoping Tiddler doesn’t think her snails need to accompany this particular flower girl outing.

20504010_10159183222300370_1748386633_n.jpg
But all this clearly pales into comparison in the stress stakes with the ‘van pack’.  Our long convoluted getting-of-the-island has been going on so long with a box packed here, a car boot there, another long telephone call with a government worker who can’t understand why our island doesn’t have the same rules as the rest of the UK (or heaven forbid, hasn’t actually heard of us! Quelle horreur). However, D-day for us today, in terms of decision day. Turns out Digger has far more ‘essential’ tools, boxes of small metal items, and general mahoosive machinery than I could shake a stick at. What is this monstrosity that appeared like a behemoth on my lawn last night and is apparently coming with us?

Photo on 31-07-2017 at 19.37 #2
Hang on wait, there’s another part to it?

Photo on 01-08-2017 at 09.14 #2
Folks, I’m not going to lie, there have been a few tears today. The self drive option- while cost-efficient compared to the extortionate charge that the ferry and freight were wanting to stitch us up with- sounds good in thrifty principle, but has it’s own stresses. All three of us were at the hire place at 8am, to drop off Digger. Digger returns with van. Digger loads said behemoth. Digger fits everything around it like a precarious wedged balancing act. I have seen more air space in a Jenga game. My mother telephones to advise us she has cleared out a shed but doesn’t have much storage room at the moment so she hopes we are packing light. I don’t tell her about what he is putting in there, though observe a fully fledged petrol lawn mower and what must be a tonne of metal toolage if the suspension on the van is anything to go by. I ponder where the tumble drier will go. And the bookcases that Digger made. And the quirky wooden desk I’m in the middle of restoring. And some other things…..

Photo on 01-08-2017 at 09.15.jpg

We double check the ticket for the last check-in time for the ferry. We take some things out and attempt to repack, but as aforementioned, he has things rammed in there tighter than a gnat’s proverbial. There is a grim realisation that not everything will fit. It is too late to unload and take out the few things I could do without. Instead I am going to have to leave behind the furniture that I wanted.

Because of our friend’s wedding, we had always intended to stay another fortnight on the island. We had been advertising- and successfully sold- the beds and some other large pieces of furniture in advance, and folks were kind enough to pay in advance and then pick them up a couple of days before we go. Now I have a fortnight to try and sell everything else too. If it doesn’t sell, I have to dump it. Hence the tears. Not a bawling lamentation on the driveway, but rather a sorrow that these things that have been a part of our home will soon be gone, and possibly gone for nothing or just a tiny fraction that is their true and useful value to us. Digger as is his want, philosophises that with his tools he can make replacement furniture for us when we need it. That is not helpful when I’ve just seen him load up another crate of undistinguishable wiring and pointy bits while my desk stands forlornly in the yard.

Photo on 01-08-2017 at 15.46.jpg

So now, by the time I sit down to write this, Digger has done his three hour ferry crossing, and faced the crazy rush hour docks, and hopefully is halfway down to the Westcountry where I am crossing my fingers my mother has underestimated how much storage space she has (she hasn’t seen his van packing skills after all). Digger’s aluminium ladders sit just as forlornly behind the shed as they too were jettisoned in the final cull. I am under instructions to google roof bars to see if we can bring the ladders down on the car when we all travel on the 15th. I’m also posting pictures and descriptions of my furniture on facebook selling sites. It is mostly old and battered, well-loved pieces. I’m not holding out much hope.

Tiddler has not yet noticed the absence of toys, and has enjoying playing with empty cardboard boxes and bubble wrap. She sleeps now, tired out by the different rhythms of the day. The house without Digger, and all those boxes we have lived cheek by jowl with for weeks, is echoing. There is a lonely melancholy here tonight.

So I am searching for some meaningful quotes and this pops up courtesy of pinterest.
da29ca0a8b272e108775dd015573295e

Digger, Tiddler and I are very fortunate, in that we could be the little green bubble ourselves. It would, and no doubt will be hard, as we venture off into unchartered territories for us, but as I shed a small tear over my tumble drier, I have to take the bigger picture into account.
Digger has worked hard to amass his tools of the trade, and there is of course comfort and security in that, but he can take his skills in his hands and his brain wherever he goes. My profession is my knowledge and interaction with students.
Right now we are healthy, with savings, and family in three countries who will support us if needed wherever we choose as a permanent base in the future. We have a lot to grateful for.

And if I’m feeling really miserable, I know for sure one thing I definitely don’t need any more to cheer myself up. Snails.

19989516_10158971638590207_5026997935013320470_n.jpeg


Leave a comment

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.

.photo-on-03-01-2017-at-19-09

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!

2c1b99d0f25a3b55b43e9e29d2c46eae