Monday, September 10, 2007

Verby Pick-Up Duck: "fritter"

Zucchini Fritter

Apple fritters. Corn fritters. Turkish zucchini fritters. When we think of the word "fritter", some of us only think of edible nouns.

I, of course, think of my mother. "Don't fritter away your time. Don't fritter your money away." Fritter. A slow, almost imperceptible wasting of things of value. A little spent here, a little spent there.

I remember a season of credit card frittering. Fresh out of college, I ran up a healthy credit card bill, somewhere around $1000.00. I felt free and a bit powerful. But one day, as I paid the minimum and a $40 finance charge, it occurred to me that I'd foreited the cost of a new tailored shirt. Just for the privilege of owning a few things before I could afford to pay for them. I was frittering my money away. Not long after, I changed my policy: buy on credit only what can be paid in full when the bill comes.

This past year, I've been considering another form of financial frittering. A book here, a book there. A pint of out-of-season strawberries. Eating at a restaurant when there's perfectly good food sitting in the fridge. Twenty dollars here. Six dollars there. Forty dollars in fritters (or maybe pancakes).

These are small bits of money that could impact a life, or two, or ten abroad...rescue for a girl, to a safehouse; AIDS medicine for an ailing child; a micro-loan to a widow who might otherwise be forced to sell a child to make ends meet. (One of the best books I've read on the subject of how a little bit of money can go a long way is Harvest of Hope: Stories of Life-Changing Gifts.)

Fritter. Maybe there's nothing particularly wrong with this funny little verb. But this year I'm hoping to trade it in for a few awesome nouns... contentment, provision, health, safety, life.

Turkish Zucchini Fritter & Chickpea Salad Photo by L.L. Barkat.

Seedlings Invitation: If you write a post related to this post and Link It Back Here, let me know and I'll link to yours.

Seedlings history of Verby Pickup Duck

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Blogger Christianne said...

Ooh, this one strikes close to home. Kirk and I have been wibbly-wobbly on the budget matters lately, and we're slowly but surely getting back on track. (It sure is weird not having a regular paycheck anymore! Teaches us to really budget things out over the coming months and year.)

Mind sharing the background on the "verby pick-up duck" name? I've seen it here before but felt too silly to ask for an explanation then. I know you better now and so have no qualms manifesting my ignorance! For the record, I think it's pretty musical sounding. Makes me want to go around the house calling out "Verby pick-up duck! Verby pick-up duck!" to my two cats, who would probably just look at me in alarm and then give a patronizing stare before going back to their perches and naps. :)

9:35 PM  
Anonymous spaghettipie said...

I'm so glad you're back!

I've been thinking about this topic a lot as well (see all my stewardship posts of late). Just this evening I was thinking about how I fritter away my time and was going to write a post about it. Your post has given me that extra dose of inspiration!

And did I say I'm glad you're back?

10:15 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Christianne... I suppose we all struggle with this at one time or another. Part of what I'm trying to do at this point is really think about what I want my life to be about. As far as the verby pick-up duck, ah, you make me laugh! Go ahead and click the link at the bottom of the post. Then click the links inside the post it takes you to. All should become clear (clear as a fritter under yogurt?). Anyway, pick-up duck is a game at carnivals where you shoot little plastic ducks for prizes (thought you might need to know this, going in to the other posts). Thanks for asking!

Spaghetti... how wonderful to be so warmly welcomed back. I look forward to exploring your posts this week. (If I don't fritter my time away by accident!) Good to hear from you.

10:30 PM  
Blogger Inihtar said...

I don't fritter away money so much, seeing as I don't have much of it anyway and a huge loan to pay back (and there's no food in my refrigerator most of the time so buying something to eat wouldn't be frittering, would it?)

What I do fritter away is time, sitting idly in front of the TV or computer. I guess we don't notice as much when we waste time because it's not as easy to see it slipping away as it is to find an empty wallet or a huge credit card bill.

1:59 AM  
Blogger Lynet said...

Ah, now, I fritter things away almost deliberately, giving myself permission to relax into my budgeting or forget about the things I need to do for a while and just, you know, blob.

When I was little, I convinced my parents to give me a dollar a week pocket money. Some weeks they forgot, but I still managed to save up eighty dollars. That may help to explain why I often feel like I need permission to relax more than I need a kick in the pants to get myself back into gear. (All bets are off while I'm studying, though. I never feel I'm studying hard enough).

2:33 AM  
Blogger Mark Goodyear said...

Hey, did you make that plate of food? I want to come eat at your house! (Not to suggest that Amy is in any way inadequate as a cook.)

10:31 AM  
Blogger Real Live Preacher said...

I really don't like that you wrote this. Oh it's good stuff and right and true and I needed it and all that.

But I don't want to think about it.

I'm a terrible fritterer.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I hate feeling convicted, I must say.
Here's the thing, I like to berate the rich: do you know how many starving orphans could be eating right now if you didn't spend the money on that yacht?
But what about me? I don't like to go there.

12:08 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Inihtar... funny, but when I was doing that credit card frittering I didn't have much in the fridge either. Indeed, food would have been a good candidate for those extra $! As for frittering away time, I suppose there's a place for that. Mental space is important.

Lynet... planned frittering (is that a paradox?). As I said to Inihtar, I can see a place for this. In my case, I sometimes need to step back and see if my frittering is the positive, needful kind or if it's just become a habit that thwarts my desires for self, family, and the world.

Mark... I know you can only say that BECAUSE Amy is exemplary. And yes it's my food. I can't claim to always arrange things in such an orderly way. Pots have been known to show up on the table. But it tastes good.

Real Live... now, your honesty has made me smile. What do you fritter away the most? And why do you suppose you do it?

Heather... very good point. I suppose if each of us gave even just a little, the world would be a less frightening place for many people. And all God asks is that we give of our own substance. The widow was complimented for the coin.

1:20 PM  
Blogger Craver Vii said...

Now I have Pink Floyd's song Time echoing through my head. I think it was from The Dark Side of the Moon.
"Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way."

I do not recall whether they have any songs about good stewardship.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...


Yeah, frittering. I can be good at that.

It is amazing, especially how over a lifetime habits can add up on one side or the other.

I like your thought on giving in place of the wasteful getting. Too often this saving can be just about how to have alot of money, not that having a good income and saving well and wisely is wrong. As long, of course, as we're generous with what we have.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Every Square Inch said...

Here's what the American Heritage Dictionary says about fritter:

tr.v. frit·tered, frit·ter·ing, frit·ters

1. To reduce or squander little by little: frittered his inheritance away. See Synonyms at waste.
2. To break, tear, or cut into bits; shred.

Unfortunately, I'm too good at frittering time.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

Your post reminds me of an old book that was very popular among my friends when I was in college (long while ago!) Diet for a Small PlanetChoosing to prepare and eat dishes like the one you've pictured can be one way to keep our "fritters" to a minimum.

10:27 PM  
Blogger Jenn said...

Hear hear.

Also, can I have your Turkish zucchini fritter recipe?

1:48 PM  
Blogger The Gyrovague said...

A book that you need to pick up that will do your frittering heart a lot of Good is Called Red Letters: Living a Faith that Bleeds by Tom Davis.

I know, you are thinking you are frittering away money on another book, but when you buy it you actually feed one child for a whole month with the proceeds.

Something to pay close attention to is the 5 for 5o campaign he is talking about. Now THAT is a way to make a difference.

2:31 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Craver... well, you've made me laugh with this one. And I'm fairly sure that laughter is a renewable resource, one I don't need to worry about frittering away!

Ted... it is sort of a shift in mindset, trading getting for giving. Not that either is necessarily superior to the other in all cases. But it seems to me that giving to renew others may be a kind of storing up "treasure in heaven".

Every square... that image of breaking, cutting, shredding is a strong one. It adds a sense of loss that goes beyond the simple word "waste".

Susan... ah, yes, a title that changed many things in my life!

Jenn... good idea. I'll try to put the recipe up at my other blog

Gyrovague... I shall put the book on my list and in the meantime perhaps you can tell me about the 5 thing. Thanks for the recommendation!

4:32 PM  
Blogger Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

ouch, ouch and ouch again

I'm a fritterer - of many things, time, talent, money

ususally I just call it "over-committed" or "spinning in circles" or "not clear direction" but in all actuality, it's probably all just frittering - and I've no idea why - whether I think I just shouldn't have to account for everything (as though I'm especially immune to stewardship) or it keeps my mind occupied so I really don't have to stop and think about where my life is going - or should go - and I fear this (fear that is) is the more likely cause of all my frittering....

12:43 AM  
Blogger Martin Stickland said...

I wish I was much fritter but I am so frat at the moment fru all these frap jacks I keep eating.

You are so true LL, I see the adverts on the TV to just give five pounds a Month ($5 ish?)and it will help pay for a water pump so that a whole Village can have fresh water. Just the cost of a couple of pints of beer over here. next time I will take note of the number to call.

4:22 AM  
Blogger bluemountainmama said...

oooh....this is definitely pertinent and something we've been trying to do....somewhat unsuccessfully so far. it's amazing how all the little things add up...lattes, eating out, snacks. i remember adding up what we spent in a month on all these little 'extras' and was apalled! :)

that money could go a long ways to help others, as you mentioned. thanks for's a gentle reminder to me.

5:45 PM  

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