Friday, March 24, 2023

On Organizing Paper: Do You File or Pile?

"Proper storage is about creating a home for something so
that minimal effort is required to find it and put it away."
Decluttering Your Home: Tip, Techniques and Trade Secrets

I used to think I wanted a neat filing system like the one Miss Lemon created in the Hercule Poirot television mystery series. She was great fun to watch as she enthusiastically explained to Monsieur Poirot the intricacies of her efficient cross-referencing filing system. Pulled into her ardor, was he enthused with all the details or merely being polite, as was his usual kind fashion? "Her real passion in life was the perfection of a filing system beside which all other filing systems should sink into oblivion. She dreamed of such a system at night." from the Christie story, How Does Your Garden Grow 

Coming home from the stationer's store with crisp new file folders in a rainbow of colours always created a frisson of excitement in my effort to keep my piles of papers from sliding into utter chaos. But the truth is, as much as I admire Miss Lemon's precise files, I am not that person in real life. I need something far less complicated and as low maintenance as possible. Something less restrictive, too. I do have a few file folders, especially when something can definitely be labelled in one category and doesn't also happen to fit in three other possible categories. It's the cross-referencing that truly makes my eyes cross, not to mention my brain!
I have also come to accept that there is a part of me that doesn't mind a few piles in my study. And when I read a recent blog post Pilers and Filers by Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like An Artist, about the way people deal with their files, I realized I'm more of a Piler than a Filer. You see, the minute I put things into folders—whether paper or digital—that's when they disappear into another universe. There's the old saying, 'out of sight, out of mind'. Once information disappears inside a folder, I soon forget what's tucked in there. And it's only when I eventually go back to reorganize or clear out the out-of-date stuff that I discover all kinds of pieces I forgot existed. Pile files, on the other hand, of which I often have a stack on my desk and a couple on shelves, remain alive with possibility. I never mind sorting through a pile of paper; it's a little like Christmas, I never know what I'll discover that might be useful for something I'm working on.

Just to clarify what I mean by a piler or filer, a 'pile' file is that collection of folders or papers or books stacked vertically on top of one another. A 'file' file is usually neatly organized horizontally in file folders in a file cabinet labeled in alphabetical, date, or topical order.

Of course, it would be different if I had a lot of things that needed to be saved and stored in some organized fashion. I've decluttered, discarded, and downsized a lot over the years; my world is small these days, as are my paper piles. Rick keeps the household business files neatly labeled in a desk drawer in his office. So my paper is mostly for my own work of creating, writing, and organizing family archives, which includes my own personal papers. 

I have a wire basket (see top photo) just inside my doorway on the credenza where my printer also sits. The basket is usually piled high - it's the holding place for things I need or want to keep for now. One friend uses such a basket and throws everything in there that she doesn't have time to deal with—fliers, bills, requests—then goes through it once a week. What a good idea, but I've never translated that into any actual weekly action. So my basket just stays there, mute, until one day it's either overflowing or I'm in the mood to go through it.

Then I have a pale green wicker basket with a lid that sits on the bottom shelf in my study. It's where I pile anything that has to do with memorabilia, including those 'celebration of life' pamphlets of cherished folks who are gone. And there's one birthday card (above) which Rick created for me in the middle of lockdowns (Spring 2020) when all shopping except for true necessities were frowned upon. It has an especial value for various reasons.

I'm surprised. I usually have a growing pile on the side of my desk. But when I went to take a pic to show you, there was no pile to speak of. In a spring cleaning burst of energy the other day, things had been sorted, discarded, reshelved: slips of paper with quotes for my commonplace book, a stash of books I referenced for a blog post, shopping lists, cards for upcoming birthdays, as well as my 2023 blog writing schedule. Sometimes my Marjolein Bastin desk calendar gets covered in those little piles of paper and when I need to mark something on the calendar, I tuck those papers underneath until I do something with them. 

As for my digital files, they usually end up being, well, the same thing as my paper files. Anything inside a file folder gets forgotten, thus lost, no matter what label I give it. I think I need some sort of a 'pile' spot for my digital stuff too - loosely labeled: writing, family, household projects, personal. 

In truth, I'm a happy Piler... with some Filer on the side.

Because there is too much in the world that feels out of order, I am constantly on the lookout for ways to lessen the strain even in my daily routines and habits. Of course, we each must find our own way—sorting out who we are and how we like to work in the different seasons of life—Austin Kleon's blog post might provide a bit of inspiration if you need it. All to make our path smoother... giving us a more peaceful, less stressful life. 

Hope you enjoyed the chat... 
wishing you a beautiful weekend,

Photos credits:
Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life, 2023


Friday, March 17, 2023

Spring at the Conservatory: An Outing

"The flowers of late winter and early spring occupy
places in our hearts well out of proportion to their size."
as seen on

Outside the day was cool, windy, and overcast. Inside the Muttart Conservatory—on the afternoon we visited—the place was bursting with Spring everywhere. There was an energetic buzz in the air as people of all ages converged to catch the city's first glimpses of Spring in the Feature Pyramid—everyone from the littlest babies out with their young moms to the elderly with their walkers and companions. 

Faces looked happy and eager. I think we all felt Spring quickening in our bones as we walked into that showy, fragrant pavilion. It caught our breath - the air was heavy with the scent of hyacinth. I heard one fellow exclaim to his wife, "Can you smell that!" Oh yes - it alone was worth the price of admission. 

Although I cannot send the fragrance, I'm hoping you'll take delight in these few photos of our visit. It was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

Tulips and Hyacinth

"You're only here for a short visit. Don't hurry. Don't worry.
And be sure to smell the flowers along the way."
as seen on

Orange-centered Daffodils

"Before the swallow, before the daffodil, and not much later than
the snowdrop, the common toad salutes the coming of spring
after his own fashion. . . .

The pleasures of spring are available to everyone
and cost nothing. . . . As for spring, not even the narrow and
gloomy streets round the Bank of England are quite able to
exclude it. It comes seeping in everywhere."
"Some Thoughts on the Common Toad", 1946

I read Orwell's delightful essay on Spring in my copy of the Spring Anthology
with editor Melissa Harrison. The piece can also be found online HERE.


"Just living is not must
have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."

Double Daffodil

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow."


"Nothing is so beautiful as Spring."


"Spring is when life's alive in everything."


"The first blooms of spring always make my heart sing."
as seen on

Her name escapes me!

"A kind word is like a spring day."
as seen on


"Spring adds new life and new beauty to all that is."
as seen on


"Despite the forecast, live like it's spring."
as seen on

Wishing you a beautiful day,

Photos credits:
Brenda @ It's A Beautiful Life, 2023

Saturday, March 11, 2023

Chatting About My New Miss Marple Stash

"To me, re-reading my favorite books is like spending time
with my best friends. I'd never be satisfied to limit myself to
just one experience each with my favorite people."
C.S. LEWIS, as seen on Goodreads

I have loved Agatha Christie’s mystery novels since my teens. Many of them now live on my bookshelves and have done so for decades. During those long ago youthful days, my good friend Ruth and I haunted used bookstores, scouting for titles we didn’t have, often focusing on our favourite mystery-suspense writers—which for me included writers like Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Georgette Heyer, and others such as Wilkie Collins, Sir Conan Doyle, and G.K. Chesterton. I eventually widened my circle of other mystery/detective writers and through the years discovered new favourites, which include authors like Josephine Tey, Julie Kaewert, Louise Penny, Donna Leon, Charles Todd, to name a few. I prefer thrillers which are written with fewer gory details. Miss Marple remains a firm favourite.

Over the years, my mystery collection grew into a motley mix of various editions both hardcover and paperback. I ended up with a few creepy covers because I couldn't find nicer copies at the time. I recall the horrid 1975 cover with the sketch of a man's head and its glaring glass eye nestled in a circle of hibiscus flowers heralding A Caribbean Mystery (as if the flowers could soften the goriness). And there was that ghastly 1978 cover for Murder at the Vicarage with its headless vicar, books and Bible still tucked under one arm, with a tennis racquet sticking out from the shoulders where the head should have been.

As time passed, I read the Christie novels less and less, especially when in the 1980s and ‘90s, I fell in love with the wonderful British films that started coming out, which included actors Joan Hickson and David Suchet, who remain my favourite portrayers of Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot, respectively. I began to prefer watching the stories play out on a screen rather than just inside my head. And where I had vague images of how certain characters and scenes should look, the films with their definite faces soon peopled my inner imaginary gallery. I loved that.

A fun little aside. When I read novels these days, there are occasions when I see certain actors in my mind's eye. And I say to myself, if I was turning this novel into a movie, I'd select So and So for that role... he fits the character, or she would portray that role to a tee.  

I'm in a new season again. During the Covid lockdowns and those two years where we stayed close to home, Rick and I watched so much on Netflix, BritBox, Acorn, etc., including all the mystery and police detective shows that came up. Until the day arrived when we realized we were done - we'd reached the point of saturation. Our eyes ached from the hours of binge-watching dozens of series—favourite and otherwise—that we didn’t want to watch one more episode of anything.

Turning off the television, we cancelled our streaming subscriptions, and turned our attention once again to the gentler pursuit of reading books. Which brings me, at last, to the reason for this post.....

"Few and far between are the books you'll cherish,
returning to them time and again, to revisit old friends,
relive old happiness, and recapture the magic of that first read."
MICHAEL A. STACKPOLE, as seen on Goodreads

Back in November or so, I caught sight of a newish Miss Marple paperback collection by American publishers William Morrow. Miranda Mills was showing us what she'd been reading on her book vlog—which happened to be the novel 4:50 From Paddington. I was immediately drawn to its bright and colourful cover with the fresh floral design.

After Christmas, with holiday gift cards in hand, I went to see what the local bookstore had in stock. They had two shelves chockful of these paperbacks. My plan was to only get my favourite titles; after all, I had copies of these novels on my shelf. I came away with At Bertram's Hotel, A Murder is Announced, Murder at the Vicarage, Nemesis, The Body in the Library, and 4:50 From Paddington. Bitten, as they say, I went back a few days later for a couple more, and then a couple more. The selection at the store quickly dwindled—other readers were obviously smitten as well. I still wanted to get the last two I was missing: A Caribbean Mystery and A Pocketful of Rye. . .  well, my birthday is coming up later this spring, so, fingers crossed I can still find them. As I understand, there are twelve Marple novels in this collection, plus the complete Marple short story edition.

So yes, the old Marple novels have been packed up to be given away or taken to the thrift store. And my shelf is sporting this delightful new set.

"A classic is a book which with each rereading offers
as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading."
ITALO CALVINO, as found on azquotes

Now, isn't this a far less creepy cover than the poor headless vicar? Snowdrops hints the season in which the story takes place—now is a perfect time to read it. And the discreetly placed handgun reminds the reader this is a mystery book. If you look closely at the cover above, you might find the silhouette of the author's face somewhere. Each cover includes such a puzzle. These books make me smile every time I look at them. Somehow the floral designs seem fitting for an English village mystery series. The books open nicely and hold well in the hand, making them a comfortable read.

I’m slowly reading the set. Taking my time and savouring the details. Trying to recapture the magic of those long ago first readings. Enough time has passed for them to be fresh again. Sure, I remember the storylines and most of the endings, but there are many other details - both domestic and societal - to discover as I reacquaint myself with Agatha's stories that are mostly set in a post world war English village.

Although not in this set, there is a little biography of Miss Jane Marple that goes nicely with the Marple books. See, she is real (wink). I wrote about that slim volume by Ann Hart HERE. You can just see the book on the right side in the top photo.  

"There is, as Miss Marple would say,
a lot of human nature in all of us."

Miss Marple remains one of my favourite people. Even though she is a fictional character, she is so real to me. Although I never learned the comforting craft of knitting from her, I believe she helped me to become more observant of the world around me. I like her because, while kind and gentle in many ways, she also has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, and of not letting evil get the last word.

I'll end this chatty post with these lines I love from the 1987 movie Nemesis, where Miss Temple and Miss Marple talk about Verity, the girl who died. Miss Marple's reply resonates with me:
Miss Temple: There was something in her nature.
Miss Marple: Perhaps it was goodness.
Miss Temple: Do you believe in such things?
Miss Marple: Oh yes...yes. I believe in evil, in everlasting life, and oh, yes, goodness...yes.

Here's wishing you a beautiful day,

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

Guest Blogging on InScribe Today

"What better way is there to compliment someone
than to engage with what they've written by taking
the time to write a few words back to them?"
The Wrong and Right Way to Leave Blog Comments, Jan 27, 2021

Good Morning! There's sunshine in the neighbourhood this morning, and its brightness belies the cold temperature that's hovering at -18C.

I'm guest blogging over on InScribe today. Using the letter "C" as the prompt, I am writing about how to "Cultivate the Art of Leaving Comments". I hope you'll pop over and say hi. Click HERE

I'll be back on the weekend with my regular blog post - it'll be a book post. Until then....

Wishing you a beautiful day,


Photo credit:
Image by Fabi from Pixabay