Landscapes and Inscapes
In my garden of memories, there is one particular place I would like to share with you. When Mom, Dad and I first came to Kingston, we lived in an apartment at 221 King Street East, on the corner of Earl Street. It was then known as the “Elizabeth Inn,” a club for Army, Navy and Air Force servicemen. It was run by two kind ladies, Mrs. Richey and her sister. I enjoyed hearing the music that came from an old floor model wind-up Victrola gramophone.
At that time, there was a beautiful veranda on two sides of the house where I loved to play on rainy days. Across the street was Berman’s store. Mom would often take me there and buy me a treat. Every day, I waited excitedly for the horse-drawn milk and bread wagons to come to the store. I remember one of the horses was called “Queeny.” Next door , was a beautiful stone house, where Mrs. Mollet lived with her fluffy, grey cat. A tall limestone wall joined the back of both of our yards. On her side was a latticework door going into what I called “The Secret Garden.” How I used to fantasize it as a magical, storybook place. I could visualize beautiful, ever-blooming flowers, colourful butterflies, birds singing and a wonderful big swing, just waiting for me to spend hours swinging and dreaming.
Although time passed and we moved away, I never forgot “The Secret Garden.” In fact, in the 1960s, I did a large oil painting of the imaginary garden full of magnificent translucently coloured flowers, hidden behind the stone wall. It still remained a mystery for me. Ironically, in 1987, I got an amazing phone call from Janet Grey who lived at 224 King Street East. Her friends, the Carmichaels, lived across the road, where Mrs. Mollet had lived. I couldn’t believe it! She commissioned me to do a painting of their garden for a surprise gift and she arranged for me to do it the very next day. All night, I dreamed about my fairytale image. I was finally going to see “The Secret Garden.”
It was very foggy when I arrived the next morning. Quickly, I ran into the back yard and opened the squeaky door into a gloomy, ugly, tangled mess of thorny weeds and deadly nightshade vines. Tears filled my eyes, as I closed the door on my childhood dreams. I returned to the real world and the job at hand. The front garden of the house was beautiful and it was a joy to paint it. A unique white squirrel came to visit. I quickly put him in the painting and left with a feeling of well-being.
This experience with “The Secret Garden” and life in general reminds me of two songs! As a child, I recall singing “Everything is Beautiful.” Then, one grows up and looks behind the door to the tune, “I Beg Your Pardon, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden”!
'Treasured Memories Brushed with Love'
This is a book of 60 short stories of paintings and the fascinating experieneces that go with them. They are about Kingston and area except a few from her time in Germany.
Enjoy reading such titles as Perseverance Soup, Faith and Fate, Crossroads, As Good as it Gets, My Treasure Chest, Rosemary’s Bathroom Experiences, Gold Coast Road on Simcoe Island, After a Funeral, The Haunted House in Lansdowne, Lest We Forget Kingston, An Extraordinary Happening, The Royal Tavern, Vandervoort Hardware, Novel Idea Bookstore, The Capital Theatre, The Block and Cleaver, Cornerstone, and much more about downtown Kingston.
Find out why Shirley doesn’t believe in coincidences, feels everything is for a reason and is open to being lead to all kinds of interesting places and experiences. Read how she senses ghosts and how they were screaming at her when she went on a tour of the Kingston Penitentiary. Find out the eerie experience that stopped her from ever telling fortunes again. Why was she so interested in the Bailey Broom Factory?
Besides painting and writing Shirley loves History. She enjoys looking into the history behind the subjects she paints to add to their stories..