My Blog, Sunset on Mattie’s Pond, started as a suggestion from my sister Maxine on September 15, 2009. It began as a place I could vent and talk about all things Autism. Since that day, the blog has expanded to talk about not only Autism, but pretty much anything and everything that falls out of my head, and had logged in 6,030 visitors as of this morning, with 640 of them in the last 3 weeks. I have just finished revitalizing and updating most of the blog just this week, with both behind the scenes updates and its appearance, in general.
If you have not taken a gander at the last site in the last, well, half hour or so, ( I just finished!), Please do so and let me know what you think!
Happy New Year and Thanks for coming along on my Journey!
After a leisurely stroll through the local Crafts Store, to pick up the white glass rocks I need for the clear containers that I will put my Paper White bulbs in, I enter the queue to check out. A HGTV magazine catches my eye, as I hear someone talking…
“Register Five is available, Ma’am.”
“Ma’am, Register Five is available”, says the stout, bespectacled, young woman directly behind the register five sign.
I push my carriage over to the for-mentioned register five, and smile at the woman behind the counter.
“Good evening, Ma’am. Did you find everything you were looking for, Ma’am?”
And then I felt it. You know that feeling you get when you meet a total stranger and you Know right off that you two are not going to get along? THAT feeling.
“Yes, I did. Thank you, Miss.” is my reply.
“That will be twelve forty five, Ma’am”.
Out of my peripheral vision, I see two customers at other registers, swing their heads my way. They can feel it too. They can feel what I felt, just by looking at this woman. That this woman and I, who have never laid eyes on each other before just now, are for some unknown reason, going to be “borderline”. We are going to walk the board between politeness and rudeness. And the two other customers are very happy to have this entertainment.
“Thank you, Miss, I will just slide my card, Miss”, I say, “You know… every time you call me Ma’am, I am going to call you Miss, because you are making me feel old, calling me Ma’am.”
This is met with a fake smile. You know, the kind of smile that starts at your lips and ends there, never reaching your eye’s, where REALLY a natural smile takes place.
“You slid your card too fast, Ma’am”.
“I can see that, Miss, let me try it again”. Now here comes MY fake smile, but I do her one better, by tilting my head to one side.
I push the red “X” on the credit card machine, so I can use my card a credit card and not a debit card, because, you see, I get points every time I use it as a credit card, and with those points I get gift cards to Target. Target, the store all stores should be like. Fast, Friendly, with cool stuff, and clean.
“You cancelled the transaction, Ma’am.” Fake smile, again.
“I wanted to make it a credit transaction and not a debit one. Why are all the machines different? I push the red “X” at Target, to make it a credit transaction.” I look up at her, and I know NOW we will bond, over the silliness of these machines.
“Target probably uses the red “X” for credit as that is their main color, Ma’am”. I guess we are not going to bond, as there she goes with her fake smile, and Ma’am, again.
“I really don’t think that has anything to do with it, Miss, your stores main color is red and you use the green button for the credit”.
“Our store’s main color is not really red, it is just a little red, Target’s color is ALL red. Ma’am”.
“I really don’t think the programmers and the engineers who made these machines cared about what the main colors of the stores were. And what percentage of red does the store color have to be, to make them use the red, Miss? And you know…. it is more beneficial for the store to have the card used as debit and not credit, so, REALLY, they all should use green as debit, and red as credit, as green is more appealing to people than red”. I flash my fake smile and follow it with a head tilt.
“You can sign now, Ma’am”. She slides the slip towards me with very long, green polished nails with diamond sparkles on them. No fake smile, we are beyond even that pretense now.
I sign my sloppy signature on the credit, or is it debit?, machine, and take my slip from her, shoulder my handbag, and pick up my white glass rocks, which she has put in plastic bags where the store’s name is CLEARLY in red.
“Thank you for shopping with us, Ma’am.”
“Thank you, Miss”. On my way out the door, I walk by the other two customers who have dottled about to see how this enchanting encounter would end, and an additional red vested (RED-their store color!) cashier. The petite, cherub faced woman behind what must be register number four, is pressing her lips together, so as if, not to laugh. I give her a sincere smile and a wink. She smiles at me, and winks back.
It would seem that I am not the only one that hears nails scratching on a chalk board, when dealing with Miss Fake Smile-er.
Sadly, I fear the woman behind register number five, has not learned tonight’s lesson, which is no woman living to the North-East of Virginia, wants to be Ma’am-ed to death, especially those who have ever EVEN whispered the word “Menopause”.
Be Afraid, Very Afraid. Because tomorrow, I have more Christmas errands to run, and one of them is taking me to Walmart. I will take pictures of the encounter, because Walmart is always good fodder, for the Woman with a Black Belt in Autism.
Thank you to Bee Kind, and Barbara Danner Boyd, for the beautiful Photo-art!
Sunset on Mattie’s Pond has just received its 3,600 th visitor! I just wanted to thank My Sister, Maxine McClellan, for kicking my butt and pushing me towards doing this, and to those who always support me, no matter what… The SLS (aka Sandra Leazott Stevens), My Daughters Kath and Tina, My Chicko-s, all My Facebook Friends, and Family, My H, John K. Moroney. And, of course, the Mattizoid.
It’s 9 am, on a bright Spring morning, and I am boppin’ down the aisle of a large local plant nursery. Taylor Dane’s “Tell it to my Heart” is rocking out of the overhead speakers, and I am whistling to the tune, checking out the African violets.
Then I get *THAT* feeling…
THAT feeling that I am being watched.
I glance up. store is pretty empty. Really only a few of us in it. An elderly man about 90+ is directly ahead of me, maybe 6 feet away, looking intently at the spider plants.
Behind me, about 20 feet away, two female employees are chit-chatting. No one else around I can see….
Huh. Shake my head… I am just hyper-sensitive, I guess….
“You have an admirer….” says a deep baritone voice ahead of me.
It is the elderly gent.
I smile coyly at him, “I DO, do I….”
A deep crimson blush overtakes his entire face.
“Oh, ho ho…” he chuckles.
“I was referring to HIM.”, he said with a glance at the space between us, and towards my feet.
I raise my eyebrows and look down…
Sitting directly in front of me, is a large, old, orange cat.
“His name is Butterscotch, and he has been following you since you walked in.”
“What can I Say…” I tell him with a wink, “Older Dudes love me…”
He blushes again, winks at me and strolls down the aisle.
Just another Typical morning in my world….
I am obsessed with handbags. This obsession is 8 years strong now. Not coincidentally, the same amount of time that Mattie has been diagnosed with Autism.
Mattie’s Autism has changed not only changed my out look on the world, but they way I look in general. As a former Esthetician and Make up artist for Elizabeth Grady Corporation, I had spent the early days of my career and marriage as a high maintenance, pampered diva who wore Channel lipstick and silk blouses. My nails were always red, or hot pink and my pedicure was always a shade darker. I had a short, very chic haircut, that was as blonde as the bleach would allow, and my body was perfectly waxed from head to toe. I didn’t leave the house with out earrings, my gold watch and a spritz of my latest costly perfume.
I still can recall the names of the lipsticks I wore then- Coco pink, and Coco Topaz. The designers I wore-Adrienne Vittadini, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan. But I can not remember a single handbag I owned then. Not the style, color or brand. They were not important. No one ever saw them in the salon- so they didn’t matter.
When I went into labor with my first child, Katharine, I left for the hospital at 1 in the morning, perfectly coiffed and made up and looking like I was on my way to fancy restaurant. It had been drilled into me at work, that you never knew when you wold run into one of your clients, and the Grady corporation expected us to look chic and perfect, at all times.
As Mattie’s Autism became more apparent in our lives, so did the change in my appearance. Mattie’s Autism also caused Sensory issues with him, that overflowed into what I could, and could not, wear. Earrings in my ears bothered him, so he pulled them out. He spilled almost every liquid he could get his hands on, so my clothes would be stained and needed to be easy to wash and wear. I carried, and still carry him a lot, so I needed shoes that would not slip and were comfortable. Having to constantly watch him meant not having a great deal of time for make up or styling my hair, if I even HAD the time to GET to the hairdresser. Simplicity was a must, and having a easy morning routine, was,and is, crucial to his safety.
These days I run Mattie out to meet the bus with wet, combed hair and my uniform of jeans, a tee shirt, and minimal make up. All jewelry must wait to be put on till after he leaves, or it will be ripped off and lost. Perfume is rarely remembered, as is any type of co-ordinating accessory.
The only piece of fashion I can rely on these days is a handbag. And I have had more handbags in the last 8 years than most women have had in a life time. It has become what my friends call “Sandy’s Thing”. If I tell my friends Janice, or Gina to meet me in Marshall’s or Tj Maxx, they know I will be in the handbag isle.
I am an expert in the world of handbags. I can tell you the current designers that are on the rise, or petering out. I know that B. Makowsky is the brand name of Kathy Van Zeeland’s husband. That all the “cheaper ” lines- Guess, Fossil, Strada, and Nine West, all look to the higher brands to copy- Coach, Lucky Brand, Dooney and Bourke,and Tingnanello. That Messenger bags are hot right now, as are animal prints.
I have been hunting all week for the Perfect Fall bag, never willing to pay full price, always on the lookout for an incredible bargain. I know that I will find a perfect bag, and that it will ultimately be replaced by another, even more perfect bag, in a few months. I even know this has nothing to do with the bag, the season or the current trends. It is because this is the last sole expression of fashion that I have left. The only one that can make me stand out, in this female way. These days, for me, it is about the safety and well being of a 10 year old boy. A boy, I, as well as every member of my family, have given up much for, and would do so, over again. These days it is all about Autism and the Perfect handbag.
Amber’s “Little Patch of Heaven”
“Come visit my farm,anytime!!” I heard that a lot in the last week. I was sent notes on my Farm Town note pad, got messages on the Forum link, and people stopped by my farm and invited me back to theirs.
I saw many, many wonderful farms. I went to “Grannie Judi’s Place”, a level 31 farm where Grannie Judi has made a resort type bar out of concrete blocks,tent and stools. I traveled to the “Middle of No Where Farm”, where Dora-no relation to the explorer- had constructed a realistic beach complete with sand and waves. On “Kim’s New Groove” farm, Jungle Kim has created-can you guess?- a jungle, so spectacular that I expected to see natives chasing King Kong up the Aztec inspired pyramid. Too bad Mr. Kong isn’t on the animal list to buy at the market! On Granny Mo’s “High Line Canal Farm” the new American flag waves in front of a 3 white house combo on a multi level farm. Just this morning, I dropped by to see “Hill top cottages” who’s proprietor, Ms.B Potter, who hales from Arizona, has created a 3 mansion working farm, that brings to mind old English elegance.
There was one farm,though, that upon bouncing into I stood speechless. Rare in itself , for me. “Little Patch of Heaven” by Amber. I immediately went to “full screen” to truly take in what I thought I was imagining. This really was not a farm at all. No trees. No houses, barns, fences, rivers or waterfalls. Not an animal to be seen for miles- not even a rogue chicken. I had beamed into the middle of an old fashioned cross stitch sampler, like the kind Grandmothers have made into pillows or framed on their walls. In the middle, using “frozen’ crown’s of thorns as her thread, Amber had stitched ” the Beauty of Creation”. Surrounding this was butterflies made from red, yellow and Orange poppys, and larger flowers constructed from purple crocus. Frozen in time marigolds and roses were used as green vines and leaves. The border of this was the crops itself that when matured create a new color patter. This farm was no longer a farm it was a piece of art. It had so evolved that it needed it’s own level. Amber told me herself, she had never embroidered in her life. I have done many types of stitchery, and this farm in it’s simple elegance would put them all to shame.
So, what had I learned from my 40 plus farm visits? That every farmer I got the chance to meet in person, was extremely proud,if not boastfully so, of the farm they had created. That many, like Amber had used this as an artistic outlet. for some, it was the friendly competition of getting to the next level- or for me – getting that red mansion. But the common thread was, that Farm Town is a release from the real world and all it’s complications. It was a short-or long- time away from the struggling economy, a loved ones-or one’s own-illness, or in my case, my son Mattie’s Autism. Like one of the farmers I met, Farmassist , owner of “Farmacy” farm, told me, “Forget the Calgon, Farm Town, take me away!!”.
When you die, and enter Heaven, do you get to choose what age you will be, forever, for eternity? Or are you stuck in the age you died at, and in the condition you died. Can you look totally different, or at least make some modifications? And how will other souls recognize you, if you do change your appearance? Will they just sense it is you? And why am I thinking of this today? I know why. I just ran into my cousin Kim at the local Target. Though I have not seen her in at least a decade, and very infrequently before that, she will forever be, in my mind, a little girl of 8. Playing with her Barbies and her Barbie Camper, in the playroom of a house, her family lived in nearly 30 years ago. That is how it is, often times-people seem to freeze in time. We remember our parents as they looked when we were little, and suddenly the seem SO old, all at once. Friends from High School jump years when we see them at a reunion or on Facebook. Even ourselves seem to time warp when we catch a look in a store mirror, and wonder, ” when did THAT wrinkle show up!”. Are we all just too busy, in our own lives, or do we have some kind of setting in our brains, that can only save memories at specific intervilles? Perhaps, it is best unanswered, that being what will we all look like in Heaven. Don’t worry if you don’t recognize me at first. I will be the one waving at you. The Blonde Chick, having a REALLY great hair day!
Let me start by saying: I LOVE dogs. All kinds. I’m not always so sure about their owners. Yes, I said it. Owners. Not human parents. And definitely not Mommy and Daddy. There are things about these owners that perplex me. Like how can they drive safely with a dog in their lap?? What if they stop short? Lovey Kins could fall right out the window- which is usually open in all weather conditions. What if the dog starts acting up and causes the driver to lose control of the car? Is this any less hazardous than driving while talking on the cell phone? And please do not bring your dog, no matter how cute and small, into ANY store other than the pet superstores that invite them. I have actually spoken to a woman with her small dog riding in the top of the carriage in Wal-Mart. “That is the SMALLEST seeing eye dog I have ever seen!!” , I said with a big grin. “Oh, she isn’t a seeing eye dog!”, her reply. “Shame on you for sneaking her in then!”, I said, still with a big grin. She blushed a deep crimson, and literately backed the carriage up and went hurriedly along. See, it’s not that I don’t WANT these dogs in stores. But there is a discrimination going on here. People look the at the bad judgments of dog owners, but GOD FORBID I want to bring my cat into Wal-Mart! I think my Maine Coon, Kelso, would love it- all 22 lbs. of him. I would put him in a harness. I would even buy one of those little dog carriers to put him in. I would dress him up in some dogie clothes, like a leather jacket. And even give him a hat or some shades. What ever it would take to make him more Dogie kingdom appropriate. but, that’s not going to happen anytime soon. Cats have a bad rap here in the States. They smother babies in their cribs, and claw furniture in the spare moments they are not napping. So I will continue to taunt dog owners that disrespect public etiquette, and change lanes when I see a poodle-Yorkie (porky??) with his small head hanging out the drivers side window, and wait for the day when all animals are created equal. And they all are welcome in Wal-Mart.