What about me?


What about me?

My Mom loved Thanksgiving! (The family always gathered at her home.) She had advanced Alzheimer’s at the final feast my family shared with her. I thought a 60s, Hallmark, honey-comb turkey centerpiece would be a bright, whimsical touch so I bought one on eBay for a couple of bucks.

My Mom was giddy when it arrived in the mailbox. “Turkeys are coming for Thanksgiving!” She said excitedly. I started buying more so they would keep coming in the mail. “Do you think any turkeys will come today?” She’d ask, wide-eyed, on the walk to the mailbox. We ended up with 32 of them! I put them all out everywhere for our family Thanksgiving. 32 of them! My Mother loved them.

My family is so stinkin’ funny that not one adult mentioned the massive paper flock! I miss, you Mom, and I miss those wonderful family holidays. It was always your love that brought us together. ❤️❤️❤️#

Ist World Problems-
My crowns are tangled up in my Fairy Lights

My studio wall.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind- Mashed potato art

Mary Lee Mattison- Watercolor and Ink on Baimbridge Board
Mary Lee Mattison- Watercolor and Ink
on Baimbridge Board
My Art Nouveau, signed, sterling, Fary ring that I have worn for 40-odd years.

Mythology entered my life very early although I didn’t know it was mythology at the time. To this day, when I’m startled awake by a flash of lightning and the resulting thunderous boom, I smile and think, “Thor must be working!” That was my Norwegian father’s comforting explanation of a violent night storm to a small freighted girl.  

 I know there is no Thunder God and that the night’s display is just the blah… blah… ‘atmospheric discharge of electricity creating a shock wave traveling at 1100 feet per second.’ But my human brain is flexible enough to harbor both thoughts.

Our earliest ancestors did not have this common, scientific explanation available to them. They created the image of sparks flying from a Titan’s hammer crashing down on a giant anvil in the sky. If we were to toss out everything we know about science that is as good an explanation as any. Right?#

Biography: Definitely the Artistic type: Shares a birthday with Elvis Presley, David Bowie and
Stephen Hawking. (Boy, that’s a descriptive, DNA, Mary triad!)
Witty, clever, resourceful, intelligent (wicked smaht), and a constant stream of fascinating conversation. I can be fun and childlike or dark and brooding and everything in between
(I like a nice mix.)

I love, any and all forms of, Imagination and Creativity, in any conceivable medium- I, for one, thought the gargantuan, mashed potato sculpture that Richard Dreyfuss (Well, Stephen Spielberg, or his peons really) created for the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind made the whole obsessive/compulsive ‘I’ve got something stuck in my head’ Artist conundrum visual.

Well, that’s just a totally random example. Like I said ‘Imagination and Creativity in any conceivable medium!

I am an original flower child of the 1960s. In my heart, I still dance “Barefoot with Patti Smith” wearing garlands of flowers in my hair. I have my long diaphanous white lace dresses, gigantic paisley shawl, and self-loomed, beaded, Hippie jewelry.

Birdhouse by MLM
(if I can paint it I probably will.)
My Kitchen Wall

My curiosity and wild Irish imagination are boundless. My walls are covered with ART of all kinds, including my own original, vivid, cartoon-ish, ultra-stylistic, watercolor and ink paintings-
My son once (at 10 years old) described my work as my “Freakin’ Acid Hippie Pictures.” pictures.) Ah, kids!#

     When we were little kids our family spent 2 weeks during the summer on Cape Cod in a small cottage in Truro MA. There were tide pools and rocks all along the beach where we wandered barefoot with pails exploring the sea life and bringing interesting stuff back to show Dad. One sunny, summer day I was wading in a shallow pool while my brother Johnny climbed over the nearby rocks.  I suddenly felt a sharp pain on my foot and thought I had stepped on a piece of glass. I yelled and pulled my leg out of the water to see if I was bleeding. Just as John looked over, my foot came up, and there… attached to my baby toe was a tiny crab. I must have stepped on it and got pinched by its mini-claw.

 I shook it right off my toe and it fell back into the tide pool. Johnny and I laughed and headed back to the cottage to tell the rest of the family about my painful experience. I never really thought about it again until the next morning when I saw Johnny standing on the beach in his swimsuit wearing a pair of old sneakers. He never went back into the water that summer without that pair of shoes on his feet. No crab was going to get Johnny!
#

I love to read and study EVERYTHING: Children’s literature, especially Fairy Tales, Myths and Legends, Neolithic Archeology, Science Fiction, and Fact (I’m working my way through the entire Desmond Morris catalog of modern, cultural Anthropology at the present.) I embrace all Art through the Ages, particularly the cave art at Lascaux, the Pre-Raphaelites, Impressionism, Abstract Expressionism (I really do get Jackson Pollock), 50s Illustrators, 60s Psychedelic poster art, and whatever I might happen upon tomorrow. I live across the street from a Library where I have acquired gabillions of frequent reader miles.

I am a full-time Children’s Book Writer, Graphic Artist/Illustrator, and impressive Computer genious? No, no now that’s not spelled right…jean-yis? (Sound it out Mary…umm, ge-een-yus? Ya, that’s it genius!)
That all is, of course, when I’m not chasing after some intriguing new object to inspect or collect!

Some of my latest favorites are: Opalescent, blue, French, Art Glass; dazzling, vintage, pageant Crowns, Antique (very, very used) twisted Brooms, early Peter Max items- I have many 1970s pots and pans (I’m still working on collecting up the complete set of Peter Max dinner dishes-Each (8) place setting is a different Peter Max design. I have all the original Dr. Seuss books and plush characters (No I don’t, yet, have an original first edition of The Cat and the Hat, but I’m certainly looking!) Frank Frazetta the greatest Science Fiction Illustrator of all time! (He once asked his wife, concerned at current criticism,
“Do I make my women’s butts too big?)
No Frank! We all aspire to your, stunning, heroic, feminine vision!) Did I mention I also collect antique Fairytale books…

French Art Glass and rocks. I love a good rock. Once when I was moving one of the wonderful men that helped me picked up a very heavy cardboard box and said, “Jez! What’s in here rocks?” When he turned towards the door I saw written on the back of the box ‘ROCKS’.

Always time for dress-ups!

I can whistle loud enough to break eardrums.

I love kids! They get me!
I am also partial

to the elderly.

I can’t think with dirty teeth
and I can’t sleep

with dirty feet.
(But then who can?)


I don’t do heights.
(I don’t even like being this tall!)



I hate when peanut butter
gets into the jelly jar
.
I mean really HATE it!









I can find a four-leaf clover in any patch of grass.

I make the best apple pie you’ve ever had!

I do like a nice maze.



Frank Frazetta: ‘A Princes of Mars’.
I am overflowing with random bits of knowledge. My kids always thought I’d be big a hit on Jeopardy. (And yes I do know the names of the
last two Mohegans and can speak
fluent Pig Latin.)





Sometimes, like everyone,
I just need a to-do list.

This is a sample of my important, yellow sticky note reminder. And I got it the next day you can be sure and was majorly happy I did. #

An Excellant Student

I have always been an Excellent Student!

I’m not saying I’m wicked smart…

Just I have always been an Excellent Student.

What makes an Excellent Student? Let’s look back…
I’d consider My Excellent Student ‘formative years’ Grades 4th thuough7th.

Before that Excellent Student’s status depended ENTIRELY on one’s Mother, and

mine was exemplary! She chaperoned every single school field trip!

The Aquarium… The Nutcracker…Sturbridge Village…

Children Symphony…Museum Science…

Imagine nine 2nd graders during the ‘Plum Island Mud Walk!’

My Mom was one BRAVE LADY!                   

(And with an older brother she had been to each venue at least once already.

She was at Every PTA meeting and every school concert! She sewed costumes for the school plays! She made pies for the Bake Sale. She was ‘The Classroom Mother’ every year!

(She had the brilliant idea to get $2.00 from each parent for every school holiday party. Then she bought, made, and brought coordinating cupcakes and decorated cookies to school on party day. She had The Hawaiian punch, napkins, and paper cups enough for all my classmates.) As you can see- Mary Excellent Student the EARLY YEARS was a breeze for me! Then, between 3rd and 4th Grade, everything changed!

You know how towards the beginning of the next school year when the local newspaper would come out with bus routes, and class assignments and everyone would get so excited to see who was in what class and who got what teacher?

I can remember I quickly scanned the pages and found my name, then skimmed up to see who my teacher would be. I stared at it with utter horror!!!!

”Mary Mattison,” it read, “4A Miss Taylor”. Miss Taylor??? Not Miss Taylor! She was the Wicked Witch of all directions. The Scariest! Meanest! Ugliest! Most FEARED Teacher in the entire public school system!!!  (I think I threw up when I read it!)

The First Day of School 4th Grade- We the ‘unlucky few’ stood by the sign “Miss Taylor- 4A”. The luckier kids, who get other teachers, whispered and shook their heads staring sympathetically at us. They all knew we were doomed!

THEN… she appeared like Miss Gulch. Walking purposely through the tall grass across the backfield. Rumor was that she lived near the school in a Candy House waiting to eat misbehaved pupils. I could almost hear the music, “nana, nana na na NAAA!” and see her flying monkeys above her! She stopped halfway… reached down and picked up A RUSTY AX. The Entire“Miss Taylor- 4A” line fainted.

Suddenly…. Mary Excellent Student depended entirely on Mary! I had to carry money to buy lunch tickets! I brought pants on Tuesday-Gym Day because Miss Taylor would not entertain girls playing DODGEBALL in skirts. Library books had to be covered! Every Friday was Desk Inspection. We walked to and from lunch in the world’s straightest…quietest line!

All work (except math) had to be handed in done in perfect Reinhardt cursive and in PEN! If there was a mistake you started over. Miss Taylor did not accept smudged papers!



I got A’s in her class and still did extra credit! For my history project, I created a 4-color, 3D map of Brazil!  It was spectacular!  Miss Taylor hung on the wall! (Where it stayed for the full year!)

In the end, she turned out to be very nice (to the conscientious students) but that initial fear stuck with me!
In HER class I learned to do all schoolwork to the absolute best of my ability and pass it in on time ON TIMEON TIME is the Mantra of the Excellent Student. Work prepared ON TIME! Passed in ON TIME! Into bed ON TIME! So, I could get up ON TIME! To catch the bus ON TIME! So I could be seated properly at my desk, fully prepared, ON TIME!

I was always fascinated by my classmates who for some seemingly absurd reason did not do their Science Projects! Or were unprepared for their Oral Book Report! Or hadn’t alphabetized the spelling words and used them in a complete sentence! They always had a prepared ‘Lack of Homework Excuse.’ ”My dog had puppies in my volcano. Old granny chewed on my pencil. It flew right out the school bus window. I must have left it in my locker!” and the incomprehensible “I forgot to do it!”
”Forgot to do it?” I thought, “Impossible! They always got off with a sharp, “FINE! Bring it in tomorrow!” from the teacher. So went my Excellent Student Years 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. All PROJECTS, ESSAYS, WORKSHEETS, REPORTS – QUESTIONS ( at the end of each chapter.) Everything! Complete! Finished! Done and passed in ON TIME!

Until… One day in the 7th grade. It was just after lunch. Algebra 1 with Miss Metro. I sat 3rd seat back, 2nd row left. We had just finished Chapter 4 when Miss Metro said, “Take out last night’s homework and I will come around and answer any questions you may have had on the assigned equations 1-20 page on 81. The rest of you start reading chapter 5.… At least, I think that’s what she said. I don’t remember exactly. Because I developed a sudden case of apoplexy- My jaw hit my desk and …my eyeballs rolled back into my head.

“My Algebra homework.” Those three words pounded against my brain. Until… suddenly the situation burst through and slammed my little mind into the top of my desk! “I didn’t do my Algebra Homework!!”My heart started pounding so hard I was afraid It would shake the school! By now Miss Metro… was slowly making her way down the first row… stopping at each desk and talking quietly with the student. What would I do when she got to me? I wanted to vanish! I even thought of faking a heart attack (whatever that was) but I couldn’t move, I was paralyzed with FEAR….

As she started up row 2, a faint glimmer of hope appeared. ‘A lack of homework excuse!’ I’d seen it done plenty of times! Although… I had never actually tried it. I quickly reviewed every ‘lack of homework excuse’ I had ever heard- It couldn’t be too vivid! Nothing to make her suspicious. A nice simple…believable… ‘Lack of homework excuse’.

I could hear her behind me now. Her perfumed shadow fell across my empty desk. “Mary?” she said.  Never suspecting I was about to betray her! I turned my agonized eyes up to meet hers… and squeaked out. “I left my homework in my locker.” There! I had done it! I had lied to her and waited for the usual curt “FINE! Bring it in tomorrow!”  BUT… Instead of snapping at me and moving on (perhaps it was my shaking hands?) She said… “That’s okay DEAR… Why don’t you go and get it?”

I can remember rising slowly from my seat and walking to the classroom door in a trance. Then stepping out into the empty corridor. It didn’t matter which direction I turned. I was a dead man walking…I knew there was NO algebra homework waiting patiently for me in my locker! “I would just keep walking”,
I thought. Right out the front door…then on and on…until…I reached the End of the Universe! THEN, I would hurl my small, worthless body into the great, black maw of The Abyss!

I simply couldn’t go back. And I could never go home! I would have to wander the school halls forever in Liar’s Exile! The polished floors echoed my pitiful little footsteps. I hung my head in despair!! My shame burned scarlet across my cheeks. I found myself standing in front of my locker. I opened it and stared blankly knowing full well, that there was NO Algebra homework waiting inside! Finally, I slammed it closed (a little too loudly) startling myself back to reality!

Now, I could end this tortured, little tale by claiming that the fire alarm suddenly clanged sending all the students and teachers scurrying out into the hallway sweeping me away to safety! Or that by some Twight-zonion glitch a forgotten, long-dead Ancestor had done my 20 equations on page 81 and stuck them to my locker door with metaphysical goo!  The boring truth is that I slinked back to my classroom and sheepishly told Miss Metro “I couldn’t find my homework” and got off with a curt, “FINE! Bring it in tomorrow.”#

‘The Great Rocks’ Chelmsford Ma Thanksgiving Town Forest
20″ x 30″ Acrylic on Bainbridge Board.
(In the Private collection of Jim Mattison.)

The Great Rocks

My continuing fascination with glacial erratics began at 30 Janet Road in Chelmsford, MA.
My family lived near the end of this sleepy road in a 1960s, residential development. At 40 Janet Road (the end of our street) was a weathered sign proclaiming ‘Thanksgiving Town Forest.’  A little, paved, parking lot, with 4 or 5 parking spots, bordered on a wide, sandy field with a modest beach along the slow, deep current of the Rustle Mill Pond. (As I recall there were never any cars in the parking lot.)  

We would scramble up the initial, steep, 10-foot forest boundary, climbing over centuries of fallen pine needles. Always barefoot, we were glad to be off the hot, tar, parking lot and onto the yielding, pine, forest floor. There was a sudden change in the air and light as you entered the Town Forest. It was always hushed and dim. The sky was blocked out by acres of towering evergreens (each oozing with fragrant, syrupy, pine tar.) There were few low branches so you could see through the single, straight trunks to small, random, sunlit glades surrounding fallen trees. (Where a new generation of growth reached out excitedly for the sky, high above.) The Town Forest smelled of sweet, damp, decaying vegetation and warmed, pine needles. The Town Forest was our playground.

Upon entering the Town Forest, you could turn left and walk along a well-worn path that skirted the narrow, mill pond. The banks were steep and muddy where centuries of erosion had cut down through the dense, forest floor leaving huge, tangled, tree roots exposed. I would always turn right. Making my way straight on until I could see the ‘Mushroom Tree’ (one, ragged, hoary pine that towered above all the others) then turn right again.



HOME

All images and writing are copyright Mary Lee Mattison 1/8/1981 All rights Reserved



You would start to feel the rocky spine jutting up from the soft, forest floor way before the thick trunks cleared enough to allow a glimpse of the colossal, cluster of giant boulders. Boulders that were dragged there, by the force of a retreating glacier, a millennium before. (Now freed from the melting ice and ground smooth by erosion they were left here far from their original home.)

The Great Rocks, they were called, because they were great! Gigantic boulders of different kinds of rock piled high upon one another. An impossible sculpture of stones. There were deep worn paths all around the structure and a shallow tunnel and ledges to balance on or to cook pinecones on a small, secret fire. We spent our daylight hours crawling up over the Great Rocks or lying across the smooth, flat top of the largest stone, high in the air, making up magical stories about the stones’ origin or just watching the drifting, white clouds. (No decent pine tree dared grow too close to the Great Rocks.)

The area around the colossal cluster was worn lower than the forest floor from the countless feet that had come to…? Come to what? Make offerings? Gawk in awe? Perhaps a hidden rendezvous or to spend a few moments in a seemingly out worldly place? I don’t know the answer.  A 19-century book gives this history of the Thanksgiving Town forest: “it was named for the fox hunt that happened on Thanksgiving Day. All riders met at the giant boulders.” (Which, of course, everyone knew exactly where that was.)

I’m thinking so must the indigenous peoples who had once lived on the land around the Great Rocks. The strange arrangement of mammoth boulders would have been far too spectacular not to inspire legends. Some early, land maps refer to the stones as a boundary marker… “south to the great pile of boulders on the Billerica line. To me they were alive. Like some benign, crouching creature, they had watched over the dense, pine forest for 10 thousand years.#