September 10, 2011

Skull, Book, and Candle...

I had a piece of basswood in stock and decided to create my own version of a Halloween decoration...

When working on a labor intensive carving like this your mind tends to wander as you work the piece with your hands. Sometimes I think about things that have happened to me as I go along.... This one was no different.

I had thought about going to see a fortune teller that was located on the outskirts of town for some time. I was in high school and thought more about things like that then, than I do these days. I would drive by the place, look at the sign and think to myself, "One day I'm going to pull in there and just do it..." I was curious as to how those things worked. I knew it would be a waste of money, but like I said, those days were different..

During my senior year I decided to bite the bullet and just do it, so I called the number and made an appointment. The place looked pretty much as I had envisioned... Red shawls tossed over lamps, heavy incense floating around, and a creepy looking little woman with a harsh accent waiting for me in the room that was set aside for her business.

She welcomed me in and beckoned me in to have a seat. I didn't want to give her any information about myself that she could work off of, so I kept fairly quiet. The only question she asked was, "What is it that you seek?"

"I want to know about my future..."

She had me cut the taro cards and began laying them out in front of me without saying a word. She began to tell me about myself, but what she was saying was pretty standard for an angst ridden teenager so I listened half heartedly.

The entire scenario was creepy, which is the standard for that business, so it took some control to keep my mind clear while being receptive to what she was saying. The argument "this is twenty five bucks I'll never see again" was running through my mind more so than the words she was spitting in my direction. All in all, what she told me wasn't interesting or exciting, I only found two things she said noteworthy... One, as she was reading my palm she told me that I wouldn't live past thirty six... Being that I'm eight years overdue to drop dead, I don't think that tidbit was overly accurate.. and two, she told me that I had already had a small glimpse of my future.

I pondered those two statements for quite a while. Being seventeen I wasn't too worried about kicking off at thirty six, so my mind was occupied by the "glimpse of my future" quote.. I wrestled that one for quite a while, digging around, looking to see what that may entail... Periodically it would come back to haunt me over the years to come, until one day...

I had been married for about a year when my mother called me and told me that she had a few things of mine that I needed to come get. The next day I stopped by there and picked up a stack of miscellaneous papers, most from my school years. I visited with them for a while then made my way home. I laid the stack on the dinning room table and went on through the kitchen... Later that night I found myself sitting at the table in front of the huge window that looked out across our backyard going through the papers. That was a trip down memory lane to be sure, old school tests, short stories, my high school diploma, and a few paintings I had done for some early art classes. I picked up the largest painting and looked at it fondly, thinking of my teacher, Beverly Grunwald, looking over my shoulder telling me what I was doing wrong as I painted. I sat there for some time holding the picture up as my eyes traveled across it, thinking of my tenth grade year. When I Lowered the painting I stared straight ahead in recognition and wonder...

All those years ago, I had painted the exact scene out of my dinning room window.... There was a tree on the right with a low hanging branch that entered into the frame in the middle, and a creek running across the background. The colors, the leaves, the blossoms on the trees... everything was identical.. I looked from the painting lying on the tale to the window, I called my wife in and held the painting up to the window to prove to myself that I wasn't going crazy... She looked at it and then at the window and went immediately back into the front room shaking her head...

As I was laying in bed that night my thoughts drifted back to that old woman's words many years before.. I decided that common sense and coincidence had no bearing in this case.. I would hold onto a tiny bit of magic in the corner of my mind as I grew older and simply believe that she was right... well except for the being dead at thirty six thing..

I put the feel of that old house, laden with sickly sweet incense, dimly lit with a red glow, and the image of that wizened old woman standing in the door into this piece I made... I can almost hear her when I look at this, "Come in... come in my child..."

Basswood, sells for $160, if you're interested email me at

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