Tag Archives: fiction

The Bones Illustrated 12

Drawn into Catherine’s Orbit by Laura Wythe

“His life, it was too short, so short.”  Catherine closed the file, waved it in the air, as if she could conjure him back. He wished she had that magic, to bring back lives just as she brought life back to her artifacts. “He was the dearest soul I know, and never had a chance.” She looked to Thomas, and snuffed with her emotions. Clem and Thomas curled like brackets on either side of her, handing out tissues, murmuring kind words. Under her lashes, she looked his way, and TinTin knew she wasn’t looking for comfort. Like him, she was looking for those bits of Pi that she could carry forward. His work, his life, his thoughts—curated and alive because she bothered, and knew he would too. Shit, he’d finally been drawn into Catherine’s orbit, and from the looks of it, his first job was to rescue her.

“Look,” TinTin said, “you guys are staying for the night, so let’s forget this until the morning. The project is good. I say we order in beer and Chinese food and work our way through the vintage games. Pi would like that.”

Catherine lifted her head. “Vintage games?”

“Yes.”

Thomas laughed out loud. “He means video games.”

“There are vintage video games? I love them already.”

The Bones: Crossing, Chapter 7 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 10

Woven into the Fabric of Chatham County by Laura Wythe

“The town hates me.”

“It would be the same if I went to live with you in Gaza. A newcomer waltzes in and they think she wants a share of the pie she hasn’t earned yet. I will spend my life fitting you into my arms, my heart, my life. But the town has to work you among the many into its fabric until you’re seamless. Only recently has Dad been that pliable, or willing to spend the time.”

“Your parents do realize that the whole area is sunk after the bicentennial.”

“Mom says there’s some kind of programming that makes her return like a spawning salmon and that’s why she won’t give it up easily.”

Clem sighed and pretended to scoop up sunlight by the handsful, let it trickle through her fingers onto the covers.

“The fabric of Catherine’s childhood is unravelling,” TinTin said, sighing, as Clem rubbed her warm hands on his arm. “This social fabric of which you are a thread, would it perhaps be another kind of Net worth studying?”

“I think it’s been studied enough. There’s never been a culture more documented and headstrong than my mother’s.”

The Bones: Crossing, Chapter 7 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 9

Indian Territory, 1774 by Laura Wythe

He didn’t think the town was racist. They had their way of sorting people, of keeping them honest. The Wests had Indian blood from the frontier days and the genes popped up in random generations–two in a row with his dad and his sister. It wasn’t a big deal. It wasn’t something the town let them forget. Even with his fair colour, he got his share of teasing. Rebecca, well, she got teased about everything and maybe the link to Tecumseh was just the last straw. The Galloways, they’d climbed the social ladder and right on up into the early government. The link to Tecumseh stuck but the family had always taken a hard line that nothing happened between old Rebekah and the Shawnee. None of their generations had come out brown-skinned like his father and his sister, so maybe it was true. In the end, Miles believed what mattered most was how people treated one another.

The Bones: The Crossing, Chapter 3 by Laura Wythe (Available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 8

Rain Whisperer by Laura Wythe

People all over the world claimed to be in touch with the rain, but Clem believed the whisperers who gathered the most media buzz were liars. Sure, small miracles did happen. Some prayers were answered, how many out of millions? The genuine survivors told how it felt like they’d died and only when they had given up all hope and struggle, only then, had the water, or the weather itself, carried them to safety. They had submitted.

Clem stopped asking for data. She surrendered to the rain.

The Bones, Wooing, Chapter 19 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The Bones Illustrated 7

The Bones illustrated from Text to Textile show (2018) Sprinkler System by Laura Wythe

“So, where did the water go?” she asked.

“It rose fifty feet and was wicked above the tower lines to Sandusky.”

“Then it followed the Mississippi.”

“It ran along that corridor like a series of beads. Bring up the video feed and show her.”

Pi did, and in the corner of her screen he used the cursor to show her the sequence. “Then it reached Oklahoma and we shunted it west.”

“We’re still waiting for it to drop.”

“Still aiming for Uncle Walter’s pool in Phoenix?” Clem asked.

“Ha! He’ll wonder where that came from.”

“Actually, Pi, he’ll never know.” TinTin said this with relief. “He’s visiting my folks in Jericho. He heard they’re getting rains and he likes the idea of a green desert. We’ve tapped into his home security cameras. This small quantity of water should evaporate in less than two hours. Such is the arid state of Arizona.”

The Bones: Wooing, Chapter 18 by Laura Wythe (available on Amazon)

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The last of 2020

I’m done with disasters for now. And yet, there is still work to done, both personally and as part of the collective that lives on a shared planet. If there’s one thing that has remained true in 2020, it’s the connection to earth and the precious air we share. How visible that space is now! I work through electronic media, I visit and take courses in the same way. People I see in person are masked, with all that evokes. The trees, rivers, lawns, gardens, birds, critters, bugs, sky and weather remain immediate and true to form. One of my favourite “earth” connections this year is the food that a CSA farm delivers to my doorstep.

My novel, The Bones and the art show that followed its publication needs to wrap up one last thing before I move on to the next large project. I would like to finish sharing with everyone the rest of the work from Text to Textiles, the display of illustrations I made for The Bones. Some are sold, others are nested safely for another day.

Text to Textiles was based on the idea that the main driver of the plot in The Bones, Catherine, is the head textile curator at the Royal Ontario Musuem. She goes back to her family farm which is inundated with flood waters to gather textile artifacts and also to search out for the bones of Tecumseh. One is a great motive, the other rather obsessive, patriarchal, colonial, etc., etc..

There seemed no better way to illustrate The Bones than through stressing common Ontario Loyalist textiles after they are embroidered with traditional stitches. Less traditional materials are used to highlight Catherine’s daughter’s views. And then there are emboideries on silk with somewhat Gothic representations that link to another character and the silk memorial embroideries that would have been popular with Loyalists after the War of 1812.

I will make individual posts with the text below to carry on where I left off, but for now, enjoy the slide show!

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The Bones Illustrated 2

Tecumseh Fell Here by Laura Wythe

Let all the land be flooded, let everything be drowned, but not this one hope that in her lifetime she would find the hero who’d died in the field beside her farm. Ever since she could remember, the rumours of the whereabouts of his bones floated up and down the settlements along the Thames watershed. She had to be the one to find them.

The Bones, Lovers, Chapter 2
by Laura Wythe
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Stitched Illustration

I’ve always sewn clothes, made pictures, sculptures–tactile, physical objects that I could share with others pretty easily.

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The lakeshore, formerly at 76.5 metres above sea level had risen by 15 metres and was lapping at Queen Street West. From The Bones, Chapter 2, by Laura Wythe

For a number of reasons, writing has become a great creative and personal outlet for me.  But how to show and share words? Contests, blogging, writing plays and joining writing groups have worked for short fiction.

Recently I finished a novel, inspired in part by a street in Wortley Village. Tecumseh Avenue is the only native name among so many traditional English names. It took a lot of research to find out the story behind the name, and I used the presence of this First Nation man in The Bones.

The main character is Catherine Blackwood, the textile curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. She grew up on a farm next to the battlefield north of Chatham where Tecumseh died in the War of 1812. She heads back to the farm, now in Flood Zone 4, obsessed with making one last search for Tecumseh’s bones. (I’ll blog more about the Tecumseh story.)

I’m used to showing and telling what I’ve been up to. The logical thing — for me — was to make a series of illustrations and launch a book with pictures! Catherine, the textile curator, came to mind as having the perfect point of view for the illustrations.

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gathering materials for The Bones Laura Wythe

For more than 2 years, I have collected textiles–table linens, threads, and other bits and embellishments. I have pored over maps and charted the travels of the characters through a flood ravaged land. I have joined London branch of the Canadian Embroiderer’s Guild to bone up on my stitching techniques.

I have 4 months left to finish the illustrations, and literally thousands of stitches to go.

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Mother’s Day memory

My mother and her sister were named after the months they were born in:  May and June.  Both have Alzheimer’s.  Patricia May has passed away and but my mother ticks on.  Here’s a section of a short story(fiction) that I’m working on about ‘June’ remembering Mother’s Day and then Father’s Day as she tries to take in the news that ‘May’ has died.  

They say no. She is not yet beside Mother and Father. Good. Tell them that on Mothers’ Day we pin a white carnation from the vase in the church narthex onto our cardigans and then we sit in the family pew waiting for the service. The pastor will deliver homilies of two kinds. May and I discuss how we would rather wear pink or orange carnations, and so we return the white ones to the vases in the narthex and pin the coloured ones on with long hat pins. The deacon notices and kindly says that there aren’t enough coloured flowers. Would we mind trading ours for the white again? We are mortified. Mother only pins coloured carnations onto our cardigans.

Father’s Day is less complicated. We take fish and chips to the pond and share a great bottle of dark ale, wiping our greasy hands on the grassy bank, putting off our shoes and socks afterwards to dangle our legs over the edge, fishing bits of coleslaw from the Styrofoam container and tossing the limp strands onto the water, calling up the fish as though they are our friends, kicking our feet hard in tandem so that whenever the minnows do surface, we have created tidal waves for the poor things. Father would like to choke us girls for scaring the fish away, for disturbing them, yet he has no qualms about tricking the fish with worms and impaling them with hooks in the first place.

For more reading about mothers with Alzheimer’s, try this graphic novel: Tangles: a story about Alzheimer’s, my mother and me by Sarah Leavitt.

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