Where October went.

It feels like ages and ages since I wrote here. But really, it’s only been a month. However, it has been a pretty big month.

From left to right: Teg, Pops, me, Ferg, Sian, Bam, Ned.

Firstly, one of my three brothers – Fergus – got married. I am overjoyed for him and Sian. I am also deeply grateful for all my amazing brothers, (really, everyone should have some) for our wonderful parents, and for my new sister-in-law!

Here comes the bride…

There was much love and joy at The Wedding; it was a beautiful event.

Here is Ferg waiting for Sian…

…and here are the rest of the family – Ned, Teg, Pops and Bam.

The Wedding happened amidst an extended get-together at a hostel in Hartington. Ferg and Sian live in Barbados at the moment so they decided to hold their marriage ceremony amidst a flamboyant, weekend-long festival of fun along with many beloved friends and relatives. Apart from The Wedding itself plus an epic party, festivities involved a rounders match, a pub quiz, and many outings to the famous local cheese shop. On my part there were many tears of joy shed, and some accordion-playing.

This is my classic straining-to-hear-the-song-request-over-the-sounds-of-revelry face.

…and I thought the knitters who read this blog would all appreciate a photo of my Lyttelton doing a fine job of not completely covering up my glam dress yet keeping my shoulders warm in the Autumn air. We were very lucky to have good weather all weekend, and it meant Ferg and Sian could get married in the small stone building on the lawn at the rather grand Hartington Hall Hostel.

Here is Sian with her sisters all being bridesmaids; Helena, Caragh and Sarah.

Hot on the heels of the Wedding excitement, I handed in my thesis this month after a frenzy of writing, reading, researching and assimilating all the ideas from the Sound:Site event at the start of the month.

Signing the disclaimer at the start of the thesis.

The TOME and all its extras.

One of the very greatest joys of writing the thesis was the discovery of a John Cage text entitled Music Lover’s Field Companion. Cage was a mushroom expert, and in this essay he writes playfully about the relationships between mycology and music. Imagining the delicate sonorities of mushrooms (spores falling etc.) and the concerts which might be made out of mushrooms, he also describes how important it is for the musician or the artist to sometimes stay at home rather than rush to concerts, and compares an experimental electronic concert unfavourably to a talk on poisonous mushrooms which he attended. He also describes walking in the forest as a kind of concert of found sounds, or an extended performance of his famous 4’33” piece. I love identifying mushrooms myself and when I was very disabled with arthritis, I would take very slow walks in the forest with a mushroom-identifying key and the dearly beloved and now sadly departed Jenny, to go looking for mushrooms together. The mushrooms were a marvellous distraction from pain and a wonderful feature of our local woodlands. So discovering this Cage essay was very pleasing to me in both its suggestions that sometimes The Concert can be found in The Forest, and in all its imaginative conjunctures on the nature of mushrooms.

So when Mark and I went for the post-thesis-handing-in-walk which Mark has written about so beautifully on his blog, I was primed for some serious mushroom appreciation and I found what I think are penny bun mushrooms – or ceps – along with some ghoulish fly agaric mushrooms, and a beautiful example of a young shaggy parasol not yet widened to its fullness. I did not eat any of these, as I am not 100% assured of my abilities to discern edible from non-edible mushrooms, especially in the Boletus family.

Boletus something.

But I did enjoy photographing them and thinking about John Cage’s essay.

I do like the idea of envisaging the special quietness of the forest as a Concert, and imagining the sounds that spores might make. And I agree with Cage’s assertion that sometimes the best place for a cultural experience is at home. There is more information on John Cage and his mushrooms here in The New York Times, and Yann Seznec is working on a project called The Secret Sounds of the Spores which will apparently ‘create music from mushrooms,’ so I am not the only person to be inspired by the idea.

Other sonic treasures this month included a visit to Brenda’s and some recording in Laugharne. It was lovely to be out with Brenda and the recording kit, trying out a few things. I am a massive big fan of Brenda’s podcast as you all know, and so I was delighted when she said she would use my golden orb weaver spiders feature in the Halloween episode of Cast On. From listening to Autumn Cliché, it sounds like you will hear what we recorded in Laugharne next week but I am happy that the seagulls are on The UK SoundMap, along with the sound of my thesis being printed.

Brenda found sea-treasures on the beach and we marvelled at how the sea had woven these things together. And Truman ran around!

I should also say that I listened to Brenda’s podcast today on MY SHINY NEW IPOD NANO AND AMAZING SPEAKERS! I am very happy about these new pieces of kit as I WON them for commenting on the PRSF New Music Award’s have your say pages, and explaining why I thought The Organ of Corti should win the prestigious PRSF Award. I never win Internet-type-things, and was sure my essay of a comment on The Organ of Corti would be too long. So it was a lovely surprise.

I was also delighted when I learned that The Organ of Corti did indeed win the £50,000 PRSF New Music Award as I think it is a fantastic project, with its participatory/celebratory aspects, and I will post in more detail about the project in coming weeks.

Brenda’s podcast playing on the iPod. The photo is super dark because I wanted to show how the little screen shows up what is playing… I am v. enamoured by the little screen and its pictures.

The other massive thing which happened this month, is that Mark, his boys and I travelled TO MIAMI and stayed here for a week.

Highlights included cycling in the Everglades, walking on the beach at sunrise, and fashioning my own Newspaper 1920s flapper dress from complimentary Hotel copies of The New York Times for the Halloween street party on Lincoln Avenue.

Halloween, it turns out, is a massive deal in the US.

Here I am, rocking a hot, 1920s zombie look.

…but I think Mark makes a hotter zombie. We picked cocktails based on their relationship to our dress; I went with a killer-strength dry Martini, and Mark had a Bahama-Mama, because it looked like BRAINZ.

There is so much more to write about Miami, about mushrooms, about the thesis, about things I’ve knit, about The Organ of Corti, about walking with Mark, about the turn in the season and about the epic-ness of having finally finished writing THE THESIS.

But for now, I’m just happy to be home, almost over the jetlag and halfway into a sock that I’m really enjoying knitting.

Happy Halloween!

Here is the Golden Orb Weaver spider that featured in Brenda’s Halloween episode of Cast On.

10 Responses to Where October went.

  1. Pingback: The Domestic Soundscape » Archive » In praise of post-it-notes

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