A shift in the seasons

The season is shifting. The daytime warmth is now an uncomfortable, sticky heat and we start to yearn for the rains.  The cool mornings have started to warm a little, but not as much as the seasonal usual.  And not enough to nurture the budding mangoes.  I fear a poor mango season is ahead.

On my way to work the other morning, I stopped near the traffic lights as usual to buy strings of threaded jasmine blossom.  The regular seller handed me my strings, and as I moved forward I lifted them to my face without thinking, breathing in the sweet scent. He ran back towards me, proffering a small blossom of the newly flowering tree, known as the university blossoms, the Myanmar word sounding to me like “gangkaw”. “It smells good” he told me in Myanmar, and gave me the stem to take with me before disappearing into the traffic again to sell his flowers.  These moments warm my soul, and brighten my outlook.  Especially when my personal outlook is clouded by the next rounds of scans and checks, which will be upon me before the month is out. I try and put these thoughts to the side, hiding them in the heady, heavy sweetness of the flowers watching over me.

yangon gangkohThe sight of the flower on my desk throughout the day brought many remarks and smiles. I learned that there are many of these blossoms on trees flowering at the university. The flower is associated with students, learning, summer, graduation and the forthcoming Thingyan Water Festival. As the season shifts, there are signs all around. The first glimpses of jacaranda, plastic padauk flowers for sale and the proliferation of the Gangkaw flowers with their sweet, heavy scent.

The shadow of the Gangaw flower falling on the girl's face

The shadow of the Gangaw flower falling on the girl’s face

It is hard to imagine that on this day a year ago, I arrived in Scotland and was greeted by perishing temperatures and snow. But as the season shifts here, those signs are visible across the globe too.  The stretching of the daylight hours in Scotland, and the appearance of snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils all heralding the coming spring.

Therefore, I have chosen to change my background image, to one of the Island of Lismore, Scotland which was actually taken a a few years ago when I spent a number of weeks there in my father’s home early that year.

Lismore, Scotland as spring approaches

Lismore, Scotland as spring approaches

No matter where we are on the planet, time moves forward and we should choose carefully those precious images and memories which we want to take with us.

Future tenses

I have arrived.  I have no idea, and no good reason for this being my very first visit to Malaysia despite living so near for over a decade.  All I do know is that I am here now, and very glad to be.

I think that the impression I have always had, particularly of Kuala Lumpur, has been that it is a highly modern, futuristic city with of course the iconic Petronas Towers.  Now I am kicking myself that I have waited so long!  It is an incredible city, with a rich mix of architecture and culture.

So what could be more fitting than a sneak preview of the many photos and tales to come, with a change of background and some funky pics of the futuristic Petronas Tower high above the skyscrapers on the skyline, such as this one reflected in the table I was sitting at the first evening I arrived in KL.

Reflection of the iconic Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur

A classic view of the Tower itself, for the current background.

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And a couple of “preview” images of the diversity that is KL with a promise of much more to follow.

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This year has taken such a toll, and although I continue to struggle with the heavy side effects of potentially life waving meds, as well as that overbearing, ever present grief, it is good to have a diversity of surroundings such as the KL setting.

A setting to inspire and remind of the past, the present and the future.

The Winds of Change

The winds of change are definitely in the air.  The days are becoming drier, more sunny and very hot.  There is still a good amount of rain, some torrential, but the skies are looking different.  There are swathes of blue, punctuated by white, grey and inky black cloud formations. It is a beautiful time of year, the vegetation lush and rich from the rains but now set amidst bright sunshine and clouds with character and feist.

As I discussed in my last post too, it another season is newly underway.  Personally, it is my anniversary season.  In only two days time I will silently and sombrely recall the words which changed life forever for me and those close to me.  The “this is highly suspicious of cancer” words.  Those days were followed rapidly by surgery, pathology reports, chemo and all the attendant extras that these entail. It is a rough and stormy season and one which I will be glad to be on the other side of, just like a rough storm indeed.

It is also a season which is becoming increasingly divisive within what is a close and highly supportive online (and offline) community of breast cancer veterans.  (Hmm – apart from the war and fighting associations – I think I might prefer veteran to survivor as a term?  A veteran being anyone who has crossed over the “you have cancer” line….  just thinking out loud here).  The season is of course Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) – often called Pink October.  I personally believe, looking at this from a global perspective, that there is no right or wrong in terms of BCAM.  The context varies wildly and we cannot prescribe for another situation.  I very much disagree with hijacking a cause or issue for profit, but will never tire of trying to highlight the very different context here and the challenges for, particularly women, in the developing world.

Many winds and crosswinds are blowing during October.

So while these serious winds of change are sweeping through our lives, what better time to step back and refresh the visual image backing the blog.  This time I have selected an image from my travels again, but the elements which I wish to share are ones which are universal.  A sinking sun against a sky scattered with cloud formations, reflected on the water.  Foliage silhouetted against the darkening sky.  The mood of the sky captures the winds of the changing season and the promise of dry days and retreating rains.

This is the complete image, and very shortly (as connectivity allows) the image will appear as the background for the next few weeks.

Celebrating the ordinary – Sunday’s starter

As I posted yesterday, Marie of Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer, is marking a return to blogging with the following challenge:

For one week, starting Sunday, I would love for you to join me………  it’s about celebrating the ordinary simple things we can sometimes take for granted each day.   So, will you join me in finding one thing each day to take a picture of to remind us of the simple ordinary pleasures in life? If you have a blog, then please post the picture and leave a link here.  And if you don’t have a blog, you can still join in on Facebook. Just upload your pic to the JBBC Facebook page where I will also be posting everyone’s pictures.  Looking forward to seeing your contributions!

Irresistible!  I was already in the midst of preparing a post, which would herald a new aspect to my own blog – I guess I could call it the Background Image Backstory?  So to start the week of celebration of the ordinary, I am using the image I was poised to share and describe, the image which was the first background image on my New Look Blog.

This is a photograph which I actually took during my Christmas break, in 2010 in Ngwe Saung, on the western coast of Myanmar.  I was fascinated by the patterns appearing on the sand, and ended up taking a number of photographs of the various designs and patterns.  This image is of a design left in the sand as the tide went out.  These incredible designs were everywhere, all I had to do was open my eyes and celebrate them in their extraordinary simple sophistication.

It may come as no surprise that I photographed very many of these various images, including the patterns left by burrowing tiny crabs and doodles by sand slugs.  There is a full album of these on my sister blog, where I post photographs of my life here, and another album of that Christmas break in black and white images.

As the week of this challenge progresses, I will be sharing images, new shots and some from my archive, to celebrate the ordinary.  The biggest challenge is only selecting one each day for only a week!

Images and synchronicity….

Amidst all this bloggerly pondering, overhauling and refreshing,  I had an idea yesterday.

Before I describe the idea, let’s rewind to the overhaul, and particularly to the image at the background of the new look blog.  It took me a great deal of identifying, selecting, experimenting and painfully slow uploading of images to serve as the background image.  The one I finally selected, I was very happy with, even if you could only see the edges.  Oh, but choosing only one was so hard, and when I look at many other blogs around me, with such a variety of beautiful images, I felt sad that I could not put all of my favourite images as the background.  And then I stopped.  Why can’t I?  A slide show would take up too much memory and be painful for slow-downloading environments which are more the norm than not in this part of the world.  But what I could do would be to develop a regular kind of “feature”  where I could change the background picture, and at the same time display the image (in full since only the edges which are shown as background image), and links to any posts which relate and more images of the same kind.  Now wouldn’t that be a fine way of expanding the content of the blog in a way which truly reflects its purpose of telling the story of  the “Life and work of a Scottish woman in Asia – with the added complication of Breast Cancer thrown into the mix!”?  Well, let’s give it a try and see…..

So I have changed the background image 🙂  The new image I have chosen is from my visit to Timor Leste in February which I wrote about here along with a selection of photographs of the visit.  And I propose to change the background image, regularly (depending on connectivity) along with a post with the picture itself and giving a bit of the story behind it.

My next step was then to share and describe the first image which I had selected.  That plan changed. It was late in our day, Friday, when I read Marie’s challenge in her return to the blogosphere.  Her challenge is simple and beautiful.  We are challenged to open our eyes and appreciate our surroundings, and share the images from those wonderful everyday little things.

And that is where the synchronicity comes in.  Not just in relation to the images themselves, but the very image which I had painstakingly selected for the first background of the revamped blog look is one of my favourites for the very reason that it is a simple picture of an everyday wonder.  Marie challenges us to share our images on Sunday (tomorrow) so this post is to give the backstory and pave the way for the image which (coincidentally I had already uploaded for this post) for me truly represents a celebration of the ordinary.

And that will appear here tomorrow, with a link back to Marie’s challenge post.

Departures

I have been playing with this thought for a while.  And finally I have decided to do something about it.

I have set up a “sibling” blog as a place to post photos, because I seem to be gathering quite a few of them.  If you want a break from Breast Cancer and too many words, then please visit Feisty Blue Gecko in images for something a bit different.

 

Steps in the process