Is it time to rewrite the script?

Winter Study II

So here we are, a month away from 2016, the year I’ve been horizon planning for the last two. The “You’ve got to keep a dream in your pocket year”.

The kids are finished – if they ever really finish – but the big one is done. The school years are over, finished, finito.

She breathes.

Both adults. Whoa!

They are their own people now.

Their decisions are their own.

I was watering the garden during the week and noticed, for the first time in a while, how big one of the conifers has grown. It used to be so small. We have been in this cottage for 20 years. Made a home. Made a garden. Made two young adults. Made a life. A lovely one at that.

But 2016 is looming and Steve and I should be madly planning our long awaited adventure in the Mediterranean yes? Starting in Algeria, heading east around the coastline through Tunisia, taking in the Roman ruins in Libya, crossing into Egypt, Palestine, Israel, Lebanon, Syria … ah Syria. I’ve been stuck in Syria on my DH&N Facebook journey for the past two years, staunchly reluctant to move on, hoping hopelessly that they’d find a solution. Instead we have a wave of humanity heading in the same direction we were imagining we might blithely step.

What a difference two years can make.

So here is the dilemma.

To go? Or not to go?

There is a part of me, the brave part of me, that says now is the moment you must do it. Approach those publishers. Visit those countries. Now more than ever those bridges need to be built. But then the timid part of me says “Are you frickin’ crazy – it’s a war zone. They are shooting people on the beach for fuck sake.”

But who are they?  I want to meet the theys – like us – who are living quietly in their part of the world, making a home, making a garden, making young adults, making a life.

We have a few months to think this through. Darce is over the line but he’s not quite out of the nest 😉 He has his own travel plans that will take some time to make real.

And all the while, the artist, hidden deep beneath layers of work and cooking and partnering and mothering is quietly saying “Pick me! Pick me!”

Maybe it’s her turn.

Maybe it’s time to rewrite the script.



Photo: Winter Study II. Margaret Hogan


    How to fix a broken fence …


    There is an undercurrent in the media at the moment.

    It goes something like this.

    Muslims will be applauded if they:

    1. Condemn all terror attacks and
    2. Promote peace and unity

    But the moment a Muslim goes a step further and tries to explore the reasons behind fundamentalism and terrorism, they are howled down. In the western press at least.

    It’s got me thinking about the importance of having a voice. Whether it’s in a relationship, a family, a workplace or a community. Everyone needs to feel that they have a voice.

    Have you ever been in a situation where you don’t have a voice? When someone has shut you down? Silenced you?

    How did you feel?

    Hurt? Resentful?

    I am thinking back to conversations we’ve had with the kids when, as parents, we’ve made mistakes, jumped to conclusions, made accusations or spoken out of line and found ourselves in the uncomfortable position of apologising – to them.

    A little seismic shift occurs. The kids suddenly see you as human. As fallible. But I think they also respect the fact that from your position of parental power, you are big enough to say “I was wrong. And I’m sorry.” And perhaps most importantly they know that they have a voice. And that is has been heard.

    The flip side of this is when you don’t listen, when you stubbornly hold your position and say …

    “Go to your room!”
    “But I just …”
    “I don’t want to hear it. Go to your room!”

    Try this on …

    “Shut up and be a good Muslim and go back to your suburb.”
    “But I just want to talk about why I think this is happening …”
    “No. We don’t want to hear it.”

    Silenced. Hurt. Resentful.

    Is that really the result we want?

    garden 1

    I’ve said it before and I will say it again, the West has a less than glowing history in many corners of the world and if Obama and Turnbull et al really want to find a political, humanitarian solution to the current mess they have to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and apologise for the hurts inflicted.

    Imagine you run into your neighbour’s fence with your car. Big damage.

    I asked a friend today how would she set out to fix it.

    “Well I’d pay for the damage.”

    But I said, “No. How would you begin the process of fixing it?”

    “Well I’d walk across to the neighbours, I’d apologise profusely and I’d set out to make it right. Then I’d pay for the damage.”



    garden 2

    The most moving moment for Steve and I this week was the press conference in Western Australia with the first of the Syrian refugees finding sanctuary in Australia. A mechanic and his wife and five children. I have no doubt the PR machine had them polished and shined to within an inch of their lives. Their pictures taken. The littlies smiling. But even despite all of that, we looked at each other and said “Imagine having been on the run or in a camp in Jordan for four years and finally, finally you know your children are going to sleep safely tonight, and they will be able to go to school and you have a chance for a new start. A good life.”

    And the tears welled up.

    We visited Syria in 2010, five months before it went to hell. The people were overwhelmingly friendly and welcoming. We have watched it unravel for the past five years. The Syria we experienced is no more.

    The father’s last words were: “All the respect. All the respect to Australia. Thank you again.”


    Respect for your voice.

    Respect for mine.

    18 months ago we pulled down our broken front fence and replaced it with a garden. I wrote about it here. We extended the little verandah so we could have a table and chairs out the front. Like so many Australians our focus has always been in the backyard but I can’t tell you the pleasure we’ve had bringing this little area to life, from funking up some chairs from the tip shop to planting Provencal thyme and lavenders and a curving box hedge. Last night, just on dark, I sat out there with a cup of tea and got chatting to a young guy who was walking the street, trying to settle his adorable 11 month old son who was unwell. Five years they’ve lived five doors away and last night was the first time we’d met.

    marg's watercolour in the style of Edna Walling

    stephen hogan sculpture letterbox


    abstract shadows and light

    When we’re frightened our natural response is to close in on ourselves. But I think now more than ever we need to be reaching out.

    Please don’t be afraid of robust conversations.

    Please don’t be frightened of different.

    Different clothes. Different faces. Different ideas. Different opinions.

    Different is wonderful.

    Different is what makes this planet so mind blowingly beautiful.

    Open your doors. Open your hearts. And make room for the voices.

    There are stories that need to be told.

    Stories that need to be heard.

    From both sides of that broken fence.



    I’d be grateful if you’d share this one.  xo


      Fork me now omelette. She’s quick, she’s easy and she’s a little bit sassy.

      We have a little black market thing going. I can’t reveal too much but we have a friend with happy chooks “somewhere south of Bathurst” who every couple of weeks delivers to our door the freshest, yellowest, fork me now eggs you’ve ever tasted.

      We also have a little no carb thing going. Some days it works. Somedays not. But this is my favourite way to start a well intentioned no carb day. Having said that, I’m a chilli fiend. You might want to hold back on the chilli if it’s not you’re thing.

      We were served this every morning at the Jackaranda Guesthouse in Delhi, a lovely B&B in Greater Kailash, a suburb just south of central Delhi. If you’re ever looking for a nice place to stay, it’s a good spot – markets and restaurants just a couple of blocks away.

      Very finely – and I mean very finely and evenly – chop some tomatoes, French shallots, green capsicum and Thai green chilli.

      I’ve tried it with other chillies but it just doesn’t taste the same. So now, when I find Thai greens in the shop, I buy a few and pop them in a freezer bag. I’ve also tried it with onion and it’s not the same either. So stick to the script with this one …


      Two eggs. Don’t fork them too much. Just a little.

      lightly fork the eggs

      Tip them into a lightly oiled frypan and swirl it around so the eggs spread evenly.

      Mix up your ingredients and sprinkle them evenly over the omelette.

      Fold over and over again.


      fold the omelette

      It’s as simple as that. But very tasty.

      spicy omelette

      Spicy Delhi Omelette

      2 large teaspoons of finely chopped..
      ripe tomato
      green capsicum
      and French shallot


      A little finely chopped Thai green chilli – to taste.
      2 eggs.

      That’s it! Enjoy.

      And if you have a favourite omelette combo, please feel free to share.


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