Maggie Wilson Author

Historical Non-Fiction in Northern Ontario

Mulligan Stew

Dream Home

Dream Home

My “go-to” music during the period following the breakup with “The One” was a selection of five tracks from Mark Knopfler’s Ragpicker’s Dream.  A couple were corny and upbeat.  But the one that hit me in the gut every. single. time. was Old Pigweed. [lyrics and link to video below]

When I was married to The One, we lived and worked in a large city. Like so many couples, we dreamed of owning a little country property. We were able to make that dream a reality and found a one-acre home about 45 minutes from work. Plenty of time to listen to tunes on the radio or the CD player.

The gal who owned the place previously had let a good portion of the yard go to seed. One acre is a lot of real estate to mow by hand. I know. Been there. Done that. Won’t do it again if I can help it.

My husband, though, felt compelled to tidy it up and he pulled, by hand, every last pigweed. Together we reclaimed the quarter acre vegetable garden, planted rhubarb, asparagus, rasp-, straw-, and blueberries. It was my dream garden. It was our dream home. Until, as they sometimes do, it turned into a nightmare.

He came one day to ask for a divorce. We were both exhausted from trying to make it work. I agreed. Remarkably, it did not take long for the house to sell. In less than a month, we had everything arranged with mortgages and lawyers and all that jazz. I made plans to live with my brother and his family and transferred to the satellite office in my brother’s town.

I was on the road a fair amount in those days, commuting the hour and a half from old home to new, to mow that lawn by hand, to water the blueberries and to otherwise maintain the place until the new owners took possession. The accompanying musical score was invariably my five highlights from the Ragpicker’s Dream.

I sang along, tears streaming down my face, with all of the appropriate dramatic gestures, underscoring my grievances:

...who put old pigweed in the Mulligan stew?

…was it YOU?

a spoonful of forgiveness
Goes a long, long way
And we all should do our best
To get along

And so on.

Isn’t it something how we revel in our misery? How we pick at the scabs? I don’t get it. I don’t like it when I see someone else doing it, because I do it myself and it infuriates me.

Today, approaching the ten-year anniversary of that April morning when he asked to end it, I can listen to the tune without hurting. My Pavlovian response lingers still and my eyes well up a bit, but the bitterness from the pigweed is gone.

This post inspired by the Daily Prompt

Old Pigweed, by Mark Knopfler

Everything was in there
That you’d want to see
Corned beef and onions
And true love
Turnips and tinned tomatoes
Parsnips and a few potatoes
A couple extra blessings
From above

Now this here mingle-mangle
Was my best one yet
A big old bad goulash
Worth waiting for
And i’m just about to dip my can
Taste some brotherhood of man
When I get a feeling
That there’s a flaw

Who put old pigweed
In the mulligan
Was it you
Who put old pigweed
In the mulligan stew
I close my eyes
For just a minute
What do you do
Who put old pigweed
In the mulligan stew

You won’t find self-improvement or philosophy
In a dumpster sitting by
The kitchen door
There’s plenty leek and humble pie
Ain’t too much ham on rye
Sometimes I wonder
What i’m looking for

But a spoonful of forgiveness
Goes a long, long way
And we all should do our best
To get along
Add a pinch of kindness crumbling
To your loving dumpling
Okra for thickening
When something’s wrong

But who put old pigweed
In the mulligan
Was it you
Who put old pigweed
In the mulligan stew
I close my eyes
For just a minute
What do you do
Who put old pigweed
In the mulligan stew

Categories: Husband

Tags: , , ,

34 replies

  1. It always amazes me the variety of ways memories are triggered and as time passes how our perspectives of the change. Loved your post. Jen


  2. That’s a fairly normal period for grieving, Maggie … Pain always there, but now buried under a ton of scar-tissue grown from living, eh? Knopfler a bit of a musical genius.


  3. It’s amazing how songs can transport us emotionally back to times of joy or grief. I was struck by your question: Isn’t it something how we revel in our misery?

    I guess when the love or the dream of it was deep a moment’s grief won’t do to honor it’s passing. No?


    • I suppose I am wary of being a drama queen. Another hold-over from my childhood, when I was chastised for trying to bring attention to myself. And now that I think of it, I was also scolded for picking at scabs!! Hoo, whole lot of thinking to do on this one, Jess! Thanks for writing.


  4. Well, I think we have to grieve before before we can heal, so it’s a whole process one has to go through. Lovely post and yet another great Mark Knopfler song.


  5. “True” by Spandau Ballet has that effect on me for some reason.


  6. So many artists and songs from “that time” in my life that helped me work through it all, but the biggest one was the Goo-Goo Dolls “Dizzy up the Girl” album — I remember driving home after dropping my youngest daughter off to spend the week with friends Ocean City, Maryland. I was heading towards the Chesapeake Bay Bridge; it was twilight, hot, and humid; my windows were down and I was singing/screaming at the top of my voice. So therapeutic and rejuvenating!

    “Isn’t it something how we revel in our misery?” — yes, but I think it’s necessary! At least for me, it’s how I work through the intensity of experiences. I’m emotional; I can really love but with that, comes the ability to really wallow and revel … it’s essential for my mental health.

    Thank you for sharing this post!

    And now I’m listening to my Mark Knopfler playlist on Spotify. Bliss.


  7. I’m sure we women do the scab-picking more than the guys. I’m glad you’re much better, song and all. =)




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