You will be well-remembered for years, honestly, when you include Pam’s salad in a holiday celebration. We hosted 2017 Thanksgiving and Pam’s salad was requested by her son and daughter’s families. When we went around the table to give thanks, our six year old grandson offered, “I am thankful for the jello”, meaning Pam’s salad.
My wife, Pamela Wills, perfected this recipe over the years as a nutritious and tasty dish she could make in advance.
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas or Anytime
Holiday Cranberry-Pecan Salad travels well and is a visually appealing dish to share at parties.
Holiday Cranberry-Pecan Salad
1 12 oz. bag of raw cranberries
1 6 oz. box of raspberry gelatin
1 6 oz. box of orange gelatin
3 cups orange juice
3 cups boiling water
1 large orange
2 large apples of your choice (I use sweet/tart/firm apples)
1 tablespoon orange rind
½ cup chopped pecans
Curly leaf parsley
3-4 small bunches of green grapes. I dip the grapes in water, then in sugar and let dry. Or you can use raw cranberries.
Boil water. In large mixing bowl pour water over raspberry and orange gelatin and stir until dissolved. Wait a few minutes until the gelatin cools down (keep stirring). Add orange juice and stir again. Place in refrigerator until gelatin is the consistency of raw egg whites. This is tricky step since, if you don’t let it set up enough, the fruit will sink to the bottom. When set too much the fruit mixture won’t blend with the gelatin.
In food processor finely chopped cranberries. By hand cut orange and apples into small bit-size pieces. Combine chopped cranberries, apples and orange. Fold in grated orange rind and pecans. Set this aside while waiting for the gelatin (see above).
Fold fruit mixture into the gelatin. With a large spoon scoop up mixture and transfer it to a Bundt pan. Cover with plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for several hours or until set.
Dip bottom of mold into a sink of a few inches of luke warm water (not too warm or the gelatin will melt). Turn upside down on a large round platter or plate and garnish around the edges with parsley and the sugar-coated grapes or raw cranberries.
This is a great dish to share at a holiday party since you can make it in advance. My family prefers it over cooked cranberry relish and it is even good enough to serve as a dessert. It is easy to make, it’s festive and has always been a big hit. Enjoy!
Note: EAT the parsley garnish. Parsley is packed with vitamins and minerals. Just 7.5 grams (a fraction of an ounce) contains 150+% of most people’s Vitamin K requirement and about 15% for Vitamin A and C.
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
On a sunny autumn morning we set out, my soon to be three grandson Sam and I, to the Lime Hollow Nature Center near Cortland for an adventure. For the first time I brought a newly purchased iPhone 7 instead of the usual slr camera. The phone can be carried in a pocket and is simpler to us, to allow me to give full attention to Sam.
At the start is a large, today sunlit, field with an “art trail.” There are various anthropomorphic transformations on the trees and a very large sculpture of a blue face. Here is a tree from another place near here, to give you an idea.
I do not point out the tree faces to Sam. His Mom likes to say he enjoys being frightened and, when the blue face came into view, he turned back and said, “home.” Sam was mildly anxious, so I carried him and tried to turn him up the trail away from the face. He turned to keep an eye on it while I assured him it could not move. This and a climb up a 230 foot hill were the only times he didn’t walk the half mile to a open grassy knoll with a bench.
There we sat for 30 minutes, still and watching, Sam and I talked about our sightings: 1. The sunlit sky of clouds, from a milky blue towards the north to, overhead, a bright robins egg blue. 2. A circling hawk, shadow crossing over us. 3. One blue jay in a maple turning red, loudly calling over and over. 4. A little while after a second jay, landing in a tree turned yellow, drawn in and giving answer. 5. A monarch butterfly’s steady progress south. Such a strong gliding path. 6. A yellow butterfly who did not leave us, fluttering round and round. 7. Four honking Canadian geese flying north east, turned to check out a nearby pond, the returned to the original heading. 8. The sound of wind through the trees, listening to the sound made by each tree. 9. The late season golden rod, now dried gray. 10. A distant chittering red squirrel. 11. Distant peeper frogs in the swamps at the foot of the hill.
Sam did not want to leave the bench, eventually we headed on to the pond the geese checked out.
I used the “panoramic” feature of the iPhone 7 for this shot. On the hill we were sheltered by trees and bushes from the steady northeast wind. Here, on a bench by the pond, that direction was open to the wind. The sun kept us warm. It was clear why the geese did not land, the water surface was deserted, filled only by rippling wind driven waves.
On our walk back we sat on a bench on the edge of the art trail field, the blue face out of sight. A woman, the only other person encountered, emerged from one of the trails cut from the brush, camera in hand. She was collecting images for a Cortland Historical Society publication and asked to take our photograph. “OK,”, I said and gave the story of living here for 25 years in the house on Fall Creek where my son’s family lives now. She replied, “My daughter is in San Francisco. We don’t know who will have our house when we are gone.”
I have an update to my post “Proleek, Grandfather McCardle’s home” where we explored the site of the boyhood home of my grandfather, Peter McCardle, on great grandfather James McCardle’s Proleek farm. April 2018 an email arrived from the brother of the owner of the house across the road. He recognized the property from the blog photography and reached out to introduce himself and share information. His own genealogical research suggested we shared a great aunt. We now work together to define this connection.
Our tour of Ireland was bookended by a visit to the farm site and, located little more than a kilometer away, a 5,000+ year old portal tomb, the last site Pam and I visited. We parked at the hotel / golf course built around the monuments. There is no fee to visit the site, number 476 on the list of Republic of Ireland National Monuments (Irish: Séadchomhartha Náisiúnta), protected at the level of guardianship by the National Monuments Act of 1930. The townland is named after the dolmen. The anglicized “Proleek” is derived from the Irish for “bruising rock”, as in a millstone. The grave is attributed in folklore to the resting place of the Scotch Giant, Para Buidhe More Mahac Seoidin, who came to challenge Fin Mac Coole.
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Ballymascanlon House Hotel is on the R173, on the left heading from the M1 towards Jenkinstown. Path to the monument is marked here and there and requires attention. It helps to understand the general location of the monument on the property. The parking lot and hotel are on the southern end, the monument is on the north end.
The path leads through the hotel grounds….
….and golf course…
…and you first encounter the megalithic Gallery Grave of a type named “wedge shaped.”
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The 22 foot long tomb gallery supported stories of a giant burial. Pam poses for a sense of scale.
These are the only ancient monuments in Ireland were a stray golf ball may be encountered.
A short way ahead is the dolmen, or portal tomb. The informational placard is in English and Gaelic. There is an illustration of the stones covered with earth with a stone façade.
Some describe the formation as a giant mushroom with warts. The posting feature image is of the same aspect as the next photograph, with me for scale.
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On Monday, June 9, 2014, cousin John Mills dropped his son, Sean Mills, myself and Pam Wills off at the foot of the western slopes of Slieve Foy on the Tain Way. Sean, Pam and I walked the way over the mountain and into Carlingford in the footsteps of epic Irish heroes.
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Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved
In a previous posting we hiked through the only European Union Leprechaun Preserve on Slieve Foy above Carlingford, County Louth, Ireland.
This home was lower on the mountain, on the way to town.
You will not find Calla Lilies thriving in front yards here in Ithaca, New York (43 degrees north latitude) as they do in the Temperate Oceanic Climate of Ireland, pictured in Carlingford on a June day. At 54 degrees these Calla Lilies are growing at a latitude 800 miles north of Ithaca, in the middle of Quebec Province, Canada.
In spite of this, here in Ithaca we keep March 17th, Saint Patrick’s Day, warm. In the home of our three grandchildren (3, 4 and 6 years old) who live in Ithaca they celebrate by playing tricks on Leprechauns.
This year, we visited Saint Patrick’s Day eve and reviewed their bag of tricks with the Leprechaun in Chief, their Mom. In response, the Leprechauns leave them letters to make it clear the tricks did not work. On top of this, the children have big laughs on the tricks played in return. A favorite is finding their socks taped all over the mirror.
Mom pulled out a few of the Leprechaun letters and we read them for the children to great laughter as they remembered tricks of previous years. Afterwards, when alone with Mom, Pam and I recalled the tradition in Chicago, to color the river green (a well as green milkshakes, etc), and suggested to the Leprechaun in Chief to put green food color in the toilet. It was a winning idea.
The next morning Mom, on hearing the toilet flushed repeatedly, found her 4 year old daughter totally appalled. “The Leprechauns used our toilet (and did not flush). YUUUUKKKK.” She then ran upstairs hoping for a “clean” bathroom up there. Well, green milkshakes are off the menu.
Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved.
In three, so far, postings on the cottage ruins at Loughan an Lochan (Loughan Bay) we explored a former community above the Irish Sea with a view of Scotland. For the third posting I shared some research on the last cottage people of that site with the intent of additional postings.
I wondered, “What motivates you to do this?” and remembered my mother’s Canadian passport in which, for place of birth “Proleek, Ireland” was written and my request to our cousin, John Mills, who invited us to stay with them after my mother passed away, June, 2013, the request being to visit the site of great grandfather James McCardle’s home, where grandfather Peter McCardle was raised, information since discovered from the Irish census.
On the morning of Sunday, May 25, John took us from mass on a tour of sites related to the family. One of these was the site of the McCardle home, Proleek Townland.
There site is an anonymous corner on a unnamed street with no outlet. The street ends close to the Proleek Dolmen, an ancient passage tomb, after passing farms and fields.
The 1901 Irish Census provides these details from 116 years ago:
The walls were stone, brick or concrete
The roof of thatch, wood or another perishable material.
Two rooms, with three windows facing the road.
Out buildings listed were:
Today, the site is another person’s property, it was not possible to explore further than when the camera lens reached when I leaned as far a possible into the brush. No sign of standing walls.
Modern homes surround the corner, solid and prosperous.
For this posting I collected the following images from Google Earth. The site is marked with a pushpin, “McCardle Home.” A “Proleek Dolmen” pushpin marks the passage tomb.
A closer view suggests, if we trespassed and poked around, some remains of the structure were concealed by the trees and brush.
Between May 2014 and this image, from 2015, the center of the plot was gouged out. The area corresponds to the corresponds to the remains indicated in the 2013 image. From this we can understand were the structures stood in relation to the road.
Using the polygon ruler tool the size of the site is 413 feet in circumference, 9,619 square feet, and the gouge, indicating the ruins, is 1,368 square feet.
But for John and Betty Mills, their kind invitation to stay and John’s guidance that day, the “Proleek” notation on my mother’s Canadian passport would still be a mystery today.
John Mills passed away the next year, September 26, 2015. Here are Hawthorne Blossoms from the corner of the former McCardle home in memory.
To close our time on the Tain Way I offer a poem written and presented to the congregation of the First Unitarian church of Ithaca New York 25 years ago, 1992. Interspersed are final photographs from our walk on the Tain Way of 2014.
The poem content is not directly biographical / confessional although it draws upon my experience as a single parent in the 1980’s through 1990’s.
A Poem Read To The Congregation
a crisis threatened an Irish village men women children filled the meeting place everyone participated especially the infants
raising John alone was not part of the plan Its been just john and me helen gave birth to john to have a part of me in case of loss i felt the same way and she understood
a welcome feminine voice in our home “Little House on the Prairie” and “Little House in the Big Woods” twice.
Here is an excerpt from a newspaper article by Wilder called “HOME” that has an emotional resonance for me dated 1923 Wilder was in her 50’s.
Out in the meadow, I picked a wild sunflower, and as I looked into its golden heart, such a wave of homesickness came over me that I almost wept. I wanted Mother, with her gentle voice and quiet firmness; I longed to hear Father’s jolly songs and to see his twinkling blue eyes; I was lonesome for the sister with whom I used to play in the meadow picking daisies and wild sunflowers.
Across the years, the old home and its love called to me, and memories of sweet words of counsel came flooding back. I realize that’s all my life the teaching of these early days have influenced me, and the example set by Father and Mother has been something I have tried to follow, with failure here and there, with rebellion at times; but always coming back to it as the compass needle to the star.
So much depends upon the homemakers. I sometimes wonder if they are so busy now with other things that they are forgetting the importance of this special work. Especially did I wonder when reading recently that there was a great many child suicides in the United States during the last year. Not long ago we had never heard of such a thing in our own country, and I am sure there must be something wrong with the home of a child who commits suicide.
we give so much to our children what’s left over though is ours
Rocks such as this are a favorite perch for leprechauns to rest and contemplate the works of man who have invaded their world. Inhabitants of Carlingford who wander Slieve Foye have come upon them often enough, their stories and certitude in the existence of the Little People are resistant to manifold doubters with their reasons and arguments.
Kevin Woods, aka McCoillte, was a doubter until worked on a stone wall on property he owned on Ghan Road, Carlingford. His belief did not arise on the discovery of the leather purse, covered with ages of dust and lime, nor with the gold coins inside. McCoillte pocketed the coins for luck. As luck would have it, McCoillte loved to walk on Slieve Foye. It was on one such walk he and his dog encountered Little People who paralyzed them to escape. His unexplained absence led to troubles with the wife.
This experience brought McCoillte around to enough of a belief that he, with lots of help, succeeded in petitioning the E.U. European Habitats directive to recognize leprechauns a protected species. According to a page on the Celtic Times web site, “The E.U. sent Madame Isobel Jeanne from Fecamp in Brittany France to Carlingford with the official letter declaring Carlingford Mountain (Note: otherwise known as Slieve Foye) protected, on the grounds that they could not prove or disprove their existence.” The page is titled “The Carlingford Leprechaun.” Google “Last Leprechauns” learn more about McCoillte’s stories.
I came upon this rock on June 9, 2014 on a day my cousin Sean Mills invited us to walk the Tain Way over Slieve Foye. It was such a finely shaped piece of what I suppose to be granite, the view of Carlingford, the lough and farmland so compelling, I spent time composing this landscape.
You can make out “King John’s Castle” just over the ridge and its yellow flowering gorse, on the margin of the blue lough. It is the boxy, grey structure; crenellations are visible on high resolution versions of the image. Carlingford is known for the castle, the popular name is for the English monarch who spent time there, although it was built by another.
We did not climb so much as ascend, with effort, the flank of Slieve Foy, a peak of the Cooley Mountains, County Louth, Ireland. The group being cousin Sean, my wife, Pam, and myself.
The ridge of Golyin Pass loomed in the mist where the path dissolved in low cloud. Sean pointed above, to the right to Barnavave, also know as Maeve’s Gap for the queen who came from the west of Ireland to take Donn Cúailnge, the Brown Bull of Cooley, by force of arms with an army behind her.
When cousin Sean named Cú Chulainn, the champion of Maeve’s opponents, the Ulstermen, he recalled a story once lost, Táin Bó Cúailnge. A hospitable siege different from Maeve’s and mist are part of the story of the recovery of this tale.
A gathering of 150 poets, 100 pupils, and attendants strained the patience and wealth of Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin, King of Connacht, when it extended to a year and four months.
On that 16th month, the king challenged the leader of his guests to the telling of a tale. Guaire demanded Seanchan Torpest, the chief poet of Connacht, to recite the whole of Táin Bó Cúailnge, known in English as the Cattle Raid of Cooley or The Táin (Cattle Raid).
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In this way the king was relieved of his guests: the book of the Táin was lost before their lifetimes, rumored to be abroad. Abashed at his failure, Seanchan Torpest withdrew. Fellow poets and followers trailed out from the castle.
Seanchan Torpest regrouped the host (an opened question is who then supported them) in conference to construct Táin Bó Cúailnge. It was a false hope as the gathering discovered while each poet knew a part of the whole, most of the story was lost. His honor, reputation and self-esteem in tatters the Chief Poet of Connacht, set off with Murgen, his son, and second cousin Eimena to return the Táin to Ireland.
Into mists such as those Pam, Sean and I ascended, the travelers soon were lost and separated.
Magically, Murgen finds the grave of the Uncle of Cú Chulainn in the mists, there to meet the shade of that enormous man, Fergus mac Róich is his name. In the Táin, as related in whole by Fergus to Murgen, Fergus was led by circumstances to ally with Maeve, to guide her army against the Ulstermen. As a deposed king, traitor to Ulster and Uncle to the champion Cú Chulainn, Fergus knew the tale entire.
It was from the mists that Murgen emerged, found his father and cousin, and returned together without the book, but with possession of the substance of the Táin.
The popular name of the Loughcrew megalithic site is, “The Hill of the Witch” (In Irish, Sliabh na Caillí). In lore sites such as this are associated with The Others (“fairies”), living lives parallel and invisible to ours, touched now and then with resolutely ill effect to our side though sometimes theirs as well. Resolute as in these meetings are fated to end poorly unless…..unless the mortal knows the rules. “If you are ever in an Other’s mansion for a party never, ever eat or drink anything. Eating or drinking will condemn you to an eternal round of parties. You will dance till dropping every night.” Rules such as that, and others, can be used to turn the tables, gain an advantage, of beings from the Other Side. The story of my wife, Pam, how our lives came to be touched by this afternoon of May 27, 2014, is parallel to the tales of mortals benefiting from contact with The Others. The immediate source was the passing of my mother, Catherine Ann Wills (McCardle), at the age of 90. Mom’s passport gave her place of birth as Proleek, a place in Louth. My maternal grandmother, Mary Catherine McCardle (Mills) spoke with a brogue, less a lilt than a down to earth and kind warmth. I remembered the stories of Mom’s passage to Canada with her mother and father in 1926 at the age of three. The Ireland connection with my father was less direct as I never met his mother as an adult and we seldom spoke of her. It was left to me in the time between my Mom’s passing, an invitation for a visit from our cousin’s in County Louth, and our arrival May 2014 to understand more about Elizabeth (Duffy) Wills, my paternal grandmother. In this way, I discovered Elizabeth came from a family of Dunderry, County Meath, Ireland, her parents Matthew and Teresa (Plunket) Duffy; our tour of Ireland came to start from a bed and breakfast near Trim, County Meath, with Dunderry up the road. May 27th, we planned as an exploration of all things County Meath, to include Loughcrew, the highest point of the county in the west. Along the steep path to the hilltop a hawthorn tree covered with flowers and offerings welcomes visitors. May is the month for decorating hawthorns, the blossoms are also known as “Mayflowers” as in the ship the pilgrims sailed to Plymouth Rock.
As if we entered a gateway, when pausing and turning high on the hill, this view was revealed, otherworldly in its fullness, scope and wonder as though we passed to the other side to the fairies. Cairnbane East of the Loughcrew Cairns site, County Meath Ireland, is also known as Hag’s Mountain. We are looking south, southwest from the north side toward Cairnbane West. Flowering yellow whin bush, also known as gorse, is in foreground; white flowering hawthorn trees in distance. No elements of this photograph hint at the year 2014.
A solitary standing stone below the trail to the Loughcrew site surrounded by whin bush in yellow flower and white blooms of hawthorn hedge rows. A fieldstone fence, farmhouses, a patchwork quilt of fields completes the view.
Meanwhile, in the real world, when Pam and I complete our round of the island to return to my cousins in County Louth, they told us, on this day, two young men were discovered parked next to a nearby lough, murdered during a drug deal gone bad.