February 5th, 2009 - Creek Walk (literally)

Hap and I took advantage of the rare conditions that presently allow us to walk Minnehaha Creek from our house, all the way down the surface of the creek to the Falls.
For this to happen there usually has to be a pretty long cold spell, and or low water to begin with.
This year we've had both.

It's pretty cool; you can walk under Minnehaha Parkway and under Highway 55, (a.k.a. Hiawatha Avenue) under the old train overpass, and through the Minnehaha Avenue creek tunnel right before the little island with the Minnehaha statue. The ice is still at least 8 to 10 inches thick in most places, but I did notice some run-off water entering, so I'm sure it won't hold up for long if we have the prolonged thaw that is predicted.
The ice in the 55 tunnel is pretty great. At some point a pressure crack developed and a whole section gave way and dropped about ten inches.
You can see the whole creek sheet sagging in the middle, and it's hard to get a scope of the scale until you get right down there, but it's like the whole section about thirty feet wide and maybe eighty feet long just dropped like the bottom fell out. Reminds me of some of the earthquake pictures you see. 

I can't imagine what that sounded like!
Just me walking through there on aluminum snowshoes was like gunshots going off with each step, the whole place is like a reverb chamber. It must have really been something when it happened.

I'm not sure how much longer it will be passable. Once water starts flowing under the creek, I'm sure it's going to deteriorate rapidly. I feel lucky we could catch it at a time when we can get in there and the light is good. It's an unusal perspective.
Besides that coolness, I smelled fox musk and saw some scat that looked suspiciously like fox, and Happy was all keyed up about it as well. There were two rabbit kills along our route, probably from a few days ago. Lots of bird activity today after such a long cold spell; cardinals, juncos, chickadees, and some tough-ass robins were all out gathering.

The "Virgin's Bower" is still frozen in place from last fall along the Pergola. It looks really cool with the low sun coming through and maybe a little frost along the edges. I really felt warmth of the sun today, the first day in many. I realized I was overdressed for snowshoeing pretty quickly, actually had my hat and gloves off, and both my jackets zipped down all the way at one point. Ahh, you appreciate the small victories as you grow older.

Car Crud Collective

Well, my sis from California out-etymologized me with her write-in for the "name the nasty pieces of crud that you try to karate kick off your car fenders at the gas station" ballot, I must say.
Her write-in is "Granita Crudite" (say: gruh-neet-a crew-dit-ay)
Along with her explanation: "Granita is a gourmet fruit ice, and crudite is a sort of appetizer; note the play on words : crudite/crud, w/ short u as in crud, crew-dit-ay as in crudite... oh, well, there's my input. deal with it."
Now I know which side of the family I get it from.
I had to do a little looking-up to make sure she wasn't pulling my leg, which also runs in the family, and sure enough, "Crudités are traditional French appetizers comprised of grated raw vegetables soaked in a vinaigrette. Crudités often include carrot sticks, pepper strips, celery sticks, and asparagus spears."
Well, there are definitely some fenderbergs that look like asparagus soaked too long in vinaigrette, so I will accept that.
Regarding Granita, Granita (in Italian: also "granita siciliana," or in our case probably "siliconia") is a semi-frozen dessert of sugar, water, and flavorings from Sicily, Italy. Related to sorbet and italian ice, in most of Sicily it has a coarser, more crystalline texture.
Food writer Jeffrey Steingarten says that "the desired texture seems to vary from city to city" on the island; on the west coast and in Palermo, it is at its chunkiest, and in the east it is nearly as smooth as sorbet. This is largely the result of different freezing techniques: the smoother types are produced in a gelato machine, while the coarser varieties are frozen with only occasional agitation, then scraped or shaved to produce separated crystals.
Same here, but I can tell you that it is far chunkier in Minnesota.
Common and traditional flavoring ingredients include lemon juice, mandarin oranges, coffee, almonds, mint, and when in season wild strawberries and black mulberries. Chocolate granitas have a tradition in the city of Catania and, according to Steingarten, nowhere else in Sicily. The nuances of the Sicilian ingredients are important to the flavor of the finished granita: Sicilian lemons are a little less acidic, more floral variety similar to Meyer lemons, while the almonds used contain some number of bitter almonds, crucial to the signature almond flavor.
Oh, here we have nuisances by the truckload.
Granita with coffee is very common in the city of Messina, while granita with almonds is popular in the city of Catania. Granita in combination with a yeast pastry called brioche is a common breakfast in summer time. Ice cream for breakfast, those Italians know how to live. Muncha! Muncha!
After about a week of below zero temperatures here in MN, the Granita Crudite will be
gelatinous over the next few days as temps are predicted to be in the 30's for a while. Mmmm, Mmmm. That's good crud.

So in case you haven't been paying attention, or are just trying to avoid it, here are your updated candidates and their tallies in the poll:

"Car Turds"
1 (10%)

1 (10%)

"Fender Fudge"
2 (20%)

"Granita Crudite"
1 (10%)

"Mudflap Mallow"
0 (0%)

"Pothole Pudding"
0 (0%)

"Salt Stalactites"
2 (20%)

"Snow Boogers"
1 (10%)

"Tire Tacos"
0 (0%)

"Wheelwell Wedgies"
2 (20%)

Or so. Margin of error 0%, as far as we can tell.

With the write-ins; a.k.a "None of the above (email it over)" leading by a sizable margin. Without variety it wouldn't be a horse-race. Maybe that Electoral College isn't such a bad idea after all.