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2022 July 31

Secret Walks: Moore Creek encore

This week was a bit of an odd one in the “secret walks” series.  On Thursday (28 July 2022), I did part of the Moore Creek Reserve walk with a friend, but took very few pictures:

We saw a fairly large lizard on a log, which I managed to get an OK picture of, though the lighting was not ideal.

One difference from the walk I did with my wife is that we walked up the east fork from the Terrace Loop Trail to the swing at the edge of the ravine, then back to the Terrace Loop. We also did not do the Prairie Loop Trail, because my friend was feeling a little tired. There were no cattle on the meadows at this time of year—but the cow patties were not completely dried out yet, so I suspect that they were only moved out in the past month.

We saw a few raptors high up (probably turkey vultures), but they were not photographable (by me anyway). All I got a photo of were these turkeys, who stayed conveniently on the ground (though I could not get very close to them, as they ran away as we approached).

On Friday, my wife and I walked downtown for dinner in Abbott Square (grilled cheese sandwiches from Central Coast Creamery) then over to Broadway Playhouse for the first public performance by WEST Performing Arts in a couple of years.  They were doing Puffs, a very funny play that satirizes Harry Potter.  Since Harry-Potter-based plays are a staple at WEST, this play was a good one to come back with.  The kids were all pretty good (though I had trouble with some of the quieter, higher-pitched voices, even with my hearing aids), and the play is quite funny.  My wife and I kept feeling like we ought to recognize the actors, even though our son’s last performance with WEST was in 2016, and even the youngest actors he performed with are now mostly out of college (some of them working as staff for WEST).  Several of the actors looked familiar, though none of the names in the program rang any bells.

On Sunday, my wife and I walked to the Colligan Theater to see Jewel Theatre’s final performance of Deathtrap, a very funny thriller-comedy.  We almost didn’t get in, though we had bought season tickets, because they had supposedly emailed a request for people to confirm their tickets. I checked when I got home, and I had no record in my email of any such request.  Luckily there had been a cancellation, so we were still able to get in (in seats as good as the ones we had reserved). The play was worth seeing, though it was clear that the set designer had had the most fun of anyone.

So I got in a moderate amount of walking this week, but not one very productive of photographs (it was still a bit weird going to a WEST play without taking a video or hundreds of photos, but I’m getting used to it now). I had taken about a hundred photos on July 16 of our son in a small role in Fortinbras produce by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley, so I’m maintaining the tradition. I put a few of the photos I took on a web page for my son.

2022 July 24

Pain de Campange encore

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:40
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I’m trying the pain de campagne recipe again (last time was posted as Pain de Campange), but using “poolish” (the wetter pre-ferment) rather than a “biga”.  I’m also using whole-wheat flour instead of rye for the flavoring (and increasing the amount of non-white flour), increasing the salt, and kneading for much longer.


2½ cups bread flour (319g)
½ teaspoon instant yeast (1.5g)
1½ cup water (340g)

Mix and let rise for about 6 hours (longer than the book suggests, but I wanted more flavor).  Refrigerate overnight.

To the poolish add

1 cup bread flour (130g)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (130g)
1 teaspoon yeast (3g)
2 teaspoon salt (14g) 
⅓ cup water (76g)

Mix for 2–3 minutes with dough hook on low speed. Dough should gather into ball, but be soft and pliable.  Increase mixer speed and knead for 10 minutes. (Lowering the bowl occasionally helps clear the dough off the hook.)

Knead by hand for about 5 minutes, adding bread flour as needed.  

Return to oiled bowl and cover again with plastic.

Let rise for 30 minutes, then stretch and fold to incorporate air.

Let rise for another 30 minutes, then stretch and fold to incorporate air.

Let rise for another 2 hours or until dough doubles in size.

Split dough in half and shape the bread into two boules (without degassing it, if possible) on baking parchment, oil lightly, cover with plastic, and let it rise for another hour until it rises to about 1.5 times as big.

Preheat oven to 500°F with a pan at the bottom of the oven to pour water into to make steam.

When the bread is put in the oven, pour a cup of water into the steam pan.  Repeat the steaming (with smaller quantities of water) every 30 seconds for about 2 minutes, then turn down the oven to 450°F and bake about 25–30 minutes (depending on the shape).  Loaves should be be 200°F–205°F in the center and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

The bread came out looking good with a very crunchy crust, but even with the longer kneading, I’m still not getting the very open texture I was hoping for. The flavor was ok, but not as rich as a bread with more whole-wheat flour or sourdough.


2022 July 17

No secret walk in Santa Cruz this week

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 21:22
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My wife and I did not do a “secret walk” in Santa Cruz this week, but I did get in a fair amount of walking this week:

  • On Wednesday, my wife and walked down to the downtown Farmer’s Market.
  • On Thursday, a friend and I did the Lighthouse-Whale Museum walk. I did not take any photos on this walk (so see the old post if you want pictures), but we had lunch together at Linda’s Seabreeze Cafe, which was pleasant.
  • On Saturday, my wife and I went up to El Cerrito, to see a play our son was in: Fortinbras, put on by Actors Ensemble of Berkeley.  We took the Capitol Corridor from San Jose to Richmond, then BART back to El Cerrito Plaza, because we were worried about delays on BART between Sanjose and El Cerrito (both from the bus bridge between Union City and South Hayward and BART alerts about other delays further north).  The Capitol Corridor is much more expensive, but we thought it would be a little more likely to run on time this weekend.
    My watch recorded about 23.5k steps on Saturday (so about 10 miles).  A little of that was walking to the bus station in Santa Cruz, but the strenuous part was from El Cerrito Plaza BART to our AirBnB, then from there up through Sunset View Cemetery and up Sunset Drive and Arlington to the Kensington Community Center, where the play took place.  We got a lift to the Kensington Circus Pub with some friends, where our family had dinner, then walked to our son’s house from there (about 3 miles).  Finally, we took a bus back to El Cerrito Plaza BART and walked back to our AirBnB.
  • On Sunday, my wife and I walked over to the Kensington Farmers’ Market for breakfast, then to our son’s house in Richmond.  We took bus/BART/bus bridge/BART/bus/bus/walk home from our son’s house—taking about 4 hours and 40 minutes.  Our walking on Sunday came to about 18k steps (~8 miles).

So, although my wife and I didn’t do a “secret walk in Santa Cruz” this week, we did get in a fair amount of walking—some of it fairly strenuous, as the climb from El Cerrito up to the Kensington Community center has 600′ of climb with an average slope of almost 7%.

The play Fortinbras was very funny and quite well acted—especially for theater that charges nothing for tickets (you can get a reserved seat for $20, but there is no real need—other than to support the under-funded theater group—we both got reserved seats). They’ve got one more weekend to go (July 23 and 24), and I strongly urge any of my blog readers who happen to be in the East Bay next weekend to take a couple of hours (3–5 p.m.) Saturday or Sunday to see the play. You won’t regret it!  (But if you don’t have a car, expect a long walk or use a ride-sharing service—Kensington has no bus service on weekends.)

The play starts with the final scene of Hamlet, in which all the major characters are dead and Fortinbras of Norway comes in to take over.  The characters in the play are almost all characters from Hamlet—either minor characters that weren’t killed or the ghosts of major characters.  The play is funnier if you are familiar with Hamlet, but they provide a brief pantomime summary of Hamlet at the beginning, which is all you really need to follow the farce.

2022 July 15

Fifty-seventh weight progress report

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This post is yet another weight progress report, continuing the previous one, part of a long series since I started in January 2015.

I have now been at a normal weight (BMI below 25) for a full year, and my weight has dropped slightly over that year.

Even though I’ve been gradually increasing the upper end of my target range, I’m still quite a bit heavier than the top of that range, hovering just below being overweight. I’d like to get my weight down to the middle of my target range (so around 159 lbs, 13.5 lbs less than I now weigh).

For June and the first half of July 2022, my bike riding averaged only 1 mile/day—a very small amount, as I’ve not even been doing the once-a-week commute to campus. I’ve only gotten on my bike for a few shopping runs (groceries, cases of La Croix water, cat litter, … ).  I’ve averaged about 7.1k steps per day, though—so some of my bicycling has been replaced by walking.  That walking has been mostly in the weekly “secret walk”  with my wife, supplemented with walks with a friend at UCSC who is trying to increase exercise.  I have not been taking photos on all the walks, so many of them have no corresponding blog post.  I’ve also been walking downtown for the farmer’s market and to Food Bin for local grocery shopping, so some of my bicycle utility trips have also been replaced by walking. (Mowing the lawn, which I need to do about every 2 weeks, also gets my step count up.)

2022 July 10

Secret Walks: UCSC Farm

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 20:25
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On 2022 July 3, my wife and I took a guided tour of the UCSC Farm, something we have not done for at least a decade—maybe closer to two decades.  The tour was moderately interesting, though more for the changes since we’d last been there than for the content of the talks.  We had 3 docents (1 scheduled, two others there to learn from her), but none of them knew much about what had been planted this year.  The farm discontinued the apprenticeship program during the pandemic and is relying more on UCSC students for farm labor, with the result that some of the more labor-intensive activities (like the long row of compost heaps) are no longer there.  I also did not see the pond with the solar fountain—I think it has been filled in.

On the way up Bay Drive, we saw a yellow monkeyflower in bloom.

The view across the field of Monterey Bay was fine, as the air was unusually clear.

In the opposite direction we could look across the fields to the tent cabins.

The tent cabins are new since the last time we visited (the apprentices used to sleep in much smaller, less permanent tents. I don’t know what the tent cabins are used for without the apprentices.

The row crops are a very mixed lot—the Farm tries to avoid any monocultures, to reduce problems with pests, as they use no herbicides or pesticides.

They have a few covered rows—I think these covers are to keep the birds off, more than they are for light or temperature control.

The Farm grows a lot of flowers and herbs—some in rows and some in more decorative beds.

I don’t know whether the row of amaranth is grown for the grain or for the flower, but given how little there is I suspect it is just for cut flowers.

Here are some beds labeled with loose categories of herbs.

The lavender was really attracting the bees, but I had a hard time getting them in focus—the autofocus of the camera was too easily captured by the flowers.

This orange flower appears to be some sort of globemallow, but I’ve no idea which species.

I don’t know whether the Farm harvests anything from the aloe plant, or if it is just decorative.

This flower was very popular with the hummingbirds (who are even harder to photograph than bees). It seems to be some sort of cape fuchsia (genus Phygelius).

The Life Lab at the Farm has some pet chickens—fancy breeds rather than ones raised for eggs or meat.

These cedar cones made a bold display on the tree.

I still have one walk that I took a lot of photos on that I have not posted to the blog—a visit to the UCSC Arboretum on June 5 with my wife and my sister. The hard part there is selecting just a few photos.

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