My starter has not been well, people. Not well at all.
It started out fabulously... lots of expansion and indication of wild yeast activity by day 3.
Then I switched from pineapple puree to just plain water. Things went flat, but then I found hooch. Oh, the hope I held in my heart...
That ushered a period of seeming inactivity, but I kept at it. I fed it every day, tried my best to keep it warm overnights in the microwave--and there, I believe, was the problem. It got too warm. There was one night in particular that Mr.W, in his well-meaning way, put The Beast to bed... but directly over the over-stove lightbulb. In the morning it was almost hot to the touch--my fear was the killer 100 degree (F) mark.
Several more days and various attempts to motivate the starter were unfruitful. Then, the final change: the gym sock smell.
Everything I read around the blogosphere about sourdough starter says that's bad mojo... so I've relegated this particular experiment to a watery grave in the sewer.
Although I feel some disappointment, I also think it was a really good first try. I should have been using whole grain flour, after all, and I was surprised to actually have had some success with plain old all-purpose flour. I did buy a bag of whole wheat flour a few days ago that I plan to use for another try... though I think I'll experiment and do the photos BEFORE posting the whole story, for fear of another public failure!
At any rate, thanks for sharing this experience with me, and the comments and emails that helped to encourage me along the way! I'm determined to figure this out--without use of commercial yeast--and with my previous success at capturing wild yeast I know it's possible.