An Education of the Wild Yeasts.

In my thirty-six years on this planet, two things have completely eluded me: Jury Duty and Sourdough Starters.

Although not even being considered to sit on a John-Grisham-worthy international espionage trial did bother me, being left out of the sourdough club disturbed me at a more intrinsic level.

I was beginning to think that all of the sourdough starters in the whole world must have died between my childhood and my motherhood, because I remember my mom receiving, using, and eventually killing many starters, and in the in between, making fresh, hot, sourdough bread a semi-regular occurrence. Yet never had I ever even heard of one of my peers having a starter, and never had I ever been offered one myself. Perhaps my mother was actually an Infamous Sourdough Starter Serial Killer and my family had been put on a Don’t Share List. Or perhaps it was me. Not having the ability to produce fresh bread did lend me to feeling Imposter Syndrome at a deep level. I mean, was I even momming?

It was a painful quandary.

I wasn’t ready to tackle the issue of being ignored and/or avoided by the judicial system, but it was past time to address The Mystery of Dough. So in January, I posted this Instagram photo.

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Within a day, I was offered not one, but two starters.

My life had finally begun.

I graciously accepted the starter from the person I would see the soonest. She brought it to me, in an insulated bag, at the Homeschool Spelling Bee. WHERE ALL STARTERS SHOULD EXCHANGE HANDS.

Melissa-The-Sourdough-Fairy gifted me with a large yogurt container with vents cut into the lid, along with a full 8 1/2 x 11 page of typed instructions. This page included a not-to-shabby pedigree for my starter, tracing its roots through two other homeschool moms and 12 years of shares.

And now I was the owner of this beautiful new baby.

I carefully carried it home, placing it gently in my cupholder and looking at it warily, wondering if it would spontaneously bubble out and fill my car. But when we arrived home, there was a present from Thomas-the-Porch-Cat on my welcome mat, as always. Except instead of the usual gag-inducing treats, it was a perfectly preserved chipmunk. I ran inside, placed my starter on the counter, grabbed my camera and props, and ran back out to play. After I appropriately memorialized the beautiful creature left behind just for me, I moved on with my day, extremely satisfied.

That night, when Chris got home, I proudly showed him my starter. I explained to the children my severely limited knowledge of how it worked (thinking, at the time, that I sounded like a seasoned expert), which was the exact point in time that I remembered that it was brought to the spelling bee in an insulated bag. CLEARLY I was supposed to put it in the refrigerator when I got home and now all these hours had passed because I let a chipmunk distract me and oh my goodness did I just kill my first starter before I even produced a single loaf? Maybe serial starter killing does run in my family what have I done!!

Chris, though an eager eater of all homemade goodness, laughed. Then comforted me with the words, “If you killed your sourdough starter because you were too busy staging roadkill, I will love you for that. We’re more of a roadkill homeschool family than a bread-making homeschool family.”

“BUT FRESH BREAD! DON’T YOU WANT FRESH BREAD!”

“Yes but, the story!!”

I did some frantic Googling and discovered that all was okay – I’d likely just made my yeast more hungry, it was hard to kill a starter, and it would probably prove itself to be alive the first time I fed it.

I quickly refrigerated it, and fed it as soon as my instruction pamphlet allowed. It happily ate the food, grew, and then grew into a lovely dough upon mixing.

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I made my first ever sourdough loaves, and finally felt like a Real Housewife of The Deep South.

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Regardless of his feelings about what kind of homeschool family we are, my husband was incandescently happy with the hot fresh bread slathered in freshly mixed honey butter (or butter honey, as Noah prefers it to be called) that I had coming out of the oven as he walked in the door from a wet run.

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As the weeks passed and the successful loaves stacked up, I became obsessed with my little pet, reading more about what a starter really is, and even buying the new novel, Sourdough, which only deepened my understanding and unhealthy adoration of my starter. I have since been going around explaining to everyone what starters are and how they work.

Because you see. There are wild yeasts floating all around us. And you catch them and create a starter by leaving out flour and water for a week, feeding it more flour and water and taking some out. The wild yeasts are all like “Well, honey, doesn’t that look like a delicious home!” and set up a colony in your paste. Furthermore, Wild Yeasts like to travel with their BFFs, good bacteria, and those guys are super protective of their yeasty friends. So they guard their new encampment, refusing entry to bad bacteria, gross mold, or other things that might want a crack at your lovely flour and water.

(Except if I tried this, The Porch Cat would, with certainty, vomit directly into the starter, and no good bacteria can hold that sturdy a stronghold.)

It’s a genius system, clearly proving that God wants us eating bread. And people have been catching these wild yeasts for 5,000 years. So OBVIOUSLY, Sourdough is Paleo.

THEN, the wild yeast feast on the gluten of the flour, supposedly (though I haven’t had a gluten-sensitive test subject yet) making the end product gluten free. Because they pre-digest the gluten for you, turning it into gases which make your bread rise and create those lovely sourdough air pockets in your finished product. So apparently, wild yeasts are also gluten sensitive, because it gives them the worst gas.

As I became more and more intrigued by my paleo, gluten-free, basically-a-vegetable bread made for me by an entire microbial universe, I found myself perhaps in an unhealthy existential relationship with my bread. Because that’s normal, right? I pondered their civilization, their families, their lives, and hoped that when I cooked one cup of them, they’d sent me the penal colony of yeasts – perhaps the ones that had committed yeasty crimes were the ones in my measuring cup. It was like olden Australia, but the penalty for your crimes was being baked into a loaf. Because otherwise I was baking my chefs and eating my artisan breadmakers. It was all very confusing. But that didn’t stop me from making the world’s best hamburger between my dead pets.

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Meanwhile, I was making multiple loaves every week, and instead of a January Whole 30, we had a January Dough 30, and let me tell you – it’s a much more delightful way to spend that miserable month.

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I spread my loaves around to friends and family as best I could, although I must say it was difficult – there were multiple times that I was going to take a loaf to someone who had a death in the family or a sick child, only to remember at the last minute that they were gluten-free, or paleo, or on a ketone diet, or some other such limiting factor. I felt like getting all loud and Oprah-ish and in some faces about HOW AWESOME BREAD IS, but I didn’t. I just kept my bread and quietly ate another slice slathered in butter honey.

I even made three varieties of Stromboli with my dough, which had been for a long time one of Chris’ favorite creations from my mom (although she made it with regular bread, since she long ago murdered her sourdough starters.) Now I really felt like I had arrived in wifedom.

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Then my wild yeasts had a baby. (i.e. I fed them but then didn’t feel good and so didn’t make dough.) If you do this, you’re supposed to throw away a cup of starter to make them think you made dough, but although I can bake my tiny friends, I cannot just dump them down the drain to live out their existence in the septic tank. Talk about a penal colony. Septic tank wild yeasts are definitely the kind of colony that will rise up through the drainpipes, riding on steeds of poop, and drown you in your sleep.

So instead, I made a baby.

I took an old sour cream container, cut vents in the lid, and made a new starter. Then I messaged my small group.

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Nikki was the chosen new owner of my fresh baby yeast puppy.

I took the bundle of joy to her with a copy of my sheet of instructions/family tree. I am positive that when Nikki got home that night, she did not get distracted by roadkill and mistreat her puppy. However, I did check in with her the next morning to see how he slept his first night in his new home, and she told me that he was great, he’d slept well, and that she’d named him Yeastopher.

That’s right. Clearly Nikki deserves a wild yeast universe more than I. It had not, until that moment, occurred to me to name mine.

Naturally, I spent all day pondering the possibilities, and finally settled on Kanyeast. Pronounced (so you won’t be embarrassed if you ever find yourself addressing my yeast family,) as con-YAYst. Then I updated my feeding log to show my true love for my Yeast Puppy Colony Universe.

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So, yo bread, I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but sourdough is one of the best loaves of all time…one of the best loaves of all time.

Give me a T… Give Me an M… Give me an I!

Disclaimer: This post is graphic and most likely not for people of the male persuasion. Unless they’re the overly-curious type. But I recommend they close this window and run screaming like a boy.

Secondary Husband Disclaimer: I let Rachel blog about my vasectomy, and this post is sort of similar, but girly. Seriously, this blog is chock full of uncensored period talk, blood and everything. Its just biology, but YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.


If God had hired me as a creation consultant, (which He did not, for the record,) I would have highly recommended – insisted upon even – a Lady Switch.

Ladies can turn the switch on at, say, 25 years old, or whenever they’re ready to have children. And they can turn the switch off at, say, 36 years old when they’re totally DONE with producing progeny.

It’d be even better if the switch could be used more than once. Switch it on at 25, off at 27, turn it back on at 29, and off for good at 32. Let a woman suffer through an average of 20 periods in her life. I promise, God, Sir, 20 of those things is plenty enough to Keep The Curse Alive.

But maybe that’s asking too much.

Since God did not ask me for my opinions regarding such matters, we all must work with what we were given. And what we have been given is entirely too much of our life spent bleeding like an executed swine hung up to drain.

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My particular situation is made more perilous, as Dysautonomia makes periods worse, and periods make Dysautonomia worse. One of the main problems with my particular stupid illness is low blood volume, and any change to that can cause dehydration and sudden onset faintness (I had to offer up two vials of blood at the doctor the other day and felt light-headed and nauseous until I was able to speed to Chick-Fil-A and buy a biscuit.) Also, a side effect of Dysautonomia can be extreme periods – in all the ways.

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2017 began a downward spiral in my well-being due to every month being worse than the last, and not recovering from last month before this month arrived. It was getting dire. I was spending 1-2 days in bed a month. And everything was suffering because of it.

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A couple of years ago, my doctor had offered to give me an ablation. At the time, though, he gave a pretty awful sales pitch for it. “It only works about 90% of the time, and even for those it does work for, it may not be complete.”

I turned him down. Since then, ablations have become The Thing, and many of my friends have partaken, followed by glowing reports of the easy procedure and its magical results.

So after yet another crushingly awful month, I called and made an appointment. I chided my Gynecologist for being such a horrid salesman the first go ‘round, and signed up right away to give this life-changing activity a try.

So. What is an ablation?

Well, in my gynecologist’s literary description, it’s the process of “turning your garden into a desert.”

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In more technical terms, they stick a magic wand up there, and the wand spits out a mesh net. The net expands to the size of your uterus, then “emits a radio frequency”, which is code for “it burns the freakin’ house down.” Or at least it toasts the inside of the house into a nice char-broil.

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The procedure, which I had at the beginning of October, seemed to go well.

The recovery room was a bit dicey, because my blood pressure dropped out and, according to the squealing nurses, I was turning green, whatever that means. And because of my unusual color, they wouldn’t give me any pain meds.

Pretty sure that was discriminatory.

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But after I shed my green patina and they drugged me up, I was fine, and had zero pain once I got home. I was rewarded with a day to lie around the house and read while Chris carefully watched over me, and then immediately got back to normal life.

However.

This supposedly blessed procedure that promised to be the simple access to The Lady Switch that I so desired…turned out to have opposite-worked.

Now, instead of just having bad periods, I was bleeding every day AND continuing to have bad periods.

For the first couple weeks, I chalked it up to recovery.

At my two week post-op visit, my doctor, upon sticking his telescope up into things, proclaimed excitedly “I see the end of your bleeding!!”

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He assured me things were almost done, that yes I’d bled longer than most (you’re only supposed to bleed for a couple days), but he definitely saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

(Wait what?? There’s not supposed to be a light up there!! Did you leave something behind, doc?)

Then things really ramped up.

Whatever light he’d seen up there most definitely got drowned out. My uterus was now eternally going to be a Stephen King sewer system in which Pennywise was inhabiting and killing his victims inside it. There was no other reasonable explanation.

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What followed was me calling in,
The nurse checking with my doctor,
Then reporting back that he said “You need to go on the birth control pill.”,
Me taking a deep breath and using that overly-calm voice to let the nurse know that I had surgery to avoid such torture and WOULD NOT be doing any such thing,

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The nurse quickly finding me an appointment,

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The doctor examining me,

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And surmising “This is super unusual and I have absolutely no idea why you’re bleeding, but it could be one of these two things, so let’s take both these pills here and see if one of ‘em will plug the leak.”

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Shockingly, neither worked.

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After 60 days of my Lady Switch being completely jammed, my doctor announced that it was time to move to plan C: Goodbye, Uterus.

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After all she’s put me through lately, I know it seems like it should be more of one of these goodbyes,

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But we also created humans together. So I won’t deny a bit of sentimental attachment.

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I never wanted to have a Hysterectomy. I’ve been pretty against the idea for, like, forever. I’ve let go of a lot of body parts (a foot bone, a gall bladder, both tonsils, and two parasites now known as children), and was open to the idea of dismissing my appendix if it ever went rogue.

But my uterus – I really planned on us going out together.

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But after three days of being confined to bed due to the havoc my not-so-Cuterus was playing on my Dysautonomia, I was finally ready to break up the band. And resign myself to being a hollow shell of a human with nothing left but a lonely appendix.

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And so my doctor explained to me what would go down.

He would enter my body through my belly button (I guess my Dad was right after all – belly buttons do unbutton if you’re not careful,)

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(But my Dad’s horror stories about what would happen if you unbuttoned your belly button pale in comparison to reality…)

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Because he (the doctor, not Dad) would then use a very special tool with a very special name – A Morcellator – to grind up my uterus into hamburger steak,

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To make it easily removable through aforementioned belly button.

…Which brings me to wonder: does ground Uterus fry up as well as Placenta? And would you use ketchup or ranch to bring out its natural flavorings? Also, is mine a tastier variety since it’s no longer utero sashimi, but a nice medium-rare, compliments of my prior ablation?

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After removing all my newly formed uterine morsels, he promised that I would be a new woman, finally healed of all that ails me.

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And so I’ll be taking part in this groundbreaking Uterine Rave on Thursday. And it’s guaranteed to be the trendiest way to spend Early December.

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There will be a night in the hospital, two weeks of recovery, Uterus Sloppy Joes for everyone, and then I will hopefully never feel anything in my Uterus ever, ever again.

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Now Accepting: Book, Netflix, and Amazon Prime recommendations, Sarcastic wishes of “Merry Christmas to YOU!”, gifs and Memes, chocolate, and tacos.

No Longer Accepting: Secondhand Hysterectomy Horror Stories, Firsthand Hysterectomy Horror Stories, preventative Essential Oil recommendations, and raw ground beef anonymously mailed to my doorstep.

A True Story About Swimsuit Shopping.

There are few things as panic-inducing as getting stuck in a swimsuit in a dressing room.

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It should also be noted that all swimsuit dressing rooms are rigged.

Their mirrors are always without a doubt the fattest mirrors ever created*, and are hung at a downward angle to make you look four foot six. The lighting is custom-built to shine down upon any dimples in your thighs and cast a deep shadow into each cellulite fortress, all while making your face look at least fifteen years wrinklier than you looked before stepping into The Chamber of Horrors.

* Yes, there are fat mirrors and skinny mirrors and if you don’t realize this you need to immediately change that perception because it could significantly aid your self-esteem if you, like me, are in possession of a fat mirror.

And of course, the swimsuit spandex is extra fresh, ready to capture you and mock you endlessly for daring to try on a size too small in hopes of squeezing your muffintop up under your rib cage.

Tankinis were a huge step forward in the swimsuit industry, solving many pressing feminine issues, such as the awkward struggle to take a wet one-piece all the way off for a mid-swim restroom visit. The process is roughly the same as peeling the skin off a live snake, and the very real fear of the one-piece touching the more-than-slightly slimy pool restroom floor can by itself warrant a prescription for Xanax.

(I don’t know what this “Listeria” is that Blue Bell Ice Cream is so desperately scrubbing out of their factories, but I imagine it looks like the viscous semi-liquid that puddles when moist swimmers are the dominant users in a bathroom.)

But the problem with tankinis is their exceptional ability to trap you, as lycra was not made to come over one’s shoulders. They’re made to fit snugly on one’s chest and waist, making them way too small for shoulder blade travel. They also have an internal underwire contraption that is significantly tighter than it needs to be and a shelf bra holding that in place – as if we needed more spandex in the picture.

Okay. Of course we need more spandex in the picture. But dang if it wouldn’t be nice for spandex to have an on/off switch.

So let’s say you don’t quite know your size. So you pick up two sizes. And you forget the cardinal rule of ALWAYS TRY THE BIGGER SIZED SWIMSUIT FIRST.

And you slip that undersized tankini over your head.

Where it stays.

On your head and halfway down your arm pits.

Because to put on a tankini, you have to contort your arms at just the angle where your muscles are rendered inert, then attempt to use those helpless muscles to shoehorn the top down over your boobs and down to your waist. But if you don’t have enough inertia going into the very delicate procedure, the arms WILL get lodged pointing straight at the ceiling as if you were begging God to send you an Angel of Mercy.

(Which you might actually be doing.)

If you do get the top down to its rightful position, you then have to reach back up and retrieve the under-bra from where it got stuck on your nose and tuck it down into the top, shimmying and shaking as you do so in an attempt to also pull the back of the shelf bra off of your left shoulder, which is always just at the wrong angle to be able to reach.

(Not to mention the laparoscopic surgery that has to be done to get those angry little football-shaped bra pads out of the bra corner that they’re hiding in.)

Once you get everything in place and see how nicely this suit accentuates every angle of your bulges along with your C-Section overhang and how the skort just barely doesn’t cover a single dimple of your preciously highlighted cellulite, it’s time to take the whole thing off and start over.

So you cross your arms and attempt to pull the top over your head, where it gets lodged inside-out with your arms crossed in the air, even more immobile than what occurred on the way down.

The bra portion of the swimsuit, though, is exactly where it is supposed to be – for once. And is not going to be leaving anytime soon.

For a moment you wish you’d let your eight-year-old daughter come in the dressing room with you because you LITERALLY DON’T KNOW HOW YOU WILL ESCAPE. Then you immediately change your mind – as if she’d ever listen to you again after seeing your sad condition.

“Mommy, are you okay?”

Crap. She heard your muffled groans. Why can’t swimsuits be more soundproof?!

You decide to start over.

You pull the top back down and this time, try taking it off one arm first. Now you’ve simply captured one side of your body, but have the good arm to work with.

Scissors. They should have emergency scissors in all dressing rooms.

“Ma’am, can I get you anything?”

BLAST IT ALL! Now the store clerk knows. They know they desperate, flailing sounds of a woman stuck in a swimsuit and fantasizing about seam rippers.

“MM-I’m MM-Finmme. Thmks Thnohg.”

You start whipping your body around the dressing room – left, right, left, right – illogically trying to fling the bathing suit against the wall. You know this won’t work but you’re in primal mode now – like a dog trying to get a cone of shame off his neck.

Finally, the adrenaline kicks in. You get a dose of unreal shoulder muscle and you’re able to Hulk your way out of the tankini.

Freedom!!!!

You don’t dare try on the bigger size and swear off swimsuit shopping for the year. Last year’s swimsuit will do just fine, thankyouverymuch.

Then, as you’re calmly placing the now abused swimsuit back onto the wooden hanger to attempt to appear as if nothing violent happened while the two of you were alone,

you get a splinter in your finger.

A few days later, you have an epiphany that sends you into a kicking-the-furniture fit: you can totally step into tankini tops just like a one piece…and never ever ever get stuck.