I managed to bake one gorgeous, perfect free-form sourdough loaf with my spunky sourdough culture, Betty Sue, before her untimely demise. I started the dough in the bread machine set to the dough-only cycle, then took it out and formed a batard. I let the loaf rise outside on a warm day until it was quite large and baked it at 450°, misting the oven every five minutes with warm water from an atomizer. What a loaf of bread.
A few days later, I was diagnosed with swine flu. My housemates decided that the sourdough culture must be contaminated with the dread disease since I had handled it. While I wept quietly, they held Betty Sue under water until she died. And they scraped her remains down the drain. While I endure my quarantine, I am tortured by memories of Betty Sue's sour aroma. How I will miss her.