>I tossed out the sourdough starter this morning and then stomped around a bit. Perhaps sourdough and I are to have a relationship like mine with meringue. Relationships can be mended, right? Maybe eventually. But until then, I will stick to loves like cake and rye bread. THEY appreciate me for who I am, so much so that my 4 year relationship with the YMCA wasn’t enough to hold off the benefits of their love.

As a result, today I started a new relationship with the Aspen Athletic Club where I pay a smidgen less, get to watch Fox News while I run (the sarcasm is clear, yes?) and best of all, work out next to 75 other sweaty people at the same time. Plus, this gym won’t close on holiday weekends when I have planned in advance to drink myself silly every night. I made this decision even though the nice woman who opens the Y in the mornings had just learned my name, as had all the other people I’d been seeing every M-F at 5:30 am for the last six months. (I’m not that shy, but I’m certain my default face says “back the bleep off” – especially when running – which doesn’t encourage small talk or even friendly smiles.) I hope I didn’t make the wrong decision. But Aspen is five minutes closer, with longer hours, and they gave me three hours free with a trainer because of my insurance. I am well aware of what a trainer did to my skinny minnie older sister – the hardcore woman kicked my sis’s skinny minnie butt into shape. So who knows what someone will do to my not-so-skinny behind? Well, hopefully just my abs, because the running takes care of my behind. But yes, maybe it’s what I need.

In the meantime, I’m sticking to baking cake. The stout cake tested beyond delicious, although we’ll see in about 2.5 hours how it tastes after resting a day.

The buchty? Not pretty. I’m not sure what went wrong. The dough was eerily similar to making egg noodle dough – it wouldn’t join together no matter what, it wouldn’t knead, it was very unhappy in the Kitchenaid, and it was homely. That’s right, a homely dough. I felt sorry for it.

Strange, yes? Cracked and pitted, not as dry as they look, but not as golden and glossy as the picture – at least it tasted okay. Obviously, the fault lies with me – but I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t LIKE not knowing what went wrong. The sourdough starter, I cooked it. But this? I’m just not sure. I suppose I’ll try regular white or wheat rolls, though, soon, and see if I can do that.

Funny, though, the connections emerging between cooking, writing & my gym/food life extravaganza. My delightful writing group, the Self-Forging Fragments, have encouraged me with my first published story. Even with its flaws – of which there were so many that I was horrified to see it online – they suggested that maybe “Skinned” held a different point: to take me somewhere, to show me something, a stepping stone for new ideas and goals and platforms. Maybe the buchty, the failed sourdough, is the same way. Opens doors to new breads. New chances. Maybe the Y has been the same thing for me, leading me to this gym, this new trainer, new definition in my triceps, and an increased stamina so Amy and I can run the Oklahoma Memorial Half-Marathon with success. That’s encouraging to me. Inspiring.