I killed my starter...
I have had the same mother starter going since June 2008 when I created it with the pineapple juice method. A week ago I looked in the back of the fridge and remembered that I hadn't fed the starter for a few weeks, and made a mental note (big mistake for an old guy, LMAO) that I needed to do that. So 5 days ago I pulled out the jug, opened the lid, and was greeted with a mold cap that would do a penicillin scientist proud. I dissected the mess and tried to feed what was underneath the mold, but it was fruitless. I guess it was a little more than a couple of weeks since I last fed it, and the batch was deader than last Tuesday. I should have taken a picture, but I wasn't thinking about sharing my stupidity so soon.
Fortunately, about 2 years ago I dried a sheet of starter on parchment paper and put it in the freezer in a 1/2 pint jelly jar with a sealed lid. Over the past 5 days I managed to recreate my starter from 2 Tbs of dried starter, and will now pay closer attention to the feeding schedule. I also have a fresh sheet of starter drying in the oven with just the light bulb to keep it warm and dry it out, and will store another batch for future use and for sharing with friends who also bake sourdough bread.
Losing your starter doesn't have to be a total disaster if you plan ahead and store some dried starter. I'm back in business because of a little pre-planning, and have proved that dried starter will keep at LEAST for 2 years in the freezer if properly stored...and it's from the original mother starter!