Huzzah! I finally made a good challah!
Once again, the most important difference came from cutting off a bit of dough and putting it into a small glass as an indicator. The main bread I covered with an upside-down roasting pan and wrapped up in grocery bags and pulled a blanket over and set on a warming pad, so clearly I couldn’t see if it had risen. Thus, the indicator.
The other trick was working the dough for ten minutes before adding the oil. That way, the gluten can develop first. Then the oil has gluten strands to coat. It was still pretty messy to add in the oil at that point. There must be a better way.
Oh, and the orchid is still an orchid.