Woodchuck martinis, p.1
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       Woodchuck Martinis, p.1

           Tammy Alward
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Woodchuck Martinis


  Woodchuck Martinis

  By Tammy Alward

  ****

  Published by Tammy Alward

  Copyright 2013

  All rights reserved

  Book cover design by Kris Anderson.

  This book is available in print at

  https://www.WoodchuckMartinis.com.

  ****

  To Jessie and Aunt Paula

  for their unconditional support.

  ****

  Acknowledgements

  Without the encouragement of my friends, family, and proofreaders I would not have been able to complete this book. I want to thank each of you for your time and patience, for proofreading and responding, for letting me bounce ideas off of you and for bouncing them back. Thank you Jessie, Reinhard, Donna, Bill, Blendena, Ruth, Paula, Jim, LeAnnie, Kim, and Joye. I love you all.

  ****

  Table of Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  ****

  Preface

  My Aunt Paula suggested I write a book when she laughed so hard she cried while we discussed my love life...again. Not everyone would appreciate Aunt Paula’s response. Being an optimist I decided it could save thousands of dollars in therapy bills, and I dug my heels right in. Thus Lucy was born, my therapist was fired, and bad dates would now serve the higher purpose of turning sour milk into chocolate crepes.

  ****

  1Chapter 1

  The Son of Sasquatch

  I met the son of Sasquatch today; his name is Ralph. Another internet dating adventure which took a sharp turn onto an unexpected path.

  The sun felt warm on my face as I leaned back in my kayak and waited to meet Ralph. I listened to the sounds of the river; the gentle whoosh of water, the rustle of leaves, and the chatter of squirrels. In Eaton Rapids, Michigan, life moves along at a slower pace than it does elsewhere. I like it that way now that I’m in my 40s.

  My legs straddled the kayak and I dipped my toes in the cool water, first the right and then the left. I kept my eye on the parking lot where Ralph and I had agreed to meet. I’d come early so that I could get a glimpse of him before he saw me. I’d had a first date with a 46-year-old man named Stanley a while back; it was a picnic. His pictures seemed vaguely shadowy. When we met I found he only had three teeth, and the shock showed on my face. I’m afraid I hurt his feelings. I had brought a picnic lunch for that mostly toothless man which included apples, nuts, crackers, and an assortment of cheeses. My steadfast policy since that time has been to get a good view of a date before the shock on my face could show; I’m not good at masking my feelings.

  I have a knack for making the best of a situation, though. I dated toothless Stanley for several months after that first shocking date because he’d been a good sport and gummed the Havarti I’d brought to the picnic like it was the best gift he’d ever received. In spite of having no teeth he could make me laugh like no one I’d ever known. One time he couldn’t find a match to light a candle he’d placed on the table for a romantic dinner. A few minutes later he returned from the garage wearing a Hazmat suit and lit the candle with a blow torch. It takes two to make a relationship work; I learned to make a dozen new cream soups while we dated.

  I slowly opened my eyes when I heard a vehicle in the parking lot and drifted in for a closer look. I knew it was Ralph because he had described the truck he’d be driving. Two full rows of teeth gleamed in the sunshine; that was a promising start.

  He spotted my car and then limped over to the river shore, his hand over his eyes to block out the sun. Ralph looked...normal.

  I paddled the short distance to the shore, stepped out of the kayak, and held out my hand.

  “Ralph?” I asked.

  “Yes,” he said shaking my hand. “Lucy?”

  “Yes,” I said. “It’s nice to meet you. Is your leg all right? You seem to be limping.”

  “I sprained my ankle when I was in Spain recently,” he said. “Have you been waiting long?”

  “Just a few minutes,” I said. “I came early for some quiet time on the river.”

  “I haven’t had a chance to eat yet,” he said. “I brought some food and wine. Would you like a quick bite before we hit the water?”

  “How thoughtful,” I said. “You’re quite the gentleman.”

  Ralph spread a lovely assortment of foods out on a picnic table and filled two plastic wine glasses.

  “Is this fried chicken homemade?” I asked.

  “Yes, it is. That’s my specialty. I admit that I’m trying to impress you.”

  “You have definitely managed to do that,” I said. He placed a biscuit on my plastic plate.

  “The chicken and biscuits are my grandmother’s recipes. I missed her home cooking and so about two years ago I spent a month with her. I wrote down the recipes as she cooked each meal she made during my visit. I don’t quite do them justice, but I’m getting better at making them.”

  I took stock of what I knew from our first few moments together. He was well traveled and loved his grandmother. He was clearly a great cook and was handsome enough that I would notice him in a crowd. He was also considerate. He’d brought all of this food; all homemade and fabulously delicious. He had even chosen a wine that we had talked about during one of our phone conversations that had lasted deep into the night. Oh, and all those teeth! On a scale of 1 to 10, Ralph had definitely scored a solid 10.

  We finished lunch and I helped Ralph unload his kayak and put it in the water. He took some sunscreen out of his backpack and applied it liberally to his face and arms. He then took his shirt off with his back to me, and suddenly the music from the shower scene at the Bates Motel was playing in my head. His back looked like it was being accosted by a black bear.

  Ralph was awkwardly trying to get sunscreen on his back and turned toward me with a look that asked if I would be so kind as to offer a bit of help. Try as I might, though, my shallow side politely declined. I admit I am a horrible example of a human at times; this is one of those times. I would rather see this kind and considerate man fry in the sun than smooth sunscreen into his pelt. I hate when Shallow Lucy makes an appearance on first dates. I am truly ashamed of this side of myself.

  I work quite consistently at trying to conquer Shallow Lucy and the control she has over my love life. Some battles have gone to her; some to me. She fought bravely to convince me that Toothless Stanley was not for me, but in the end his sense of humor won me over. Shallow Lucy kept rearing her ugly head during the months Stanley and I dated. We’d be enjoying a particularly lovely evening and she’d fixate on Stanley’s lisp or the spittle that pooled in the corners of his mouth or the way his lips folded in instead of turning out. I’d fight back by pointing out how much money we’d save in dental floss alone. In the end Toothless Stanley left me for the oral surgeon who made him semi-famous when she convinced him to be the poster child for full-mouth dental implants. His before and after pictures taunted me from buses and
billboards for months after the relationship ended.

  Ralph resigned himself to a sunburn and we set off down the river. I was determined to put Shallow Lucy in her place and let that little tart know who was boss. Ralph was a great guy in so many ways, and it wasn’t fair to decide not to date him again based on one, insignificant physical attribute. I decided to focus on all of Ralph’s positive points for the rest of the day.

  “You have beautiful eyes,” I said as we paddled downstream.

  “Thank you,” Ralph said.

  “How did you sprain your ankle?” I asked.

  “I was in Spain for the running of the bulls,” he said.

  “That must have been amazing.”

  “It was until I saw a bull heading straight for a teenage boy who had turned his back to the bulls.”

  “Oh, my gosh, what did you do?”

  “I grabbed the kid and threw him out of the way. My timing wasn’t great, though, as the bull knocked me to the ground. I’m lucky; the bull went right over me and the ankle sprain is the only injury I received. I count my blessings.”

  Well, I thought, bravery and optimism; such admirable qualities. Just what I was looking for in order to refocus. I had drifted a bit behind him and was enjoying the quiet of the river and his soothing voice describing this exciting adventure.

  Just then Ralph moved his adjustable kayak seat down to the middle of his back, and a fine film of fur blanketed the top of it. The song Hotel California crept into my mind “...They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast,” it blared.

  “Oh, good Lord!” Shallow Lucy shouted at me. “Ask him to cover that up!”

  “I will not!” I insisted.

  “Ask him to put his life jacket on so you can stop fixating on that nasty thing,” Shallow Lucy said.

  “I won’t ask any such thing,” I argued.

  “Just tell him you’re worried for his safety; kayaking can be dangerous,” she insisted.

  “The water’s barely moving,” I argued, “and it’s only three or four feet deep. He knows he doesn’t need a life jacket.”

  I had to admit; there probably was some truth to what Shallow Lucy was saying. I do tend to focus too much attention on physical traits I find less than attractive.

  Just then Ralph scratched his shoulder and I watched as several black, curly hairs were caught on an updraft. They danced lazily just above the river, seemingly pulled by an invisible wire, puppet like. The troupe of hairs was performing a mid-air waltz, gently sashaying to the Blue Danube that played quietly in my mind. Their movement quickened with the breeze then, and the tiny ball of hair picked up the pace. It performed the salsa, the tango, the Merengue, and ended with a spot-on rendition of the Watusi.

  The hairball landed atop the water giving a passing trout a full head of hair for a moment. When the fish flicked its tail the wad of hair shot through the river like a torpedo. It honed in on my paddle and fused itself with no regard to my losing battle with Shallow Lucy. I tried hopelessly to shake it loose but it remained stubbornly conjoined no matter how many times I dunked the paddle. I panicked then and started slapping the water to get it off, but as I did the ball of hair made its way up the paddle handle and inched toward my hands. I hoped that one more slap on the water would shake it loose and back into the river, but the relentless thatch of hair had its own plan. Suddenly that vile, waterlogged critter attached itself to my hand. I swung so hard to get it off that my kayak tipped and I slid face first into the cold, muddy water.

  I flailed in the water and gasped for air. I wondered if this was karmic payback for judging this wonderful man on a physical attribute that I found unattractive. Was it the universe’s way of telling me to get over myself and truly see what’s on the inside?

  I stood on the slimy river bottom then, as Ralph paddled toward me, his look of concern making me feel even worse.

  “Are you all right?” Ralph asked.

  “I’m fine,” I said. “Only my pride is hurt.”

  Ralph and I got to work setting my kayak right and rescuing all of my belongings that were floating down river. As I climbed back in and started to paddle again, Ralph suddenly turned to me.

  “You have a little something stuck on your face,” he said and pointed to my cheek.

  As I removed Ralph’s hairball from my face I conceded this battle to Shallow Lucy.

  Toothless Stanley’s Black Bean and Salsa Soup

  1 onion, minced

  1-1/2 cups salsa

  2 teaspoons garlic salt

  4 cubes beef bouillon

  2 15-ounce cans of black beans, not drained

  2 14.5-ounce cans of diced tomatoes

  3 stalks celery

  2 tablespoons minced garlic

  8 ounces of sliced Swiss cheese, divided

  1. Place all ingredients except the cheese in a stock pot. Simmer on medium for 20 to 30 minutes or until the celery is soft.

  2. Puree in blender if desired, although this step is optional if Toothless Stanley is not invited for dinner. Return to stock pot.

  3. Add two slices of Swiss cheese and stir until melted.

  4. Ladle soup into oven-safe bowls. Fold Swiss cheese and place it on top of the soup. Place bowls on cookie sheet for easier handling.

  5. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.

  ****

 
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