Old Mack’s Tales

June 13, 2011

Walt’s Sunday Shenanigan

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 12:10 am

Much Ado over Nothing

Chris and I were having our coffee at our cafe table on the porch.  Our three dogs came out to join us.  It was a fine morning and the dogs were sniffing the light breeze.

Walter, our new Cur, raised his muzzle from my bare feet, stood and ambled over to a bush to piss.  Instead of coming back to his pack, Walt took off, trotting west, cutting across neighbors lawns, heading for the dry drainage ditch at the end of our dead-end street.  That was the last I saw of him.

Chris took off, trotting after the dog, bellowing his names: “Walter!  “Goober!” (Walt’s alias)) All to no avail.  She went only as far as the ditch and then came home.  “Don’t worry about him.  He’ll come home pretty soon.”

The funny thing was it was she who was worried; worried that I’d get angry about her misbehaving dog.  I wasn’t worried.  “I told you,” I said in a voice tinged with sarcasm, “He’s a Polish Cur.  They are hunting dogs, like to chase squirrels, coons.  I’m not worried.”

Half an hour later a golf cart comes up our street from the ditch area.  Walter seems to be leading the damned thing.  Walter stops to piss on our mailbox post and then saunters up to our porch.

By then the guy in the golf cart, whom I recognize as the manager of the trailer park south of our subdivision, and his old lady park in the street and get out.  The man says: “Your dog chewed the ear off one of our people’s dogs.”  The woman is shouting incoherently.

“Walter’s a peaceful dog.  The dog in your park must have attacked him.  Probably a case of self defense.”

We called the Sheriff and the Animal Control.  They’ll be here any time.  His wife was talking on her cell, probably giving the cops our address.

Sure enough here comes a deputy in his squad car.  All spit-shined and wearing his medals.  He asked to see my driver license.  There I was barefooted without my wallet.  “Excuse me.  I’ll go in and get it.”

After examining my license I showed him my state-issued disabled vet I.D. and said: “I’m going back indoors.  The dog belongs to Christine.  She can answer your questions.  I retrieved my cards and came indoors.  Cops bug the shit out of me; make me wish I hadn’t sold the shotgun.  So I scarfed twenty milligrams of Valium, poured some fresh coffee and sat down for a third reading of Joan Didion’s “The Last Thing He Wanted,”  In my opinion it’s her best novel.

And then the dog catcher arrived and a second squad car.  I put a choker leash on Walter and took him into the backyard where he could give them a run for their money if they wanted to take him away.

Soon the second cop returned from examining the “victim” dog and came back to report no blood, no injury.  Meanwhile the first cop is trying to take a photo of Walter.  I gave him my URL and told him to look up my website and copy the picture on it.


June 12, 2011

I Can’t Drink Starbucks Coffee

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 11:20 am

But their parking area is shaded by the building early in the morning.

A shady parking slot is a necessity if we want to drive away after Chris drinks her coffee; she actually likes their thick, bitter brew.

There is a relay in my Volvo’s electrical system which when overheated prevents the car from starting. My mechanic, Scotty, and I have both tested every one of the ninety-nine relays and their connections in search of the culprit without success. So I look for a shady spot to park the car and then raise the hood to let the breeze, if any, cool the funky relay. There just happened to be a shaded slot in front of Starbucks main entrance.

The coffee house provides half a dozen tables-for-two on the sidewalk out front for their customers who have to smoke while drinking their coffee—but they haven’t provided any ash trays for their butts. The smokers flick their ashes into the privet hedge between the parking slots and the sidewalk giving the joint the odor of a filthy ash tray. As I was raising the hood, Chris was listening to the men seated at the smokers’ tables talking. Two swarthy gents seated closest to our car and the entrance were speaking Polish. As we were passing them to go indoors, Chris said something which sounded to me like: “Ya Shi Mash” with soft vowels. The two husky working men with black stubble and dark hair replied; one in Polish and the other in Russian. I comprehended their reply: “Jin Dovre,” as it’s a phrase I hear on Sundays when we feel up to attending mass at the Polish National Catholic Church in South St. Pete. I was holding the door open and Starbucks rotten coffee odor and conditioned air was flowing past us as I placed my hand on her shoulder to usher her indoors.

One of the men loitering with his back against the plate glass window spoke to us in guttural broken English: “You are Polish or Russian?” Chris ignored the question and walked to the end of the line at the service counter. And I breathed a sigh of relief.

June 11, 2011

Meet Walter Glass, Our New Mutt.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 4:21 pm
This Photo Captured Christine's Heart

Walt may be a Polish Cur

June 9, 2011

We’re Suckers for Sad-eyed, Skinney Dogs

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 2:20 pm

We’re Suckers for Sad, Skinny Stray Dogs.

When Chris saw his photo in the St. Pete Times she got that old familiar look in her eyes.  It’s either pity or love at first sight; sort of the way she looked at me that night in the Overseas Nightclub when we first met.

We were sitting in Starbucks on 22nd Avenue North, just a few turns northwest of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Tax Collection Office where we’d gone to renew her driver license. She didn’t get it because she doesn’t have a passport and didn’t have her birth certificate in her purse—one now has to have one or the other, plus a photo I.D. and a utility company bill with the same address as the one on the I.D. card to get a driver license renewed. We didn’t have enough cash on hand either; the last time she renewed her license it cost ten bucks; today they wanted fifty-six dollars.  So Chris was reading the Times and sipping her coffee when she saw the mutt’s photo.

The dog was a stray the Animal Police rounded up weeks ago in half-starved condition.  Their advertisement said it was healthy and fully recovered, but even in the photo featuring its sad eyes one could count its vertebrae and ribs.  With its bony tail curled over his hips Chris said it looked like a Basinji.  I argued that the Basenji’s ears stand up, not hang down like a hound’s.  But one glance at that mutt’s mug and I guessed it was a Polish Cur. That made her angry; she thought it was an ethnic slur.  It wasn’t a slur, but I had no time to argue further.

I dumped my full cup of bitter Starbucks in the trash can and told her we had to leave to keep  an appointment with my physician at Bay Pines.

As I was preparing to leave our house, gathering keys, cap, hearing aids and dentures, Chris was on the phone speaking to A.J., telling our daughter she needed a ride.  “Can you spare twenty dollars?” Chris asked as I headed for the door.  I laid the bill on the table; I suspected, but didn’t ask what she wanted it for.

Doc Reynolds made short work of my visit.  He listened a moment to my lungs gurgling and asked how much I was smoking.  “I’m back up to a pack a day.  But that’s not what’s making me wheeze.  I mowed my lawn at the crack of dawn and stirred up a lot of dust.”  He renewed the prescription for Progesterone and the latest, or cheapest, drug for lowering blood pressure and then showed me a large aerial photo of an airfield with five carriers berthed and the Bay Bridge in the background.  “That’s Alameda Naval Air Station,” I said.  “Last time I was there it was decommissioned.  That’s where the DOD sells its surplus stuff.”  Reynolds looked disappointed.  He was nostalgic for those glory days when Alameda had been home port to the carriers of the Pacific Fleet.  His eyes had almost the same  sad look as the lost dog in the newspaper photo.

I’d been home long enough to warm up the left-over baked beans and make a bean sandwich.  I was eating the damned thing when Chris and A.J. came in with the dog.

The dog was already right at home. He bounded over to my chair and tried to climb on my lap.  I pushed his paddle-like feet off of my knees and ordered him to sit.  When he obeyed I gave him a piece of my bean sandwich.

“We can call this one Seymour, or Walter Glass.  I prefer Walt,” I said.  Walter was my late father-in-law’s name as well as one of Salinger’s characters.  “Waker” was the name of the twin who died in Japan, and Seymour committed suicide, so I don’t think we should use either one of those.”

“They’ve been calling him ‘Booger,’ or ‘Goober’ at the animal shelter.  The girl who has walked him daily came out to the car when we were leaving and got all teary eyed.” A.J. said.

We led all three dogs out back.  Buddy and Walter raced back and forth from fence to fence and then did a tail chase around the perimeter.  Leo, Dorian’s big gray pit bull came out and stood at his fence acting fierce for a minute while he and Walt got acquainted.  It’s amazing how quickly dogs can socialize if their owners don’t get alarmed by their antics.

Walter crawled under my van and deepened the hole Buddy and Zooey use on hot days, but when he returned to it to cool off after his run, he found it occupied by our calico cat.  He looked surprised when she didn’t vacate his hole and was a bit startled when she licked his nose.  But they both nestled down in the cool sand, nose to nose, as if they were old friends.

June 6, 2011

Sententious Maunderings on Monday Morning

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 4:43 pm

Sententious Maunderings on Monday Morning

By OldMack June 6, 2011


On this day I would normally remember D-Day, the Invasion of Normandy in 1944 (I have a friend who is there today guiding tourists), or recall my participation in the staged landings on the beach at San Florenz, Corsica for the landing scenes in the movie based on Cornelius Ryan’s book, The Longest Day (directed by Daryl Zanuck of Fox Studio).  But not today; today I’m coming to grips with a discovery or revelation which came to me in last night’s vivid nightmare.

Dreaming:  I’m deep under water inside a cave at the bottom of a deep blue hole, wearing my old diving gear—an Aqua-Lung regulator attached to an old CO2 fire-extinguisher bottle with those damned corrugated rubber hoses blocking my peripheral vision.  Overhead is a shelf of coral covered with creatures; it is lit by sunshine reflected by pure white sand on the floor of the cave and I’m awed by the sights and enjoying the experience.  But then a dark cloud passes over the sea above and blocks out the sunlight and I’m suddenly swimming in total darkness, trying to avoid rising against the overhanging shelf with its fire corals and stinging sea anemones and scorpion fish.  Terrified, I realize how I got myself into this predicament: by lying.  I’d been in this place before; I recognized it, but I’d been snorkeling the first time and had never swum under the ledge.  And I’d exaggerated about my diving experience and been invited to come along by a group of more experienced divers.  In short, I’d let my mouth overload my ass again.

Awake: Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” leaked into my conscious mind.  I know not why, other than  the fact that in my dream I was losing my head when all about me were keeping theirs; the antithesis of Kipling’s sententious poem.

While having Coffee with my wife I recalled several instances of having let my lies overload my ass and get me into perilous situations.  That I survived in all cases I attribute to pure luck and “If.”

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

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