Old Mack’s Tales

July 18, 2011

It’s Time to Scrub the Moss of Her Hull.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 5:46 pm

It’s Time to Scrub the Moss of Her Hull.


With an offer to buy OldMack’s sailboat pending I decided to put a new tarp over her.  With Allison’s help I pulled off the flaking, tattered white tarp and discovered that the white deck and hull were green with moss.


Allison came over Sunday morning to do the remainder of her laundry—her washing machine is broken.  After loading the washer, I asked her to help me uncover the boat.


“It’s going to take a gallon of bleach and a good scrubbing to get that gunk off,” she said.


I handed her thirty-five bucks and asked her to buy a five-pound bag of baking spuds and a large jug of bleach; I wanted “Klaused potatoes” and eggs for breakfast to fuel me up for the day’s work ahead.


“I’ll have to go home and change into old clothes for this job.  I’ll be back in an hour.”


“Bring some buckets with you.  The dogs have chewed up all of mine.”


She returned wearing faded shorts and one of her husband’s oversized Tees and a fisherman’s hat.  The bag of spuds was in her bucket.  I put the bag of spuds on top of the fridge and took her bucket out to the boat.


While Allison loaded the washer and drier, I hosed down the boat, inside and out.  The plastic dust from the old tarp collected in the bilge, so I removed two of the planks from the cockpit sole on either side of the centerboard trunk so the gunk and water could be siphoned or vacuumed out.


Allison came out with a pair of scrub brushes and a brush with a long handle.  She got into the boat and scrubbed the foredeck while I poured water with bleach and soap over it.  We worked together and soon had the boat’s topsides glaring brightly in the sunshine.  I brought out my small, 1.5 gallon wet or dry Shop-vac.  Allison used it to clean the debris from under the cockpit sole planks and to open the scuppers in the hull floors. We must have removed five pounds of rotten leaves along with fifteen gallons of water with the Shop-vac.  I discovered that the leathers in my old Navy Bilge Pump had dried out and it wouldn’t suck to start a siphon.  That’s something I plan to remedy later today, if the spirit so moves me.


It took us less than an hour of scrubbing to clean the rest of the hull and to put a new tarp over the boat.  We finished shortly before the first rain shower began.


Cleaning the drains and cementing them to the hull is on the top of my to-do list for today…  The boat was designed with a system of tubes and a hose connection to which my old Navy bilge pump attaches.  It used to work fine when sailing in heavy seas, but time and neglect have taken their toll.  And then I’ll have to break loose the rusty bolts on the trailer which attach the bunks on which the boat will rest while being towed.  If I owned an oxy-acetylene torch, I’d simply burn the bolts off and install new ones, but we go with what we have on hand.  I hope to have the work finished by the time my buyer gets here with the cash.


As it turned out, we didn’t eat breakfast until after our work was done.  By then I was ravenous and ate too much.


Allison, who ate less than half of her baked potato said: “No wonder you’re so fat, Dad.  You ought to lose twenty pounds for the sake of your beat-up old heart.”  I agreed with her, thanked her for all of her help and kissed her good-bye.


Why I Sometimes Get Snarky

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 4:29 pm

Why I Sometimes Get Snarky

As the caretaker of my wife’s three dogs I get very little sleep. The dogs, the eldest in particular, bark when they need to relieve their bladders or take a shit. Their barks are all unique and I can tell when they need to go out back, or when someone is crossing our front yard. There’s no mistaking the noise they make when someone is on our porch and approaching our front door; the din would wake the dead.

Zooey, our eldest, will often bark to let me know that the two younger dogs are making mischief; she has assumed the role of mother and her barks sound like a mother scolding unruly children after a hard day at the office.

At 0230 this morning Zooey woke me up. I turned on the bedside lamp and then the light in the hallway. In the light from the hallway lamp I could see that one of the dogs had trotted in a circle on the kitchen terrazzo floor projecting large blobs of dark green shit.

I spent half an hour or more shoveling up the shit and dumping it in the toilet. Almost an hour was wasted scrubbing up the smaller splatters of green shit which by then were dry and stuck to the floor.

My mistake was sending all three dogs out into our back yard without their leashes attached and without my close supervision, while I was cleaning the kitchen floor.

Zooey barked to let me know that Walter and Buddy were up to no good outside. I looked out the kitchen window and they were nowhere in sight. So I grabbed two leashes and slipped on my shoes.

I went out the front door and from the porch could see the dogs in the yard of the vacant house across the street. Buddy met me in the street and let me put her leash on. Then she tugged me to the yard where Walter was romping. Walter wouldn’t come when called until I started after him with leash in hand. He came to me with his tail between his legs and a guilty look in his expressive black eyes. I attached his leash and then dropped both and ordered the dogs to “go home!” We were standing in the driveway of the vacant house, adjacent to the woman who’d called the cops a week or so ago. The dogs went straight to our front porch and stood waiting for me to open the door for them; they too must have feared their antics had awakened our cop-calling neighbor.

July 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 7:48 am

OldMack’s Boat

“Just lookin’ for a new home.”


This is my 17-foot sloop under sail.  It currently sits on a cradle in my back yard awaiting the spirit to move me to patch a hole, varnish the bright work and put it back on its new trailer.  I’ve grown too old and feeble to single-hand the boat, so if someone is interested in it I’ll make the price right.


I built this boat in the back yard from plans in my head which evolved from a similar boat with less freeboard that I used to sail on San Francisco Bay—there the outgoing tides met the stiff westerly winds and made the surface of the bay a washboard.  I changed the wooden centerboard for one made of 3/8 inch thick aluminum; the new CB adds ballast and allows the boat to point higher.


There’s a foredeck above a dry storage area and two can sleep on the cockpit sole. .A canvas cover and boom tent go with it, making it perfect for exploring the coastal barrier islands.  And boat camping. The hull is constructed of wood and epoxy resin with a Dynel sheath saturated in epoxy resin.  Although I’ve seldom used it, I stow a 4HP Johnson Seagull in the forward compartment, just in case I feel too lazy to man the oars when becalmed.


"Just Lookin' for a home"


July 6, 2011

I built a higher gate, but Walt cleard it with ease!

Filed under: Opinion and Memoir,Short Stories — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 12:53 pm
Tags: , ,

My new Five Feet High Gate!

By OldMack July 7, 2011

 Walter is taking the PTSD Insanity defense to get off my shit list.  The fireworks affect that dog the same way they do me; I want to bark, chase down the culprit setting them off and bite his leg off.  On the 4th Walt cleared the 4’ high gate with ease.  Our patriotic neighbor who has never served on jury duty, much less in a war, beat it inside his house and slammed his door, leaving Walt on his lawn baying as if he’d treed a coon.

 Buddy, our runt pit bull followed Walter by slithering under the fence and between the two of them kept our neighbor penned in his house for an hour or so.  Buddy came home of his own accord, barked at our front door ‘til I let him/her in.  But Walter was by then rattled by the public, professional pyrotechnical display lofted by the City.  So I had to take a choker leash and go fetch him.

Walt has had some good training by his previous owner, and I’m not speaking of his penchant to sleep in his master’s bed (I’ve already broken Walt of that by kneeing him in the chest and screaming: “Get off my bed, Walter!”  Walter knows how to “heel,” to “Sit,” to “Stay” and to “Lie down.”  Now, if I can break him from leaving our yard by vaulting the elevated fence, he and I may become pals.

 Our house is sited on its lot with nine feet of clearance on its west end to the neighbor’s line fence.  Heretofore I’ve made do with a four-foot picket fence and gate on that side.  Sunday I planted new posts, set them in concrete, and built a six-foot fence.  Monday I hung a new gate, 42 inches wide and six feet tall on that end of the house—devising a latch that would open from both sides was the tricky part of that job.

Yesterday I came back from Home Depot with a ten foot long 1” x 10″ plank.  I removed the eight-foot long gate and grafted the 1 x 10 to the bottom of its pickets.  That gate is wide enough to drive my truck into and out of the back yard towing a boat trailer, so I support its weight with a cable and turnbuckle from heavy, stainless eye bolts (one screwed into the concrete block wall of our bedroom and the other end attacked just east of the middle of the fence’s top rail.  It was one helluva chore for this old man to maneuver that monstrosity onto a pair of saw horses (I blame the heat, not my deteriorating muscle mass).  I re-hinged the gate to the posts so the Walter-chewed tops of the pickets now stand half a foot higher than our neighbor’s chain-link party fence (behind which “Leo” the blue-grey pit bull lives—Leo was fascinated by both the process and my half naked body oozing sweat—it may be the only fat white male body the dog has seen).  Walter came to see what I was doing and he and Leo trotted along the party fence.  I was a bit stunned when Walt raised his leg and let loose a stream of steaming piss, which Leo lapped up as if it were beer.  Dogs never cease to amaze me with their curious antics, their one-upmanship tricks; I’m sure it’s a machismo thing.

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