Old Mack’s Tales

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
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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.

January 28, 2011

OldMack’s No Longer a Smoker!

Filed under: Opinion and Memoir,Short Stories,Uncategorized — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 9:22 pm

I May Be a Non Smoker Already!

There’s no need to tell you who know me that I’ve been smoking tobacco products ever since I was a pupil in George Dewey School at the San Diego Naval Housing Unit in 1944 at age ten.  I recall only one period of a few days during which cigarettes and tobacco were unavailable to me; I smoked crushed oak leaves rolled in Zig-Zag papers and it got me through that crisis.  People have always been able to smell me coming by the tobacco odor clinging to my clothing, hair etc.  In Korea that was a real problem; the local cigarettes didn’t leave the same odor on us, so I started swapping cigarettes with our Yobos (Korean Service Corps Laborers—for whom monuments ought to have been built to honor their selfless service).  Prior to going out into enemy territory on patrols I’d eat Kimchee with our KSC troops; I can’t swear that it did any good, but I passed through Chinese lines and territory unobserved and unmolested a few times on scout/sniper missions.

My favorite smoking moment was this: Dave Priest, Randall Crawford and I climbed a lengthy chimney in Smith Rocks at the top of which was a chock stone.  They were slim of hip and able to pass between the chock stone and the face; I had to climb out and over it quite exposed; that’s when my pack of Winstons fell out of my pocket and drifted down to the Crooked River Gorge.  We three stood on a wide ledge congratulating ourselves on our rousing good climb, but we all craved cigarettes.  We patted ourselves down.  I found a manifold real estate form; Dave found a few grains of tobacco in the bottom of his pipe tobacco pouch.  We rolled smokes, lit up and enjoyed the view, our camaraderie, our smoke and our ongoing speculative philosophical discussions—which on this occasion centered on their recent receipt of “Greetings” and invitations to participate in that war in South East Asia; in short, our last venture together for the next few years.  All of this seemingly disparate blather may tend to show that smoking is less an addiction than merely a habit of rewarding ourselves after doing something foolish, fattening or fun.

I have no craving for a cigarette this morning.  But I have been busy.  Assembling the DeVilbiss compressor and nebulizer equipment, caring for our two dogs, Zooey and Buddy, and cat plus cleaning up the dishes from my last night’s snack, and making contact with Christine at the hospital El Club Med to report kept me going since dawn–she’s doing fine, meeting lots of interesting people, hearing new stories, keeping up her journaling, in short, having a grand time.

I pause to suck in some nebulized Albuterol—holding the expanded plastic like a cigar and pretending—stayed both that tickle in my throat, the coughing impulse, and my craving for tobacco smoke.  While nebulizing I sorted out my morning ration of prescription pills which control elevated blood pressure, prevent clotting of blood in the arteries, and control the tendency of my pump to cavitate when excited.  I’m sure none of these chemicals would be needed if only I could get out for a romp on steep rocks with old friends.

The mere sight of a fir-clad mountain—up close and personal—would make my day!

August 24, 2009

The Missing Man

Filed under: Opinion and Memoir,Short Stories — Ron McKinney aka "OldMack" @ 2:23 am
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Everything reminds me of something.

I was delivering a newly minted Beechcraft Debonair, a lovely 4-seat, single-engine retractable like its sister the Bonanza, but with a vertical rudder instead of a V tail. The Deb is a sturdy bird with the same landing gear they hang on their twin-engine, much heavier Baron; so it can be flown into and out of the roughest damned fields in Texas.

I was coming from the Beech factory in Wichita, Kansas, heading back to Oregon. But one of those northwestern hurricanes or Williwaws covered everything west of Wyoming with ice, hail and freezing rain. So I opted for the southern route.

After landing in Waco to top off the tanks and visit a pal, I sat in the rough pilot’s lounge drinking coffee and shooting the breeze with him.

Lying there on the coffee table among the flying magazines was a “Wanted” flyer. It had a photo on it of a man in his mid-fifties wearing golfing togs, maybe a businessman on his day off. He had been on a flight from St. Louis to L.A. in a powder blue, two-year-old Beechcraft; he’d been missing for almost a year.

It was pure coincidence that both the Missing Man and I were flying the same type of aircraft (except that mine was new). I scratched my head and recalled how often I’d wanted to ditch my responsibilities and simply disappear; god knows I was in debt up to here and in spite of working my ass off, I’d been tapping my nest egg every damned month that year (I”d had a drawer filled with E-Series savings bonds when I left the service, but they wouldn’t last long at the rate my wife was spending money). I longed to get off of that treadmill. So I was thinking about the missing man when I landed at Gila Bend, Arizona and parked my plane beside a powder blue Debonair.

I had to wait my turn to use the phone to call the FSS to check the weather. The guy using the phone was the Missing Man.

The Missing Man looked younger than the guy in the flyer, so I assumed he’d been enjoying his life on the run. The reward offered for information by his wife, who probably was more concerned about collecting his life insurance than getting him back wasn’t enough to blow his cover.

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