Amanda MacLean

Beyond the Birds


Today my birds have been beyond cute but also beyond Annoying. Chirping like crazy. Poor Yoshi - she can only make one sound, really, and it is super irritating. CHEEP! Recently, Starbuck, who is a superb mimicker, has mastered a perfect mimic of her now I have two of them. I spray Yoshi with the water bottle when she will not listen. If she still doesnt stop, i cover up her cage. Someties she still doeent stop chirping so I keep spraying her in her cage. I went really crazy on Yoshi tonight and felt pretty bad about it when I went to check on her after she finally quieted down. She was so soaked...and had a sad, pitiful look in her beady brown eyes. I couldn't put her to bed like that, all wet and cold, so I sat down with her in front of the heater and scratched her head non-stop for like 20 minutes, until she was mostly dry. Then, just out of the blue, the sublime silence was ripped through with a squealing, "CHEEP!" followed by Starbuck giving a rather shrill sound in response. And so, there we were, back at the beginning again. I caged her and covered her up as quickly as possible. Yoshi valiantly laid 9 eggs. Nine! Holy crap. I thought she was done at five, then after a few days discovered 3 more...then a ninth. She never lays when I'm home, she always waits for me to leave, so I have witnessed none of this. I took away three of her eggs to get her used to the idea that they aren't gonna hatch, and I'll take away the rest 1-2 at a time. Then...what will I do with 9 empty cockatiel eggs? Hmmmm....

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Goodbye, Robert. Goodbye, Jack...


I still can't look at this picture of Robert Lorick, the voice of Jack Flanders, without tearing up. 

It's impossible to imagine losing a person whose presence is so familiar to you that life without it is simply inconceivable. I feel as though a part of my childhood has died with Robert, who surely has taken Jack along with him to the other side. 


I am, like all human beings, forced to cling to some impossible hope that this was just one of Jack's many incarnations, and that as we converged in this life, we will converge again in another. Who, in that window of time, will be the "real" person, and who will be the creature of imaginations?

This is the first photo I've ever seen of Robert, and, oddly enough, he does look a bit like I imagined Jack to look. That seems rare with radio voice personalities. Of course, I'd need to see one of his face without the huge retro sunglasses to really know for sure :)

I really can't believe he is gone.

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A Good Start


This is Blaze.

This is Ralph.

With their powers combined, they are The Dogs.

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute," Blaze, aka Blazer, says. "We're so much more than that. Tell them!"

These boys are the Northside Kings of the neighborhood street. They own McNeil. They own the creek. They own the floor and every morsel of dirt on it. Blaze definitely own all the tennis balls. Ralphie owns the secrets to opening the garage door. (You push it with your paw, he says).

This morning we tried to start out before the sun got blazing, but with my lateness in rising from bed the heat had already soaked up much of our little neighborhood pond. Rain yesterday, gone today, such is the state of a drought in Texas. The boys were still so happy to be out in the morning light, they didn't mind.

They jumped in the pond, submerged their heads, rolled in the grass, and sang, "This is what it's like to be a dog!" I imagine the song goes to the tune of "Never Had a Friend Like Me!" from Aladdin.

Usually Blaze is the one obsessed with Rock Biting and Diving, but this morning Ralph joined in on the fun. "Et Tu, Ralphus?" I asked.

I did not mean for this to happen but I think we inadvertently disrupted an entire ecosystem of tad-poles. Sorry, Future Frogs. One day you can shrink me down to your size and ask me why bad things happen to good amphibians. I hope I can give you a wise answer.

We went home before the sun scorched my un-furry shoulders.

Good start to a good day.

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Moroccan Solo Adventure


What can I say about last night? It was like Morocco Las Vegas or something.

I went to a “cultural dinner” last night. It was this “Fantasia Folklore Etcetera-Whatever-Something-or-Other” thing, as titled by the tour company. (I signed up for a bunch of guided tours while I’m here, since I have no clue what else I would do by myself. Keep walking around the Medina bartering for souvenirs? Oh man. Five days of that and even “good price for you” gets too pricy).

The dinner came with a show. The restaurant was magnificent and huge – a palace where you spent the first 15 minutes just walking through it, taking pictures and watching dancers and drummers move around. The dancers weren’t, like, totally authentic looking to me…some of them looked like they really hated their jobs (they stood there picking their noses and swaying a little bit), which I thought was really funny.

I ate at a table with two girls from England, a couple from Scotland and Ireland, and a French husband and wife. The French man was sitting at the end of the table where every 10 minutes or so a train of dancers would come through and pick on him to dance with them. It got ridiculously funny after a while (he was a good sport).

The meal had four courses, starting with some kind of soup. I was so excited when they brought out a HUGE rack of lamb for dinner. The guy set it down and walked away, and we waited for about 5 minutes for him to come back and start cutting it (he didn’t leave a knife for us to cut it ourselves). Then we realized that everyone else was starting to cut into theirs with their own utensils (butter knives and forks), which was a little gross for all of us Westerners, but…what else were we going to do? We also had to serve up the couscous with the spoons we had just eaten our soup with.

I had never had couscous before. I knew that it was on the menu for the night but I didn’t realize that was it when they set it down. So I made the mistake of asking the French lady next to me (who spoke English), “Do you know what this is called?” EVERYONE at the table looked up at me as if I had taken the dish and thrown it on the ground and stepped on it, then they all exclaimed in unison: “It’s couscous!” I felt like such an uncultured American.

The time came for the dinner show. Outside the restaurant was this big open area, sort of like a rodeo-grounds, with stadium seating around it (this restaurant was seriously huge – it was more like 10-15 restaurants linked together around this stadium thing). I hadn’t the foggiest idea what to expect. I think that’s the best position you can take in Morocco, though. The catch phrase or motto for this country should be, “Who the hell knows what’s going on?” (And who the hell really cares?)

First these riders came out and did a bunch of dangerous stunts on their ponies. Standing up in the saddle, hanging from the back, etc. One guy even ran alongside his horse, which I thought was quite impressive. The ponies (I think they were ponies) were very agile and beautiful. After a while I spotted something remarkable: they were actually stepping in time with the music. I didn’t know it was possible to teach any animal to do that. Then, later on, they seriously were dancing to the music. I’m not kidding – the rider would pull their reins and they would, like, DANCE. Like people! They danced better than I could.

The whole show was a bunch of random stuff that didn’t connect to form a cohesive story or have any logical explanation whatsoever (hence the country motto). There was one point where the lights went totally black and Star Wars music came on (the Darth Vader theme) and all the horsemen came back and started marching ominously down the field. I couldn’t figure out why I was the only one trying not to die laughing.

The only thing I didn’t like was going back to my riad (that’s what they call hostels here) by myself at night. I was hoping my taxi would pull right up to my derb (street), but apparently taxis can’t drive through the Medina at night. So I walked through it by myself, which was actually cool and not too scary because there were still huge crowds of people partying, buying things, and watching the snake charmers. Once you pass through the main square and into the more dark and narrow derbs where the hostels are, however, it gets pretty scary. There was a crowd of youngish-looking men loitering around by my corner, and as I walked down my narrow, walled-in derb I saw in the corner of my eye as they all turned their heads toward me (being a white female alone is something that definitely draws attention). I quickened my pace toward my hostel, hoping to God that it wouldn’t take me very long to fiddle with the keys and get the door open (and freaking out in my head anytime I saw a person walking by or heard footsteps approaching). Right when I walked up to the door, the guy who runs the hostel was opening it to go out, giving me a clear entrance with no time to wait for the possibility of any creepy dudes I imagined were following me. Nice.

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