Flight Plan


  21st - 27th July, 2017











Photo by Eric Yeager 2009 All Rights Reserved

A Thought for Today

Modern thought should not be vague. It should be as clear and accurate as possible, able to command attention and be so relevant as to have the reader or listener exclaims, "Yes, I know that" or "I've been there."



The house keeps changing. A crack zigzags across the bedroom ceiling deliberately disturbing the symmetry of this old room, confirming the lack of permanence in anything.

Change does not confine itself to structures - it extends to all the outside acreage. In the backyard, high up on the tallest fern, a hummingbird has built a nest midway on a swaying frond, out of reach of preying cats, flying squirrels and birds of greater size. Two eggs have hatched and two mouths, larger than the chicks, stay open like a garden gate. The mother hovers stationary in the air - her jaws a-puff with stolen nectar. Bumblebees above dive into hollyhock like kamikaze with a steady aim. Snails leave tracks that brown birds follow. Brown and yellow butterflies turn every branch or limb they light on into glamour. They swap on poppy rims and bathe in open morning glory.

A year ago, I stopped encouraging the neighbors' cat coming to the house for midnight snacks and hearty brunch. Coyotes had begun to move down from the higher hills, their dens and jogging paths now planed away and covered by houses sprouting up like weeds and tennis courts that sprawl and crowd and threaten bush and tree. You saw the refugees, slack-jawed, loping down the road at twilight. Howls of laughter hill to hill as youngsters followed rights of passage. Rites of passage.

At first, when headlights trapped a pair of eyes inside a bush, the elders in each park feigned curiosity, so too the motorist delighting in a brand new open zoo. Only later, when the odd scream cut the blackness, was jungle law remembered. House cats came back home when called at dusk, small dogs stayed inside the yard. One morning, as the rim of dawn was hiking to the lower sky, Edward looked up from his desk and saw Old Greta at the far fence of the garden. He called her - then watched in heart-stop horror as she, between coyote jaws, disappeared and disappeared. No novena and no silent night were said on her behalf. Her memory is safe with us without elaboration.

The cat door in the kitchen, locked and blocked and boarded, now looks odd and out of place. Life is less, and less defined, without the company of cats. The downstairs cats are missed and daily mourned, but we have no desire to contribute to the stewpot of the newest city hobos. We forgo the luxury of feline company in downstairs rooms - our concentration now is on the children upstairs.

The Blues, shy Bingo and his brother Magic, chase each other every other hour through Edward's rooms and into mine. Then, flopping in a pile upon the carpet, they seem like one unending panther - not dark enough for true panther pedigree. Black Nikki, Magic's other son, is habit bound. He stretches on the cooling bathroom tile, naps on my desk or underneath my chair, runs sprinter like head-on to corners chasing his imagination's moths. Then hopping into carryall and staring, he demands a journey if only to another room and back again. At two o'clock, not twenty-of or twenty-past, a hundred dozen catnaps done, he starts to poke about and drop broad hints that dinner would be most appreciated. This counting will continue two more hours until the nightly spread is divvied out in three equal parts into three bowls of equal size.

Dinner done, the trio runs again. Hide-and-go-seek and capture-the fort push mortals out, this is cat time. In the evening, Nikki stretches out across the bottom of the bed I share with him, his head resting on his private book - a chewed and scratched and barely held together denim-covered three-ring binder that once held Celebrations of the Heart or some long ago collection I was working on. Nikki's into poetry. He chews up first and second drafts and tears at pages he finds wanting. Critics, critics everywhere - including but not limited to friends.

This house has shadows too, different ones than those that lurked within the same place weeks ago. Some are long enough to reach the driveway and beyond, some squat like dancers resting on their haunches, anticipating entrance. Some start to fade even as my mind begins describing them. No shadows ever worried me as much as substance of some kind too dense for me to understand. I am familiar with and accommodate shadows of all shapes and sizes. None new or coming can surprise me.

Edward has unpacked at last. He only speaks of journeys now. Arching in a handstand or suited up to run a relay or thrilling time by killing time, he is the sentry and watchman in my life. Concerned in turn about my laziness and too fast pace, my brother worries as he watches me move further back inside myself. But I am only trying to afford and to effect a balance in our collective lives and our surroundings. My head now does the touring and the travel. I have seen enough world to approximate whatever place I wish to be in. But the learning never stops and here in California, the old house is more a seat of learning than a dwelling place.

- from The Sound of Solitude, 1983

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notable birthdays

Monday 21 August

Dame Janet Baker o Count Basie o Aubrey Beardsley o James Burton o Kim Cattrall o Wilt Chamberlain o Mart Crowley o Jackie DeShannon o X.J. Kennedy o Prince Margaret of England o Patty McCormack o Pete Retzlaff o Kenny Rogers o Chris Schenkel o Melvin Van Peebles o Peter Weir o Jack Weston o Clarence Williams III

Tuesday 22 August

Tori Amos o Nicola Ball o Honor Blackman o Ray Bradbury o Clayton Carlson o Douglas S. Cramer o Morton Dean o Claude Debussy o Sharon Dolbare o Howie Dorough o Barbara Eden o Steve Edwards o Valerie Harper o John Lee Hooker o Cecil Kellaway o Sylvia Koscina o Dorothy Parker o Leni Riefenstahl o Diana Sands o Norman Schwarzkopf o Layne Staley o Karlheinz Stockhausen o Cindy Williams o Deng Xiaoping o Carl Yastrzemski

Wednesday 23 August

Arthur Adamov o Rex Allen, Jr. o Nicole Bobek o Kobe Bryant o Bob Crosby o Barbara Eden o Gene Kelly o Ernst Krenex o Shelley Long o Louis XVI of France o Edgar Lee Masters o Patricia McBride o Vera Miles o Keith Moon o Jay Mohr o Oliver Perry o River Phoenix o Mark Russell o Marian Seldes o Rick Springfield o Tex Williams

Thursday 24 August

Yasser Arafat o Kenny Baker o Audrey Beardsley o Max Beerbohm o Cardinal Cushing o Preston Foster o Rupert Grint o Steve Guttenberg o Dennis James o Jean-Michael Jarre o Duke Kahanamoku o Craig Kilborn o Durward Kirby o Marlee Matlin o Cal Ripken, Jr. o Louis Teicher (Ferrante & Teicher) o Mason Williams

Friday 25 August

Leonard Bernstein o Clara Bow o Tim Burton o Sean Connery o Elvis Costello o Billy Ray Cyrus o Don Defore o Willy DeVille o Mel Ferrer o Rollie Fingers o Althea Gibson o Richard Greene o Monty Hall o Bret Harte o Van Johnson o Ruby Keeler o Walt Kelly o Kel Mitchell o Brian Moore o Regis Philbin o Allan Pinkerton o Claudia Schiffer o Gene Simmons o Tom Skerritt o Blair Underwood o Jose Van Damm o Ally Walker o George Wallace

Saturday 26 August

Prince Albert of Monaco o Guillaume Apollinaire o John Wilkes Booth o Ben Bradlee o Nicholas Braithwaite o Jan Clayton o Macaulay Culkin o Jim Davis o Geraldine Ferraro o Georgia Gibbs o Ronny Graham o Peggy Guggenheim o Christopher Isherwood o Michael Jeter o Lester Lanin o Bradford Marsalis o Dr. Albert Sabin o Wallingford Sawallisch o Valerie Simpson o General Maxwell Taylor

Sunday 27 August

Barbara Bach o Mason Betha o Julie Brown o Daryl “The Captain” Dragon o Theodore Dreiser o C.S. Forester o Samuel Goldwyn o Lyndon B. Johnson o Ira Levin o Alex Lifeson o Mother Theresa o Chuck Nolan o Man Ray o Martha Raye o Paul "Pee-wee Herman" Reubens o Tommy Sands o Alexa Vega o Tuesday Weld o Lester Young

Rod's random thoughts
Enough is Plenty.

You need know very little about life to enjoy it.

Envy is a row of hooks we hang our grudges on.


Finally clear of the treacherous air
he meets archangel face to face
demanding the peace he did not find
                                         in life,
something hinted at
as life was moving from him.
He knows serenity is not
                 the only state of grace
and yet it is the only place
where shadows do not haunt
                                   but compliment.
No more darkness, incandescence
                             his only wish.
Put me to use by letting me sleep.
Give my speech to someone else.
Someone down there needing help.

Cloud be my protectress
now that the wind has stripped me bare.
I need only a little air.

Greeting those who went before him
he hands out leis of beatitudes,
is mindful of old enemies
                     coming on as friends.
So this is the way it happens -
all things rectified, all ends tied up.
If only he had known the truth
deep in his darkest nights -
that life was only a passing over
                                          into life
instead of a silent prayer on airplanes,
the awful crawl toward religion,
life not life except in fleeting. 

-from "Intervals," 1986


© 1970, 1986, 2002, 2010, 2013, 2015 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Webmaster: Ken Blackie • Media Consultant & Sound Supervisor Eric Yeager • Birthday Research by Wade Alexander • Poems from the collection of Jay Hagan • Editor at Large: Bruce Bellingham • Emeritus: Melinda Smith

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