Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Toast to Helen

I snapped the photograph above as I sipped my evening Scotch in my hot tub.   In the photo, I am raising a toast to Helen, my daughter, who made it through a raucous night while Superstorm Sandy slapped her apartment building and the rest of the East Coast silly. 
This afternoon, after braving the night with floodwater, wind, and no power in her New York apartment, Helen hiked to a friend’s domicile (with restored power) to spend the rest of the week.  She has been through her share of tragedy already.  She lost her mother, the only adult family she had remaining on this continent, less than two years ago.  She lost a husband to cancer only six months after they wed.  She was a witness to nine-eleven the first time she lived in New York City.  She survived me as her step-father.
So much for a young woman to endure.   
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Unquiet, Part II

Wheeling in from the Atlantic Ocean and wide enough to shred the coastal cities of several states with a single landfall, Hurricane Sandy has struck the Eastern Seaboard.  Not just any storm—maybe the biggest one of a lifetime—Sandy is an Arctic jet stream wrapped around a tropical storm.
A superstorm. 
Striking land in concurrence with high tide and with sustained winds near 90 miles-per-hour, the advancing rains and storm surges have already shut down airports and caused thousands of flights to cancel.  Wall Street suspended stock trading.  Both presidential campaigns cancelled events today and possibly for longer, little more than a week before the election.
On Greenwich Street, just off the Upper Bay in New York City, my daughter huddles in her apartment, waiting for the storm to punch through.  Her text to me earlier was this: “Yeah, I’ll be fine, everything shut down so just holed up in my apartment!”  
One of her last text messages: “Well power finally out.  4-5 ft of water flooding the street in front of my building.  Pretty safe in my apt though!
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, October 29, 2012


I recall digging in the empty field directly behind my grandmother’s house one late afternoon as a boy of something near seven or eight.  After digging down about a foot or so, I sat there amid the round riverwash stones, blue dirt, and upended roots of bunchgrass listening to the unquiet of the small town moiling around me.  I heard automobiles main-streeting east and west.  The lead smelter, huffing and clanking, carried across to rail ribbons and the creek.  A dog barked from a seemingly blanket-covered distance.
I sat there and thought about forever in the over-simplistic way only a child can manage.
This morning, as I sat outside in my hot tub, I thought of that long-ago day.  And I closed eyes to hear the new unquiet—the unquiet within me.  I am aging, aching, and frequently unsure if I am capable of the sincerity and decency of my childhood.  All of my relationships with others are now qualified by one bad experience or another.
From here, I no longer hear the automobiles main-streeting in either direction.  That field is now  covered by a parking lot.  The smelter long-ago dismantled and the local jobs shipped overseas.
The grass remains upturned.     
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Quiet, Part III

Only near absolute zero do the earth, stones, and frozen waters become quiet--their molecules finally subdued.  At all temperatures before that, in all places, in the warm daylight and in the cool darkness, these things jangle and whirr.
For now, at this temperature, all things sing.
Are you listening?
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Quiet, Part II

In the quiet of an empty room, where a child allows imaginary playthings to gather, an adult may imagine armies amassing against him.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, October 26, 2012


Is the absolute quiet of a deep woods night the same as the absolute quiet of a single empty room?
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shadow II

You should only be afraid of your own shadow if it is brandishing a knife and you are not.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

First Flake

I must admit, with a certain sorrow, that I did not capture the first snowflake of this coming winter season on video.  You see, we received our first valley snowfall last night.  The first snowflake fell not far from me yesterday afternoon.
An amazing flake, that one.
Perhaps you recall Michael Jordan, the famous basketball player.  Michael seemed to hang in the air and nimbly twist and turn with something near immunity from gravity when making a jump-shot.  I often joked that while most players sprang and shot while at the peak of their jump, Michael Jordan jumped, wrote a note to his coach, weaved through the offence, wiped his brow, twisted a bit, and then fired off a swishing shot before landing again.  Astounding!
I have never seen anyone else that compares to Jordan.
But I witnessed Jordan-like traits in that first flake of winter snow I saw yesterday at John Colley’s house as I stood looking out his French doors.
Broad as my thumb and sparkling, the flake angled at me from someplace near the swing-set in the yard.  I nearly jumped back with shock when I first saw the flake.  Just as I noticed the flake angling toward me, it swooped upward, took off sideways for a bit, dropped, and then finally flung itself against the window.   I watched the flake slide down the glass and gradually turn into a fine bead of water.
Imagine a whole storm of flakes like that one coming at you!
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Good Business

List of business thoughts:
·         Find a way for men to profit from just sitting around and holding themselves “down there” and then hawk the idea in an infomercial.
·         Don’t eat potential customers.  NOTE: see the movie Eating Raoul
·         Start a business where you train cats to ignore their human companions.
·         Create a new bookkeeping system in which negative numbers input on the front side roll-out positive on the backside.
·         Do good work.
·         Discover a secret ingredient that will make caviar taste as good as it sounds.
·         Pet rock II?
·         Develop exercise you can pour from a 16 ounce can or freezer bag.
·         Genetically engineer trees that will grow into dimension lumber.
·         Smile?
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, October 22, 2012

Salmon-Colored Shirt

A close-up photograph I took of one of my favorite shirts.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Little Death

The French refer to an orgasm as “the little death.”   Some compare the loss of worldly control, the wholesale abandon at the time of orgasm, to that of a seizure.  For thousands of years people from all across the world have perceived a spiritual and deeply emotional connection to this.
But there is another thing that feels similar to an orgasm: electric shock.
Electric shock both tingles and jars you.  Energy jitters limb to limb.  The space around you ripples like the walls of a tent in strong wind.   Sometimes you feel as though a river is running right through your chest.  For an instant, all other inputs are blocked.  
You are one with the flow of energy.
Once released from the circuit, you feel as if great weight has lifted from you.  But rather than wishing to float up, you would rather fall back.  Something big happened to you.  The stuff of sun storms and lightning just now surged through your body.

Yet, there is another kind of shock.
When exposed to certain levels of AC current, the human body reaches the “let-go” threshold.  Here, all bets are off.  Due to the alternations of this current, the nervous system and muscles in your body lock-up.  If you are clamping onto something, you cannot let go.  The tingling is now more like hammer-blows.  You may think you are screaming, but likely are making nary a sound.  The stars and rivers are not merely running through you—they are filling you with energy.
You are about to explode.  You are helpless.
This is the shock that can kill.  If God ever reached out to touch you, this is what I imagine you might feel.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, October 20, 2012

M & M’s

A photo I took while visiting the M & M store on the strip in Las Vegas.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, October 19, 2012


Pale and well-meaning, the missionaries settled into the sky and stone canyons.  The natives, who worshipped owls and lived in mud homes anchored to the sunset cliffs, saw the missionaries for who they were—soft killers who used kindness as a weapon.  But they nevertheless allowed the missionaries a flimsy wooden structure in the raw wash where the sun pushed shadows across the sands all day.
Thirty years later, a freight train derailed near a brackish river in the canyons, spilling nearly a ton of gold ingots across the sand and creosote bush.  The natives understood that the gold was worth a great deal but not as valuable as the sunset cliffs.  They left the gold to turn cold as the cliffs sliced the sun into darkness.
Ten years after that, the sons of missionaries took the pink cliffs.
--Mitchell Hegman       

Thursday, October 18, 2012


If it is possible to have too many pictures of pretty sunsets, as someone once suggested to me, might killing someone with kindness be similarly feasible? 
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Debate Answer Shifts from Good to Bad

“Some employers will be so anxious to hire people in my economy they will even look to hire women.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Cure?

Sitting under deep blue skies filled with sweeping clouds and drinking strong ginger tea mixed with Montana honey, I watch Clint Eastwood (The Outlaw Josey Wales) slay the Redlegs who murdered his family.   My television volume is cranked loud and I have eaten tabule (Arabic salad) for dinner.  Surely, all of this is a cure for something.  
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, October 15, 2012

Slime Mold

A slime mold, as complex systems biologist Chris R. Reid so adroitly put it, “is just a little bag of goo.”  While this same description might readily apply to several so-called “reality TV stars,” they are hardly worth an ounce of scientific study—a web search for nude photos perhaps, but not scientific study.  Slime mold, on the other hand, has been the subject of in-depth study at the University of Sydney.  In fact one slime mold in particular, Physarum polycephalum, has managed to coerce several biologists to keep it alive and well in spite of the obvious fact it is really gross in appearance—like a broken egg yolk.
Let me remind you.  A little bag of goo.  Which, for whatever reason, brings to mind something my friend says when he sees a piece of bad work: “Ugly as a bag of mashed assholes,” he says.
Slime molds are single cell creatures.  They are often successful creatures, however.  They can achieve mobility and have been known to reach preposterous sizes.  In some instances, these molds can grow up to 30 square meters in size, making them the largest individual cells in the animal world.
Meanwhile, at the Australian laboratory, biologists, for lack of any better direct project mandate, created a walled maze on a petri dish and released a slime mold on the dish. Release may be too strong a word in the case of slime mold.   In the matter of slime mold, the specimen is more or less plopped into place.
The molds placed in the dishes efficiently navigated the maze to find slime moldish treats hidden at various points along the labyrinth.  Without going into a lot of detail, the molds ooze around the dish seeking food.  As they do this, they leave slime trails that map places they have reached previously.  The brainy part of this is that the molds tend to reject traveling on old slime trails, which leads them to clear paths and ever new locations for food.  This is all accomplished with simple chemical reactions. 
Not bad for a bag of goo.
Not bad when you consider that with the brain I have been training all these years I am still incapable of finding a pair of blue jeans that fit me properly.    
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 14, 2012


If magnetism was the result of invisible hands instead of lines of flux, the world would be a whole lot creepier that it already is.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Welcome Back to Birdsong World

After five days of waking in the city of Las Vegas, waking to a second floor view of a Cubist expanse of high-walled yards and rooftop HVAC units and palm trees and the bees-caught-in-a-bottle sound of surface street traffic—after five days, I wake again to my own home.  I wake to my birdsong and pine country home.
For me, better.  
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, October 12, 2012

Two Pictures

Las Vegas strip from the back side.

Red Rock Canyon close-up.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Rain over Vegas

Last night, a broad thunderstorm seeped through the toothy peaks of the Spring Mountains and blackened the skies over Las Vegas.  On average, Las Vegas captures less than five inches of rainfall annually.   In my times in this city, I have never witnessed a rainstorm.   Let me assure you that you will not sleep through such an event. 
When the rain fell, it swept over my sister’s house sounding like curtains of heavy chain being dragged overtop.  Streams formed in the streets.  The whole city dimmed to an orange glow with the occasional over-bright flare of a lightning snap followed by rolling thunder.  One of the lightning strikes stabbed into some homes only a block or so south of us, nearly jolting me straight out of my bed.
This morning, the skies remain dark and occasional showers have been dampening the walks and streets.  The open earth celebrates in scents and darker tones of red and tan.  Even where rare, rain is everything.
--Mitchell Hegman   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Nelson, Nevada

If you look on a map, you will find Nelson, Nevada just about to drop out the bottom of the state where a kind of funnel-shape is formed at the borders of California and Arizona.   Located in Eldorado Canyon near Lake Mojave, Nelson is one of many mining ghost towns in Nevada.
There is a “living” town of Nelson just above the ghost town.  A few more twists in the canyon deliver you to the old site.  The Spaniards originally settled the place in the 1700’s following the initial discovery of gold in the area.  In 1859 the town hosted one of the largest gold and silver mining booms in the state’s history.
In more recent history, the town was used in the filming of the feature film 3000 Miles to Graceland, starring Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell.  Other filmmakers and fashion photographers also frequent the place. 
Below are some photos from our trip to Nelson Yesterday.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Another Quote from Mark Twain

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
--Mark Twain

Monday, October 8, 2012

Along the Missouri River

The Missouri River defines the portion of Montana where I live.  All the streams and rivers from all the mountains and valleys—including those from Bozeman to Helena to Great Falls and two Canadian Provinces—run and kick their way into the Missouri.  After forming where the Jefferson, Madison, and Gallatin rivers converge, the Missouri river flows north along the east slopes of the Rockies before gradually hooking east and running laterally across the high plains of Montana and dropping toward the Gulf of Mexico.
The Missouri River is the longest river in North America.  The navigable waters that reached all the way from the Midwest to Fort Benton, Montana, provided a valuable artery for goods as the United States expanded across the interior of the West.  The photograph of the stretch of river I have posted here is about forty miles north of Helena near the town of Cascade.  Today, the water is world renowned for fly-fishing.
Me?  I just think the river is pretty.
--Mitchell Hegman  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The Leaves Have Become Liquid

Power lines have cleaved the mountain-high October sky
The deep blue now exposed on both sides
In the valley, a river veers like liquid steel through a great depth of cottonwood trees turned fiery by a high sun
Carrying two buckets, a young boy runs along a wooded trail he has used all summer
Occasionally the boy brings the buckets together as he runs
The banging buckets echo through the woods
And the leaves the boy has gathered splash out a little each time the buckets join
Yellow from one bucket
Red from the other

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, October 6, 2012

How to Keep Birds from Flying into Your Windows

Impractical Solution: Stand in front of the window waving your arms about while reciting lines from Jonathan Livingston Seagull.
Practical Solution: Close your blinds during normal hours of flight.
Impractical Solution: Remove all windows.
Practical Solution: Place bird feeders within three feet of windows so that birds leaving the feeder cannot accelerate to deadly speeds should they fly into the window.
Impractical Solution: Tether a housecat to a ledge at each window.  NOTE: Tethering a housecat is likely not practical in any present application.
Practical Solution: Install decorative window awnings.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bathed in Blue

I am posting a photograph I snapped with my very first digital camera about ten years ago.  I got to thinking about this photo following my dream yesterday—the dream in which everything turned blue after I touched a couple of wires together.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Cluster of Wires

For the last thirty-some hours of my life I have been mired in a fever.  I slept for nearly ten hours last night, which is nearly twice my norm.  Somewhere in the night, I had a dream that each time I woke I was able to alter one thing in the world just by touching together any two of a cluster of bare-ended wires near my pillow.
One time, I woke, touched two wires together and everything around me turned the color blue.  Another time, I woke, connected two wires, and the sounds of automobile traffic all around me ceased.  The cluster was comprised of hundreds of wires and hundreds of possibilities.
When I woke this morning, instead of finding a cluster of wires near my bed, I found one of my cats gacking-up a hairball.
And I still feel like hell.
--Mitchell Hegman    

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Screaming

Last night, for the third time in my twenty-one years of living out here in the country, I heard the screaming outside my open window.  The screams sprang from someplace in the scattered timber down at the bottom of the arroyo below my house.
The screaming woke me.
What is the screaming thing?
Curled in my bed, I listened to the piercing sound repeating in quick bursts.  Not barking.  Not growling.  Not bleating.  Not yowling.
Close to a wailing.   Then thick silence.
Mountain lion?  Porcupine?  Big?  Small?     
What is the screaming thing?
--Mitchell Hegman


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Random Thought #134

It is not that hard to figure out that we would be a lot better off if we stopped making other people dead on purpose.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, October 1, 2012

Last Chance Community Pow Wow

Seven Indian Nations exist in Montana.  Additionally, some twelve separate tribes are represented.   The names are quite interesting in their own right:  Crow, Northern Cheyenne, Dakota, Assiniboine, Gros Ventre, Assiniboine (again), Chippewa-Cree, Blackfeet, Salish, Kootenai, Pend d’Orielle and the Little Shell Chippewa.
Yesterday, Ariel and I attended the Last Chance Community Pow Wow, an annual gathering of dancers from all tribes.  The Pow Wow is open to all and is without admission fee.  Everyone, including non-tribal spectators, is welcome to join the non-competition drum-beat dances.

--Mitchell Hegman