Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Friday, November 30, 2012

Good Example

I think that never allowing yourself to die might set a pretty good example.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Predawn, November 28, 2012

For the last two days, I have driven to work in total blue under a full moon.  Sky, lakes, land—everything bathed in blue until sunlight finally appeared as a tiara on the Spokane Bench and spilled more colors across the valley floor.
Yesterday I stopped on my drive into town and captured the pictures I have posted today.
--Mitchell Hegman 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I have conceivably asked Dan thousands of questions over the last twenty-five or so years.  Dan might suggest that I have asked hundreds in a single day.  Dan, you see, works at Crescent Electric, an electrical supply house that I have frequented for most of my career as an electrician.  And he is a dear friend.   Let me give you an example of a typical phone conversation we might have had:
ME:  Danno!  Hey. Got some questions.
DAN:  Oh, boy…
ME:   Do you guys have any 3-sided, 8-phase, 6-throw, brown or black micro-widgets?
DAN:  What voltage?
ME:  Oh, yeah, forgot that part.  I need 120 volts.
DAN (working from memory):  That is a QW-3776.  None here.  Two in Kalispell.  One in Tallahassee, Florida.  145 of them in Mombasa.
ME:  Where is Mombasa?
DAN:  Second largest city in Kenya.  We opened a branch there four months ago.  They are big on industrial supplies. Flies are driving them crazy this year. 
ME:  Really?
DAN:  Yep.  And, don’t forget, the 82300 multi-zinger you ordered came in the other day.
ME:  Oh, yeah.  Why did I order that?
DAN:  For the bank job.
ME:  Right.  Got it.  Well, geez, I need one of them QB…QS…Q-whatevers right away!  What else can I do?
DAN:  An RT-5667 FISCO will work if you flip the orange and purple leads and then hit the reset button after you energize it the first time.
ME:  I’m not sure…  Sounds complicated.  What do you think?
DAN:  I can walk you through it over the phone.
ME:  Sweet, order three of them for me.  You ready for the rest of my order?
DAN:  Nope.  Not ever.
That might be pretty typical of a conversation between us.
So, yesterday, I walked into Crescent Electric to (wait for it…wait for it…wait for it) ask some questions, but Dan beats me to the quick.
“Hey,” he asks, “when are we gonna be in your blog?”
A good question.
--Mitchell Hegman 


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Fiscal Cliff Explained (Almost)

You probably will not have a particularly thrilling ride if you attempt to leap off the fiscal cliff while strapped into your red white and blue hang-glider.   I have recently discovered that we are not talking about that kind of cliff.  Apparently, this cliff has more to do with math and money than altitude and thrill-seeking.

And, no, the cliff is not made of money.
After talking with some folks, I quickly realized that I was not alone in my misconception about the nature of the fiscal cliff.   This cliff will likely leave only accountants and tax specialists gasping for air.  Much of the confusion likely arises from the mere fact that Congress is involved in this matter.  Congress, along with being a fairly constant source of confusion, has been steadily proving over the course of several generations that it is not adept in dealing with either math or money.  This cliff is all about math, spending, taxes, and Congress.
Here is the deal.  The fiscal cliff is actually a rather lurid description of a combination of broadly forced spending cuts and sun-setting tax breaks—all coming by default (please read as inaction by Congress) quite abruptly on the last day of December this year.  The “cliff” is what the economy may plunge from should everyone’s taxes suddenly rise and the money funding virtually all programs suddenly retract or vanish all at once.  Some economists and business-types believe the aforementioned combination will crash an already lumbering economy.
During the last session of Congress, the members of that body put-off a bunch of difficult decisions related to taxes, spending, and debt and then plunked a temporary fix on the doorstep of 2013.  That is the fiscal cliff.
The hope now is that the House, the Senate, and the President can all gather and fashion a fix for this before the end of this year.
Tennis, anyone?
--Mitchell Hegman


Monday, November 26, 2012

And in Unrelated News Elsewhere…

Felipe Calderon, the outgoing President of Mexico, announced a few days ago that he would like to change the name of his country.  He is no longer satisfied with simply calling his homeland Mexico.  Mr. Calderon, to the dismay of critics who call the move (I am not going to swear here) silly, would like the change the name from Mexico to Mexico.
That’s correct.  Mexico would henceforth be called Mexico.
For those of us who have experienced difficulty keeping up to this point (please note that my hand is raised to ask questions over here) the name, as chosen for Mexico at the time of liberation from Spain in 1824 was United Mexican States.  President Calderon seeks to remove United and States as bookends for the formal name—never mind that everyone has for nearly two centuries recognized Mexico as, simply, Mexico.
I can understand why, for the sake of creating a splash, some entertainers adopt stage names, though I personally might have balked at changing my name from Mitchell Hegman to Engelbert Humperdinck as a fellow named Arnold Dorsey did.   When the singer Prince changed his name to that horn-looking thing, I was pretty baffled.  I sort of understood the logic when Kentucky Fried Chicken converted to KFC and I even managed to adopt the new moniker; but I am pretty certain that will keep confusing Mexico with Mexico if President Calderon gets his way.    --Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, November 25, 2012


A photograph I snapped of foam on the Missouri River.   Both contrast and brightness have been adjusted for effect.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dry Crimes

A deer died.  Maybe the deer perished in an ugly murder at the jaws of a mountain lion or a pack of wolves.  Clearly, a messy violence of some kind pitched the pelvis ahead of the jaw bone and beyond the pickup-stick scatter of ribs.  And the jaw bone has drifted too far away.
I came upon the bones while walking in the juniper and sage hills.
They gave me pause.
But the photo is the interesting thing.  I took a color photograph…and it turned out black and white, stark.  The long droughts and the light of day conspire against even the grass and bones of this world—the colors are slowly drawn away in a black and white end at the edge of winter.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, November 23, 2012


Late in the afternoon, in a waterless landscape, a solitary figure struck upon a narrow gorge that could not be crossed.  The figure began following along the rim as shadows reached out from some nearby mountains and the wind sent uprooted things tumbling all around.  As hours passed, the figure drew crooked against the wind and the fierce gusts cried against the exposed rock.
At dusk, the figure slowly dissolved into an inky darkness that seemingly swelled up from the gorge.  Eventually, stars curved into a dome above and tumbleweeds swept across the open spaces before dropping silently into the black abyss.    
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Not Always a Serious Man

Actual Quotes from Tom Petty and George Harrison (as told by Tom Petty years after):
George Harrison (While visiting Tom Petty’s home and working The Traveling Wilburys recordings):  “We need a lot of ukuleles.”
Tom Petty (Relating the story years later and describing what he saw after following George Harrison to his car and watching him open the trunk):  “He had a lot of ukuleles in his trunk.  I mean a lot.”

Correct answer for the question posted on 11-21-2012:  #2 Napoleon Bonaparte.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dude, Did Michael Jackson Just Throw Popcorn at You?

Napoleon Bonaparte, Jim Morrison, and Mahatma Gandhi went to see a triple-x movie.  In fairness, Gandhi thought the movie, titled, Shining My Monkey, was about animals in the forest.  Within ten minutes of the theater lights dimming and bare skin filling the screen, Jim Morrison started making out with a redheaded girl of twenty-something.  Napoleon tipped his hat back and watched the film while fidgeting with his sword, wondering why his clothing had more buttons than anyone around him.  Mahatma Gandhi peered over his glasses at the screen and continuously poked Napoleon, asking repeatedly if he had seen a monkey yet.
Halfway through the movie, a shower of popcorn fell over all three men and the redhead.    
Using all available sources, determine who among the aforementioned movie-goers yelled out: “Dude, did Michael Jackson just throw popcorn at you?”  Please choose one of the following:
  1. ____ Jim Morrison
  2. ____ Napoleon Bonaparte
  3. ____ The redhead
  4. ____ Mahatma Gandhi

Correct answer for the question posted on 11-20-2012:  Please see Sky is My Garden blog post for August 36, 2011.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Where did Ben Franklin Go after Lightning Rang His Bells?

Yesterday, I taught a “grounding and bonding” class to a mix of electricians and solar photovoltaic system installers.  The very first slide of my Power Point presentation depicted an image of Benjamin Franklin. 
Franklin, as I explained to the class, was perhaps the first person to recognize that lightning was the same thing as the static charges snapping from our fingers.  He was also the first person to reckon that lightning flowed from different points of potential as a kind of current.  He called this current “electric fire” and reckoned that the current flowed between what he termed as “positive” and “negative” points.
As a side note (pun not fully intended), Franklin is also very good to have in your pocket as a $100.00 bill.
While the lightning experiments Franklin conducted with kites are thought to be more mythical than reality, Franklin made serious contributions to the study of electricity.  He invented the lightning rod, which is still in use today.  He was also the first person to “ground” any sort of true electrical system—the very reason I launched my class with him.
Ben Franklin’s system, though simple, proved very effective.  Franklin created his system by attaching a lightning rod to the roof of his house.  He then routed a wire from the rod and fixed the wire to a couple of bells.  From the bells, he dropped the wire down the side of his home, and then fastened the wire to a rod driven in the ground.  Lightning struck the rod repeatedly, ringing the bells and showering the home with sparks—but the system spared the home from any of the damage normally associated with a direct lightning strike by efficiently discharging the impulse into the earth.
Question for today: Where did Ben Franklin Go after Lightning Rang His Bells?  Please choose the best answer from the choices listed below.
  1. ____ “Franklin went to Dairy Queen and ordered a Mint Oreo Blizzard.”
  2. ____ “Ben Franklin sailed off to Europe to bathe with questionable women.”
  3. ____ “Franklin didn’t go anywhere.  He remained home drinking beer by the pot-bellied stove he invented.”
  4. ____ “Ben Franklin went to fetch his wife after she ran out of the house, screaming obscenities.”

Correct answer for the question posted on 11-19-2012:   #3 “Genghis Khan jammed it behind a blown screw-in type fuse to restore power to his Xbox.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, November 19, 2012

Where Did Genghis Khan Hide the Penny?

John Maynard Keynes, the famous economist, drove to Best Buy to purchase a new laptop computer.  After negotiating a fabulously great deal on a swift machine with a young male clerk who, until only two days previous, thought Newt Gingrich was a kind of lizard with twitchy eyes, Mr. Keynes handed over cash for payment.  Just as the clerk reached out to give John Maynard Keynes his single penny in change, Genghis Khan appeared on a black stallion, snatched away the penny and galloped off with the loot, shouting wildly.
Your question for today—where did Genghis Khan hide the penny he absconded from the store?   Please choose one of the following:
  1. ____ “Under the steps.”
  2. ____ “Under the steppes.”
  3. ____ “Genghis Khan jammed it behind a blown screw-in type fuse in his Bronx apartment to restore power to his Xbox.”
  4. ____ “?”

Correct answer for the question posted on 11-18-2012: #4 “Are you two clowns aware that Mitchell Hegman and I share the same date of birth?”
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, November 18, 2012

What Would Thomas Jefferson Say?

Albert Einstein and Hank Williams Sr. are attempting to assemble an exercise bike without referring to the instructions.  Albert Einstein is somewhat distracted.  He is thinking about an attractive young woman he saw earlier and is now mentally establishing her exact association with the number eight.  Hank Williams Sr. is fidgeting with a box-end wrench.  He is imagining playing one of his ballads to an auditorium filled with people who all have crazy Einstein hair.      
What would Thomas Jefferson say if asked to help finish assembling the exercise bike?  Please choose one of the following statements as your answer:

1.      ____ “I shall be happy to assemble any machine, such as this, that bears arms.”

2.      ____ “The freedom to assemble and the freedom to refuse to assemble must remain with the individual.  My choice is refusal.”

3.      ____ “Al, what is the deal with your hair?  Seriously?”

4.      ____ “Are you two clowns aware that Mitchell Hegman and I share the same date of birth?”

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Crack Runs Through New Ice

Lake Helena is one of the first large bodies of water to form solid ice across its surface in the winter.  The ice may seal-in the lake in either November or December and not open again until March or April, dependent upon the severity of winter at both ends.
Lake ice might come and go at first—advancing and receding with lowering and rising temperatures.  Winds and the undulations of waves may also work to keep the surface open.  Hauser Lake, immediately below my house, is a case in point.  Though Lake Helena has now been locked in ice for well over a week, Hauser Lake remains open and flexing by day with waves that release wisps of steam.  Each morning, I wake to fog; the scarves of steam having gathered into a whole at my house in the predawn hours.  Winter’s northwind regularly stirs Hauser Lake, insisting that it remains open for several weeks beyond the formation of ice on Lake Helena. 
By the end of January, however, the ice on both lakes will easily reach a depth of 1½ feet—thick enough to support a freight train.  The daytime surface of the ice near the lake homes might fill with children on ice-skates, sleds, and the always-chasing dogs.  The once watery arms and bays will sprout ice-fishermen who might remain there, lanterned in bluish palls of  light, long after dark.  ATVs, iceboats, and even pickup trucks will race across the bright and solid surface of the lakes in perfectly straight lines.
For now, though, the ice is thin and crossed only by cracks. 
The photograph posted today is one I snapped at a fishing access on Lake Helena about a week ago.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, November 16, 2012


This morning, on my drive to Helena so that I might dance with my young business partner’s two-year-old twin girls (which I do most mornings) and then possibly do something strikingly similar with work (minus the requisite compensation in pay), I chanced upon a red fox weaving across a snowy pasture under a star-spun early morning sky.  I thought to myself, it is a good day when, on your way to dance with two-year-olds and do pretend work, you see a fox in a field under a bunch of stars.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Another Consideration

All too often, money is an unnatural barrier to success.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Our Wintering Sun

Two photographs of the sun I captured near my house the other day during a lull between storms.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Digging Out

Following a whole weekend of blizzards, some of us are still trying to extricate our cars and our lives from snow accumulations.  On Sunday morning, I bundled myself in heavy clothing, fired-up my snow-plow-equipped ATV, then blasted through the snow to clear my drive as well as my neighbor’s drive, and open the quarter-mile of country road that connects us to East Helena and then (in theory) Chicago and San Francisco.
Yesterday morning, while meeting with John, my young business partner, I took a call from June, a mutual friend.  “Can you help me?” she asked.  “My car is snowed-in.”
Within a half hour both John and I were across town alongside June, shoveling snow from around her car.  After no more than five minutes we managed to finish and then pushed her car free from the snow-piled curbside.  On our drive back through town, I got off onto another snow-bound side street to negotiate around our local version of “malfunction junction.”  As we drove along, I said to John, “How would you feel if I turned around and we helped another woman dig out her car?”
“Okay,” he said.  “What woman?”
“We just drove by her.  We have our shovels.”
I flipped directions, drove back a block or so, parked, and then John and I got out and started to dig snow alongside the youngish woman.  We didn’t say much.  After a few minutes I said, “I think that will do.”
The woman thanked us and we went on our way to a warmer than expected day.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, November 12, 2012


So far, since being on my own and forced to bake for myself, I have been operating on the theory that everything should cook at 350 degrees.  Apparently, baking time is also of some importance.
Still working on that.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Snow in the Grass

My house and snow in the grass just before sunset.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Strange Science

Sometimes, I like science and what I term as “sciency” stuff because the scientific community often reverts to whimsy in what are otherwise indigestible fields of study.  In quantum physics, for instance, one of the sub-atomic particles has been termed a quark.  Furthermore, quarks might be found in six different flavors.  The flavors of quarks are: up, down, charm, strange, top, and bottom.
I sometimes try to imagine quark discussions between scientists in the particle collider lab.  For the purpose of my illustration “Hank” will be a sciency name.
Scientist #1:  “Hank, what is up with that down particle in the collider?”
Hank:  “Dunno… I found a strange strange beside my up, too.”
This is the sort of material that makes me sit alone with my forty pounds of housecat, giggling uncontrollably.
Another favorite example of scientific quirkiness involves the discovery of a once sea-going shellfish fossil.  The fossil in question is a crustacean dating back some 425 million years.  The specimen happens to be the oldest fossil ever discovered with a penis still intact.  The British paleontologist who discovered the critter named it Colymbosathon ecplecticos.  The name is Greek for “astounding swimmer with a large penis.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Gesture Drawing

A Gesture Drawing  
Part I
Somehow your arm has become a charcoal flourish,
your hair now only scribbles,
and your face a collection of smudges.
You are without distinction or detail, a gesture drawing.
You try to recall.
Did you sing love songs?
Did you ever keep goldfish in a clear bowl?
What color were your mother’s eyes?

Part II
Some people suffer.   Some fade.
The suffering always in distinct details:
Sharp slaps to the face, a family that walked away,
a new disease that spends pain quick as a dime.
An old man once faded from your neighborhood.
He gradually stopped coming out to sit in his sunshine portico.
His newspapers collected there.
A young family moved in.

Part III
Thirteen squares of the same size
but of differing shades of grey, if placed properly,
are enough to give you recognition to the face of Abraham Lincoln.
Twelve will not do.
One square, one detail tips the balance.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 8, 2012


Needles don’t bother me.  The fact that doctors stick them into me is what bothers me.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Five Minutes

The city of Helena, Montana is virtually jammed into the Rocky Mountains.  Old mining camp neighborhoods and new luxury homes have been pasted like postage stamps onto the mountains foothills and mountains.  In much of what we call the “South Hills,” the city stops quite abruptly and the wilds begin outright.
My friend Jeff lives in the South Hills only five minutes (literally) from downtown Helena.  I have been helping him with some wiring on his house recently.  Just to give you an idea of how rapidly the landscape swings to the wilds, I have posted a picture I took little more than a stones-throw from Jeff’s house.
Five minutes from downtown Helena.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sunset, November 5, 2012

I tried to ignore the sunset yesterday evening as I sat in my house watching the talking heads on television dicing-up these United States and the electoral votes as we head into what will surely be a close presidential election.  Almost every time someone attempted to explain why Obama would sweep this region or Romney would surge in that zip code I thought about a line from a Richard Hugo poem: 
“My kind of man could never be president, only a target for the common cold…”
Perhaps not exact, but something near that.
I tried to ignore the sunset, but the colors kept spilling into my house from outside and the talking heads all started to merge together into one big mumbling blob in my mind.   I thought to myself: Mitch, your camera is sitting ten feet away from you.  When I looked over to my camera, sitting there on my dining room table, I saw that the sunset colors were even beginning to stain the black camera body a little red.
Yep.  I grow weak when you start to throw colors at me.
Here is my picture.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Few Impractical Facts

·         The word “flicker” is spelled without using the letter “m.”
·         A wrapper can wrap a rapper just as easily as a rapper can rap a wrapper.
·         Bowling balls emerge from the bowling ball factory without holes.
·         The word “hydroponic” spelled backwards becomes “cinopordhy,” and is without meaning.
·         The American Robin cannot fly backward except for the first two seconds immediately following when they crash into a window.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Three Thoughts in Two Minutes

·         Six days beyond Superstorm Sandy, people—including my daughter—are finally returning to their New York City apartments with power and some evidence of sanity restored.  On Staten Island, however, many people don’t have places left to return to.  They have only a floor of sticks and mud and a house of clouds and wind.

·         One summer, back in my preteens, I dove into Canyon Ferry Reservoir while wearing my prescription glasses.  My older, almost-cousin, dove in a bit later, wearing goggles, and frogged down to the bottom of the lake to retrieve them.  We were both pretty happy about that.  Three years later he dove into shallow water in the same lake and broke his neck.  He ended up an angry and frail quadriplegic from that dive.  I have not been swimming in that lake since.
·         The fact that I observed a dozen Canada geese flying northward over my house does not mean that they are not flying south for winter.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Though my wife has been gone from me for something near a year and a half, I find myself at one point or another, during the course of each day, thinking of her.  I think about her every single time I pump fuel into her car (because she always hounded me about twisting the gas-cap until it clicked several times).  Walking past the room that was once her craft space is often a trigger for thought.  Sometimes, out of nowhere, her smile appears in my mind.
I experience one or the other of two distinct emotions when I think of Uyen…I am either overcome with sorrow or I find that I am happy to recall a light or even mundane moment we shared.
Yesterday, as I gazed up at the sky-wide flow of clownishly over-inflated clouds my thoughts somehow turned to Uyen.  I thought about the day we worked together constructing the masonry piers that now serve as entry posts to my drive.  That day, as yesterday, was filled with afternoon warmth and exquisite clouds.   I swear, as I stood there watching, the clouds stopped moving entirely.  I mean, the whole sky just stopped moving!  And they remained stock still until I finally smiled and let Uyen go one more time.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, November 2, 2012

Yacht Club

An interesting fact: The Hilo Yacht Club, an oceanfront property located on the rainy side of Hawaii’s big island, has been in existence since 1913.  A more interesting fact: The Hilo Yacht Club does not now and has not ever entertained a single yacht on premises, though it does harbor a really nice bar and great dining.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sunrise, October 31, 2012

Only on the rarest of occasions will you find me going someplace without my camera.  I have it in my automobile when I go to work, when I drive across the valley to see friends, and even when I go to town for grocery shopping. 
My theory regarding the constant habit (sometimes annoyance) of carrying my camera is that you never know when an image or moment worth capturing will present itself to you.  I am always admonishing other people for not having their camera when I catch them without theirs.  Only a few days ago a friend called me and said, “You are right…I should have had my camera,” and then went on to tell me about a missed opportunity for photographing fall colors against a spectacular blue sky.
I am posting two of the reasons I take my camera to work.  I stopped along my way to Helena yesterday to capture this sunrise over Hauser Lake.  I purposefully flashed the portrait-style photograph to highlight the grass.
--Mitchell Hegman