Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Friday, May 31, 2013

My Shadow

A glass held in sunlight.  Brightness and contrast altered.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Observations at Fifty-Seven

Though I admire pretty, I crave honest.
The gas tanks in both of my automobiles are full. 
I understand why, when I was only five, an old woman gave me her beloved collection of stones and gems, a collection that took her sixty years to gather. 
I am no longer afraid of the dark.
I am just beginning to understand electricity.
I have grown fond of one particular green ceramic coffee cup (and use it each morning).
I actually check to assure that my socks match as I dress in the morning.
If I could go back in time, I would un-vote (my own word?) for Ross Perot.
Thomas Jefferson and Nicola Tesla are my heroes.
I am no longer appalled by the thought of using my own money to purchase a throw rug.
The thought of always living alone is the most frightening thing.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 29, 2013


I am guessing that my constant urge to convert paycheck amounts into the number of bottles of 18-year-old Scotch versus bottles of 12-year-old Scotch a person can purchase is—as my friend says—ungood.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bones Gathered Together, Bones Carried, and Bones Reassembled Again

If your horse should suddenly fall apart one day, I am likely not the first person you should call to help you reassemble the parts into a horse again.  First of all, I might try to make a dog because I like dogs better than horses.  Secondly, my knowledge of anatomy is limited.  I know the end that eats and I know the end that poops.   That is about the extent of my knowledge.
I read that a horse has 205 bones.   A dog has 319 bones.  A human is comprised of 206 bones.  We (humans) are actually born with far more than 206 bones, but some of them fuse together as we grow.  In the long run we end up with 206.
We (humans) also all start out in the womb sexed as a female, but that is another story.
A deer has a pile of bones.  That is…I found a pile of them yesterday while on a long walk near my house.
Honestly, a pile. 
Seemed to me that most everything was there too.  Big bones.  Little bones.  Bones that looked like alien spacecraft.  Bones that might work on a machine used for extruding plastic blobs into cups.  Bones extruded from a plastics machine.  All in one spot.  A bit jumbled.
With less thought than might actually be required for such a thing, I removed my shirt, fashioned a kind of bag from it, gingerly gathered most of the bones, and then stuffed the bones inside the make-shift bag.  I carried the bones for about a quarter of a mile inside my shirt.  I had in mind the thought that I might reassemble them into a more deerlike thing in a more appealing spot.
I did not mean for this to be an exercise macabre.  I am not sure what I meant.  Sometimes I am all instinct (maybe nonsense).
My apologies to the deer.
I have posted my efforts at reconstruction a quarter-mile from my initial gathering.     

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 27, 2013

Songs of Life

Music leaks from the heavens as stars swish through the night.  To hear the stars, to decipher the song, you must first capture the proper numbers in your hands and then cup the numbers against your ears.
By day, the wind-struck trees hum and the walls of the stone-canyons whistle softly.  And there is a song where eagles fragment the clouds as they pass through, where insects flex clear wings against window panes, where white stones fall into the green sea, where a single blade of awnless bromegrass sways against the first full moon of summer.
There is music where the morning sun warms your neck and forearm—that, the song you feel.
That, the place where we begin, my dear.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Bee in the Balsamroot

Here is a photograph from a trip to my cabin yesterday.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 25, 2013


We would be fortunate, indeed, if our politicians were merely childish.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Difference

The difference between unfortunate circumstances and cruel intentions is usually rooted in the profit margin.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, May 23, 2013


We sing pretty and then dance off the edge of a cliff.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Difference between Good and Evil

But what if my friend happens to be correct?  What if the difference between good and evil is one bra size?
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Before My Time

Today I am posting a photograph (an extreme close-up) of a stump I discovered in one of the gullies near my home a few days ago.  For whatever reason, I had never walked up this gully in my fifty-plus years of exploring the ranchlands. 
The gnarled appearance of the stump amazed me.  Some weird disease or genetic anomaly must have struck the tree.  But the tree grew to considerable size.  Two men would have been required to reach all the way around the base.  And the tree must have been of some use because the tree was felled many years ago—long before my time.
And while one half of the stump was wholly rotten, so much so you could poke a finger into the crumbling wood, the other half remained fairly sturdy.  Having been protected from the elements, the sturdy side displayed some striking patterns and mixes of color.  Though I attempted a lot of views, this extreme close-up pleased me most of all.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 20, 2013

Arc Fault: The Titan of Electrical Hazards

While the dangers of electric shock are widely understood—or at a minimum feared—the hazards presented by arcing faults are not fully grasped by those outside the electrical industry.  Arcing faults become exponentially bigger and more frightening as you approach the power provider supply lines and the sources of electricity.
Most of us like to think of the danger presented by electricity in terms of volts.  When someone suggests, for instance, that they are working on a 480-volt system, the inclination is to whistle as an expression of respect or wonderment.  But it is the amperage, the actual measure of current flow that creates the blast at the point of a circuit fault.
And that is the point…we are talking about an actual explosion here.
Fact is, you can be killed by an arc flash and never receive an electric shock at all.
How can that be?
Consider the following facts:
—The temperature at the point of an arcing electrical fault can reach 35,000°F, something near four times the temperature of the surface of the sun.
—Any copper involved at the points of arcing will vaporize and expand to 67,000 times the volume of solid copper.
—Shrapnel will be expelled in all directions at a rate of about 700 miles-per-hour.
—The initial sound shockwave is nearly the equivalent of a 12-guage shotgun blast.
All of this in a fraction of a fraction of a second.  And sometimes, the arcing event goes on and on.  I have posted a video of a substation melting-down to illustrate the awesome power released at an arcing fault.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Father’s Downfall

I got to thinking about my father.  My father took a baseball line-drive to his face while just a boy and required false teeth for the rest of his life.  He never swore in front of me when I was a kid—not even when I became an adult.  Later in life, he met women (yes, more than one) in smalltown bars and married them. 
And that was his downfall.
Not the women.
My father’s downfall was rooted in his need to have at least three or four last drinks at the end (and eventually at the beginning) of each day.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

Altered States

Leaves gathered together and backlighted.  Colors altered.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Lessons Learned

The lessons that my friend learned when he helped his grandfather hand-digging graves at a cemetery one summer were these:
First, nobody asks you what you are doing.
Secondly, burying people in the ground does not make you a gardener.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Negative Shadows

Today, I have posted a copy of a photogram I produced while attending a photography class at Montana State University.   Photograms are produced by placing objects on light sensitive materials and then exposing the objects and sensitive materials to a limited source of light.
In the case of this photogram, I held a 60 watt light bulb against a sheet of 8 x 10 black and white photographic paper and then exposed the paper to the light from a photographic enlarger in a darkroom.
Black and white art.
Well, a certain amount of chemical development was also required to bring forth an image on the paper.
At one time I had darkroom equipment and all the fixings to develop my own black and white film and produce my own images.  But today I am digital.  Though reluctant to give up my old SLR film camera and all the associated equipment, the ease of digital photography and the scarcity of film stock pushed me to the electronic side.  By 2009 even Kodak stopped selling 35mm color film.
I am happily here today, but still retain a few of my negative shadows.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Note to Martha (from yesterday)

This afternoon I stepped outside to take a break from working.  I stood out in the sun and the new green grass thinking of how your laugh sometimes feels like cool water pouring over me. Soon, two white butterflies began to waltz all around me.  Martha, there is nothing in this world that needs to be added to that to make it any better.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

John Glacier-Lily

The yellow glacier lily ranges from Alberta and British Columbia to Colorado and Utah in the Rocky Mountains.  Glacier lilies are the first of the prolific flowers to emerge along the meadow and forest floors at my cabin.  While admiring a patch of the flowers along the roadside yesterday, one in particular caught my attention.  I thought, “Hey…that looks like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever! 
I have posted pictures for your comparison.  You decide for yourself.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Day Rain Drove Us Together

A raucous rainstorm drove me and my wife under the half of the house I had finished sheathing only a few days earlier.  We stood there in the semi-dry watching a stiff rain drive down through the open trusses on the half of the house I had framed but not yet roofed.  The plywood decking on the floor there quickly puddled with water and floated sawdust into occasional islands.   A summertime chill brought my wife and me into an embrace as we watched the bruised sky and the rain.  The air filled with the scent of damp wood and exposed earth come wet.
“Will the rain hurt the floor?” my wife asked me.
“No,” I answered.  “The house will survive this.”
We had been married for almost six years that summer.  We spent that entire spring, summer and fall building our own house.  And inside the framing of the very wall we stood next to during that rainstorm, I tacked some photos, some paper money and some trinkets just before the drywall went up.
All of those artifacts are still there.  And the roof truss signed in carpenter’s pencil by me and my buddies as a birthday present for my wife is still standing firm where we set it place above the living room.  Only my wife is gone—gone on this very day two years ago.
How could we know then, as we embraced during that storm, that in that very spot where we huddled together against the chill—nineteen years later—I would hold her hand as she faded away?
--Mitchell Hegman

A photograph Uyen took of our house a few days before the rain in 1991.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Not Now, Not Ever

You might think that I would tire of driving by Lake Helena almost every single day on my trips to town.  You might think I would tire of taking pictures of the same subject over and over again.  But you know what...not now, not ever..

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, May 9, 2013

At the Middle and at the End

After working with my computer and developing training related to the National Electrical Code for the better part of seven hours here at my house, I decided to take a long walk along the various connecting roads and deer trails in the open range surrounding my home.  About a half-hour into my hike, I came upon what turned out to be the end of the trail for a deer.
I paused there at the scene of one more crime. 
I snapped a photograph with my Droid.
As I walked on a little more, the thought occurred to me that, in less than a fistful of days, I will reach the exact two-year mark since the passing of my sweet and ever-calm wife.  I reflected on how her stupid body would not even allow her to sit up in bed, thought she really wanted to.  I thought about those last days when I made her comatose with drops that I placed like precious jewels onto her tongue.   I remembered how I squeezed at her fingers as she expelled her very last breath and let go.   And then I thought about how I looked over to our daughter, standing there on the other side of the bed, and said, “She is gone.”
Two strangers came in the dark of night and took my wife away from me.
Somewhere on a trail not far from the end of the line for that deer, a great sorrow overwhelmed me.  I stopped walking and began sobbing outright there in full sunlight.  I cannot explain the depth of the sorrow I felt.   I can only say that the weight of it eventually dropped me to my knees.  I covered my face with my hands and wept, and wept, and wept until I could weep no more.

I just wish she had been able to go beautifully. 

I have plans to make new of all the old relics that crashed in my old life.  My sorrow for then does not diminish what I feel for others now.  I am still whole.  I have room to grow.  But sometimes, when I am pulled back, the sorrow is overwhelming.
After my episode of sadness, I pulled myself upright and started walking again through the blue grama and sage.  A meadowlark trilled from a nearby juniper snag.  And I had not gone all that far before a pretty stone caught my eye.  I picked up the stone and rubbed at it.
Lovely.  Smooth.  Rainbowed with colors.  Both ancient and new.
I thought about how, as third-grade boy, I invited my very first “girlfriend” over to my house so she could see my rock collection.  I recalled how my daughter’s husband won her over with the presentation of a pretty rock he found on their first hike together. 
I walked on, rubbing the stone in my right hand and enjoying the completeness of just that one small thing.
This stone is for the second half of my life.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

All the Boats Out to Sea

A photograph I took along the coast near Qui Nhon, Vietnam in April of 2009. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Unofficial Survey Results

Just for fun, I conducted a random survey among a few of my friends.  Here are the results:
None of my friends are afraid of clams, but two of them need to go to the bathroom.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sure Indications That You Are Overthinking

—You wake in the morning and immediately begin thinking, with considerable fondness, about the Dixie cup you have been using when brushing your teeth.
—You spill red wine on your carpet but leave the stain because you see the likeness of your eighth grade homeroom teacher in the splotch.
—An idea came to you for creating a sex toy that uses three sprockets, several chains, and two reciprocating arms.
—You have devised a thirteen-step plan to invest money.  The plan includes convincing a priest to lie to his dentist.
—Everyone scatters whenever you announce: “I have an idea!”
—You have started collecting ties for specific occasions.
—Whenever you miss a phone call and no message is left, you are convinced that it was an alien from outer space calling for advice about thirteen-step investing plans.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, May 5, 2013

In Darkness and In Light

Yesterday morning, I found the Helena (Prickly Pear) Valley in half-light as I drove from my house into Helena to have a cup of coffee with a friend.  Here is one of the images I captured before I dropped into the valley and crossed to the far side.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Preferred Methods

As a longtime electrician, I have come to have a pretty reasonable understanding of the men and women involved in our craft.  Electricians tend to be a bit shrill regarding issues such as job-site conditions, safety, rushed schedules and that sort of thing.  They also have an inordinate amount of opinions (usually expressed in the form of objections) about nearly everything.  Mostly, they do not like to see changes in the way things are done.  If, for example, you try to teach a standard issue electrician some new way of bending a conduit offset (other than the way he has done for the last umpteen years) the standard issue electrician will either laugh at you with derision or immediately run you away from the vicinity.
Quite often, the electricians of today might be the second or even third generation of their family involved in the craft.  I am such.  My father was an electrician.  Many methods of performing tasks pass down from generation to generation.  Apprenticeship—that is, learning directly from someone who has years of practical experience—also tends to “institutionalize” methods and ideas.
One change, however, has been eagerly adopted by electricians.  This change has to do with the best methods for resuscitating someone following electric shock of some other worksite calamity.  I will not trouble you with the preferred method of today.  But here is the method once prescribed in The American Electrician’s Handbook published by McGraw Hill in 1942:


1st. Lay the patient on his back, 2 Move the tongue back and forth in the mouth by seizing it with a handkerchief or the fingers, while working the arms to induce respiration. 3. Don’t pour anything down the patient’s throat. 4. Try to cause the patient to gasp by inserting the first and second fingers in the rectum, and pressing them suddenly and forcibly toward the back. 5. If possible, procure oxygen gas, and try to get it into the lungs during the efforts at artificial respiration…

CPR class, anyone?

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, May 3, 2013

Isaiah 11:6, Version 2.0

At present, the wolf shall dwell with lambs and leopards will lie down with young goats only if the lambs and goats don’t mind getting converted into a pile of gnawed bones first.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

I Do Not Eat Beautifully

I was told, just the other day, that I do not eat beautifully.  I bite my fork, which will eventually damage my teeth.  Biting my fork also sounds like a car crash in miniature.  As a bottom line on this, I make un-food-like noises as I eat.
I suppose that I am a workmanlike in my intake.
Retrieving foodstuff from my plate, I tend to go about it (as a friend refers to any unorganized activity) like a man killing snakes.  I swoop in from all angles.  I roll morsels around on my bowl willy-nilly.  I clash my utensils against the plate and indelicately scoop things up.  I drop bits of this and that to the table.  On occasion, salad might be flung far and wide.  Often, I wear splashes of my food for the rest of the day.
I do not eat beautifully, but I am reasonably normal otherwise.
--Mitchell Hegman