Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Communication Breakdown

I purchased a new smarter-than-me phone yesterday. 
My new phone is a twice-as-smarter-than-me-phone. 
The widgets in the phone sweep about in mysterious ways.  Some features that stayed put on my old phone run and jump off the cliff when I try to access them.  I failed to recognize my own ringtone the first time someone called.  When I tried to answer a second incoming call I floundered about until the call dropped into voicemail.  I won't bother you with all the sordid details on how I finally succeeded in syncing my email accounts.
Today, I am planning on a raid on the apps.
I would like to apologize ahead of time to everyone on my contact list.   We might be in for a rough stretch of communication until I get things sorted out.  If I invite you to play a weird game on Facebook today it will be purely accidental.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, May 30, 2014

Primrose and Bitterroot

Today, I am sharing a couple of photographs I took while walking yesterday morning.  The white primrose (we call them a gumbo lily around here) sport a blossom that when fully open is often as large as the palm of your hand.  The gumbo lily opens before sunrise, remains open through midday and then closes and shrinks away into a pink knot before the sun sets.  The flowers last for but one single day.  The bitterroot is our ever brilliant state flower.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Poetry 101

If you have ever successfully carried twelve blacksmithing anvils in a foam egg carton you know the difficulty of writing a decent poem, a poem that matters.  The words are that difficult to carry and to fit.
…In memory of Maya Angelou
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Deer-Proof Plants

Over these last twenty-some years of country living I have tried all manner of “deer-resistant” and “deer-proof” plants.  Mule deer are browsers by nature.  They eat forbs and the leaves of woody plants but will munch on grass if nothing else strikes their attention.   Over the years I have been informed by all manner of people that mule deer do not like fuzzy-leaved plants, strongly aromatic plants such as lavender or ___________________ (please feel free to fill in the blank with some kind of plant you were told deer did not like).
Eventually, the deer chomped at everything I tried.  One day I chanced to meet a wildlife biologist and I mentioned to her my dilemma about mule deer.  She laughed.  “Most mule deer abide by the rules of what they are supposed to like and what they are supposed to dislike, but all of them do not receive the memo with the lists on them.   Some mule deer will eat all kinds of stuff they are not supposed to like.  They may even develop a taste for plants they are not supposed to like.”
Here is a picture I took of what was a deer-proof marigold flower near my back deck only yesterday.

Only recently did I find a plant that completely resists deer.  The plant?  Any plant enclosed in a big-assed fence.
That’s it.
Big fence.
Today, I am also posting one photograph of 20 pounds of cat watching as a mule deer considers viciously attacking my yard, another photograph of a deer staring at my jade plant (through the bay window) considering a raid inside my home and one of a deer eating at my linden tree.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Apparently there is actually a valid reason—aside from watching your favorite Hollywood heartthrob undress for the camera—for goosebumps to appear on your skin.  Fortunately, for those of us just weird enough to wonder about such things, somebody had the great foresight to spend some money and effort in the study of goosebumps.
Are you imagining a Goosebumpologist spraying down scantily clad volunteers with spray bottles of water and exposing them to a rush of cold air?
We have bumps!
Perhaps not.
According to an article in Scientific American written by George A. Bubenik, goosebumps are a physiological occurrence inherited from our animal ancestors.  The bumps are typically associated with a rush of chill air and are created by the contraction of miniscule muscles attached to each hair.  The contraction of the muscles forces the attached hairs to stand upright.
According to Mr. Bubenik, in animals with thick coats this standing hair is a good thing because the standing hair increases the layer of air that serves as insulation.   We humans, on the other hand, don’t really get much of value from the action of goosebumps…though we did end up with the nice scientific study I am quoting.
Cats use the same muscles to raise their hair when they feel threatened.  This makes them appear bigger and frankly scares the crap out of me.  And, just so you know, my forty pounds of cat appear bigger because they are verging on obese.
Circling back to us and our naked actor friends—we are also able to achieve goosebumps with emotional triggers.  Maybe you got goosebumps when you accepted your Nobel Peace Prize for the study to determine which direction of spinning makes lab rats dizzier, or the last time you heard the national anthem.   Profound emotions can obviously overwhelm our senses.  At the bottom of the muscle reaction that creates goosebumps we find our old friend adrenaline.  Strong emotions send a cascade of adrenaline throughout or body and triggers the muscles attached to our hairs.  Ultimately, the reason we get goosebumps is just because we can.
The more you know…
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 26, 2014

Questions to Ask the Next Someone

What color would you not paint your house?
Do you gaze up at the stars more than three times a week?
How often do you feel a parent should kiss their child?
When you are lonely, do you play goatskin drums or overturn rainsticks just to hear noise?
Have you ever considered planting your garden while not wearing a stitch of clothing?
When you realize that you have said something unkind to a dear friend, what is the next thing you might say?
Which do you prefer: eagles or doves?
If you did plant your garden while nude, what seeds would plant?
Do you laugh at yourself more than twice a week?
How many “last love songs” have you heard?
What is the one word you always tend to whisper?
What single word or name gives you goosebumps?
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Coworker X

What I liked the most about working with X was that he never got excited about anything.  What I liked the least about working with X was that he never got excited about anything.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Another Drive-By Shooting

Many people consider a drive-by shooting from a highway in Vietnam one of my best photographs.
Allow me to explain.
A drive by shooting takes place when you hang your camera outside the window of a moving vehicle and take a snapshot.  The photograph in Vietnam is of a bicycle leaning against a door.  I saw the picture coming at me and had to time everything just right to capture the image as we sped past.
Yesterday, I left my house as a bit before 5:00 in the morning so I could drive to Missoula to teach a continuing education class.  The sun crested the mountains just as I reached the very top of the Continental Divide.  As I dropped down the other side, the clouds began to glow with muted tints and the colors emerged full from the surrounding landscape.
Pretty, yes.
Just for fun, I took a couple of drive-by shootings as I drove through the river and mountain countryside.  I am posting one that caught first full light on the Flint Creek Range.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, May 23, 2014


Sometimes a happy song!
--Mitchell Hegman
Please click on the following link if the video here fails to launch:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Another Twisted Adage

History, when not busy repeating itself, is typically giving most of us scornful glances.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Trampled into Brilliance

Try to imagine the benefits of having someone beat you so severely you end up with traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Having difficulty imagining the benefits?
Bear with me on that.
The human brain is equal parts mysterious and miraculous.  We still don’t fully understand how everything works.  Sure, we know that the average human brain is roughly the size of two fists held together and weighs about three pounds.  We know that the brain has distinct compartments called lobes.  We understand that the brain functions by means of electrical impulses and the splashing about of chemicals in soft places.  But how do mathematical numbers actually knit together inside us?  How does anyone recall, electrically, how to tie their own shoes?  How does our brain safety store memories from thirty years previous?
A bit over ten years ago, a fellow named Jason Padgett was jumped and severely beaten when he exited a nightclub in Tacoma, Washington.  Doctors treated Jason for his injuries and sent him on his way.  Back then, Jason was a regular guy, mind you, maybe even a bit on the lackadaisical and unremarkable side.  But a curious thing occurred as Jason recovered: he became a world-class genius as result of his brain trauma.  Impossibly complex math and physics problems began to display and solve themselves deep inside his brain.  He saw patterns and geometric shapes where none existed previously.  When he picked up a pencil, Jason discovered a remarkable ability to skillfully sketch the patterns and more.
The beating turned Jason Padgett into what is commonly termed a savant.  His math skills are unparalleled.  The trauma also gifted Jason with synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon in which the brain associates more than one cognitive pathway to certain inputs.  Synesthetes, such as Jason, may associate specific colors or perhaps geometric shapes with numbers.  They may perceive the calendar or linear historical events as three-dimensional.  They are blessed with added ways in which to perceive events.
They are gifted.
Researchers suspect that Jason—perhaps all of us—are naturally equipped with super-brain capabilities, but the normal human wiring schematic by-passes a few important connections.  Jason merely took a lucky beating that rattled something into place.  Researchers hope that that the extraordinary story of Jason Padgett, and study of how his brain works, will lead to advances in our collective understanding of how we remember to take out the garbage one day and then invent a new musical instrument using discarded fishing line and copper cookware the next day.
Jason Padgett co-authored a book titled Struck by Genius: How a Brain Injury Made Me a Mathematical Marvel.  The book only recently hit the marketplace.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Part 1
More beautiful than blue calm is the thunderstorm dropping onto the green plain like a black bag filled with uncoiling springs.
More vital than the cobalt of night is the brilliant lightning that splits the darkness and momentarily ignites white into the bellies of clouds.
Perfectly sharp, the flung splinters of a white oak toppled by a hurricane wind.
Irrefutable and overwhelming, the stark space where an earthen avalanche wipes clean the forest and anchoring loam to reveal the underlying face of stone.
With purpose, the volcano spews ruby-red molten stone and fire into sea.
Part 2
Everlasting is the long sigh, the brown eyes held shut, the long and silent drive home under slowly turning stars.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 19, 2014

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mayday Tree

My Mayday tree is in full bloom right now.
That is a noteworthy event.
The powerfully sweet fragrance of the blossoms is enough to lift you straight off your feet.  If you walk near the tree, the steady hum and blurred swarm of hundreds—maybe thousands—of bees ping-ponging from branch to branch quickly makes your head swirl.
I spent about ten minutes standing under the tree yesterday afternoon, taking in the full sensory overload.  Nothing is more alive or more important than bees to flowering trees.  Here, the dance and the sex.  Here, the quick and the ephemeral.  Here, the soft and the everlasting.  Here, the ancient.  Here, first life.
The event so overwhelmed me, I thought, felt, smelled and heard nothing but bees and flowers for the whole time I stood there.
I am posting two pictures I snapped of the tree yesterday.  One photograph reveals how prolific the flowers are.  The other captured some of the bees enveloping the tree like a sort of living corona.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 17, 2014


I thought about some numbers this morning.  Not bank account numbers.  Not the incredibly high number that has become my age.
Random stuff.
The mathematical concept of zero, as example, did not find a firm foothold in European mathematics until the twelfth century.  I cannot even begin to imagine working math without a zero.  Without zeros, since I mentioned it previously, my bank account would have a balance of $142.
That’s not very good.
One cool thing is a “jiffy.”   A jiffy is an honest-to-goodness number.  In electronics, a jiffy is 1/60th of a second, the time between cycles in alternating current.  In some computer applications, a jiffy is 1/100th of a second.
And so I sat here imagining numbers and started thinking about the number 25 for no specified reason.
I enjoy the way “twenty-five” sounds when you say it.  If you slow it down and soften your voice, twenty-five is decidedly sexy.
I think for this entire day I will twenty-five, twenty-five, twenty-five, twenty-five, twenty-five.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, May 16, 2014

Cat versus Blog Entry

I sat down on my sofa with every intention to write my blog entry for this morning, but before I could drag my computer onto my lap to write, 20 pounds of housecat rushed in for a bit of affection.  “To hell with it,” I thought, “that’s where I am headed today.”
This entry is the result of today’s affection.
You’re welcome.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Day My Cat Attended College

I had a dream that, Carmel, one of my cats and I attended college together.  Carmel enjoyed wandering around the heavily wooded campus (where he garnered much attention), but did not take well to the lectures.
While sitting in a large lecture hall and listening to a male professor with a particularly deep voice explaining “bubbles” in the economic sense, my cat finally opted out of the whole college scene and began screaming and clawing at the seat he was sitting in.  Naturally, I swept the cat from the seat and fled the lecture hall.  As soon as we exited the hall I fell into a dream about Afghani women in pale blue burkas chasing white lambs through a white-walled city.  Carmel became a black lamb in my arms.  The lamb kicked me awake.
Sometimes, waking is a major letdown.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Most people don’t appreciate honesty because honesty often has a criminal record and bad teeth.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


I have seen time and again on building sites when a ripped-shirt-wearing, sun-darkened construction-type is talking with several clean-cut men in suits and the men in suits are doing all of the listening because the construction-type is regarded as the smartest man in the group.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 12, 2014

Springtime Finds the Missouri River

After teaching a continuing education class in Great Falls on Saturday I drove back home alongside the Missouri River where it first emerges from the mountains.  Today, I am posting a couple of photographs from the drive.  The bull snake pictured is about five feet in length.  Another larger snake that was sunning beside him slithered into the rocks before I got a chance to snap a photograph.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Morphine, Part 2

Was me with that dark bottle.
I administered the first drop—that one clear as new ice.  The first drop melted into my wife’s tongue and made her, I must imagine, light as a dandelion parasol.  She quieted in her bed and then she floated away on the inside.
The second drop spread like honey on her tongue and she stopped calling for me.
The third drop was heavy as an anvil and my wife dropped away like a black stone in a pearl sea.
Deeper and deeper she descended to the inside, on through the last desperate day and into that last night.
Was me clutching that fucking bottle the whole time, watching.
--Mitchell Hegman     

Friday, May 9, 2014

Nap Time

Bring an open mind and a sense of humor to this one!
If the video posted fails to launch, please click on the following link:
--Mitchell Hegman


Thursday, May 8, 2014

Montana: The Best State

A Gallup poll completed in December of 2013 asked residents of all 50 states to express their views about the states in which they live.  The polling included interviews with at least 600 residents in every state.   The poll sought to ask residents how they view their states in terms of "the best possible state to live in," "one of the best possible states to live in," "as good a state as any to live in," or "the worst possible state to live in."  The ratings were tied to a variety of questions related to trust in state government, well-being, stress levels and that sort of thing.
As it turns out, Montana is the best state.
Alaska statistically tied with Montana in a favorable rating.  In the poll, 77% of the residents of these two states thought the state “the best or “one of the best” states in which to live.
As a resident of Montana, I am not surprised.
I love living here.  Yesterday, as example, I drove through the Rocky Mountains between to cities and saw winding rivers, herds of wild elk roving the mountainsides, blue skies and scudding clouds.  I talked with some very thoughtful people, including my friend, Dawg, who might have become a comedian if working as an electrician had not panned out for him.  At the end of the day I came back home to my pretty country place in this world.  Though (nominally) a working day, I enjoyed myself.
Interestingly, Rhode Island came in at the bottom of the poll.  Only 18% of the residents of Rhode Island consider their state as the best or one of the best states in which to live.  I have never been to Rhode Island.  I know it very small—about the size of a fart let by Texas.  Actually, Rhode Island measures somewhere near 48 miles in longitude by 37 miles in latitude, something that might qualify as “a ranch” here in Montana.  I also know a guy from Rhode Island.  He makes his living as a film critic and once came to Montana to shoot firearms at some targets we put out for him.  We call him “the Rhodent.”   He is not a particularly accurate marksman.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Name That Star

At night, stars climb the mountains to our east and then jump into the sky from the peaks.  From our home in the valley we name each star as it leaps.  There is one star that keeps launching directly into the pine trees behind my house.  Each night the same star becomes hopelessly entangled in the pine spurs.  That one I have named Dumbass.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Knowledge

You cannot stop the sun from shining by shutting your eyes.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Beautiful Story

Jeff Bridges (the actor) has been married to his wife, Susan since 1977.  A quick tally will yield you an answer of 37 years of marriage this year—in June if you wish to be exact.  Such a long term union is an extreme rarity for a Hollywood actor, something akin to a “snow day” in Las Vegas.
Jeff met his wife to be, Susan Geston, in 1974 while filming Rancho Deluxe in Montana’s Paradise Valley.  Susan was working as a waitress where Jeff was staying.  Following are Jeff’s own words from a story he wrote in 2006 for Reader’s Digest:
Susan, who was from Fargo, North Dakota, the daughter of a professional couple (an architect and a university professor), was waitressing at the time. She was doing whatever needed to be done at the ranch, and I noticed her right away. Not only was she beautiful, she had a broken nose and two black eyes. I had this fantasy that she’d been beaten up by a boyfriend and that I was going to save her. Actually she had been in a car accident a few days earlier. I did what lots of guys do when they see a girl but don’t want her to see them: I held up a magazine, looked over the edge, and then ducked back behind it when she walked by. It took me all day to finally get up the nerve to ask her out. And she said no.
Just then the makeup man on the film snapped a photo of the two of us. About 15 years ago the guy sent it to me, saying, “Here you are asking a local girl for a date.” He didn’t know that that “local girl” became my wife. I still carry that photo around today. It’s one of my most prized possessions.
After she turned me down, I ran into Sue again at the film’s wrap party, and I asked her to dance. We danced together, and then I asked her to go look at some property with me. We drove to Yellowstone Ranch, and as I was looking at the land and looking back at Sue, I started thinking that I was looking at my wife-to-be. She was so relaxed and easy to be with. She had a fun attitude, and I had a feeling of being at home —a soothing feeling of being where I belonged.
Jeff returned to California shortly after meeting Susan, but could not put her out of his mind.  To assure he did not lose Susan, Jeff and a friend rented a motor home in California and drove all the way back to Montana to “kidnap” her.  Jeff talked Susan into returning to California with him.  Jeff and Susan dated and lived together for most of the time between 1974 the day they wed in 1977.  Both Jeff and Susan make claim to falling a little more in love with one another as each year passes.  They produced three daughters and still spend a great deal of each year at a ranch they purchased here in Montana, the state they consider their home state.  Only a week ago I read an article about Jeff visiting a YMCA in Billings, Montana with Steve Bullock, our current Governor.  Jeff is the national spokesperson for the No Kid Hungry Campaign and often visits schools and other locations to promote the campaign, which seeks to end childhood hunger.
They are good citizens, Jeff Bridges and Susan Bridges.  And they have nurtured a kind of big love that is loud in its beauty.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Let the Sky Fall

Some Ten Years After from the year 1971.

If this video here does not launch, please click on the following link:
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A Pretty Woman Leads to Starvation

I have always been easily distracted.  I cannot count the times that I have started walking toward the kitchen from my living room only to end up outside the back door looking at pretty clouds or some kind of bird.   The other day I started running the water for my evening shower and then wandered off to feed the cats, which led to making a phone call, which transformed into me grabbing a bite to eat, which led me to stare out the bay window and absently pinch at the leaves of my begonia plant.  When I eventually wandered back toward the shower, I heard the water running and only then recalled getting the water started about fifteen minutes earlier.
Natural resources wasted by human stupidity.
Last Sunday I went grocery shopping for the week.  Halfway through my list (a list formed and kept in my head, thank you) I chanced to see a striking woman of about my age.  The woman had long black hair and dark skin and was wearing a deep red top.  I nearly crashed into a display of flowers when I first saw her.
The sunrise kind of pretty.  Snow-capped mountain pretty.
I thought about the woman quite a bit as I continued shopping.  I think I am a little lonely.  My 40 pounds of cat are not exactly a fully functioning roommate.
As luck would have it, I continued to bump into the woman aisle after aisle and I continued thinking about her.
Only when I arrived home did I realize that the woman had so distracted me I failed to purchase half of what I intended to buy for the week.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wind Powered Machines Walking the Earth

I suspect that most people have seen this before, but I never tire of such works of imagination and mechanical wizardry.
--Mitchell Hegman
If the video posted here fails to launch please click on the following link:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

James Deen

Oddly enough, James Deen makes a handsome living by flinging his penis around in front of the camera.  He is a male porn star.  But James Deen represents something never before seen in the porn industry—he is boyish, likable, and is attracting female fans that range from suburban high school girls exiting their teens to middle-aged professionals with feminist leanings.
Normal women are hopelessly drawn to James Deen.  He is the first male actor to consistently outshine all the stunningly augmented women that typically dominate the adult entertainment industry.
James Deen (obviously a screen name) looks nothing like your normal male adult movie actor.  He is not the standard a hulking man with no neck.  He is, depending on the source, a mere 5’-7” to 5’-8” tall and weighs only 150 pounds.  He looks like a man you would entrust your life savings to and he was bright enough to exit high school early.  In interviews he is ever charming, sometimes apologetic, calm and delightfully pornographic when necessary.  His blog receives something near 4000 thousand hits daily from adoring fans.
Since we are talking about a male porn star we must note that Deen sports a 9-inch penis.  Not one of those proverbial baby arms that make an already overly-amped macho man appear like an alien freak, but pretty big.   James Deen is also very busy.  He happily films porno scenes virtually every day of the year.
I have never seen a James Deen film, but his name and face has been populating all sorts of places where porn stars are seldom found.  Strangely enough, I am neither offended nor intimidated (in the standard male-sense) by Mr. Deen.
He seems a nice enough man.
Getty Images
--Mitchell Hegman