Saturday, August 30, 2014
Twenty-three years ago, after trucks from a local lumberyard delivered loads of framing materials to the site where I constructed my house, I wrote in my journal (after taking inventory): “Nothing is filled with more possibility than a bag of shiny new nails.”
Yesterday, the photovoltaic modules and racking for my solar PV system arrived. They are the newest manifestation of a bag of nails in both my professional and personal life.
I am posting a photo of the modules taken with my twice-as-smarter-than-me phone. I am also posting a drawing of the pole mount system I designed and hope to construct with a little help from my friends. The idea behind the design is to make the array look somewhat treeish or flowerish.
Friday, August 29, 2014
Thursday, August 28, 2014
I have a thing for carrots. No…not the kind of thing that makes criminals out of otherwise normal folks or lands movie stars on the cover of tabloids. I mean, I really like to eat carrots. They are an equivalent to taffy or maybe even a well-aged single malt Scotch to me.
My friend, Kevin, has been tending a garden on his father’s property near the lake just a bit below my place. I asked him to plant an extra row of carrots for me when he planted this spring. He did so because he knew I was not kidding. Besides, he owes me as a result of constantly having parties at my lakefront without inviting me to attend.
Anyhow, Kevin showed up at my door late the evening before last with a couple of carrots for me. The carrots were remarkably carroty. Kevin held them up (see the picture I captured with my twice-as-smarter-than-me phone) and said: “I will trade you these for the use of your hot tub."
“Sure,” I answered as I grabbed the carrots. I looked at the carrots and considered for a moment. “But you are also going to have a party at my place this weekend, aren’t you?”
“The kids are going to come out and camp.”
“At my place?”
“I knew it. Okay, I’ll get the hot tub ready. Mind if attend the party?”
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
I woke early again today—somewhere close to 4:30 in the morning. Knowing I would not be able to sleep again, I rolled from my bed and followed 20 pounds of cat to the back door so I could let it out into the dark expanse surrounding my home.
Wow! The stars, man.
I stepped outside and stood on the deck.
All around me, the stars were swept against the dome of night and dancing in place. Most of them with names that have evaded me, yet they are familiar to sight. Just look at them, man—swinging in the forever all around us.
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Monday, August 25, 2014
I have heard at many points during my life (usually in a work environment when someone is about to get mowed-down, figuratively speaking) the saying “we are not here to make friends.”
I am not good at mowing people down. I am generally not very comfortable with conflict. Most often, I will try diplomacy first, second, and third. Even in matters of business, I tend to think about friendships before money.
Years ago, when I became involved in a business start-up, my partner once said to me as we exited from an uncommonly pleasant meeting at the home of a potential customer: “Your problem is that you always become friends with our customers.”
Just a few days back, someone asked me what I thought of X, a person we know in common.
After only a little consideration I said: “X can be difficult on occasion, but I like X.”
The person asking my opinion regarded me momentarily and then remarked: “Yeah, but you like everyone, Mitch.”
I suppose my soft approach to business and conflict is sometimes a form of weakness. Just the same, if I am not here to make friends…I guess I am not really sure why I am here.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
Late last night, following a full day of rain and solitary living, the stillness inside my house was so complete, I walked from room to room just to see if I might find a noise or even vibration anyplace.
One bed perfectly made. My bed a bit rumpled. Not so much as a dripping faucet in either bathroom. The lights neither ticking nor buzzing. No wind pressing against the house. The refrigerator without a hum. The floors without a squeak and my footfalls silent. I found utter calm in every corner.
Eventually, I turned off all of the lights and slipped into my bed. Not until then did I realize, with a tinge of fear, that the stillness was also within me.
Saturday, August 23, 2014
I am presently operating under a Scotch Alert. By my estimates, I have about four days before I reach a full-on Scotch Emergency.
Please, allow me to go back and start from the beginning so I can explain.
Acquiring a “taste” for Scotch is something akin to developing an addiction to heroin. Heroin abusers often display telltale indicators of their drug use. These indicators include: disorientation, a fatigued appearance, slowed reaction time, and a dry mouth. As the drug use deepens, heroin addicts may become withdrawn, lose interest in all future planning, show complete indifference to physical appearance, and download the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini onto all personal computers and music storage devices.
I know what you are thinking: “Geez, Mitch, you are a heroin addict!”
I am not. I just happen to think the song is cute.
My addiction is for Scotch. About three years ago, I had my first sip of a well-aged single malt Scotch and instantly fell into the demon claws of a Scotch habit. I don’t get drunk, thank you, but I like to sip one small glass of Scotch in the evening.
The telltale signs of a Scotch drinker include: willingness to spend over one-hundred dollars for a bottle of single malt, regular use of the phrase “nice peaty aftertaste,” and snobbish behavior in the presence of people drinking lite beer. If you notice someone running (not walking) into the liquor outlet, that is a Scotch drinker needing a new bottle.
Perhaps the most notable difference between a Scotch drinker and a heroin user is in their approach to maintaining a supply of their favored medicine. Heroin addicts tend to bound from high to high. They approach supply of their drug in a rather ad hoc fashion; not worrying until they actually run out of the drug. Scotch drinkers, contrarily, readily reveal signs of stress and sometimes panic at the mere thought of running low.
I have three distinct stages to explain my own reaction to a dwindling supply of Scotch.
Scotch Alert: Less than a half-bottle remaining. Notes are written to remind me to purchase a bottle on my next trip to town.
Scotch Warning: Maybe only two glasses of Scotch remaining. I might need to make trip to town for the express reason of running into the liquor store. I may call my brother-in-law to see if he has Scotch in the event I cannot re-supply due to liquor store closure.
Scotch Emergency: Holy hell! I am out of Scotch! How did this happen?
Friday, August 22, 2014
Thursday, August 21, 2014
I was sitting here thinking about how I once became brooding and upset when someone fell asleep as I took them on one of my favorite scenic drives. This occurred many years ago. Surprisingly, I think about this “incident” fairly often—it has become something like a wispy thought-ghost that haunts me.
I now ask myself: Did I not enjoy the drive? Is sleeping nefarious? Was the sleeping of my fellow passenger a personal affront to me? Was the landscape around us at all hurt by this? What, really, was I expecting? How did I make a pleasurable drive all about me?
The incident is a good reminder of how shallow I can be.
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
I have noticed that when I am debating with another person about an idea or task for which I am certain I have the most reasoned approach, I am usually very measured in explaining my assessment and slow to reach any level of animosity. But on those occasions when I have reservations or doubts about my given position, I fluster easily and am quick to my temper.
Why that difference, I wonder?
Tuesday, August 19, 2014
I noticed, only recently, that for the entire twenty-three years I have lived out here in the country, I have always walked in the same counter-clockwise direction when I loop around the roads near my home. The other evening, upon starting my walk, I thought I would strike out in the opposite direction.
I left my house with every intention of walking clockwise through the sage and juniper hills, but when I arrived at the deciding intersection, I realized that the familiarity of direction was the point of my walk.--Mitchell Hegman
Monday, August 18, 2014
Sunday, August 17, 2014
My friend, Mark, was born into the wrong century. By all accounts, he should have been born into the era of mountain men and horseback explorations of the American West. Mark has a keen interest in many crafts and “technologies” from that era. Among his most treasured belongings are two canvas tepees. The tepees are constructed in the style of the Sioux Nation.
This is the weekend our 40th high school class reunion: Helena High, graduating class of 1974. As part of the celebration, a bunch of us—we referred to ourselves as “the group” back in high school—gathered at Mark’s place overlooking the valley and fully constructed his biggest tepee for our own private gathering.
The construction of a tepee is somewhat technical, beginning with hoisting the three tripod poles and then placing the other poles just so to fashion a circular base. Among the considerations, is assuring that the cover is not too far off the ground at the bottom and that the front can be easily laced together. Once the cover fits just so, the front is laced together with willow sticks and stakes are driven around the perimeter to anchor the tepee against all weather.
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Friday, August 15, 2014
The thought struck me that you cannot be 58 years old without having lived for 58 years. I am 58 and I have learned quite a lot in my many years of living. Here is a list of important lessons I have learned:
1. It is possible to stab yourself in the ass with a knife that is still inside the shrink-wrapped display package.
2. Motorcycles can fly for a short distance.
3. Motorcycles don’t necessarily like to fly for short distances.
4. I need more practice at walking through closed doors.
5. Alone is a state of being that must be properly managed at all times.
6. We need to be nicer to insects.
7. Spiders are not insects.
8. Snow has a scent that changes with temperature.
9. The number 10 follows this.
Thursday, August 14, 2014
I am thankful that the Moon is not made of cheese because that would make it a kind of food; and if the Moon was a kind of food, the Food and Drug Administration would have made someone stick a big nutrition facts label on it.--Mitchell Hegman
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
I woke this morning to rain-smell—summer rain after weeks of a tall sun crossing over me. The smell of summer rain is a bouquet that fills all spaces. Here, the scent of pine slow-dances with earth and stone. Here, the hint of cured brome, of sage, and juniper touching the sky.
In the darkness, I walked my damp country road out onto the small plain in front of my home. I could hear nighthawks calling off their sky-plunges, hoooozing, as they veered sideways or back up again. The moon hovered above, not able to fully disrobe from the clouds.
I walked through rain-smell and thought about a question someone asked me the other day as we stood surrounded by twenty-somethings at a wedding reception. “Would you like to go back into your younger years again…if you could do that?” I was asked.
This morning, I have my answer: “No. No, I have no desire to be young again, to start anew.” I wish to remain here near end of summer, a part of the after-rain bouquet.--Mitchell Hegman
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Robin Williams made quite a splash when he appeared on Mork & Mindy way back when. His character, Mork, was an alien sent to Earth from the planet Ork in a small egg-shaped spacecraft. Mork was supposed to observe human behavior and send back regular reports.
The character, Mork, was filled with crazy energy, confusion, quirky behaviors and, above all, kindness. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the show was the fact that Mork was not really an act. Robin Williams was unable to switch the act off when the cameras stopped rolling. Mork was Robin Williams. The producers and the fellow actors soon realized that Robin Williams was a force akin to a hurricane—they buttoned-down all their gear and hung on. No two takes of a scene ever turned out the same due to the constant improvisations of Williams. Often, the final scenes contained a brilliant bit of spontaneous behavior on the part of Robin Williams.
Robin went on to become one of the most famous actors and stand-up comedians of all time. He won an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his role in Good Will Hunting. He won Golden Globe Awards and Grammy Awards. He played unforgettable characters almost beyond count. Producers and directors often left some of the script blank so that Williams could fill it in to his choice.
Behind all that, entirely away from the stage, Robin Williams was a man often incapacitated by severe depression. He battled with substance abuse. He sometimes hid himself away for days on end. There can be little doubt that much of the genius we appreciated was the result of his constant struggle to mask or rise above the underlying melancholy.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Sunday, August 10, 2014
Saturday, August 9, 2014
Friday, August 8, 2014
Thursday, August 7, 2014
Fishy-looking critters can be sexy. I have, as example, been pretty attracted to a couple of mermaids, including Daryl Hannah when she filmed Splash. I also had a friend who slept with his pet goldfish. Before you freak out about the goldfish, you need to understand that my friend was only about five and he was merely showing boyish affection.
Sadly, the fish did not survive a night in bed.
I recently read a story in The Huffington Post about a rather sexed-up relationship between a human trainer and a dolphin that somewhat pushed the limits of sexual boundaries. The dolphin in question, a bottlenose named Peter, was involved in experiments during the 1960s aimed at teaching dolphins human speech. Peter did not learn English, as hoped, but he did learn to love Margaret Howe Lovatt, the woman who worked daily with him. As time went on, the dolphin became increasingly tactile and sensitive with Margaret Lovatt. Peter often caressed her legs. More to the point, according to Lovatt, “He was sexually coming of age and a bit naughty.”
When Lovatt first started working with Peter, she often took him to visit with female dolphins where he could engage in sexually-charged sessions with the females. As the work with Peter intensified, Margaret Lovatt felt that the trips to visit with female dolphins were taking up too much valuable time, so she began to “relieve his desires manually herself.”
Lovatt insists that she felt no sexual attraction to Peter, but everyone associated with the project recognized that the dolphin was madly in love with her.
The depth of Peter’s affection became clear when the trainer and the dolphin were separated. Peter was sent off to a new facility where he fell into a deep depression. Dolphins, unlike most mammals, are not automatic air-breathers. They must make conscious efforts to inhale and exhale. Peter’s depression so overwhelmed him, he sunk to the bottom of his pool and committed suicide by refusing to take another breath.
Wednesday, August 6, 2014
I am thankful that I am not that Chinese guy whom doctors decided needed to have a second nose grown on his forehead. For one thing, I am not that crazy about having a single nose right in the middle of my face and having a second nose with nostrils facing up strikes me as a bit risky.
PHOTO: ABC News
Tuesday, August 5, 2014
I am thankful that I have never been abducted by aliens from outer space who gather vital information by inserting probes into the various orifices of their abductees and who feed abductees nothing but mayonnaise and cantaloupe.
Monday, August 4, 2014
Yesterday, I attended a dinner with my sister and our cousins at a cabin my aunt and uncle constructed on Canyon Ferry Reservoir. The cabin was one of the first constructed along the east lakeshore following construction of Canyon Ferry Dam across the Missouri River in the 1950s.
My cousin, Buzz, deep-fried steaks and whole chickens on the end of a pitchfork, preparing a meal for about forty-five people. A horde of kids swam in a quiet bay off the main body of water while most of the adults sat in spots of shade around the cabin. Yellow jacket wasps orbited all open cans of soda and flurried around the steaks and chicken.
As is always my habit, I wandered the lakeshore and looked for anything interesting. I found some old weedy roots that had been exposed by the crashing waves. I liked the roots and sat there looking at them, trying to imagine why they had grown just so. I could hear the children splashing in the water and the adults chatting at the cabin and I wondered how our roots had grown just so.
Sunday, August 3, 2014
This is mine: the mountain place amid crosshatch timber where pine spurs dismantle the sunlight and then scatter the remaining fragments as precious jewels against the understory. Thimbleberry, queen’s cup, and fireweed grow on the fringe of the mountain place, but the ages have gathered huckleberries at the center of a steeply-sided dale. The green leaves of the berry bushes knit fine wishbones above the deadfall and the berries themselves display full on these, the warmest days of summer.
There is nothing that compares to a huckleberry. They are a singular thing, like the moon, but on a different scale—sometimes smaller, but sometimes bigger in my thinking. The color of the berries ranges from burgundy to ghost-blue and the taste of the best berries might vary from earthy-sugar-cube to dry-red-wine. The scent of huckleberries is powerful: sweet, but, at the same time, far too big and vital for sweet. As you take in the scent, you are reminded of first rain, of waterfalls and moss.
And there is something else. The huckleberry place is deep in the woods where the few sounds that penetrate are either hollowed or without edge. In the huckleberry place, I am capable of forgiving all transgressions against me. I can hold softly all crimes of passion. Dreaming is easy as I harvest the berries. Sometimes, all of the lost ones are with me again. Sometimes, I am alone and drifting through the forest. I am a color. I am a sound. I am a final element.
When the berries are ripe—when I am harvesting—I am ancient once more.
Saturday, August 2, 2014
Following I will list three “facts.” I have fabricated two of the facts. The “true” fact is something I found at HowStuffWorks.com. See if you can locate the actual fact here. The correct answer is immediately following.
1. Rust will attack the face of a hammer (due to the compression of the metal caused by striking other objects) at a rate that is as much as four-times slower that the claw.
2. An average person will lose over one-hundred pounds of skin, through shedding, by the time they reach the age of seventy.
3. Over the course of two summer months, one square-foot of lawn that is mowed weekly will produced enough energy (in growing) to boil thirteen eggs.
My cats are not the only ones with a shedding problem. Every minute of every day, we humans shed something between thirty-thousand and forty-thousand cells from the surface of our skin. If you were to closely examine the dust you pick up with your vacuum you would be surprised by how much of the “dust” is actually your own skin. By the end of each year each of us will shed something between one and two pounds of skin.
Friday, August 1, 2014
There is little doubt that a great majority of the songs recorded today are written and recorded with some idea of appealing to the masses. On occasion, though, an artist punches through the common noise with something that is both beautiful and filled with raw emotion.
Adele did that with nearly every song she recorded on 21, her second album.
Today I am posting a song that, at the end, shows the depth of the emotion that drove her to write the song. The live setting shows how absolutely the audience connects. The song, Someone Like You, was not originally part of the album. Adele wrote the song after recording the original tracks and after finding out that her ex-lover had recently engaged. Adele considers the song one of her most personal and she fought the urgings of her recording company to add a full band to the arrangement.
The video is a bit longer than I typically post (a bit over five minutes), but is well worth watching through to the very end.
--Mitchell HegmanIf the posted video fails to launch, please click on the following link: