Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Book of Right On

Joanna Newsom was raised in the small town of Nevada City, California.  Her parents did not allow her to watch television for fear the constant violence and general stupidity might have a harmful influence one her.  At the age of five she became interested in playing the harp and today describes the harp as not just an instrument but something that is a necessary part of her.  She has self-described her voice as “untrainable.”
Joanna Newsom’s musical offerings are pretty unique.  The song posted today is one of my favorites.  The studio version of this song is quite crisp, but I like the look and feel of this live version.
--Mitchell Hegman
Please click on this link if the video here does not launch:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Where we find the Sea

Consider this: I live within the landlocked shadows of Montana’s Big Belt Mountains, and yet the tallest mountain near me, Hogback, standing 7813 feet above present sea level, is topped with limestone and seashell fossils from an ancient ocean floor.
Consider this: the highest point on planet Earth, the very peak of Mount Everest, is neither volcanic nor metamorphic stone.  Standing amid the clouds at 29,000 feet above present sea level, the peak is comprised of marine limestone thrust up from the ancient sea where it first formed.
We are often upside-down in this life.
In our mountain ranges, the sea is locked in windswept stone above us.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Woman with Three Breasts

I am relatively normal if you don’t count the time I accidentally hit myself in the head with a hammer or the time I hugged a girl in a chicken suit and liked the thought of hugging a chicken at least twice as much as I should have.  “You jumped right up into that chicken’s arms!” my friend said in a specter of shock after witnessing me with the chicken.
In fairness, that was a very attractive chicken.
At any rate, I am actually trying to express that I like breasts as much as the next guy.
Let me start over.
The other day, I read an article about a woman from Tampa, Florida who had a third breast implanted on her chest.  As I said, I like breasts, but I have established a fairly strict limit of two breasts per woman.  For one thing—as much as I struggled with trying to unlatch a bra made for two breasts—I cannot fathom what mess I would make with a third breast in the mix.  I will allow you to draw the images for that in your own mind.
Also, three breasts is a bit too close to planet Pablo Picasso for my liking.  Good for paintings but a bit too ambitious for cleavage lines.
According to the article I read in the Tampa Bay Times, Alisha Jasmine Hessler, age 21, had a plastic surgeon implant a third breast on her chest. She also started calling herself “Alisha Tridevil.”  Her story quickly began to unravel as an apparent hoax when her luggage was stolen and police discovered a “three-breast prosthesis” inside one of her suitcases before they returned the items they had recovered.  Her motive for sporting a third breast appears to be the desire for an MTV reality show.
While I am not terribly interested in a girl with three breasts, fake or not, I have a brother-in-law who may find something of value in that.   And if the MTV thing never works out, Alisha Tridevil would be a perfect spokesperson for Monsanto.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 27, 2014


I recall one day when, during a conversation, a man remarked of another: “But he is just a glorified garbage man.”
Obviously, the intent of the statement was to be dismissive, if not mocking.
But instantly I thought to myself: Collecting garbage is merely what he does for a living…that is not what he is.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 26, 2014

Every Day is a Bad Hair Day

I have never been photogenic.  For one thing, most of my days are bad hair days.  On days that are not bad hair days, I have hideously “un-good” hair days.  I would consider shaving my head, but I think my head has a somewhat conspicuous perfume-bottle shape underneath what is left of my gray mop.
I have also never liked my smile.  My teeth are not pretty.  When I complain about my teeth to my dentist she always says: “You have beautiful teeth!”  I think what she means is that they are something like a savings account for her—there is always work to be done.
For several years, I developed a habit of tilting my head to the right the instant a camera was trained on me.  Everyone in my family noticed this when we looked through photos from family gatherings.  “Why do you tilt your head like that?” my sister once asked me as we were looking at some snapshots from a road trip across Montana.
“I don’t know, Deb,” I answered, “Something about having my picture taken.  It makes me uncomfortable.  I do that subconsciously."
Over the years, I have destroyed hundreds of photos of me (negatives, copies, and electronic files).  Today, I am posting a photobomb from last week to show you what I am up against.  Also pictured is my sister, Deb, someone’s hand, and my beautiful young friends Randy, and Melissa.
As you have likely surmised, the photo was taken with my twice-as-smarter-than-me phone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 25, 2014

I Just Saw the Future

I just saw the future…it has a bunch of tattoos and a pierced nose.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What I Want (Continued)

I want to run fast for another twenty years.
I want everyone to listen to what I say when I am happy.
I want the advice of children before anyone else.
I want to harvest sunlight.
I want real workers to earn real money.
I want more dreams of fish.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

At a Minimum

My friend X is not concerned about always being correct, but at a minimum he always tries to be loud.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 22, 2014

That Woman in my Creative Writing Class (1982)

I am presently in Billings to teach an electrical Code class (related to solar PV installations) to a handful of state electrical inspectors.  As I drove through Bozeman yesterday, I got to thinking about a woman I once studied with in one of my creative writing classes while I was at MSU in 1982.  She came from Bozeman, and you might not opt to fancy her as pretty unless you like huge round faces and unkempt hair.  She admired tame ducks, vegetable gardens, gates flung open, and on those occasions when she recited one of her flawless poems, her voice might have been mistaken for a flute.  Her writings often stood without match in our writing class—stood upright and glittering in poetic beauty.  But more often than not she became ensconced in feminism and rote arguments against everything written by men.  Every time she finished a scathing critique of one of my works, she ended with “You should try writing from a woman’s point-of-view.”
I really liked her.   A man’s point of view.
And I really sucked as a writer.
When a discussion about Nabokov’s Lolita erupted on night as we were riding together in a car, we found ourselves camped in positions on opposite hills, figuratively speaking.  We soon began volleying rounds back and forth into each other’s camp.  As I mentioned, I think she exuded the most talent of anyone in our class.  But she interpreted the characters in Lolita only after passing them through some manner of feminist litmus test.
While a litmus test to measure compounds for alkalinity or acidity that might be handy for scientists in chemistry, similar tests based on a single factor in studying literature may end up providing only a profound disservice.  Great literary characters should defy such gross over-simplification.  A simple test will not begin to penetrate the depth of them.
My writer friend saw Humbert as an evil, over-sexed man taking advantage of, corrupting an innocent young girl.  End of story.  Certainly, I agreed that Humbert was, indeed, all of that.  But he was also, at the same time, a victim, too.  He was a victim of his own impulses, of circumstance, of (take this feminist swine) Lolita.
My friend had absolutely written one of the main characters out of the book: Lolita.
Go ahead, call Lolita the protagonist if you desire.  But how do you explain away her flouncing around?   How about the way she manipulates Humbert to attain favor?  What about the way both of them shoved Lo’s mother right out the window?
To this day…I wish I could write as perfectly as that woman in my class...from a man’s point of view.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Long Silence in Return is Your Answer

With the advent of emails and texting, communication has been (almost violently) turned on its head.  Clearly, these new forms of communication and contact are spectacularly helpful in their immediacy.  At times, emailing or texting allows both sender and recipient time to fully process both message and response.
On the other hand, emails and texts can be overly cold.  The messages lack tone.  The newly emerging abbreviations sometimes seem cartoonish and often miss the beautiful cascading rhythms of a full sentence.  Consider the following:
I luv u.
I love you.
These two sentences may or may not be saying the same thing.  One might be playful and one is clearly not.  But what I have noticed more than anything, particularly with texting, is that if you reach out for honest contact, if  you extend an invitation, if you ask for help, if you ask to borrow, or if you ask to meet— long silence in return is your answer.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Orange Agoseris

Today, I am posting a photograph I captured of an orange agoseris while on one of my summer excursions in the mountains.  Agoseris is sometimes called mountain dandelion and grows in mountains throughout the West.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 19, 2014

Three Note Song

five minutes of hard rain.
bugs dancing.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Pipe sticking up out of the Ground

A pipe sticking up out the ground sounds simple enough.  It is, after all, just a pipe in the ground.
And then comes along a certain Mr. Mitch Hegman to overthink the entire concept.
I will start to explain all of this with an incident that occurred somewhere near twenty-five years ago.  At that time, I (Mitchell George Hegman) was attempting to explain the methods of installation and physical routing I preferred for a run of electrical conduit.  Somewhere about halfway through my explanation, the coworker I was speaking with reached out with both hands and grasped my shoulders.  “Stop right there,” he said earnestly.
“What?” I asked.  “What’s wrong?”
“I’m lost here,” my coworker responded.  “I swear, Mitch, you could make digging a ditch complicated.”
Historical background established.
Now, we can migrate back to our story about a pipe sticking out of the ground.  I am in the process of installing my own solar PV system: a pole-mounted array.  On a typical pole-mounted array, an installer sticks a pipe upright in the ground and then attaches the array to the top of the pole.  Obviously, that is not near complicated enough for my taste.  I want my array to look more organic, more like the trees around my house.  My pole has arms at weird angles and will sport three sets of modules.  Here is a list of what my pole required:
A bunch of measuring and trigonometry calculations on my part
Shop drawings (produced by me)
An eight-inch and a four-inch steel pipe
A mini-excavator
The hiring of a welder for cutting and fabricating
Three yards of concrete
A Solmetric SunEye to assure we achieved a proper southern orientation with the array arms
Help from several very tolerant friends
Yesterday, I finished planting my pipe sticking out of the ground as witnessed by today’s two photos.
--Mitchell Hegman
Note: That is Geddy Parker in the machine.  He is the owner of Ascension Electric.  I could not be doing this complicated thing without his help!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Another Take

The advantage of no longer having friends is that you can sleep in on Saturdays because nobody calls you.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I Want Some of Whatever He is Having

Today, I am posting a photograph of 20 pounds of cat.  This one is my boy, Splash.  I have decided that I want some of whatever he is having.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 15, 2014

From Destruction Born

Some forms of destruction conduct their assault like freight trains come unglued.  Earthquakes, as example, occur with sudden and jarring forces that unexpectedly toss you about and then rent apart all that surrounds you.  In a matter of seconds, a tornado may ripsaw through an entire community leaving all that once stood shattered and flattened.  In such events, there is no time to think, to reminisce, to plan.
But there are other forms of destruction that creep slowly and inexorably in your direction.  Out West, where I live, forest fires represent this kind of event.  You may have time to thoughtfully sort through your holdings to save cherished photographs and heirlooms.  You may take one evening to have dinner or dance at your favorite place, having the thought in your mind that in a few days, or a week, the place will be gone.  Businesses that lie in the path of destruction will remain operating as long as possible.  Everyone hopes—and it is possible—that the advancing force of destruction is turned aside or suddenly stops.
My friend, Ariel Murphy, is presently caught ahead of another form of slow annihilation, one slower in advance than a wildfire.  She—and many other people I know—live near Pahoa on the big island of Hawai’i.  A creeping beast, in the form of the June 27th lava flow, is slowly oozing down from a vent in Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world.  Recent days have seen the lava advancing at a rate of 400 yards per day.  All indications are that homes and roads will soon fall victim to the advancing lava.  Ariel will likely lose access to her home and may well lose her house to the lava flow.
Progressing lava flows are capricious.  Sometimes, the slowly advancing flow gradually grasps and burns forests and homes and then gathers into heaps and stony waves atop all that was once there.  In some places the earth opens up and swallows everything in a searing red maw.  In our immediate human terms, the destruction is wholesale and irreversible and heartbreaking.
In the longer run, the lava is constructing landscape footings for future paradise.  This is a time to gather and save for the now, and maybe it is also appropriate to collect together and dance for the past and the future.  Paradise is from destruction born.

--Mitchell Hegman
PHOTO: howstuffworks

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Richard Brautigan(esque) Thought Strikes Me

If it were up to me the flamboyant scent of rain on Montana’s sagebrush would win some kind of award.  I’m not sure what the award might be, though money is out of the question.  Perhaps our governor could give a speech and then send a loud, cymbal-clashing marching band out across the expanses of sagebrush in our state.  Immediately following the band, volunteers with spray bottles could spritz the sage while interested locals stand there sniffing and applauding.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 13, 2014

A (Not) Fearsome Beast

All around the world, people fear either those creatures large and clawed, those that sneak about in the night, or those small and toothy monsters that lie hidden all around us.  On the African Serengeti, the lion is the beast most feared.  In the lush lowlands and deltas of East Asia, cobras elicit the greatest fear.  Here in Montana we fret about clashing with grizzly bears, the occasional crazed mountain lion, and perhaps rattlesnakes on those occasions when we traipse around the Missouri River.
Clearly, all of the creatures above, and many not listed (yes, you are welcome to add spiders to the list) are worth fearing on occasion, but something far less fearsome has actually been our enemy number one for a very long time.  Scientists studying the much broader view of predators and pests focused in on a much smaller beast, one that is a far greater threat to men, women, and children: the mosquito.  Estimates reveal that mosquitoes, mainly as a vector for all manner of exotic and deadly disease, are responsible for over half of all human deaths since the Stone Age.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 12, 2014

Skipping Out on Work

I took the occasion of a September snowstorm to skip out on work so that I might drive to my cabin for the day.  September is my favorite month of the year for spending time at the cabin.  I love the cool mornings and warm afternoons.  I enjoy starting a fire and puttering around inside the cabin.  The early snow was an attraction I could little resist.
I encountered snow as I started climbing Flesher Pass.  The snow extended for the entire remaining drive to my cabin.  The highway proved a bit icy on several turns.  Today, I am posting a photograph I took of the highway in the upper Blackfoot Valley, a photograph of some grass near my cabin, and a photograph of the light fixture I made from conduit and attached to a walkway that extends from the loft of my cabin.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 11, 2014

For Which I am Sorry

I am sorry for being sexual at the wrong times.  I am sorry for wanting the wrong people to like me.  I’m sorry for desiring the mountains to remain standing while wanting an occasional wildfire to burn.  I am sorry that I gave last-night’s house spider its life, but dispatched the small frog after opening him up with a knife—as one might open a fig or tomato—on the concrete steps of my house when I was a young boy.
The frog’s heart was red and small as a pea.  I plucked the heart free and held it in the palm of my hand.  The heart beat in my palm for longer than I expected, stopped without a sound.   I fancied I was conducting scientific research, but know better now.
I am sorry for my science.
I am sorry for loving the smell of dirt and for often disliking the taste of desserts that are too sweet.  I am sorry for admiring moonlight spreading silver over cold and open spaces and for disliking the sand suffering under summer’s hottest sun.
And I understand that all of this—for which I am sorry—means nothing but to me.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Gun-Shooting Woman

The last two women my friend was involved with were two gun-shooting women.  The first gun-shooting woman tried to shoot my friend one night when she became enraged with him.  The second gun-shooting woman put the gun to herself.
I want a woman with marshmallows or maybe a feather.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Eastern Racer

Yesterday, I found a bunny that slithers (formerly known as a snake) on the concrete walk just outside my front door.  The snake was an Eastern racer.  Racers are, in the scheme of all things snake, small and slender and non-poisonous.  Their scientific name is Coluber constrictor.  Though the name implies they are a type of constrictor, they are not really a constrictor.  They earned the name from a species habit of using a loop of their body to press struggling victims against the ground.
The snake on my walk, something a bit over two-feet in length, seemed unconcerned about me at first.  The racer became nonplussed only when I reached down and touched it, at which time the snake started twisting around as if caught-up in an invisible blender and then it faux rattled its tail.  Racers will often vibrate their tails when feeling threatened.  If they are in dry leaves, this may make them sound like a rattlesnake.
Worried that my cats might find the snake (bunny), I scooped it out into the grass.  That is when the bunny (snake) earned its name.  Racers are fast!   The racer more or less vanished at once, whipping off into the grass and sage expanse.
Fortunately, I was able to capture a photograph with my twice-as-smarter-than-me-phone before I pushed the snake off into the grass.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 8, 2014

Half and Half

I have in my possession a stone that is half one kind of material and half another kind of material.  The materials clearly did not attempt to mix together.  They simply stuck together.  One of the materials is quartz and I think the other half is granite.
Normally, I am interested in how and why a thing came to be, how it managed its colors, and so forth.  I am, however, more interested in the idea of this particular stone than I am the science underlying it.  While I suppose it might be pleasant to know whether the atoms at the line of division are joyously dancing together or whether they are coupled together in a stony version of war, I find my emotional response to the stone more notable.
My view of the stone changes from day to day.   On a bright day, I might pick up the stone and think: “Look here, a perfect marriage.”  On a darker day, emotionally speaking, I may take up the stone and think: “Here, then, is what a country divided looks like.”
The stone is unchanging, mind you.  This is me—on a very small scale—pushing reality with my own perspective.
The other day, I picked up the stone and suddenly experienced one of those gut-twisting, all-consuming pangs of missing my long-gone wife.  For an instant I wanted to throw the stone through the nearest window.
The stone is still there in my den as I write this.
Posted today is a photograph of the stone.
What do you see?

 --Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 7, 2014

A Riptide of Nonsense

I have not been sleeping well for a few weeks now.  I drift off to sleep immediately, but wake an hour or so later finding my head filled with schemes to finish this or that project, with remakes of small personal conflicts, with thoughts of people I miss, with world news, with one thing screaming right after another.  Honestly, my head feels as though it is filled with whirlpools of junk from the Sargasso Sea.  Instead of drifting away to sleep I get caught in a riptide of busy nonsense.
Why this?
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Drive

Today, I am posting a photograph (taken with my twice-as smarter-than-me phone) of the last stretch of my drive home.  If you follow the road, you will see my house.  I love driving home!

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 5, 2014


Yesterday morning, as I stood outside on my deck enjoying the blushing sunrise, a chevron of Canada geese overflew me less than a stone’s throw above.  The geese, about fifteen of them, were silent, save the whisking cuts of their wings.  About a quarter-minute later, a single goose came chasing after, honking incessantly.  Watching the single goose noisily flap on, I thought:  “There I am.”
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Five Thoughts

1.  Silence has weight.
2.  Building a house or a cabin is building a dream.
3.  Worries have edges and certainties are round.
4.  Texting suffers from lack of tone.
5.  The shortest distance between two places is often the ugliest.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


My hoya plant is blooming.  Normally, that is not such a huge deal.  But this plant is special.   The hoya in my house came to Montana with my grandmother when my maternal grandparents first moved here in the 1940s.  The hoya has survived moving from state to state, house to house, and room to room.  This houseplant has endured dozens of dreary winters, several dogs and housecats, four generations of poking and leaf-pulling children, earthquakes, countless trimmings, and more recently my erratic watering practices.
I recall tugging at the leaves of the hoya when I was a boy.  I thought both the leaves and the flowers of the plant were plastic.  But here is the plant all these years later—older than me, but blooming as if newly emerged from the earth.
I am posting a photograph of one of the flower clusters on my plant.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Twisted Reasons to be Thankful: Reason #5

I am thankful that the voices in my head are speaking a language I don’t understand…I think they are trying to tell me to do something bad.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 1, 2014

Labor Day: My Job is Killing Me

The phrase “my job is killing me” is largely hyperbolic these days, but that was not always so.  Back when linemen were first constructing and maintaining the power grid, somewhere near one in two died from injuries sustained at work.  Most of the linemen died as result of electrocution.  Closer to home, in Butte, Montana, 685 men perished in local mining accidents between 1906 and 1925.  Hundreds more died a slower death caused by “miner’s consumption,” a lung disease caused by inhaling quartz dust.
I think we can fairly say that such rates of work-related deaths would not be tolerated today.  Fact is they were tolerated by many company owners during the early days of the industrial revolution.  Change came only when the labor movement (mostly organized labor) pushed for apprenticeship training, better work conditions, and assured safety measures.
We can also thank early labor movements for the forty-hour workweek and eight-hour day we presently enjoy.  In August of 1866 the International Workingmen’s Association championed the demand for an eight-hour workday.
The push for better work conditions was often bloody.  In 1886, at Chicago’s Haymarket Square, at a rally in support of workers striking for an eight-hour day, a riot erupted and eventually took the lives of eleven people, including seven police officers.  Butte, Montana, also saw violence.  On August 1, 1917, Frank Little, a union organizer, was abducted from his boarding room, beaten, and hanged from a trestle on the edge of Butte.  On April 21, 1920, company guards opened fire on workers picketing the Neversweat mine.  Fifteen protesters were wounded.  Two men died from their wounds.
Today, I gave my thanks to those who pushed, those who sacrificed. 
Thanks to you, I live well.
--Mitchell Hegman
Note:  I have been a proud member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers since 1977.