Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

Return to the Giant Eveningstar

Giant eveningstar flowers are exceptional.  For one thing, they prefer dry and open places.  They will grow, literally, in a pile of rocks where nothing else can catch hold of life.  The eveningstar also waits until now, during what is typically the parched heat of summer, to begin their bloom.  The leaves and stalks of these weedy-looking plants feel like Velcro to the touch and the flowers have a scent similar to that of a lily.  Perhaps, most uniquely, the flowers of the eveningstar do not open until the sun is setting.  They will remain open all night, allowing moths and other such nocturnal rovers to pollinate them.  They close with the rising sun.   

The open flowers are often as large as my fist.

By day, the closed eveningstar are easy to miss as we speed along in our demanding lives.  But at night, if you look at the raw earth and stone where highways and roads have been carved from our hills and mountains, you may find the giant eveningstar in all their glory.
Last evening, a boatload of us cruised along the lake at dusk in my pontoon boat specifically to return to a patch of giant eveningstar we had spotted earlier in the day.  Posted is a photograph of eveningstar flowers I captured with my smarter-than-me-phone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Lost and Found

Maybe there is a lesson in that day, long ago, when I took a series of wrong turns on some remote stone and shadow roads in the forest and found myself lost in the mountains above Marysville.  Fighting my urge to turn back, I slowly eased my truck down a steep, rutted trail and discovered a beautiful vale at the bottom.  There, I found the very place where a small spring emerged from the ribs of a mountain and splashed away inventing the green grass and upright trees that have surrounded me for all my life.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Burdock, Gaillardia, and Leaning Mountains

Yesterday, my sister, my brother-in-law, that girl, and I drove up into the Big Belt Mountains for the day.  We hiked up into Refrigerator Canyon and then motored to the top of Hogback.

The blush of wildflowers has mostly faded from the lower elevations, save for isolated celebrations within moist catchments in the leaning mountains and in tightly held bands along the flouncing streams.  Near the top of our climb to the summit of Hogback—somewhere above 7,000 feet—we began to encounter hordes of wildflowers.

Posted is a photograph of that girl standing in the flowing water at the bottom of Refrigerator Canyon, a streamside burdock, and a cluster of gaillardia found at higher elevations.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


We have reached a state in our politics where practical thinking and cooperation will get you nowhere.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 27, 2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Eight Essential Questions to Ask a New Acquaintance

1.  How often do you enter a room or public venue and hope that nobody notices you?

2.  Are you capable of driving by a field occupied by a flock of sheep without making a remark about the sheep to other people in the car?

3.  Do you consciously buy slip-on shoes just because tying shoes is too much work?

4.  Which of the following two items do you tend to purchase more compulsively: toilet paper or ammunition?

5.  Do you recall the last time you saw your parents kiss?

6.  How often do you enter a room or public venue and hope that everyone notices you?

7.  If someone suddenly blurted “something wicked this way comes,” what is the first thought that might enter your mind?

8.  Do you presently own any sheep?

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Other End of the Line

Somewhere near two o’clock in the morning, about fifteen years ago, my clamoring phone brought me awake from a deep sleep.  My house seemed abnormally dark as I reached out and found the phone on my night table. “Huh-lo,” I croaked once I pulled the handset to my face.

“Mitch, this is Bob,” a voice on the other end of the line said.   “Where in the hell is your house?  Power is out in your neck of the woods.  I’m not finding anything out here.  I want to come pick you up.  Maybe you can help me locate everything.”

The voice on the phone belonged to someone I had known since high school.  Bob now worked as a linemen for the power company.  I bumped into Bob regularly in my work as an electrician.  After talking a bit more with Bob, and explaining where he could find me, I pulled on some clothes and then went to stand at my bay window to watch the road where it stretched across the landscape to touch my house.  A few minutes later, a pair of headlights trawled through the darkness to reach me.
I ran out and climbed into Bob’s line truck once he arrived and we bounced along some of the nearby roads so I could show him where the power lines were routed.  Bob soon found the problem—a thrown cutout—and restored power as I watched.

That’s what linemen do.  Day and night.  Sometimes, linemen wade right into the guts of a storm and fight to keep the lines strung and the poles upright.  They work late.  They work hard.  That night, I asked Bob if he minded the late nights and chasing power lines into the storms.  “I love it, Mitch,” he said without hesitation.
Back at the dawn of the electrical era, in the late 1800’s, one out of two linemen were killed on the job.  Many died from electrocution.  Others perished in falls or other non-electrical accidents.  Though conditions and methods have improved greatly, working as a lineman is still one of the ten  most dangerous jobs in the world—they experience on-the-job fatality rates that are something near twice that of police officers and firemen.
Two nights ago, while working with a crew to repair a line damaged by a severe thunderstorm that stuck the Helena area, my friend Bob was killed in freak accident while setting a pole damaged by the storm.

This is a message for my friend Bob Mitschke: “Thanks for all.  I’ll see you at the other end of the line when I get there, brother…” 

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 24, 2015

The “Other” Cat Story

I sleep in the raw and have done so since the time I graduated high school.  This means, among the more glaring things, that I leap out of bed in the morning and run around the house naked as I start brewing the coffee, feed my 40 pounds of cat, and, perhaps, step outside to check the weather.

Since I live out in the country, scampering around naked is not really a problem.

I have not always lived in the country.

In the late 1980’s I lived in East Helena, Montana.  Living in town had a few advantages.  Pizza places delivered to my home.  I was five minutes from the nearest bar.  A grocery store was only three minutes away.  Also, I found the morning paper freshly delivered to my front steps each morning as started my daily rituals.

One morning, after leaping from my bed and starting the coffee, I cracked open the front door only to discover that my newspaper was not there.

Highly unusual.

On a few previous occasions, though, our twelve-year-old paper girl had flung the newspaper off the side of the steps into some ground junipers.  Recalling this, I fully opened the front door and stepped onto the concrete steps to investigate, thinking I might find the paper there.

Just as I started to snoop around, I heard the front gate creak open about fifteen feet down the walk from me.  I looked up and found myself face to face with the paper girl and her mother.

I stood there—full-frontal naked—with no place to hide.

It occurred to me that something should be said by me.  Especially, as I saw the paper girl’s eyes widening.  Her mother was fully aghast.

I needed to appear casual, calm.  I needed to belong there.  I blurted the first thing that came to mind: “Have you seen my cat?”

No answer.  The girl quickly shook her head and then half-heartedly dropped the paper onto my walk.  Soon after, the pair whisked off down the street.  As I recall, they did not even bother to close the gate again.

I dashed out to grab the paper and then quickly ducked back into my house to dress.       

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Waking to the Patter of Rain

I woke this morning to the patter of rain against my house and a cool cross-breeze pouring in through open windows.  The falling rain, as I first oozed up from my deep sleep, sounded like voices murmuring in another room.  For a few seconds, the muttering sounded exactly like my grandmother talking with my grandfather at the kitchen table as I heard it from my room on the second floor of their house forty-some years ago.

Rain, after a long dry spell, renews the world.   Rain makes the old new again.

My grandparents took me in when I reached the age of twelve and raised me as their own.  They saved me.  Waking to what sounded like their voices felt…wonderful.  As I budded into my full senses, the small drumming of raindrops became merely rain and my grandparents dissolved back into the past.

Rain is what we need.

Wildfires have been creeping in around Montana and more recently through the foothills and mountains around our sun-filled valley.

Only rain can save us.

After fully coming to my senses, I climbed from my bedding and stood at an open window.   The cool, damp air smoothed across my skin.  I could smell sage and pine and damp stone.  I closed my eyes and listened as a steady rain continued softening the hard world around me.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Not Without Direction

On some of my better days, I feel as though I can control my future and I am going to direct myself straight to hell.   On my bad days, I feel as though I cannot control my future and I am going to be directed straight to hell.
I am not without direction.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

Garage Sale Emotions

Our stuffed Santa figure sitting in the wicker chair is back home again.

Santa sat on my living room floor every Holiday Season of the last twenty or so.  One year, Denver, my sulkiest cat to date, decided that Santa had in some manner insulted him.  The cat pounced on Santa, dragged him out onto the living room floor, and kicked his ass.  My wife, Uyen, saved Santa and wired him to the wicker chair after that.

Over the weekend, I participated in a family garage sale in Helena.  I sold off all the usual suspects: glassware, collectibles, extra tools, and so on.  Some items were difficult to part with on emotional levels.  I sold, as example, a couple wall-hangings crafted by Uyen and some china that belonged to my grandmother.   Those items were a little difficult to watch go, but after I spoke with each of the women who purchased them, I felt better.

On to new, happy homes!

Throughout all of Saturday and most of Sunday, each time I spotted Santa sitting there alongside the other Christmas decorations, I felt a little guilty.  If not guilty…sad.  I recalled all the snowy mornings, the Christmas and New-Year dinners, all those years with the stuffed Santa sitting there in the living room with us…

“I may need to take Santa home again,” I suggested to one of my friends as the sale drew close to the end.  About ten minutes later, I scooped Santa into my arms and took him out to my truck.  He needed to go back home with me.  Everything else would go to charity following the sale.

Not Santa!

Posted is a photo of Santa sitting on the back deck.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Five Seconds

I lost five seconds of my life last night.

Literally, I lost them.

Colleen and I were sitting on the sofa watching the last scene of the 2001 movie Memento for the second time so we could figure out a few details.   Suddenly, just after I exhaled some air, I erupted into a terrible fit of coughing.

I have been battling with a summer cold for a week now.

I could not stop coughing—as if something mechanically driven had invaded my chest and was overpowering any of my efforts to draw in another speck of air.

The next thing I know, I felt myself rather floating down to sit on the steps that lower into my sunken living room.  Light expanded aground me and I leaned against the wall, recognizing my surroundings.  I looked over at the Sofa and saw Colleen staring at me.

“Something is wrong here,” I said.  “Something is did I get here?”  I certain weight came back into my body.  My arms felt the cold wall.  My bare toes felt the carpet.

“You were coughing and you jumped up off the sofa,” Colleen said.  “I thought you were going to run to the bathroom.”

A vague memory appeared in my mind, expanded a little.  “Okay, now I remember that.”  I squeezed my hands, testing my body.  “I feel fine now…but I don’t remember getting off the sofa and coming over here.  I just remember floating down onto the steps.”

Following my episode, Colleen and I went outside to take in fresh air on the sunset deck.  “I have to tell you, something,” I told her as two nighthawks flickered across the last blush of light in the sky, “…the fading away…that whole experience was not unpleasant.  I did not mind it at all.”    

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Dark Clouds

While driving home late yesterday evening, that girl and I encountered a massive layer of dark clouds. The clouds stretched across the Elkhorn Mountains and beyond.  I grabbed my smarter-than-me-phone and snapped a photograph while we were driving south on Lake Helena Drive.  A bit later, I asked that girl to stop so I could trot out to take a photograph of the clouds from the edge of an irrigated field.

After I captured the second image, that girl pulled-off that trick where you jack-rabbit away in the car just as I tried to reach the door.  She is very charming, that girl.

--Mitchell Hegman 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gone (From the Lake)

Over the two days, I have been spending time with friends and family on the lake.  Many times, we boated past the scene of the house destroyed by fire at the end of Rainbow Drive.  I have still heard nothing beyond the finding of “minimal” human remains in the charred pile.

The scene remains quiet.

You can see the dock, a walkway leading up to where the house once stood, the well-tended yard, and a bit of the garage behind the rubble.  Some of trees have been scorched.

Posted today is a photo I captured of the scene from my pontoon boat.  The photograph was captured in fairly low light conditions by my smarter-than-me-phone and is not particularly clear.
--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Blank Paper

Way back in my late twenties, I developed a habit of always trying to carry a blank piece of paper and a pencil with me.  I had in mind that I might someday have a brilliant idea that I would need to jot down.  This is notification to everyone that I still have a blank piece of paper and a pencil if anyone needs to borrow it.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Things That Make Me Giggle (But Probably Should Not)

1. Seeing Donald Trump’s hair caught in the wind.
2. Calling Canadians hosers.
3. Fabricating conversations in which I can get people who mispronounce the word aluminum to use aluminum in a sentence.
4. Watching a weatherperson on television news point in the wrong direction as they describe weather events on green screen maps.
5. Cats chasing flies.
6. Chuck Norris jokes.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Middle Age

The hand is first to betray us, to falter and ache, to age outright.
But in the morning, while the moon is still quoting the sun in quarters and halves,
our intentions become young again.
We have lived whole lives by now, though we call this a middle.   
The children that tousled under the clothesline have scattered and climbed the steps into silence.
The last keys have been gathered.

The other day I told you that the white nectarine we sliced and ate
tasted exactly like the fragrance of a rose.
My senses have run amok, but my intentions remain pure.

Why not start anew every morning, my little Earth Song?
Why not make each day the whole thing?
We shall always have our pet names and herbs to bring to sun.
We have Rosemary and thyme.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ex’s and Oh’s

A song by Elle King.

--Mitchell Hegman

If the posted video fails to launch, please click on this link:

Sunday, July 12, 2015

My Smarter-Than-Me-Phone

Sometimes, my technical-device-challenged sister will ask to borrow my Droid so she can make a phone call.  I will ask whom to call, flick through all the proper screens and menus, dial or bring up the appropriate number, press the onscreen call button, and then hand the phone over to her when as the call dials out.

After blah-blah-blahing for a while—all the while madly throwing her free hand above her head the way bronc riders do—my sister will end her conversation.

This is when things get interesting.

At the end of the conversation, she will yank the phone from away from her ear and swing the screen in front of her face.  After staring at the screen in bewilderment for bit, she will then start shaking the phone the way you shake a can of spray paint before using it.  At this point I usually pat her on the head gently and grab my poor phone back.

“That…um…is not really a smartphone function,” I will remind her.

“I don’t get it,” she will mutter.

“It’s okay,” I assure her.

My sister is an exceptionally bright person.  Really, she is.  The smartphones, however, have left her in the proverbial dust.  She is not alone.  I suspect most of us have someone like this in our circle of friends or our family. 

I will admit to struggling when I first started using a smartphone.  After my first week or two of wading through mysterious screens, selecting wrong numbers, taking movies instead of pictures, and finally learning to turn on the flashlight, I started calling my smartphone my “smarter-than-me-phone.”  When I upgraded to my newest version, I called it my “twice-as-smarter-than-me-phone.”   I am fully aware that this last “pet” name is taking a wrecking-ball to the English, but I think my point is made.

Ultimately, I have learned to love my smartphone.  When texting or calling, I trust but verify the numbers.  I use the flashlight almost daily.  I read and send emails.  I surf the internet.  I use the camera.  Posted today are two smartphone photographs I captured just yesterday evening while out walking the road near my house with that girl.

More on her name later…

Add caption
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Gone (Deeper)

As we first watched smoke curling up around the eaves of the roof and shredding against the tall pine trees nearby, that girl and I thought it strange that the area around the burning home across the lake was not a hub of activity.  “Do you think we should call 911?” she asked.

“I think I see a little activity there,” I responded.  “Something is going on.”

By the time all the long shadows had merged around us and the sun had sliced down through the Rocky Mountains to the west, I began to wonder if anyone was paying attention to the fire.  There was something odd about the quiet around the burning house.  I eventually called 911 and was assured someone was on scene.  Just before full darkness, a Sheriff’s boat glided down through calm lake water and stopped at mid-lake a distance from the scene.  Not long after, the house exploded into full flames.

According the Independent Record, our local newspaper, a great deal occurred at the home.  Apparently, Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to investigate an erratic driver complaint, which eventually led them to the home across the lake from us.  The male driver of the vehicle broke into the house (the residents were not home) and then called dispatch to tell the officers on scene that he intended to put a propane tank into the oven.

Not long after the man called dispatch, smoke appeared.  For fear of an explosion, the responders all held back.  They held back for most of the night.  Firefighters sprayed water around the home to keep the fire from spreading as the home collapse into the flames.

Firefighters continued spraying water across the smoldering heap yesterday trying to cool down the wreckage.  As of this morning, I have seen no news that a body has been recovered.

The quiet that continues to reach our side of the lake is the eerie thing.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 10, 2015


One of the most beautiful homes across the lake from my house burned to the ground last night.  That girl, Kevin, and I were down at the lake swimming just before dark when we first noticed smoke.  At first we could not tell if the smoke was rising up from directly behind the house or from the roof.  The smoke thinned and thickened over the next few minutes.
By the time that girl and I had walked back up to the house, the smoke was getting pretty thick and rolling against the nearby mountainside.  I thought I saw activity around the house (but no flashing lights).  I called 911 when I detected flames clawing against the fading daylight.  The 911 dispatcher assured me that first responders were at the scene.

I went to bed and fell fast asleep.  Sometime around midnight, that girl shook me awake to tell me the house was completely aflame.  When I peered out my bedroom window I saw flames steepled high into the night.

Posted is a photograph of all the remains of the home this morning.  I cannot imagine how I would feel if I had to watch my home and all of my personal belongings flare and vanish into a pile of blackened rubble.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

40 Pounds of Housecat, One Naked Man, and One Field Mouse

I am the naked man.  Well, technically, I was the naked man early yesterday morning when a ruckus brought me from a dead sleep and sent me running through the house.

Never mind what that looked like.

The ruckus, by the time I reached the living room, had dulled to something of a muffled romping around the carpet.  I flipped on the cove light and discovered a field mouse weaving around on the living room floor with both of my cats following along like two obese and bungling shadows.

With incompetent cats such as mine, this kind of thing could go on for hours.

I scampered off to the kitchen and began opening cupboards in search of a mouse-catching-whatever.  Coffee cup?  Nope.  Next cupboard.  Plate?  Picture mouse leaping onto my arm followed by cats.  Next.  Next.  Holy hell!  Next!

Salad bowl!

I swept the salad bowl from the cupboard and whisked back into the living room.  By the time I reached my 40 pounds of housecat, they and the field mouse were more or less sitting there in a knitting circle.  “Excuse me, fellas,” I said.  I scooped the mouse into the bowl and then trotted outside to fling the mouse at the moonlit prairie.

You are now welcome to picture me naked.
When I entered the illuminated house again, I found my two overfed fuzzballs exactly where I last left them.  Clearly they were bewildered.  “So that’s all you have?” I asked.  “You’re just going to sit there and shed hair?”

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Now This

Being mistaken on occasion is natural in all human endeavor, but to be constantly misinformed requires the internet.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, July 6, 2015


A single glass of Scotch is stain remover for the mind. Two glasses of Scotch are how wars begin.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Living Fireworks Display

Cow Parsnip plants can launch themselves up to eight feet above the ground before mid-summer.  Once they reach high above all the plants that surround them, they explode into clusters of flowers that resemble brilliant white firework displays frozen in mid-explosion.

The stem of the cow parsnip plant is edible.  According to one of my reference books, Plants of the Rocky Mountains, cow parsnip was widely used by native peoples as a vegetable.

That girl and I started our Fourth of July at the cabin surrounded by cow parsnips.  I have posted a couple of photographs I captured of the flower clusters.  Most of the flowers at the cabin are between four and five feet above the ground.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, July 3, 2015

To What I Awakened

If you’re an even number, the odds are stacked against you.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Planning and Implementation, Part 2

I assume that everyone desires to have a bison skull their own.  If someone ever walked up to you and said “I have a bison skull if you are interested,” you would likely answer, as I did: “Hell, yes, I am interested!”

I acquired the bison skull and then built my cabin around the skull.

Now the story.

I acquired my bison skull from a fairly odd (but agreeable) stone mason who had—as a second avocation—a business where he raised carrion-eating beetles.  He used the beetles to clean the flesh from bones and skulls.  For the sake of my own sanity, I did not ask too many questions.  I purchased the bison skull from the mason with a thought in mind that the bison skull would find a spot high on a wall under a wall-washing light in my cabin.

I did not have a cabin at the time I acquired the skull, but had recently purchased some mountain property and was in the process of designing the cabin.  I started working on the cabin in 2003.  Over the years since, I have spent countless weekends hauling materials over Flesher Pass and tinkering with my hand and power tools to I bring the cabin from the ground and began finish work.  Three days ago, I finally hung the bison skull on the wall of my cabin.
Posted is a photograph of the skull taken outside my cabin and a photograph the skull after I hung it on the wall.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Planning and Implementation, Part 1

In a sense, I built my house around a slightly used ceiling paddle fan.   Many years ago, at the time I started to seriously consider planning and building a house of my own, my employer gave me a fairly expensive paddle fan he was replacing in his own house.

The fan was the first item gathered for the new house.  I envisioned the fan on a white vaulted ceiling in an open living space.  As my wife and I designed the house we eventually constructed—with the help of so many beautiful friends—I knew exactly how the house fit around the fan I held in storage.  For almost five years, each time I saw the fan sitting there, I imagined seeing it on the ceiling in the house we would build.

We poured the concrete foundation for our house in the summer of 1990 and waited to begin sinking nails in dimension lumber until April of the following year.  In November of 1991, I installed the paddle fan in my living room as one of the very last details before we moved in.

I recall being stupidly happy as I climbed my ladder to hang the fan.  Hanging the fan felt like smashing a bottle of champagne against the bow of a giant ship and releasing the ship to the sea.
I will likely be upgrading to a newer fan in a few weeks.  Posted is a photograph of the fan still at work in my living room during yesterday’s heat.
--Mitchell Hegman