Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Finding my Father

My father and I endured a complicated relationship.  What I mean by that is: my father was a morose, mean, and spiteful drunk.  He was not opposed to physically pushing my mother around when I was a little kid.  Toward the end of his days, he was widely known as the town drunk and conspiracy theorist in the last small town where he lived in far Western Montana.

I and two of my sisters were raised by my grandparents due largely to my father’s failings.

My father was, at the same time, one of the most brilliant and humorous people I have ever met.  I enjoyed my father in those rarified times when he was sober.  My love of jokes and science came from my father’s input.  He encouraged inquiry and reading.

By the time my father passed, we were not really talking much.  In 1995, my father flew off to Hawaii to undergo a series of hydrogen peroxide treatments to cure the cancer that had him coughing-up blood.

Only his luggage returned to Montana.

Yesterday, I found myself hanging out in the corridor of the East Helena City Hall—a building that was my grade school back in the early 1960s.  Dozens of old photographs are displayed on the walls of the corridor there.  The photographs either mark some moment of significant history for East Helena or they picture gatherings of various city officials.
As I glanced through some of the photographs I chanced upon a picture from 1961 that stopped me cold.  I found my father in the photograph.  There he stood: Wayne Hegman (his first name was actually Vincent), Fire Chief for the East Helena Volunteer Fire Department.

I stared for a long time before I captured a picture of the black and white image with my twice-as-smart-as-me-phone.  My father is the man in the very upper left corner…seeming both sober and important.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Another “Mitch” Definition

Jazz Fusion: A complex type of music where several artists gather together on a stage to play completely different songs at the same time.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lost Creek State Park

Lost Creek State Park is not particularly large by Montana standards.  According to, the park is located in the Flint Creek Range a mere 6 miles from Anaconda and encompasses only 502 acres.  The acreage, though, scarcely describes the spectacular canyon you enter at the park’s gate.  A mix of granite and limestone formations upsurge 1,200 feet from the narrow canyon floor.  Huge boulders, Lost Creek, and a mixed forest fills the ever-squeezed canyon floor.
At the end of the road into the park, Lost Creek Falls can be found.  The falls cascades 50 feet down through a jumble cross-fall lodgepole pine and boulders.  A campground and trailhead is also located near the falls.

If you have never been to Lost Creek State Park, I suggest you add this one to your bucket list.   
Posted today are a few photographs from a weekend visit to the park.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Football Fanatic

I think my brother-in-law may be something of a football fanatic.  Yesterday, he watched one college football game on television while listening to another on headphones.

“Geez,” I said to him, “I think that would make me pee in my pants in confusion.  How did you do?”

“I got a little confused,” he said.

“Who won?” I asked.

“The headphones,” he replied.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 26, 2015

September Hike Through Trout Creek Canyon

After miles of walking that girl and I chanced upon a single white flower blooming just off the trail that curls among the faces of cliffs and the teetering pines.  The flower, a campion, greedily clung to a pile of limestone—likely the very last flower of the year to hoist itself upright within the rarified cross-light of the canyon.

I stopped and poked at a blossom.


I admire such tenacity at the end of our growing season—especially as the deciduous trees and the bushes are blushing color and shedding their leaves.

We put in six miles, I and that girl.  The sun vaulted overtop the cliffs as we hiked through.  The last few winged insects lifted from the duff and spiraled up and away.  A lone chickadee followed us for a short while, flitting from tree to tree.  Beyond that…just the two of us.

Hiking is one of those rare activities that triggers a shutdown on all negativity within my thought processes.  I am governed only by the scent of pine trees and sunshine while navigating below the talus slides and the tall stone overhangs.

It’s all good on the trail.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 25, 2015

Cancer Awareness

Yesterday, I got caught in a “Breast Cancer Awareness” game on Facebook.  You know what I am talking about.  Someone posts an outrageous statement such as: “I just had coffee with an alien from outer space.”

If you comment on the post, the friend responsible for the post messages you details about the awareness campaign.  You are given a list of outrageous posts.  You are to choose one of the posts for your own status so you might keep the chain going.

I never make such posts on my own Facebook.

I am not in any way offended by these games, though I have read a few blistering indictments of them.  I simply want to keep my Facebook status more personal.

Cancer sucks.

I lost my parents and my wife of nearly thirty years to cancer.

My wife suffered.

At one time I gave a fair amount of money to a variety of cancer charities.  Recent scandals involving some of the larger organizations have led me to give only to local organizations.


Anyhow…this is my way of keeping things going.  I suggest you support any cancer-fighting or cancer research organization that you trust.  Give your heart to any family where a loved one is fighting this wretched disease.
Be kind in general.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Five Sure-to-Fail Ideas for the Home

1. Wall paper with a spider web and spider pattern
2, See-through toilets
3. Stain absorbent flooring
4. Self-slamming doors
5. Blade-side-up knife holders

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Half-Wasp

On the brighter side of things, yellow jackets will kill and eat spiders.  On the darker side, yellow jackets are yellow jackets.  In addition to eating spiders, yellow jackets are drawn to sweets and meat—for this reason, they pester us at our picnics.  They are also aggressive.

Only a month ago, I got stung twice when I started hammering a roofing nail into the eave of a shed down at my lakefront.  After only a couple whacks of my hammer a swarm of the yellow jackets created a frightening halo around my head.  I jumped down from my ladder and loped off, but not before two yellow jackets found their mark.

I am not allergic.  I am, however, a pain averse whine-baby.

I whimpered a little.

Yellow jackets are not pain averse whine-babies.  As all insects, they are singular in focus and without fear.  Insects press on through all weather, all hardship, and all manner of injury.  A yellow jacket that I saw the other day illustrates this perfectly.  This particular yellow jacket was walking around on my drive with its entire abdomen missing.  Only the head and thorax of the hapless creature remained.  The yellow jacket’s all important stinger and its intestines were gone.
This did not seem to disturb the insect at all.

What fashion of battle or accident might have rendered the yellow jacket so?  How long had the creature been waddling about this way?  I watched the yellow jacket wander a few circles and then thread away into the nearby grass.
The insect world, as Annie Dillard demonstrates eloquently in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, is a really a shop or horrors.  Insects brutalize one another interspecies and species to species.  As a young boy I often deposited hapless grasshoppers and beetles onto bustling red ant piles just to watch the appalling battles that exploded.   In this way I became an active player in the shop of horrors.  Within the pages of Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard, shares the descriptions of J. Henri Fabre as he observed a bee-eating wasp attacking a honey bee:

If the bee is heavy with honey, the wasp squeezes its crop “so as to make her disgorge her delicious syrup, which she drinks by licking the tongue which her unfortunate victim, in her death agony, sticks out of her mouth at full length…At the moment of some such horrible banquet, I have seen the Wasp, with her prey, seized by the Mantis: the bandit was rifled by another bandit.  And here is an awful detail: while the Mantis held her transfixed under the points of the double saw and was already munching her belly, the Wasp continued to lick the honey off her Bee, unable to relinquish the delicious food even amid the terrors of death.”

A half-wasp walking about is nothing by comparison.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

From End to End

On my drive home yesterday afternoon, I found myself driving under a spectacular display of clouds.  Starting at the peaks of the Rocky Mountains, the clouds extended for dozens and dozens of miles across the sky—covering our entire valley from end to end.

They were a show-stopper. 

I skidded to a halt in the middle of my country drive, hopped out, and captured an image with my twice-as-smart-as-me-phone.

The clouds were of the wind-blown altocumulus type. 
Altocumulus clouds appear at between 6,000 and 20,000 feet.  The name means “high mass” or “high heap.”  According to UCAR Center for Science Education, if you hold hour thumb out at arm’s length Altocumulus clouds will appear about as wide as your thumb.  Cirrocumulus clouds, which look similar, appear above 18,000 feet and are usually about the size of your pinky finger when you hold it aloft.
  --Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Adversary

Cyber-attacks.  Unmanned drones.  Soon you shall know your adversary by serial number or source code.   

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 20, 2015

In Uncertain Light

Today, I am posting photographs taken of the inside of a berry strainer I held up against the sky.  I love weird point-of-view perspectives that create abstractions and striking patterns.  I first found myself drawn to such studies when I saw the black and white images produced by photography pioneer Edward Weston.  If you are unfamiliar with his work, Google his name.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Rumble (Magnitude 2.6)

According to, Helena, Montana has experienced 3 earthquakes in the past 7 days, 10 quakes in the past month, and 42 in the last year.  Most quakes go unnoticed by the lot of us scurrying about this mountainous corner of the world.  Earthquakes registering magnitudes of 3 or less are generally felt only under exceptional conditions.

I felt the earthquake that struck on Thursday afternoon.  Not only did I feel it—I heard it.
After puttering around the house for most of the day, I pretty much ran out of energy on Thursday afternoon.  A bit after 2:00 in the afternoon, I threw a couple of pillows on my back deck and flopped down to sunbathe alongside 20 pounds of housecat.  I shut my eyes for a while but never managed to drift away to sleep.  Eventually, I rolled over onto my side so that I could gaze out onto the hills surrounding the Big Belt Mountains and watch a pair of turkey vultures spiral around below the clouds.

That’s when the quake hit.

The deck shook and the house rumbled as if struck by a large truck.  At the same time, what sounded like a rapid series of sonorous (but distant) explosions buffeted against me.  My 20 pounds of housecat bolted straightaway off the deck.  I popped up to my feet and ran inside the house to find that girl.

I found her on the way to find me.

“What was that?” that girl asked.

“I have no idea,” I answered.  “It felt and sounded like something really big hit the house.

Instinctively, we exited the front door and scanned in all directions.

Nothing out of the ordinary there.

“You know,” I said after a few minutes, “I think that might have been a quake.”

Yesterday, in the local newspaper, I found a small article noting that the area within 50 miles of Helena has experienced 18 small earthquakes in the last 7 days.  The largest of those was a magnitude 2.6 on Thursday afternoon with an epicenter 10 miles northeast of Helena.

Pretty much directly under my house.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 18, 2015

Maintaining the Appearance that you are Intelligent

Rule number one:
Never asking the question: “In what year did the War of 1812 start?”

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Autumn Arrives

Pink mist drifting through the trees below my house.  The sweet smell of mud on our country road.   Geese drifting across the reflective surface of the lake.  Deer raiding that girl’s outdoor flower pots.  A certain chill in the air.  This is the first morning to feel like autumn.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Entry Divided

On February 12, 1861, in the small settlement of Union, Missouri, Sheriff A.W. Maupin gasped and held aloft in his left hand a small flag.  With his right hand, Sheriff Maupin raised a cocked and loaded revolver.  He stood at the center of a room divided between supporters of slave-holding Secessionists and those in favor of holding the Union of the United States solid.  From one side of the room, Secessionist sympathizers shouted “Down with the flag!”  From the opposite side of the room, advocates of the Union raised their voice in a chorus of “Hurrahs!”

The flag held by Sheriff Maupin was the stars and stripes of these United States of America.  The sheriff eventually challenged the Confederate supporters to try and take the flag from him if they wanted to bring it down.

His challenge went unanswered.

As a point of fact, though, the U.S. flag was the first casualty of the Civil War.  During the very first authentic battle of the war, at Fort Sumter, South Carolina (following a siege lasting several months), Confederate attackers made a point to target the U.S. flag.  On April 13, 1861, the Confederates finally shot down the flagstaff that held the stars and stripes aloft.  The U.S. soldiers managed to raise the flag again using a small staff on the fort’s ramparts, but were forced to surrender and pull down the flag on April 14.

The Confederate flag went up in place or ours.

Years of bloodshed followed wherever the two flags clashed together.

The other day, while driving through the small mountain town of Lincoln, Montana (the same town where Ted Kaczynski—the Unabomber—was found), I spotted a home where the stars and stripes hung on one side of the entry door and a large Confederate flag hung from a staff on the other side of the door.

I am something of a Libertarian.  I don’t believing in banning any form of thought.  I don’t think sales of anything, including the Confederate flag, should be banned.  In my mind, the sullied act of dragging the Confederate flag back into the public square during the civil rights scuffles of the 1960s is beside the point.  Still, given all of that, I am appalled when I see the Confederate flag on display right beside my U.S. flag.

History always pulls me directly under the stars and stripes.

That is my flag.
--Mitchell Hegman
Most historical information thanks to:

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


The other day, I had to give my date of birth to someone.  As I offered the month and year, the reality of it occurred to me.

I was born at mid-century in the century preceding this one.

I am a relic.

Funny thing is, I still wake most mornings wanting to prance naked around the house.  I still like to say ridiculous things and repeat the phrase “ain’t no thang but a chicken wang" every few minutes.  I still enjoy gurgling water for no reason but the sound of it.

Age does not remove the dumbass from a man.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, September 14, 2015

Morning Report

Early in the morning.  I and 20 pounds of housecat step out onto back deck to see if the Big Dipper is tipped to spill out daylight.
The cat immediately finds and chases a spider away.

Realizing that I am barefoot, I scamper back inside my house without looking at the sky.

End of report.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mollie Sleeps

Mollie will be eight weeks old today.  Yesterday afternoon, Mollie and her mother stopped by to sit in the shade of our deck and enjoy the last of summer’s warmth.  The sound of adult conversation and the calls of the songbirds gathering together in nearby trees soon lulled the little girl to sleep.

Posted is a photograph of Mollie sleeping on her mother’s lap.  Infants sleep perfectly.  They are filled with innocence and soft connections and a dawdling grace of movement that is unmatched at any time later in life.

Sometimes, I think we need infants not so much to continue our species as we need them to remind us to slow down and enjoy every small moment provided.
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Rules of the Junk Drawer

1. The shortest pencil in the drawer is the only one with unbroken lead.
2. All screws shall be found pointy-side-up.
3. Found: six AAA batteries, three AA Batteries, two 9V.   Needed: one C battery.
4. Fishing line, string, and wire will unspool itself if left in the drawer for longer than a month.
5. Broken rubber bands breed in the back corners of junk drawers.
6. What in the hell is that?  Seriously.  What is that?
7. Phillips screwdrivers eventually vanish if left in the junk drawer.
8. This is where ink pens go to break and leak out their ink.
9. Given enough time, everything in the drawer will fuse into a solid mass.
10. Someday, you will clean the junk drawer.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 11, 2015

Stair-Stepping Down

Apparently, the stock market and I have different plans for financing my retirement.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Five-Alarm Sunset

At the end of yesterday, we experienced one of those five-alarm sunsets I recently wrote about.  I ran outside my house with camera in hand and captured images for several minutes.  Posted are a couple of the images I captured.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Do You?

I just read that kissing helps keep your face muscles strong.  Finally, I can claim that I regularly exercise!

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Sunset, September 7, 2015

Some of our sunsets are what the writer Barbara Kingsolver describes as “five alarm sunsets.”  Those set the entire sky aflame from end to end with red and orange colors.  Other sunsets are what I call “soft fires.”  Those kind of sunsets merely tinge the cloudbottoms above the far mountains with a blush of colors.  Between these two types of sunsets are an infinity of cloud, landscape, and color possibilities. 

If you have ever watched for the entire time when the sun is slicing down against the horizon, you know that the colors and the whole production changes by the second.  Posted today are a couple of photographs I captured from the back of my house last night.  Not a five alarm variety, but somewhat ominous at the end.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Story of X

Peering into the eye of a horse and seeing, inside, an ancient sea clutching at stony shores.
Hearing from locked rooms the prayers of strangers.
Blood on the walls and blue drugs burning inside your veins.
Feeling the days sifting through your fingers like sharp pebbles scratched from the desert floor.
Your old life collapses around you.
Now you run. 
You take a woman with low morals.  She says little, but rides you at night. 
One day you find a place where the sun has turned the hillsides to gold.  There, you take the woman in full daylight.  She tells you she wants land and horses.
Now you run.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, September 5, 2015

A New Tradition

I rather like that tradition where the winning team players dump water on the winning coach after a big football win.  I am thinking we should adopt a new tradition in politics where the opposing campaign workers start throwing tomatoes at election winners as they give their “thank you” speech the night they are elected.

That way, everyone wins.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, September 4, 2015

Can a Broken Heart Kill You?

I have heard countless stories of elderly couples who—after many years of marriage—die within hours or days of one another.  The story of my own grandparents is not far from that.

“They died of a broken heart,” we say of the person who died shortly after the loss of their spouse.

I can personally attest to both emotional and physical changes in my grandfather after my grandmother passed.  An internal switch flipped to the “off” positon inside him and he simply shrunk and faded away.

Yesterday, I saw, on several news sources, that medical professionals have concluded broken hearts are a real thing.

Yes, a broken heart can kill you.

According to an article posted by Maggie Fox at NBC News, the scientific name for a broken heart is takotsubo cardiomyopathy or takotsubo syndrome.  The word takotsubo means “octopus pot” in Japanese.  The reference to an octopus pot is due to the way the heart disease physically changes the shape of the heart.

A broken heart appears very much like a heart attack on the electrocardiogram, but it is not.  Takotsubo syndrome is thought to be triggered by brain signals to adrenal glands.  The signals cause the adrenal glands to release hormones that alter the rhythm and, ultimately, the shape of the heart.

The disease is commonly blamed when couples die with a few days or even hours of each other.

Studies conducted internationally indicate that both physical and emotional stress can cause the onset of takotsubo syndrome.  Men appear to be more likely than women to die from the disorder.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Web

Posted, is a photograph of a spider web that I found hammocked between some rocks at the lakeshore.  I never tire of the patterns on display in nature.  Throw a few beads of water on a pattern and, well, I am sold.

I captured the image with my smarter-than-me-cellular-phone.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


While the Earth is clearly round, we humans have been trying to create and then occupy different sides for as far back as I can see.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

I Think Not

I glimpsed a striking blonde woman in tight-fitting jeans entering the contractor entrance at Home Depot just before I stepped into the main entrance.  Once inside the store, I wandered around the main aisle a bit.  I did not notice the striking blonde again until she had passed behind me, walking toward the far end of the store.  Just as I noticed her, a male employee appeared far down the main aisle from both of us, several departments away.  The male employee stopped dead in his tracks, openly appraised the blonde, and then yelled across the store: “May I help you?”

I am guessing that I and the blonde experienced the same internal reaction: I think not!  

--Mitchell Hegman