Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Saturday, October 31, 2015
Friday, October 30, 2015
Thursday, October 29, 2015
Yesterday, four of us spent a large part of the day exploring Springs Preserve. The preserve features a variety of museums and gardens. The butterfly habitat most impressed me. We must have spent an hour inside the habitat, a netted-in area smaller than my living room. I also enjoyed the traveling display of treasure and artifacts recovered from shipwrecks by the Odyssey Marine Exploration Company.
Springs Preserve is named for the life-giving freshwater springs that once supported a vibrant green ecosystem where the Las Vegas (and the preserve) is presently located. Today I am posting a few photographs from Springs Preserve.
Wednesday, October 28, 2015
That girl and I arrived in Vegas (by plane) late last night. I woke this morning with the sounds of the city pouring in through the open windows of the bedroom. We are staying at my sister Paula’s house. We will be staying until next Monday.
My sister and I were first to wake this morning.
First “wakers” must walk the dogs.
The term “walking” is a bit misleading. We are talking about a full-fledged adventure here. The dogs alternate between pulling you out into the traffic, wrapping you around light poles, stirring up the fenced dogs you pass, stopping to sniff at dog jewels they chance upon, trying to chase city buses, and jumping on each other.
Did I mention the traffic?
Posted today is a photograph of my sister Paula and her dogs.
Tuesday, October 27, 2015
The last steak you ate did not actually start out in a package. At some not intolerably distant point, the steak was part of an animal that perhaps lazed in the afternoon sun on a hillside or maybe spent an entire summer frisking alongside a stream in the mountains. Something that most of us might consider a bit ugly happened between when you picked up the package of steak at the store and when the steak was yet part of an animal plodding alongside the stream.
Living in a modern society, where hamburger and steaks are perpetually found in shiny squared packages immediately next to chilled beer and flower displays, divorces most of us from the less-than-pretty reality of “processing” meat.
Dismantling a beast is both hard work and messy. Knives and cleavers are required. Saws are needed. Machines are used. Think of what your local auto repair shop looks like as car is dismantled and then add blood.
Hunting season has always provided me with a reality check on this.
Yesterday, I helped a friend field dress and then hang a mule deer. I must tell you, the inside of a deer is not exactly filled with gleaming clockworks. I will spare most details…save the three that struck me yesterday. These are the same three details that struck me when I was young boy watching as my father and grandfather dressed deer “harvested” during our yearly hunting trips:
Spilled blood smells like a marriage between motor oil and freshly cut metal.
The eyes of a dead deer fade to gray quickly.
The tongue of a dead deer remains sticking out from its mouth.
I will happily share in eating this year’s venison. I offered to help butcher the animal. Though long ago I lost my own desire to hunt and to kill, I celebrate the arrival of each hunting season. I am thankful for what our mountain living provides. I am thankful for the deer and knowing whence it came.
Monday, October 26, 2015
Last night, I woke late in the night and my mind immediately began churning with the thought that I need to pull out my refrigerator and clean behind it. I mean that very thought ran from corner to corner in my mind and kicked the hell out of any thought of world wars or hot air balloons or pipe wrenches or absolutely anything else.
This went on for a very long time. “What the hell is back there behind the refrigerator,” I wondered. “When did I last clean behind it? Did I mop the floor and wipe down the walls?”
I admonished myself, “Seriously, are you going to let the thought of cleaning behind your refrigerator keep you from falling back to sleep?”
...Yes…yes, I am.
Sunday, October 25, 2015
Saturday, October 24, 2015
In the early summer of 1976, I and a handful of friends scrambled onto an old gold dredge floating in pond of water just off Tizer Road near Jefferson City, Montana. Two of my friends jumped into the pond from the roof of the beast while the rest of us explored the giant machine.
I recalled the day we explored the dredge last night as I sat watching Gold Rush on Discovery. Tony Beets, one of the miners featured on the program, is resurrecting a similar dredge. His machine was originally built in 1938 and abandoned in the Alaskan gold fields after many years of operation.
Interesting thing about the local dredge we explored: my grandfather operated the brute during the era of the Great Depression. For better or worse, he was the person responsible for the stacks of stone that might still be found along Prickly Pear Creek starting at Montana City and extending to Jefferson City. During the 1960s he took me fishing in a few of the more remote dredge ponds he’d made amid the stacks of washed stone.
I caught trout on every cast.
Grandfather said that he saw a few nuggets the size of the end of his thumb cross through his machine.
The dredge sat rusting in the pond off Tizer Road for forty-some years. Then, in the 1980’s, the behemoth was dismantled and shipped down to Brazil for reassembly and release into a frenzied gold rush taking place there.
That pleased my Grandfather.
He passed not long after.
I had an instamatic camera with me on that day in 1976 when we explored the dredge. I snapped a photo of my friends jumping into the water. One of the jumpers died only a year or so later. I am pictured high on the stacker in the photo to the upper right.
I wonder if part of my grandfather remains churning away in Brazil.
Friday, October 23, 2015
My brother-in-law, Terry, underwent eye surgery yesterday to remove a cataract and have an intraocular lens implanted. He had the procedure performed in Great Falls. My sister and that girl drove Terry up to Great Falls in the morning and returned almost immediately following the operation. Their first stop after the surgery was here at the house.
The doctor told Terry that he could remove the strip holding his eye shut once the anesthetics wore off he was able to blink again. As good fortune might have it, his ability to blink returned as we sat at my kitchen island to celebrate with a meager glass of Scotch.
“Dude,” I said, “you need to peel that thing off your eye while you are here.”
“I don’t know…”
I pressed him. “You can blink, right? Come on. I’m excited for you. Let’s try out your new eye.”
After a bit more discussion, Terry agreed to peel off the strip and open his eye. He was a bit tentative after first opening the eye, but after a minute or two of blinking he began to pick up some of my papers and read them. He surveyed the room. “I can see!” he said excitedly.
“Can you see pretty well?” I asked. “Is it way better?”
“Yeah, not bad, except I am seeing double.”
“Double?” I experimentally waved a hand in front of him. “Is there someone you really like?” I asked.
“Well, I was just thinking that today would be a great day to see someone you like because there will be two of them!”
Terry allowed me to take before and after images with my twice-as-smart-as-me-phone. I put them together and have posted them here.
Thursday, October 22, 2015
Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
I am a killer.
During the span of an average year, I am responsible (in some fashion) for the death of at least two songbirds. Two days ago, the second of my victims for this year, a Townsend’s solitaire, struck my bay window at full flight speed and instantly perished.
I heard the thud of impact while standing in my kitchen and ran outside to find the solitaire crumpled in blue grama grass alongside recently shed leaves from my linden tree.
I suspect this may be the same bird that overwintered near my house last year. The solitaire fed on the abundant supply of juniper berries and occasionally perched on my rain gutters to catch winter sun.
My typical mode of dispensing death to songbirds is by means of striking them with my car or truck. Earlier this year, I mowed down a flightless robin walking across the highway. I could not avoid the bird due to oncoming traffic. Last year, I struck one LBJ (little brown job of unknown identity) with my car and one swallow with my truck.
I know. Just a bird. But I have grown extraordinarily averse to unnecessary death in my evolving age. I suffer a little with each loss. Soon, I start to imagine that every other adult I know shares this same gray statistic of allotting death to songbirds.
Two birds each year per person.
If so…that is a lot of dead just birds.
Monday, October 19, 2015
At about 4:30 Saturday afternoon last I came to fully appreciate living out here at the edge of the Rocky Mountains and the fringe of civilization. There we stood fishing from a boat—five of us warmed by an uncommon sun.
Denny, captain of our small boat, first moved to Helena in 1973 as a young man. He befriended, of all people, my freshly retired grandfather. Grandfather taught him how to fish these mountain-fed waters. Now, come full circle, Denny carefully knit his boat back and forth amid the glinting waters just beyond the Gates of the Mountains. Watching the cartoonish display of his fish finder, he strove to keep us balanced just above what is, essentially, a submerged mountaintop surrounded by much deeper water. A school of perch were lazing there atop the mountain like shadows cast by a flock of sheep afield—all of them thirty feet under our boat.
We all caught perch.
That girl managed to land a walleye.
Better yet, as we floated there fishing, a couple dozen wild mountain sheep carefully threaded down the cliffs to water right beside us a mere stone-throw away.
Thus ended a day of eagles gliding overhead, deer milling through honey-colored grass on the low hills, hiking to a long abandoned homestead halfway up mountain, and the blue-sky sun snapping through the gunsight notches in tall cliffs as we motored through the endless canyon turns.
Posted today is a photograph of that girl and a perch, the homestead we explored, the mountain sheep we saw, and an eagle’s nest.
Posted is an example of life as we should live it!
Sunday, October 18, 2015
Meriwether Lewis and his party of explorers entered the looming cliffs and natural towers of stone that express the Gates of the Mountains by way of the Missouri River late in the day on July 19 of 1805. Lewis wrote in his journal that the explorers had entered the canyon by way of “the most remarkable clifts we have yet seen.” The full cross-shadows at water level and the teetering stone walls many hundreds of feet above the dark water prompted Lewis to add that the canyon wore “a dark and gloomy aspect.”
Living in or near Helena, we are fortunate to be only twenty or thirty minutes from the Gates of the Mountains. Yesterday, we took advantage of our close proximity. Five of us spent most of the sunlight hours exploring the Gates in a friend’s boat. We even stopped for a short hike against the sun-washed mountains.
I would rate our experience on the opposite end of the scale from “dark and gloomy.” We had a great time—especially when the afternoon sun found and warmed us as our boat slowly sliced through the waters furrowing around the oxbow bends of the ancient river channel.
Posted today are photographs of the trip through the Canyon.
Saturday, October 17, 2015
No longer hunters and gatherers,
we have cast our net of wavelengths all about us.
By day and by night
our tiny satellites slowly till the stars,
trying to seed our messages electrical, mechanical, and mathematical.
But the stars never fully part and the seeds don’t take.
And if you look closely
You find that we are one in achievement
yet divided by heart.
Friday, October 16, 2015
Thursday, October 15, 2015
Two nights ago, at somewhere near 6:00 in the evening, the phone on my living room end table clamored and rattled my glass of Scotch for the last time. I answered and found my sister on the other end. She immediately informed me she wanted to talk with that girl.
I handed the phone to that girl.
Yesterday, at my request, my land line was permanently disconnected.
My generation marks the dividing line between the old “copper line” phone system users and the cellular phone revolution. A fair number of people near my age have retained their phone lines. None of the people my daughter’s age would consider a land line for their home. Most everyone I know from the generation ahead of me would not consider getting rid of their land line.
I actually deliberated disconnecting my land line two years ago. After much thought, I kept my line in place because my elderly neighbor Leo St Clair always used that line to contact me in the event of emergencies. The land line was the only sure thing to bring me from a deep sleep. As Leo’s health declined, the phone rang enough times to make my decision a solid one.
Leo’s passing a month-plus ago ended all arguments for keeping my land line.
As I write this, my cup of coffee is sitting on the end table where my old phone once sat.
Welcome to the new world.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
I once subscribed to Playboy Magazine. I subscribed to the magazine for much of the 1990s and continued to do so until the early 2000s. I enjoyed the articles.
Seriously, I did.
I was not alone in enjoying the magazine. On occasion, I had to retrieve the magazine from my daughter’s room once she matured enough to appreciate and understand the articles presented—especially the in-depth interviews with important figures of the day. My wife normally finished most of the articles before I did. While most of the “men’s” magazines transformed into softcore and then hardcore pornography, Playboy held to a far less revealing form of nudity.
Playboy recently announced (with the blessings of Hugh Hefner himself) that the magazine will no longer feature photographs of fully nude women. The pervasive nature of sex and nudity on the internet and in all other media has made the once provocative and revolutionary magazine passé. This is an astounding change for a magazine that exploded onto the American (and world) stage in 1953 featuring nude photographs of Marilyn Monroe inside.
In a sense, Playboy is a victim of its own success in broadening the acceptance and demand for sex and nudity.
According to a story in the New York Times written by Ravi Somaiya, Playboy Magazine has seen circulation plunge from 5.6 million in 1975 to 800,000 at present. The November 1972 issue sold over 7 million copies, making it the best-selling issue in the magazine’s history. In August of last year Playboy’s website dispensed with nudity and saw unique user traffic jump from 4 million to 16 million per month. More astoundingly, the average age of the readers dropped from 47 to just a bit over the age of 30.
That Playboy should opt out of nudity is no small shift. In a very real sense—for better or worse—Playboy Magazine acted as the flagship fetching nudity into the American daylight. Hugh Hefner pushed against censorship and fought to protect First Amendment rights. The move to dispense with nudity is nothing less than provocative.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Years ago my phone rang one Saturday morning as I sat drinking my morning coffee. I answered after a couple of rings.
Friend on the other end of the line: “Mitch, I am hanging a new light in my kitchen. When I hooked it up and tried it, sparks flew and the breaker tripped. I am naked on the ladder looking at it right now. Can you help?”
Me: “Maybe…but I am not coming over. We will try to fix this one over the phone.”
Monday, October 12, 2015
The other day, while I stood in one of those typical cattle-like lines at the Denver airport trying to catch my flight back to Montana, former Senator Alan Simpson, ambled by on his way to board a flight destined for his home state of Wyoming. I am pretty certain that I was the only person to recognize him.
Most recently, Senator Simpson is known for co-chairing the Simpson-Bowles Plan (The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform). The Simpson-Bowles Plan is designed to restructure and reduce our unremitting national debt. The plan proposes kicking at all legs of spending and altering all aspects of our present tax structure.
Senator Simpson is also known for being a bit cranky at times and more than a little folksy. In simple terms, he is “quotable.” Today, I thought I would share one of my favorite Simpson quotes:
“Do you know the difference beween naked and nekkid? If you’re naked, you don’t have any clothes on, but if you’re nekkid you don’t have any clothes on but you’re up to something.”
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Perhaps you recall the nasty story of John Wayne Bobbitt and his wife Lorena. She, a saucy little number from Ecuador, took a horrendously large kitchen knife to John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis and severed it off as he lay in a drunken stupor in their bed. Lorena Bobbitt then fled off into the night in an automobile and, at some point, flung John Wayne Bobbitt’s penis out the car window into a field.
Luckily, a crack penis search and rescue team was dispatched to the field forthwith. The search team managed not only to locate the penis (based strictly on member size, I doubt they would have had such luck had I been Lorena Bobbitt’s victim), they also found the member in a timely enough fashion that the penis was yet viable.
Surgeons later successfully re-attached the penis to the rest of John Bobbitt, though doctors informed Mr. Bobbitt that he would likely be unsuccessful in pleasuring women again. John Wayne Bobbitt proved the doctors wrong in that regard. In fact, he even went on to “star” in a few porn movie productions, including: John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut and Frankenpenis.
Some versions of the Lorena Bobbitt story make claim that she (pun not necessarily intended) whacked off John’s penis because he did not properly pleasure her on the night of the assault. Lorena is known to have a temper. Long after the John Bobbitt incident, she was accused of slugging her mother because her mother switched to the wrong television program while they sat together watching a shared television set (Lorena’s actions in this second case do seem somewhat defensible to me).
Anyhow, I bring up the story of John and Lorena Bobbitt because I saw a banana slug while hiking through a redwood forest in California last week.
For those of you lacking in knowledge about the sex life of banana slugs, you need to know a few things about banana slugs. First of all, banana slugs are endowed with an enormous penis.
We are talking seriously large here.
Banana slugs can grow to a size of 6 or 8 inches in length. A slug’s erect penis can be as long as its body. That’s pretty big relatively speaking. Oddly enough, you might think that surgeons mistakenly attached the slug’s penis to the wrong spot because the erect penis sprouts from the banana slug’s head rather than from “down there.”
Banana slugs are also hermaphrodites. For this reason, all adult slugs have female parts and should also be endowed with a whopper penis. In this way, any slug should be able to mate with any other slug—a convenient arrangement at slug bar closing time.
Here is the part where Lorena Bobbitt enters Slug World.
Not all mature adults have a penis. Some slugs have had their members lopped off. Well, gnawed off might be closer to the mark. Seems as though some slugs will sever the penis off their mate during the act of sex by vigorously chewing through it. Slug experts—yes they do exist—are not entirely certain why slugs engage in such behavior. Are they selfishly limiting gene pool options? Does the severed penis remain as a “plug” to make sure that sexual transfer material remains in place? Are the slugs stuck together and merely trying to escape? Or (this is entirely my own theory) has one slug been a dismal lover?
I was a bit horrified the first time I read an account of slug lovemaking. Slug World is a slow, yet, apparently brutal place. For those of you likely to encounter a slug at any time in the near future…I suggest you not allow your penis near said slug.
Posted is the photograph I captured of the slug I met along a shadowy trail.--Mitchell Hegman
Slug information thanks to: TGIPF: The Weird World of Banana Slug Sex: Redux, by: Cassandra Willyard
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Friday, October 9, 2015
I have been disappointed by more than a few tourist destinations in my life. Not so with California’s Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Upon entering the forest of giant redwoods, my own smallness produced a sense of slow-motion that overwhelmed me. The first urge was to stop the car and step outside in an effort to measure—to fathom what surrounded me. The next urge was to walk deep into the so-called “darkness at noon” created by the shadows of the giants.
Something about everything changed once I wandered out among the trees.
I touched one of the giants and looked up. The trees are so tall, I could not see the top from where I stood. Some are so broad at the base, they might be mistaken for buildings. The scent of ancient earth and the silence of untold years enveloped me. Looking back at that girl among the trees and the tiny car just off the narrow road, a sense of my human frailty came clear—a feeling not so different from peering up into the endless arrangement of stars from the open prairie late at night.
Some things are beyond my simple forms of measure.
Imagine. These giants were alive and old when my great grandmother’s great grandmother was born. Some of these goliaths have been alive for 2,000 years. Whole human empires have risen and collapsed at the feet of these titans. A fallen (freight-train-sized) tree might remain extending across the ferns on the forest floor for hundreds of years.
I have always been interested in the biology and the science of the clockworks and beasts that surround me. But upon entering the redwoods the impact was entirely sensory and emotional for me.
Posted are two photographs from deep in the redwood forest. That girl (you will find her in both photographs) provides some perspective of size for the redwood trees.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
First, I would like to thank all the powers that be for not ending the world yesterday.
Apparently, the world was supposed to end yesterday and—once again, thankfully—I missed it. I am still here. This time around, the fey prediction of the end came from eBible Fellowship. At least we are now incorporating in internet into the nutty predictions of doom that have been following us around like a stray dog for the last two-thousand years. Perhaps this is a step in the correct direction to reach our doom.
Now to the toast.
Upon leaving Shelter Cove yesterday morning, we opted for a somewhat “sketch” dirt road shortcut through the King Mountains.
Four things about that:
One: Did not make it through.
Two: Got stuck in a deep and boulder-strewn spring’s crossing. We extricated ourselves after the girls gathered a bunch of sticks and rocks so I could use the tire jack to raise the car and crib under the tires to gain traction. After a half-hour or so, we freed the car again.
Three: Saw a mountain lion as we retreated back to the main road.
Four: I had one of the best days I have had in a very long time with my two girls.
Upon reaching San Francisco late in the evening, we raised our glass in a toast to tire jacks and mountain lions.
Wednesday, October 7, 2015
1. Saw a whale
Note: I captured a photograph that shows the whale as a smallish black spot in the Pacific Ocean…not worth posting
2. Drove right through a giant redwood tree
Note: Definitely a bit hokey…but if you have an opportunity to drive through a tree you must take it (after you wave the Japanese tourists out of the way)
3. Collected sea glass from a beach near the crashing surf
Note: More fun than I expected and the stuff is pretty…the glass is from an era when people used the ocean as a garbage receptor
4. Walked deep into the redwood forest to find a waterfall
Note: A shaded and quiet place…the ancient redwood trees are awe inspiring in a deeper and more thoughtful way than most tourist attractions
5. Saw a banana slug
Note: These slugs have a weird sex life…more on that in a later blog
6. Found the Lost Coast of California near Shelter Cove
Note: the Lost Coast is a long stretched of undeveloped coast, so named because the engineers who designed Highway 1 could not find a practical way to build the highway near the coast and were forced to push the highway many miles inland…we can see mountainous coast from our room at Shelter Cove