Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year

I would like to wish everyone a happy new year, except that guy in the junky truck who took up two parking spots at Staples and the guy who sets time for traffic lights.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Missed Connections (A Brief Report)

Flew to Denver early yesterday morning.  Landed at the airport and sat on the tarmac for an hour.  Missed all connections to Ohio.  Thousands of flights cancelled or delayed across the United States.  Ate an awful-tasting burger that turned into a serpent in my stomach.  Stood in line with hundreds of other flyers for six hours to find connecting flights—all the while using my computer and phone to find the same.  Worked with an agent for twenty minutes to simply arrange a standby flight back home.  Flight home departed the gate several hours late.  Sat on the tarmac for another hour.  Arrived back home late in the night.

No trip to Ohio.

Woke late this morning from a dream of my ranch neighbor firing artillery shells at me.

End of report. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

That Simple

One day you are organizing your drinking glasses in your cupboard.  The next day you are gone.

Organize well, my friends.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, December 28, 2015

Held There

That girl and I drove up to the cabin the other day.  We tromped around in the snow and warmed ourselves in the sunshine in the open meadow along the creek.  The cabin is nestled in a deep mountain valley and only occasionally suffers from strong winds.  For that reason, snow tends to pile and remain on top of anything sticking upright.  Posted today are a couple of photographic examples.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Greatness…And Not So Much

The human mind has delivered us to an astonishing time.  We soar through the air and speed across the face of our planet.  We have circled and then stepped on the face of the Moon.  I am able to tell my new car to make phone calls on my smarter-than-me-phone.  When I walk into some rooms, the lights switch on automatically.

Yet, here I am, unable to find my own keys.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Approach

It’s all in the approach.  Even a sheet of paper can deliver a cut if on edge.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, December 25, 2015

Mary Did You Know?

A simple, but lovely version of this song.

--Mitchell Hegman
Click on this link if the posted video fails to launch:   

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Poetry versus Prose

Back January of 2014, two men in the Russian town of Irbit engaged in a deep conversation about literary genres.  One man thought poetry was the best form of expression.  The other man thought prose writing was the best.

As I mentioned, the men were Russian.

They were drinking.

This sort sedate of argument occurs daily in the halls of academia.  But these were two Russian men, drinking.  The argument soon became animated.  After hearing quite enough claptrap from the defender of prose, the man of poetry, a schoolteacher, stabbed the prose fellow to death.
I find two valid points to take away from this sad tale.

First, this proves, just as someone famous (whose name presently escapes me) said: “poetry kills.” 

Secondly, killing is one thing that should not be left to the prose.
--Mitchell Hegman


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Big Sun

Posted is a photograph of the winter sun burning through early morning fog and frost on the open prairie near my house.
--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Frosty Deer

Deer stay warm because they have fur made out of windows.  Well, their fur is not actually made of double pane casement windows, but the principles are much the same.  The hair comprising a deer’s fur is hollow.  The air trapped in the hair—just as the air between window panes—affords superior insulating properties.

Cold weather does not appear to bother the mule deer living around my home.  On cold mornings such as yesterday, the deer unglue themselves from the frozen landscape where they have bedded down overnight and disperse into the frost and widening light.

Same as any other day.

Today, I am posting photographs of a deer that ascended the hill below my house just after sunrise yesterday.  The deer browsed up through my yard on the way to the rest of a mostly sunny day.  The coat of frost across the deer’s back and on her ears tells the whole story.
--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, December 21, 2015

Literal Interpretation

They say if you really love someone you should let them go.  And that’s exactly how my ex-girlfriend fell from the roof.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Below Zero

Today, I am posting a photograph I captured early one winter morning in 2010.  I stopped and snapped the picture on my way to work.  The temperature at the time was below zero.

Though the subjects in the photograph are a wholly mundane, the movement of night-steam and the washed-out lighting on the building in the background add a drama that I particularly enjoy.

I did not have a tri-pod when I captured the image.  I simply held my camera against the partially open window of my truck to hold steady as I snapped the shutter.  For that reason you can see a slight fuzziness throughout the entire image.  You can also see a small scattering of stars in the sky.
   --Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Chestnut Tree Found in Maine

More good news.  An American chestnut tree has been found deep in the forests of Maine.  The tree, according to an article I found at GoodNewsNetwork, was discovered during an aerial search conducted by a team from the University of Maine.

The tree is not only a native chestnut tree—it is at least 100 years old, 115 feet tall, and thought to be the tallest chestnut tree in North America.

Perhaps a bit of history is required here.

At one time, American chestnut trees swelled the great forests along the East Coast of North America.  The chestnut was the most prominent species in the forest.  A century ago, the white blossoms of these ambitious trees were so prolific the Appalachian Mountains appeared as if covered in snow during the week the trees came to bloom.

Today, mostly blank spots remain where the trees stood.  American chestnut trees are “functionally extinct.”

In 1904, an Asian tree blight was accidentally released in to the North American landscape.  A massive die-off swept through the population of chestnut trees in both the United States and Canada.  Billions of trees perished.

The tree in Maine is a big deal.

This tree and a sparse handful of other pre-blight survivors (numbering only in the dozens) are thought to be genetically unique.  They appear to be immune to the disease that wiped out so many other trees.  The hope is that the survivors may provide breeding stock with DNA that will save the species.

The hope: from one tree many.
--Mitchell Hegman

Sources: and

Friday, December 18, 2015

In Good News Today

The Huffington Post is reporting that a study conducted by the University of Alberta has concluded that drinking a glass of red may provide the equivalent of an hour of exercise at the gym.  A component found in red wine, resveratrol, seems to improve physical performance, heart function and strength.


--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, December 17, 2015


At some point—I am not sure if there is an exact temperature—frigid Arctic air converts snow, and sometimes the air itself, into a mass of sparkles.

This spectacle is beautiful.

Such cold air poured down into our snow-filled valley last night.  Driving our country road back home after a late dinner, that girl and I found ourselves in a bright sea of high stars, untracked snow, and sparkles.  Our headlights continually washed across starkly white gatherings of ghost trees and snow-softened rolls of land—all seemingly sprinkled-over with freshly cut diamonds.

Sparkles swelled up and tumbled away from the tires of our car as we drove on.

Virtually all points washed by our headlights exploded into brilliant spangles against the cobalt night.

While I am not particularly fond of frigid temperatures, the beauty produced by them has no equivalent.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

An Experiment

Yesterday afternoon I conducted an experiment.  I shut down my computer, turned off the ever-present Sirius channel feeding music into my house, and I sat in silence just to see where my mind would go.

That was scary.

I will not be doing that again anytime soon.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Bells in my Head

Sometimes, I spend the entirety of the day fighting the urge to use the word tintinnabulation in a sentence.

--Mitchell Hegman 

Monday, December 14, 2015

In Simple Form

We are born screaming.  The trick is not to exit the same way.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Fire Born, Mitch Tested

Today, I announce the retirement of my old coffee cup.  I have used this cup exclusively for the last ten years.  My coffee cup is a pretty big deal.  As mentioned in a preceding blog, I will fish “my” coffee cup from a heap of dirty dishes and clean it for my morning coffee if dishes remain unwashed from the previous day.

I now have a new coffee cup.

My new coffee cup is remarkable.

First, and most importantly, the cup was a gift from my friend Sandi.  Gifts are always shinier and more commanding than anything standing alongside them.  This gift is also a symbol of enduring friendship.

My new coffee cup is one of a kind.  The cup was custom-made.  It features the very photograph you find on this blog’s landing page.  The title of this blog faces me as I sip coffee.
Good stuff, that!

My new cup is ceramic and, therefore, born from fire and heat.  Perhaps most importantly, the cup has already passed the “Mitch test.”  A Mitch test is a slightly less romantic version of an “idiot test.”  In a Mitch test, a thing is subjected to some form of catastrophic accident.  Yesterday, only a few minutes after receiving cup, the cup fell right through the bottom of the gift bag I was holding.  The cup glanced off a brass foot railing, shot across the floor of the establishment where Sandi, that girl, and I had met, and landed at Sandi’s feet.  Sandi’s eyes blossomed wide.

Oh dear!

I quickly chased after the cup.

Happily, the cup was unscathed.  After checking all surfaces and angles thoroughly, I gave it to that girl for safe keeping. 

This morning, while writing this, I have been drinking coffee from the new cup.  Coffee has never tasted so good.

Thank you Sandi!
--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sweet at Seventeen Years

You have likely heard the breathless, if not nonsensical, descriptions of the taste of wine as extended by connoisseurs.  I give you, for example, this description of Rio Grande Rojo I found on the Vinter’s Cellar (Waterloo) website: “Heavy, rich and ‘Big” in every way.  Heavy toasted oak used in its design, release the earth, burnt chocolate and vanilla tones, spicy with a pronounced black cherry, distinguishes itself with elegance.  Plum and black current undertones.  A really-full-bodied wine that distinguishes itself with elegance.”


But does the wine taste good?  That’s all I want to know.  Why are they allowing 19th century Russian novelists to write these descriptions?  Where is Mark Twain when you need him?

My brother-in-law and I like a sip of Scotch now and then.  Okay.  More like now and now and now and then, then, then.  We have particular and workmanlike descriptors for Scotch.  “Shit tastes good,” describes a single malt when we enjoy it.
I should note that we have yet to run across a single malt we did not like.

I am not a massive fan of blended whisky.  I will often tell my brother-in-law that they are “too smooth.”  I enjoy a little alcohol burn on my tongue.  Scotch whisky can also display a truly “smoky” flavor or a profound flavor of “peat.”  Both of these are honest remnants of the distilling process and aging in fired oak casks previously used for aging other spirits.

Yesterday I received—as a gift—a bottle of Balvenie, aged seventeen years. 

Shit’s incredibly good!

The barley for Balvenie is still malted (as traditionally) on a wooden malting floor.  The malted barley is then dried in smoky peat kilns.  The spirits produced for the seventeen year old Balvenie Doublewood are (as implied by the name) aged for a full seventeen years.  They are first matured in whisky oak casks.  For the last five years, the spirts are transferred to sherry oak casks.

This Scotch—as most single malts—has an earthy (smoke and peat) taste.

Here is the kicker.  This Balvenie actually has a distinctly sweet after-taste from its time aging in sherry casks.  I suspect a wine-taster could write an entire book around this stuff.  I pray they don't.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, December 11, 2015

40 Pounds of Heat and One Foot

I have been piddling around with a thermal imager for a few days.  I may need the device for an upcoming study on an electrical distribution system.  I am learning how to capture, store, and export images in a more usable format.  For practice, I have been shooting stuff around the house.

Thermal imaging devices offer an alternate and particularly narrowed view of the physical world.  Surface textures, profile details, our normally registered wavelengths of color, and the senses of three dimensional space are sacrificed in favor of recording the stark heat signatures of whatever the camera is fixed on.  There is no delineating living and non-living things.  Everything is registered on a simple scale of temperature.

A thing is hot or a thing is cold.

The images fascinate me.

Posted today are some images I captured with the imager I am learning to use.  In the first capture, you see 20 pounds of housecat standing in my kitchen.  The next image reveals the “heat prints” the cat left on the floor after he walked away.  In the final image, I caught my foot in the foreground and another 20 pounds of housecat sprawled on the living room carpet in the distance.

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, December 10, 2015

That Shall Never Diminish

As so many times before, I dreamt my grandfather alive again.  Two of my sisters led me into the dining room of our Pacific Street house to find him.  Grandfather was sitting in a wheelchair.  His skin was tanned, as if from spending a long summer under the sun.  I saw the fishhook scar on his head where doctors had worked on his become-forgetful brain.  He smiled at me.  Big smile.

Though excited to see my grandfather, I wondered if he really recognized me after all these years.  He departed this life in sweet and total confusion, unable to drive or prepare a meal, and sometimes muttering in his childhood Canadian French.

I came full awake in my bed just as I reached out to touch my grandfather.

Cheated before I reached him fully alive again.

Not to sleep again, I soon found myself caught up in a cascade of real memories.  Fishing.  Talking at his table.  Watching him tending his garden.  He and his dog.
I thought about how my sister and I were forced to put his dog down near the end of all.   I broke down when we reached the veterinarian’s clinic.  I sat in the car convulsing with sobs as my sister carried the trembling dog into the veterinarian’s clinic.

The dog knew.

My sister stayed with the dog until the very end.   “I didn’t want to leave her alone,” she said when she returned to the car after a time indeterminable.

There exists a kind of grief that shall not diminish in single lifetime.  Sorrow big enough to fill the space between stars.  Sorrow that can crush mountains.  Time lacks the steel to cut such anguish.
That is what filled me as I lay there freshly awake in my bed.

--Mitchell Hegman 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

A Bold Choice

When I was younger, a bold choice for my generation might have involved someone getting naked and streaking through a stadium filled with thousands of people.  These days, a bold choice for my generation is ordering coffee without sugar or cream.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Elvis and Houdini

Late one afternoon, Harry Houdini dropped by to visit with Elvis Presley.  Houdini found Elvis twisting wrenches underneath a baby blue, 1957 Chevy Nomad wagon.  Peering out from underneath the Nomad, Elvis recognized Houdini by his 1920s gangster spats.

“Hey, magic man,” Elvis called out.  “Can you kick that nine-sixteenths box end wrench in for me?”
“What are you doing under there?” asked Houdini.

“I’m putting together some sweet sounding pipes.”

“Are you certain you need a nine-sixteenths?  I am always confusing those with seventeen-thirty-seconds.”

Elvis responded without hesitation.  “I know my pipes, man.”

“I suppose you do,” Harry Houdini said.  With that Houdini vanished, because that’s what escape artists and magicians do.

Elvis slid out from underneath the Nomad and dug through an assortment of wrenches scattered across the ground.  Singing Suspicious Minds, Elvis picked out both a nine-sixteenths and seventeen-thirty-seconds wrench.  He crawled back under the car again.

Elvis quickly muffled his tune when he discovered that the seventeen-thirty-seconds wrench perfectly fit the bolts he was working with underneath the Nomad.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, December 7, 2015

Red Beer

The other day, my brother-in law and I engaged in a pretty good discussion about Scotch whisky.  I am a fan of single malts with an earthy taste.  I want to taste the Scottish countryside in each sip.   My brother-in-law prefers something a bit smoother.  He will sometimes pull a blended Scotch off the shelf.
Scotch is a big deal for both of us.  We don’t always agree on taste.  That said, we are not likely to draw firearms and start spraying lead when one of us purchases a bottle not preferred by the other party. 

Last week, a man from Hamilton, Montana was sentenced to twenty years in prison for shooting and injuring another man and for killing his dog.  Monte Leon Hanson, the man convicted of the shooting, shot his neighbor, Joe Lewis, in a dispute over a red beer.  Four hours prior to the shooting incident, while working as a bartender at a local establishment in Hamilton, Joe Lewis angered Monte Hanson when he used Clamato juice instead of tomato juice in making his red beer.

Hanson and Lewis lived in the same apartment building.  Lewis went home immediately following his shift.  He picked up his dog to carry it outside and found Monte Hanson there.  Hanson started shooting.  One bullet struck Lewis in the head.  A second struck Lewis in the ribs.  The dog died of a gunshot wound.

Monte Hanson claimed that drinking Clamato juice was against his religion.  Hanson practices Judaism.   According to the account I read in the Independent Record, Hanson reportedly told a cellmate he would “do it again” if given the opportunity.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, December 6, 2015

When a Tree Falls: Fire

My brother-in-law, Terry, and I like a fire.  Any excuse for a fire will do.  Campfires.  Burning weeds.  Creating a warm place during a winter excursion.  Roasting marshmallows.

Fire is an important tool, when used properly.

Terry once set his back lawn and wooden fence on fire while trying to burn some ants infesting his yard.  His neighbors on the other side of the fence were having a barbeque at the time.  They were somewhat baffled and more than a bit concerned when the flames climbed Terry’s fence and began waving at them from the top.

Once, while burning an assortment of junk at my cabin, I created a wintertime fire so big, my face turned pink as if sunburned.  At one point, while feeding some old cabinets into the fire and extreme heat, I actually thought the shirt I had stripped down to, was emitting puffs of smoke and seriously considering bursting into flame.

Two weeks back, my mountain neighbor called to tell me that the wind had toppled a dead-standing tree and laid it across the private road to my cabin.  I called my brother-in-law on Thursday and asked if he wanted to grab his chainsaw this weekend and help me clear the road. “This is going to require a fire,” I told him.

“I’m in,” he said.

Yesterday, we grabbed our chainsaws and drove to my cabin.  As you can see in the first photograph posted below, only the top twenty or so fee of the tree fell across the road.  Terry and I fired-up our saws and chunked up a load of firewood for my cabin.  After I stacked the wood in my cabin, we loaded some small pieces in the truck for Terry.

And, yes, we started a big fire to burn the mess of small branches.

--Mitchell Hegman 

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Last Words

Oscar Wilde“The wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death.  One or the other of us has to go.”

Alfred Hitchcock“One never knows the ending.  One has to die to know exactly what happens after death, although Catholics have their hopes.”

Steve Jobs“Oh wow.  Oh wow.  Oh wow.”

Joan Crawford  (spoken to her housekeeper when the housekeeper began praying):  “Damn it!  Don’t you dare ask God to help me!”

Lavina Fisher (moments before her execution for murder convictions—spoken even as her similarly convicted husband pleaded for mercy):  “If any of you have a message to give the devil, give it to me quick—I’m about to meet him!”    NOTE:  Following her words, Lavina cheated the executioners by jumping from the scaffolding and killing herself before they could do their job.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, December 4, 2015


According to an article I read at, on this day in 1952, a high-pressure air mass stalled over London, England, trapping a lower cold air front atop the city.  Residents of the city responded by burning extra coal in their furnaces.  The air remained trapped over London for four days in an inversion similar to those we experience here in Helena, Montana.  The smoke, soot and sulfur dioxide from the coal, industrial plant emissions, and automobile exhaust quickly developed into a heavy smog.

By December 7, the smog virtually blocked sunlight and reduced visibility in some sections of London to a mere five yards.  All transportation was halted to avoid collisions.  An unusually high number of people began suffering respiratory distress.  Thousands of people died in their sleep.
When the smog finally blew away on December 9, authorities estimated that somewhere between 4,000 and 9,000 people died as result of the heavy pollution.

The British government quickly adopted more stringent air pollution regulations and encouraged people to turn away from the use of coal.  

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Cat Time

Cats can tell time.  Living with 40 pounds of housecat, I am perfectly aware of their abilities in this matter.  I am convinced that my cats are accurate to within a minute or two.

My cat are particularly interested in feeding time.

I usually give them an afternoon snack at 4:00 PM.  Sure enough, a few minutes before 4:00 my cats will appear at my feet.  At first, they simply stare at me.  If I fail to feed them immediately, Carmel will whimper like an electrician just handed a shovel and asked to dig a ditch.  If that fails to motivate me, my two cats will begin whacking each other with stirring spoons and banging on drums.

Okay.  They don’t actually use spoons or whack drums, but they fuss with each other enough to make it seem like that.  After enough of that, I feed them to stop the madness.

Their late night feeding is the real problem.

A while back I started waking at around 2:00 AM—at which time I wandered off to the bathroom so I could pee on the toilet seat and floor.  This activity eventually evolved into me offering a snack to the cats.  Obviously, this soon became a firm requirement for a late night feeding.

The problem here is that cats operate on cat time.  Cat time does not account for daylight savings shifts.  When we “fell back” for daylight savings this fall, my shift from 2:00 AM back to 1:00 AM did not translate into cat time.

Now, each night, a few minutes before or after 1:00 AM, I wake in my bed convinced that someone just whacked me with a spoon.  There on my bed or maybe on the floor, I will find either 20 or a full 40 pounds of cat glaring at me.  Failure to feed them is not an option.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Another Form of Wisdom

For most of my life, I wanted everyone to like me.  Now that I have gotten older, I am concerned only that children and their pets like me.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

You’ve Got to Crack a Few Eggs

You have probably heard the old maxim: “You’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.”

Yesterday, I proved the maxim to be true when (with the help of a company technician) I installed a receiver dish to pick up a new feed for my internet service.  The dish is required to be in direct line of sight with a service feed on a tower atop Hogback Mountain, some eleven miles northeast of my house.

I more than cracked a few eggs to complete this project.  Following is my updated version of the omelet maxim:

You’ve got to poke holes in your walls, move furniture, fish wires, mount a new dish, crawl in the attic, trudge through snow, cut down two large pine trees, break a chainsaw, get a few oil stains on your deck, bump your head, stop for a drink of Scotch, install a new wireless router, and input in a new password to connect to a new internet provider.

My version does not have the snap of the original…but there it is.

--Mitchell Hegman