Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Ice Fishermen, Part 2

My brother-in-law is not one of them—the ice fishermen, I mean.  He is afraid of the ice.  He is not afraid of cubed ice or the stuff that forms on automobile windshields.  Actually, he is not afraid of the ice per se.  He is afraid that the ice will break apart and the lake will swallow him and his beer the instant he steps onto the surface of the lake.

I have tried to coax my brother-in-law onto the ice many times.  A typical conversation trends something like this:

Me:  Let’s go on the ice.
Bro-in-law:  I don’t do ice.
Me:  We’ll be fine.  I’ll give you a life vest to wear.  Or, I can tether you to me and a six-pack of beer.  One or the other of us will save you if something goes south.
Bro-in-law:  I don’t trust the ice.  It made weird noises last time I was on it.
Me:  Come on.  That was almost forty years ago.  You told me yourself.  We were all wearing polyester and men were wearing high-heals back then.  Disco sucked.  Remember?  The ice is better now.
Bro-in-law:  I’m not going to listen to you.
Me:  It’s January.  The ice is two feet thick.  People drive trucks on it!
Bro-in-law:  People are stupid.
I must admit, you can’t argue his last salvo of logic.

Two days ago, our young friend Carson asked if he could access the ice from my place.  Somehow, he managed to talk my brother-in-law into visiting him at the lake.  This “visiting” usually involves my brother-in-law yelling at ice fisherman from the shore.  After running some errands in town, I dropped down the hill to see the two of them.

Holy hell!   My brother-in-law was on the ice…sort of.   He was sitting on my dock drinking beer with Carson when I arrived.

“You on the ice?” I asked my brother-in-law.

He nodded.  “I walked out to the second hole out there,” he used his beer as a pointer and gestured toward the string of rigs on the ice.

“Wow.  I’m impressed.”

“It isn’t so bad,” he admitted.

“Any fish?”

Both of them pointed with their beers.  I walked out and found a couple of four-pound trout on the ice near one of the holes.  The ice made a weird whale-song sound just under my feet as I peered down at the fish.  Fortunately, my brother-in-law did not hear it.

If you live out here in Winterworld, you need to step on the ice now and then.  The air is sweet on warmer days.  The sun feels great when it shines.  Glad my brother-in-law found his way.  Fortunately, I had my smarter-than-me-phone with me.  I was able to capture a photograph of Carson, my brother-in-law, and their version of ice fishing.  My brother-in-law is the guy tipping his beer at you.   Please don’t make any unusual noises…we’ll never get him on the ice again.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Ice Fishermen, Part 1

This time of year, when the sun is just beginning to brush color against the eastern horizon, the ice fishermen come crawling across the flat expanse of lake ice below my house.  A few arrive on cross country skis, but most come skittering on four-wheelers.

They are like gypsies, the ice fishermen.  Many come in small caravans, towing sleds, trailers, and collapsible ice houses behind their machines.  By the event of full light, temporary camps appear on the snow-covered lake.  The accelerated drone of ice augers penetrating the sixteen inches of ice fills the air.  Fishermen gather into clusters around holes or cycle in and out of fully assembled ice houses.  Sometimes, dogs or small children wander around the edges of the camps.

On calm days, if I step outside my back door, I can hear the fishermen talking from a distance of a half-mile.  I might hear the celebratory calls when a fish is pulled up through the ice.

Throughout the day, fishermen come and go, roving the ice for a while, settling, roving again.  Each solitary figure or group on a time-schedule different from the next.  By the end of the day, long before the sun touches the Rocky Mountains, most fishermen have crawled back into the mountainous landscape again.  The ice once again becomes an empty expanse of white.

Posted is a photograph I took of the lake just now.  Only a few fishermen are on the ice at this early hour.  They are but spots on the lower right hand side.  The camps are yet on their way.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 29, 2016

Twisted Words

English—or as Sarah Palin says: American—is a difficult language.  All those silent letters and weird spellings.  To this day, I cannot understand why cough is not coff. 

I think it needs a double “f” because coffing is annoying.

Annoying is annoying.  It has a double “n.”

I got to thinking about the English language while drinking my coughy this morning.  How did the language develop so many quirks, I wonder?
You have homographs such as the word lead—which could be a type of metal or could be a reference to going out in front.  Homographs are words that share the same spelling but sound different and have different meanings.

Homophones are not land lines as you might guess, but are, instead, words that sound the same but have different spellings and different meanings.  Example: to, two, too.  And do girls wear two-toos?  No.  They wear tutus.

If you write the proper right in a sentence, you have encountered a homonym.  These are words that are both homograph and homophone.  Homonyms sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings.

What got me started on all this was something one of the talking heads said on television.  Most mornings, I watch political stuff as I drink my first cup or two of coughy.   Today, a bunch of know-it-alls were discussing the upcoming presidential election.  One of them said something like: “a possible running mate was discussed” (for one of the candidates).

I have heard that phrase before, actually.

It totally cracks me up!

Here is how I hear it: “a possible running mate was disgust.”  

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mission Statement

My mission has always been to make guessing look like a strategy.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

72 Buttons

My newest TV remote has 72 buttons.  My Dish remote has 38 buttons.  I have a single anger button.  Together, we will either make the TV work or we will listen to the stereo.    

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Following a daytime thaw, the moisture on my concrete driveway assembled into frost trees during the nighttime freeze.  I have seen this pattern before; and posted similar photographs on this blog.  Still, I am fascinated by these patterns each time I see them.

Building great river deltas, trees, frost, and creatures deep in the sea, nature repurposes the same patterns.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 25, 2016

Dust Bunnies in the Boiler

While fiddling with my boiler—trying to reduce the noise it continues to generate—I noticed that the burner manifold was fringed by a collection of dust bunnies.

Everybody knows that bunnies and fire don’t mix.

My boiler has considerable clearance under and around the burner manifold.  Being a smart fellow, I conceived the idea of using the crevice attachment on the vacuum cleaner to suck the dust bunnies and nameless whatnot away from those spaces.

My plan worked great right up to the point where the boiler fired and I sucked a bunch of flaming bunnies into the machine.

Note To Future Self:  Shutdown boiler prior to vacuuming.     

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Jagged Red Line

My computer’s spell check fails to recognize my last name.  The jagged red line of disapproval always appears under my last name when I type it into live documents.  I know that I can add my name to the computer’s dictionary with two clicks.  But I am going to wait this one out.

I am holding fast to principle.

I am going to wait until a Hegman out there in the world becomes famous enough to tip the balance of recognition; or wait until the Hegman ranks expand enough to Smith our way in.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 23, 2016

One Reason

I was going to begin by mentioning that a few people did not like my wife.  I then intended to explain why.  Instead, I will begin by telling you that I read in yesterday’s paper—with tears in my eyes—that 27 people from some 22 countries took an oath for citizenship during a naturalization ceremony in Helena.

I witnessed my wife doing that very thing in Butte 31 years ago.  Her daughter—my daughter—sat beside me watching Uyen take her oath.  Following the ceremony, a woman walked up to me and told me that she had been listening to Helen talking.  “Your daughter,” she enthused, “is such a well-spoken little girl.  I could sit and listen to her talk all day.”

Watching my wife became a citizen, sitting beside Helen, and hearing that compliment about Helen made for one of the proudest days of my life.

That’s where the tears came from yesterday.

My wife was a refugee.  We were at war with half of her country.  Fact be known, her parents came from (fled) the communist side.

My wife was a refugee from Vietnam.  For that reason, some Americans did not like her.  They did not know her.  Did not want to hear her story.  Did not trust her.  They did not care that her father was a soldier on the American side.

America is in an ugly mood at present.  We are threatened from both the inside and the outside.  At the top of this menacing heap stand radicalized Muslims.  Muslim counties around the world seem tearing themselves apart.  Many Muslims wish that same destruction and much worse on us.  Some want in just so they can do damage.

I get that.

A few Americans would prefer that we block all refugees from all Muslim countries.  A million reasons to do so exist.  Even I am able list a dozen reasons.  But there is something bigger.  There is one reason to remain more thoughtful about this.  A reason to let a select few in.  For me, I simply think myself back in that courtroom 31 years ago.  I imagine sitting there watching my wife as she officially became one of the most patriotic and decent citizens this country has ever known.

Thank you for that, America.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 22, 2016

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hard Reboot

I woke this morning and staggered out toward the kitchen only to find my entire office blinking at me.  “That’s pretty weird,” I mumbled to the 40 pounds of housecat orbiting around me in the darkness.  Peering into the office, I saw the printer control screen and every onboard LED blinking in unison.

When I walked over the machine, abandoning my food-wanting cats, I saw a message on the screen that said the printer had ‘encountered a problem.’  The screen suggested that I cycle the power button off and on.

“I have problems, too, buddy,” I told the printer as I pressed the machine’s power button.

The printer whirred.  The screen and all LEDs went blank for a second or so.  The printer whirred once more and then the power LED and the control screen came to solid life once more.  The standard icons soon appeared on the screen.

Complete normalcy with one push of a button.

And wouldn’t it be nice if people had a button like that onboard?

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Second Choice

I don’t have a second choice.  I just want this: a road winding down from the mountains that soon reaches a small prairie town near the bend of a river and knowing a light will always be on in one of the homes there.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


If throwing tantrums got you anywhere, I would be somewhere by now.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 18, 2016

Easter Flies Home for Christmas

This is going to take some explaining.

First, Easter is not a holiday.  Well, yes, Easter is a holiday, but this particular Easter is not a holiday.  Easter is a pet turkey.  More than a pet turkey.  Easter is a “therapy” turkey.

I don’t know much about turkeys.  I know about the kind that are flat and fit between slices of bread.  I once installed an electrical service at a half-assed farm where several domestic turkeys kept sneaking up and attempting to eat the tools in my belt.  They did not comprehend “Get away, stupid turkey!”

I don’t think those were therapy birds.

Easter, the turkey we are talking about, belongs to a young woman named Jodie Smalley.  Not long after the death of her husband, Jodie adopted her turkey.  Easter was found as a small poult shivering alongside a rainy Seattle area road on Easter Sunday.  Jodie Smalley adopted the turkey and soon discovered that the bird’s company greatly eased the grief over the loss of her spouse.

Jodie spends a great deal of time with her turkey.  The bird often accompanies her in the car as she rockets about town on errands.  Easter enjoys riding “shotgun.”  This last Christmas, Jodie flew from Seattle to Salt Lake City on Delta Airlines to spend time with her family.  Fearing that Christmas would be an emotionally difficult time, Jodie wanted Easter with her.  Delta has a policy of allowing therapy or support pets to fly with their owners so long as they are ‘trained to behave properly in public settings.’  Jodie requested and received permission (at no additional charge) to take her bird on the plane.

The airline is somewhat cautious about therapy pets.  Not much over a year ago, an “emotional support” pig was escorted off a U.S. Airways flight when it began squealing and defecating in the cabin.  The other passengers did not appreciate this.

Thankfully, Easter behaved well on her flight.  The bird sat quietly on Jodie’s lap.  Everyone enjoyed a lovely Christmas Holiday.
I thought about my 40 pounds of housecat as I read a Mirror story about Easter.  My 40 pounds of not-so-much therapy housecats would not have enjoyed a flight to Salt Lake City.  My cats are totally food-motivated.  If an airplane is not good to eat, they would not want any part of it.  And they are screamers.  Likely, all three of us would have been arrested long before we boarded the plane.

--Mitchell Hegman

Source: Sophie Evans, Mirror Online

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Sunday Version 3.0

I wake late to the absolute quiet of freshly fallen snow.  The sun has already upped and slipped behind a low rack of clouds.  To the south, only the soft white and blue bases of the Elkhorn Mountains have emerged from a lingering stormfront.  The tree-to-tree solitaire that flits about my yard has yet to take flight.

Not a single track can be seen in the snow.

Over here at my place, it’s just me and 20 pounds of housecat stirring.  The cat is scratching free hairballs and depositing them at various places on my carpet.

I am drinking coffee and wondering if it possible to permanently leave my sofa.

Welcome to my version of Sunday.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sundog and Horses

I am posting a couple of photographs I captured with my smarter-than-me-phone the other day.  The ring around the sun—a sundog—is actually in the atmosphere and not lens flare.

I have posted photographs of sundogs on this blog previously.  Just the same, I found the horses and a sundog in the same shot pretty difficult to resist.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 15, 2016

Lost Ambitions

Forged in unnamed fury,
suffused with dazzling light,
we spewed against the dark,
roared against the lack of motion.

Long we traveled.

Now it is late.
We are mass without ambition,
buffalo-heavy and quiet as the final Earth-crosser.

The dark shapes slowing in time
and gathering about your head?

That's us!

We have come full circle.

Slowly, we assumed your speed again
and joined together in this new darkness complete.

 --Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Shadow Wore a Necktie

This story, as many other good ones, begins with drinking Scotch.

That girl and I had dropped in to visit with my sister and brother-in-law.  As soon as we walked through the door of their house, my brother-in-law, Terry, announced: “Glasses are in the freezer.”   That statement, when converted to English, meant that Terry had purchased a new bottle of Scotch.

“Let’s pour some,” I responded.

After Terry and I poured ourselves a meager sip—a shot glass filled to the brim—the four of us sat in their kitchen.  Late afternoon sun sliced shadows and light across the floor and walls.  We talked about sniveling housecats and sniveling politicians.  Both, we decided, deserved to be pitched out into the snowbanks ass first.

Partway through our Scotch, Terry brought forth some hand-blown shot glasses purchased from Goose Bay Glass, a small shop located in Townsend, Montana.  After each of us rolled the glasses in our hands, admiring the swirls of color, Terry set them in a blade of sunlight extending across kitchen island around which we had gathered.

Shadows in the form of neckties immediately extended from the glasses on the counter.  I fished my smarter-than-me-phone from its holster and captured a couple of images.

“This is cool,” I said.

It’s all about the sunlight and decent Scotch.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Sexual Innuendo, Part Three

—I would like to stack a few boxes with her.

—What do you say we till the garden?

—I hear that she has friends in low places.

—Maybe it’s time we thrashed the carpets and emptied the dustbin.

—How about a trip south of the border?

—We fluff the pillows as often as possible.

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, January 11, 2016

When to Worry

I only worry when I see a set of really big tracks in the snow that pass straight through an intact fence without the appearance of jumping.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 10, 2016

The Lottery

The Powerball Jackpot is presently nearing $1 billion.  Sales of tickets are soaring.  According to a news clip I watched, you have a better chance of getting struck by lightning while drowning than winning this lottery.  I was surprised by that statistic.  Apparently, it is not totally safe to drown during lightning storms.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, January 9, 2016


From the movie Jackie and Ryan:

--Mitchell Hegman
Use this link if the video here fails to launch: 

Friday, January 8, 2016

Shauna Fell From the Sky

Shauna fell from the sky on Tuesday
She knew it was Tuesday because she alighted in a swaying field of daffodils
The sun always shone on Mondays
On Tuesdays daffodils bloomed

On Wednesday, Shauna walked alongside tall buildings
The buildings were hollow
She knew it was Wednesday because rain was sifting down
Wednesdays always fetched rain

Shauna’s grandmother once met the Pope
She asked him why most angels were depicted as stern in paintings
“Angel work is serious business,” the Pope answered

Whenever Shauna chanced upon angels
She used her lipstick to smear smiles on their faces
Even those of plaster or plastic

And you might think that falling from the sky would hurt
Or that you might find a real angel if you fell from the sky
But that is not so

And Shauna didn’t cry until she found nothing on Thursday

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, January 7, 2016

First Thing

Years ago, I made sure to stack a few pleasant thoughts near my coffee so they were among the first things I picked up in the morning. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Taste of Blood

Cats will be cats.  Even so my 40 pounds of housecat.  I mention this in light of a Facebook post by my mountain friends Patti and Tom.  A juvenile bobcat recently accessed and killed ten of their laying hens.

Not good.

My 40 pounds of housecat have generally been little more than playful regarding hunting.  They have never caught a bird.  If they happen to corner a mouse, they tend to simply tinker around with the poor critter until I can sweep it into a pot (or some more expedient equivalent) and haul it away for distant release.

Clearly, my cats are incredibly fat and would likely be considered somewhat incompetent by their kind.

Just this morning, however, that changed with 20 pounds of housecat.  I let Splash out into the early darkness, as is often his want.  He is not crazy about winter but likes to wander around and sniff at things for a few minutes.  After perhaps five minutes, he appeared at the backdoor again and hunkered down with his flank pressed against the glass.

When I opened the door, he backed away.  I saw a mouse clamped in his mouth.  I saw blood.  He crunched down on the mouse, chewed.  When I took a step outside, Splash slunk away into the immediate darkness, guarding his prey, crunching.

A taste of blood.

A cat is born.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hot Noise

My home is heated with hot water baseboards fed by a boiler.  Boilers are somewhat persnickety.  What I mean by persnickety is loud and leaky.  My boiler was installed with a couple of mysterious fittings and valves that simply hang there in mid-air slowly leaking out scaly orange and grey stalactites.  Years ago, I had to place a bowl under one of these valves to catch leaking gunk.

That bowl is still there.  Long ago, the matching bowls were discarded when we purchased new dinnerware.  By this point, I have become somewhat fond of the bowl.
Here is another thing: dust bunnies seek out boilers just before they die.  I often find such forsaken bunnies slowly swirling around on the linoleum in front of my boiler when my boiler fires to satisfy heating needs at some far corner of my house.

For the last three weeks my boiler has been working pretty steady.  As I mentioned earlier, my boiler is loud by nature.  Propane boilers—such as mine—sound like the first cousin to a fighter jet when they fire.
And then you get air in the system.

For the last three weeks my boiler has been working pretty steady with air in the system.  The air seems to “hit” the boiler toward the end of each heating cycle.

The sounds are horrendous.

Sometimes, my boiler sounds like the giant mechanical equivalent of 20 pounds of cat gacking up a hairball.  At other times, you might think that the drummer from an eighties hair band is trying to solo his way out of the boiler and associated pipes.

Heating my house has never been so fun.
--Mitchell Hegman

P.S.  I am working on it…

Monday, January 4, 2016

Defined by Shadows

For photographers, snow alters the scenery in dramatic ways.  The normal array of available colors vanish under white.  Accumulations soon soften and then bury details.  Daytime skies seem shockingly blue and the clouds pass by quickly.  Most importantly, with normal colors unavailable, photographs tend to be defined by shadows—defined by what is white and what is not white.

Today, as illustration, I am posting a couple of photographs of my sister’s back deck.  I purposely shot through the screen for one image.  Both images were captured with my smarter-than-me-phone.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Knife-Wielding Tentacle

Curiously, I wish I had invented it.

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

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Most Powerful Words

The most powerful words do not drag syllables along to garner attention like floats in parade.  They don’t require bold lettering or underlines.  These words have neither shield nor weaponry.  The most powerful words—the good and the bad—all fall into the same concise sentence:

I _____ you.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, January 1, 2016