Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Friday, December 15, 2017

Tabula Rasa

My first ten minutes this morning were wildly unfocused.  I thought I dropped a sock on my dark trek from bedroom to kitchen.  I scoured the entire path twice before realizing it was caught up in my shirt.
I spilled a cascade of water from my carafe while making coffee.
My 20 pounds of housecat sat whining at the door but didn’t actually want out.  This was a merely a test.
After stepping outside to “feel” the day (still under a temperature inversion), I flipped on the television and brought to life my computer and smarter-than-me-phone.
My computer hiccupped this morning (electronically speaking), then launched two blank Power Point presentations without my prompting.
Why Power Point?
Why two?
My phone wants to update something.
If my first few minutes of each day are a blank slate, fate, on this day, is scribbling all over it.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Morrison (Always, Again)

I have posted quotes from Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors, on several occasions before.  He was a bright and tragic and paradoxical figure.  A strange mix of highly intelligent and highly reckless.
Here are a few more of his quotes:
—“Drugs are a bet with your own mind.”
—“When you make your peace with authority, you become authority.”
—“I believe in a long, prolonged, derangement of the senses in order to obtain the unknown.”  
—“I like people who shake other people and make them feel uncomfortable.”

-- Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Mass Replacement (Problems)

The best thing about computers is they do exactly what you command them to do.  The worst thing about computers is they do exactly what you command them to do.
I am in the process of writing a technical book about the use, safety concerns, and function of digital multimeters.  Yesterday, I decided I needed, for the sake of readability, to change the term “input port” to “input jack,” throughout the forty-some pages I have written to this point.
The input jack I am talking about, by the way, is the hole in the face of a multimeter where you plug in the test leads used to connect to electrical circuits and components when testing voltage, ohms, etc.
To make my correction, I opted to use the “Replace” function for the entire document.  When the window for Replace popped up: I typed in the following:
For Find: port.
For Replace With: jack.
When I clicked on the Replace button, the application reported a total of 43 changes made throughout the document.
Fair enough.
No, replace that with: good.
I closed the Replace pop-up and began to scroll back down to where I was editing something.  That’s when I found where the word “important” had been changed to “imjackant.”
This occurred 13 times.
Nice try, Microsoft.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Crane Connection

All things are connected together.  Some things are linked in mysterious ways.  Other things are joined together by good old-fashion human guidance.  This story, in my way of thinking, is a mix of both flavors of connection.
A dear friend of mine has a sweet, sensitive, adorable not-quite-a-teen girl.  She and that girl (my girl) have, over the last two years, bonded in a most profound and charming fashion.  When they are together they sit leaning into one another, talking, touching hands, and laughing.  Though many tens of years separate these two in age, they are ageless when together.
Yesterday, my friend called to ask if it would be okay if he and his daughter stopped by the house later today.  He explained that his daughter really wanted to see that girl.
“I think that would be great,” I said.
That girl readily agreed, telling me, “I would be honored to have her come out to visit.  I look forward to it!”  Shortly thereafter, she suggested we find some sort of Christmas present to give to my friend’s daughter.
We scratched our heads, drawing blanks for gift ideas.
A couple hours later my mind abruptly made some connections.  “I have an idea,” I told that girl.
“Hold on.”  I left the kitchen where we were talking and quickly returned with a handful (the last) of the origami cranes my late wife, Uyen, made from fabric.  Each of the cranes carries, hanging on thread below, a small animal carved from jade. The animals represent the Chinese Zodiac.  Each animal has its own significance.  Only a half dozen cranes are left with me now—all of them made from fabrics of different patterns and colors.  I didn’t pay any attention to the animals.  “Let’s give one of these to her,” I suggested.  “You can pick one out.”
After a while, that girl announced that she had whittled her decision down to two.  “You need to help me,” she informed me.
Together we decided on a single crane.  The color of one struck me.  The crane carried, as a trinket hanging below, a jade rooster.  After we selected the crane, that girl searched online to see what the rooster signifies in Chinese culture.
First, 2017 is the year of the rooster.  Lucky choice, that!  The rooster is a symbol of honesty, good fortune, and fidelity.  More importantly, I know Uyen would be overjoyed to be giving this gift through us.  We have all been connected together by the crane, which, by the way, embodies longevity and peace.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Monday, December 11, 2017

Five Ladybugs Jumping

One morning, when the sky was big and perfectly blue, Princess Mackenna stepped outside her castle door in Kindly Kingdom.  She wanted to smell the flowers just there alongside the walk.
She said “Goodbye” to Hedgy the hedgehog.  He was always there outside the door.
“Hello,” Hedgy said.  He thought for a moment.  “Or do I mean goodbye?”
“Goodbye,” suggested the little Princess.  She touched Hedgy’s cold nose.  “And remember, Hedgy, this is your nose.”
“Nose,” repeated the hedgehog.
Red, yellow and white flowers grew near the door to Kindly Castle.  Some of the white flowers stood as tall as the little Princess.  Princess Mackenna approached the tallest white flower and smelled the blossom.   “Mmmmmm,” she said, “so sweet!”
“Careful up there!” a tiny voice called.  A woman’s voice.
Princess Mackenna looked down at the nearest green leaf on the flower.  The leaf was as flat as the pages in one of her books and as big as her hand.  Five red ladybugs with black spots were walking across the leaf in a straight line, one following another.
All the ladybugs stopped and looked up at Princess Mackenna.  Their little antennas were twitching.  The first ladybug in the line spoke in the same tiny voice: “I’m Lana the ladybug.  Because I am first, I am also called number one.  My friends are behind me.”
In the tiniest voices the little Princess could imagine, each of the ladybugs behind Lana called out in order, one after another: “Two.”  “Three.”  “Four.”  “Five.”
“Five is a very good number,” said Princess Mackenna.  “I have five fingers on each hand.”  She held out her hands.  “I have five toes on each of my feet.”  She pointed at her feet.  “And I can count to ten if I close my eyes.”
“We are looking for help,” Lana the Ladybug admitted.
“What kind of help?” asked the little Princess.
“We want to fly away from this flower, but we need to jump into the air first.  And we don’t know how to jump.  We need someone to teach us how.”
“Jump!”  “Jump!”  “Jump!”  “Jump!”   The other four ladybugs exclaimed one after another.
“I am glad you found me,” said Princess Mackenna.  “I have been jumping for a while.  I can teach you.”  She placed her hands on her hips because that’s what teachers do.  “Do all five of you ladybugs have knees on your legs?”
Lana the ladybug looked at her legs.  “I have knees.”  She looked at ladybug number two, three, four and five.  “Yes, we all have knees on all of our legs.”
“Knees!”  “Knees!”  “Knees!”  “Knees!”   The other four ladybugs exclaimed one after another.
“Well, then, jumping shall be easy for all of you.  The trick is to bend your knees.  Then pretend you are a spring and bounce up.  Watch me.”  Mackenna bent her knees.  Then, pretending she was a spring, she bounced up in the air.
From the leaf of the flower, the ladybugs went “Ooohhh!”
“Try that,” Mackenna suggested.
Down on the green leaf, all the red ladybugs with black spots started jumping in order.  One…two…three…four…five.    They did this until each of them had jumped five times.  Princess Mackenna could hear their miniscule giggles.
“We cannot thank you enough,” Said Lana the ladybug.  We have wanted to fly away all morning.”  With that said, Lana the ladybug jumped up into the air and flew away.  “Goodbye!” she called out to the little Princess as she whizzed by.  The second ladybug did the same.  Then the third.  Then the fourth.  Then the fifth.
Princess Mackenna sniffed a few more flowers.  So sweet!  She was happy she had taught the ladybugs how to jump.  Maybe she would be a Queen and a teacher when she grew up.
Before the little Princess went back inside her castle.  She touched Hedgy’s nose.
“Hello and Goodbye,” said the hedgehog.  “Nose,” he added.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Description of You

What if the most accurate description of you (or me, or anyone) is best achieved by compiling and analyzing a complete list of your rejections, failures, and transgressions?  How many pages would be required for the document describing you?

-- Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Dot. Dot. Dot.

I’m reading a book.  It’s written in a modern style.  Short sentences.  Three word sentences.  Some four word.  Some five.
Sentence fragments.  Mostly.
The subject is gripping enough.  Not sure about the writing style.  Sometimes short sentences are better for impact.  They can hit like a sledgehammer.  Create tension.  Bang at your senses.
But a steady diet of sentence fragments?  I don’t know?  Becomes akin to a pointillist painting.  Dot.  Dot.  Dot.
I could use a flowing sentence once in a while.  A comma.  Reading this style jars me.  A little.  
My mind is a machine stamping out sentences.  Shunk.  Shunk.  Shunk.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Friday, December 8, 2017


Hope is setting an empty glass outside when you are thirsty so rain can fill it.
Stubborn hope is planting seeds in a dry field.
Desperate hope is me trying to keep a poinsettia alive.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Sunset, 12-6-2017

Last night, the setting sun set fire to the clouds.  Not the first time.  In fact, as I scampered out the door with my Digital SLR camera in hand, I imagined my late wife teasing as she often did: “Do you really need another picture of another sunset?”
Yes, dear, I need this one.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Anything (With a Twist)

This morning, not long after waking, I stood before my bathroom mirror cringing at the messy-haired, wrinkled, not-fully-alert reflection of me.  As I stood there, I recalled a dream from last night.  The dream was somewhat tame and normal so far as dreams go.  In the dream, I was convinced I could do pretty much anything.  Not in the superhuman sense.  In the “if you work hard and apply yourself” sense.  Looking at the disheveled, weary me in the mirror, I thought: Maybe that was not a just a dream.  Maybe I can do anything I set my mind to.  But you’d think I could look better than this doing it…

-- Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Balvenie Wobble

Kevin, as an early Christmas present, bought me a bottle of Balvenie, 14-year-old, Caribbean Cask, single malt Scotch.  He stopped by late yesterday afternoon so we might sample it.
This is good stuff.
All Scotch is distilled from malted (germinated and then dried) barley mash and is aged in charred oak casks.  Balvenie Caribbean Cask Scotch Whisky is additionally finished by aging in casks originally used to mature Caribbean rum, a sweet liquor derived from sugarcane.
All of that is interesting, but equally as interesting is the cylinder in which the bottle is protected.  As someone disposed to constantly fidget, the cylinder provided me with more than an hour of entertainment.
I shot a video and have posted it here: The Balvenie Wobble.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Monday, December 4, 2017

The Magpies and the Aluminum Pie Pan

My neighbor on the lake, Kevin, likes magpies.
I like them.
They are an intelligent bird.  Magpies even stick around during our long winters, which says a lot about how tough and industrious they are.  Additionally, they eat a lot of rodents and insects we consider pests.
Last week, Kevin set an aluminum pie pan heaped with beef suet out on his lawn for the local magpies to feast on.  He enjoys watching the birds flying in, wobbling around the pan, and pestering one another.  A day or so later, he set out another pan filled with suet.  Not long after the birds swept in and cleared the aluminum pan, a brisk wind tossed the pan across his yard and pinned it against the fence.
Oddly enough, the next morning Kevin found the pan back where he had set it out for the birds.
He fed the birds more suet in the pie pan a few days later.  Not long after the birds finished with that meal, the wind once again flung the pan across the yard.  Shortly thereafter, Kevin saw one of the magpies dragging the pan back to the place where Kevin feeds them suet.
This trick has been repeated several times since then.

-- Mitchell Hegman

PHOTO: Pixabay

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Reasonable and Prudent

Some interesting experiments have been conducted in Montana.  There was, for example, the first time the Fish and Game Department put a fake buck mule deer out in a field where hunters were not supposed to shoot deer just to see what would happen.
You can pretty much imagine the results.
Establishing an interstate highway speed limit in Montana has been an ongoing experiment.  We had no daytime speed limit until 1974 when then President Nixon urged Congress to establish a nationwide limit of 55 mph as an energy saving measure following an “oil crisis” the year previous.  Driving as slow as 55 mph across the forever of Montana’s Hi-line is, well, painful or insane, depending on your final destination.  In order to retain federal highway funding, all states were required to comply with this limit.  Montana, as a way to thumb our nose at the federal government, adopted the limit but established a ludicrously small $5.00 fine for “wasting a natural resource” for anyone caught speeding.
In 1987 Congress allowed states to adopt a 65 mph speed limit.  Up we went.   In 1995 Congress tossed the federal speed limit law.  In answer, our Montana legislature removed limits entirely and required drivers to operate under basic rule which urges drivers to operate their vehicles in a “reasonable and prudent manner.”  The day “reasonable and prudent” went into effect, as bad luck would have it, I pulled onto the interstate in my shop truck and merged immediately behind a highway patrolman traveling at 70 mph.   After a mile so of that, I thought, “to hell with it, let’s test this speed thing.”  I punched the accelerator and passed the highway patrolman.  The tools and electrical supplies in my truck rattled as I whisked by.  The highway patrolman didn’t give me a second glance, so I accelerated until the ½-inch conduit in the back of my truck started to float a little.  That seemed pretty reasonable to me.
Having no “official” speed limit didn’t last long.  A 75 mph speed limit fell into place in 1999.  As of this writing, we are operating with an 80 mph limit in many areas.  The limit was bumped up in 2015.  No telling how long this will last.
Finally, we reach one of my personal favorites.  I was telling my sister about this the other day.  Back in the 1990s an experimental high-tension power line was strung across part of Montana.  Embedded within the conductive metal strands of some wires were fiber optic cables.  Burying fiber is quite costly.  This seemed a no-brainer.  The experiment went swimmingly…except for one thing.
“The problem was,” I told my sister, “the power lines kept getting shot and the fibers inside were broken.”
“Why would someone shoot a power line?” she asked.  “That’s dumb.”
“People shoot the lines so they can hear them sing when the bullet strikes them,” I answered.
I must admit, I and a couple of my friends tried shooting at power lines with our .22 rifles when were teenagers.  I wanted to hear them sing as much as the next guy.
Being a teenager: dumbest experiment, ever.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, December 2, 2017

That One Horse

I’ve always wanted to be that one horse.  You know the one I’m talking about.  Not a horse of specific breed or certain color.  I mean that one notable horse you find in nearly every string.  The one you see in almost every field where horses have gathered together to do particular horse things.
I’m talking about the one facing the opposite direction from all the others.
I saw that horse again just yesterday on my way to town and stopped to capture a photograph with my smarter-than-me-phone.
The horse at the far left.  That’s the one I want to be.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Friday, December 1, 2017


We are heroic, fearful, tragic, outlandish, generous, prideful, beautiful, loud, soft, and always on the verge of losing our breath as we run this treadmill called life.
In a single word: human.
Yesterday, I spent a most of an hour talking with a friend of mine.  I have always (and only) known this person as half of a couple who love being a couple.  My friend spoke more slowly than usual.  His normally bright and flickering eyes remained fixed on me as he told me how something invisible, something mysterious has recently afflicted his wife.  She has become oddly quiet and passive and incredibly slow and forgetful. 
Not a thing you can put a finger on.
Doctors have been sent scrambling.  This one says this.  That one says that.  Yes, something wrong here.  Strange instruments probing.  Testing, testing, testing.  Words thrown against the walls, into the wind.  Nearby machines humming.
Rooms, streets, mountains: everything turning cold at once.
My friend was long-faced and nearly torn in half with worry.  I listened a lot and spoke only a little.  And in the end I said what is always perfunctorily said: “If there is anything I can do…”
But, goddammit, I meant that. 
As I write this, I am nearly out of breath myself.  My glass, this morning, is half empty.  I remember sitting there in the full sunlight of the first day of spring, almost seven years ago, as a doctor plainly said to my late wife: “You have cancer.  It’s terminal.”
Only when you are half of a couple do you fully comprehend the weight of that.
-- Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Some Assembly Required: Final Report

The assembly of my brother-in-law’s fireplace is complete.  Perhaps, more importantly, it functioned properly when we plugged it in.
As mentioned in a previous installment here, the very first line of assembly instructions suggested two adults would be required for the project.   In my way of thinking, three adults would be better.  One adult to read the instructions over and over and over (perhaps while stomping their feet).  One adult acting as an interpreter to convert the instructions into a language comprehensible to normal Montanans.  And, finally, one adult with a complete set of Philips screwdrivers and plenty of beer.
Five days ago, at the outset of this undertaking, I never imagined I would be the second adult involved in the electric fireplace assembly, but there I was, late yesterday afternoon, with screwdriver in hand.  Terry and I burned up some 45 minutes installing the cabinet doors and fastening into place the actual fireplace insert.   
The 45-minute mark is interesting.  The instructions suggested the entire fireplace assembly would take that amount of time.  While we were sipping on a celebratory glass of Scotch at job’s end, I asked Terry how many hours he had into the project.  “What do you guess?  Eight hours or so?”
“More,” he said.  “Maybe ten hours.”
“Well, it’s a done deal, now.”  I tasted a bit of my Scotch, still somewhat haunted by my sister’s outlandish suggestion a few days ago that drinking less beer might make for a smoother assembly.
Posted today are two photographs I captured with my smarter-than-me-phone yesterday.
--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Dog and his Person

I saw an interesting thing on my drive home yesterday.  Halfway through the valley, out where fenced alfalfa fields squeeze so tightly against the roads you feel as though you are driving within the cracks of a sidewalk, I chanced upon a big, furry dog out walking his person.  The person, a woman much younger than me, but definitely older than a day-old donut, was struggling to keep up.
The dog was leading—dog-sled pulling against a long leash, actually—dragging along its person like tattered pinwheel; a pinwheel that occasionally flagged an arm here, a leg there.
No saving that pinwheel, I thought as I caught and then whisked past the pair.  The dog, however, pranced with many miles of energy left in him.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Finley the Not-So-Quiet Fish

Most fish are very quiet.  They swim under the water silently and whisper to one another when they meet.
Not so, Finley the catfish.
Finley was almost never quiet.  He preferred talking loudly.  And he liked splish-splashing around the surface of the water instead of swimming silently underneath.
Finley lived in the little pond near Kindly Castle in Kindly Kingdom.  The pond was surrounded by tall yellow flowers.  Frogs brip-bripped at the edge of the water.  In the spring, fuzzy baby geese wagged their feathery tails and curly-cued around in the water, quack-quacking.
Best of all, Princess Mackenna lived in the nearby Castle.   Finley and Princess Mackenna were friends.
One warm summer day, the little Princess came to the pond for a picnic with her father and mother, the King and Queen of Kindly Kingdom.  While the King and Queen spread a blue blanket on the green grass, Princess Mackenna walked to the edge of the pond.
When Finley saw her from the other side of the pond, he splashed all the way across the water and shouted “HELLO!” from as close as he could swim to the little Princess.  He remained in the shallow water there, splashing up a storm.
“Hello, Finley,” said the little Princess.
“We are having a picnic.”
“SPLENDID!” bellowed the fish.  “I LOVE A PICNIC!”  He swam backward and forward, spraying water in all directions.  “WILL YOU BE EATING RED LADYBUGS WITH BLACK SPOTS AT YOUR PICNIC?”
“No,” said the little Princess, “I could not imagine eating those!”
Finley the fish dove under the water and then jumped up into the air and made a big splash when he landed.  He wiggled his long whiskers.  “MAYBE YOU WILL HAVE PURPLE LADYBUGS WITH WHITE SPOTS,” Finley suggested.
“No…”  The little Princess shook her head.  “I like purple and white.  I like red and black.  But little girls don’t eat ladybugs of any color.”
“SPLENDID!” Finley said again.  He liked that word.  “MAYBE YOU WILL EAT SOME OF THESE FINE YELLOW FLOWERS.”  He swam near a bunch of the flowers along the edge of the pond and splashed at them.
“No,” said Princess Mackenna.  “Little girls don’t eat yellow flowers, or tall flowers, or small flowers, or any kind of flowers at all.”
“I don’t know for certain,” she admitted.  “I must go see.”
“GOODBYE!” shouted Finley.  He quickly splashed back across the pond.
The little Princess said “goodbye” and ran back to where the King and Queen had set out food on the blue blanket.  She saw red apples and green grapes and yellow cheese and three glasses of cold milk.  When Princess Mackenna was a very small girl, she called milk “money.”   She liked drinking milk very much.
“I am glad we are not eating red ladybugs with black spots or purple ladybugs with white spots,” Princess Mackenna told her mother.
“I have seen red ladybugs with black spots,” the Queen said, “but have never considered eating one.  I have never seen a purple ladybug with white spots, but I should like to.”
“Me too,” said Princess Mackenna.  “But for now, I am ready for a picnic!”
-- Mitchell Hegman

Monday, November 27, 2017

Some Assembly Required, Part 2

Yesterday, I saw my sister and brother-in-law again.  “How is the electric fireplace assembly going?” I asked Terry.
“Since today is the Sabbath,” he said, “I thought I might rest and not work on the project.”
“Probably a wise choice.  Just leave it right there at step five-and-a-half and give your mind a break.  I’m sure the final assembly will gel when you get back at it.”
Terry rubbed at his chin thoughtfully.  “I am a little concerned about one thing.  Part of step five required me to drill some holes.  I’m worried those will come back to haunt me somewhere around step fourteen-and-a-half.”
At this point, my sister Deb chimed in.  “Maybe,” she suggested, “you could try drinking less beer when you work on it again.”
Terry and I exchanged glances of disbelief.
“I don’t know where that came from,” I told Terry, “but it’s just crazy-talk.  You and I both know beer is a necessary part of building fireplaces.”  After a moment of reflection I added: “It is a little weird that you have to drill holes.  I wonder why they don’t drill all the holes at the factory.”
Terry shrugged.  “No idea.  The more I see, the more I think they could hire me to help them write the assembly instructions.”
I nodded.  “You may be onto something.  Write them the way you talk.  A few swear words here and there might be helpful as you’re reading along.”

-- Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Some Assembly Required

My brother-in-law, Terry, and I have in common the same problem.  No, my sister is not the problem, but thanks for asking.
Our problem: following instructions to assemble something we purchased unassembled in a box.
The problem we experience is twofold:
    1. We are required to read and follow instructions.
    2. We are required to assemble something from a bunch pf parts.
At the end of the week, Terry purchased a free-standing electric fireplace.  Apparently, the thing is pretty realistic when properly assembled and plugged in.  Terry started the assembly process yesterday morning.  I stopped by his house yesterday afternoon to check on him.  The living room was strewn with cardboard, wooden panels, metal widgets, and small (easily misplaced) parts awaiting assembly.
The place looked like what you might expect an assembly line to look like following a totally devastating earthquake—things were generally going in the correct direction, but parts seemed a bit far-flung and overturned.
“So how’s it going?” I asked, kicking at a packet of odd-looking brackets and screws on the carpet.
Terry made a clicking sound with his tongue and said: “I kinda figured this might be a bit difficult when the first line of instructions said two adults would be needed for assembly.”
“Well, I think you’re easily adult enough for two people,” I mused.  “Wonder why you need two people, anyhow.  How’s that work?  Is one guy supposed to throw temper tantrums and watch while the other guy tries to put this stuff together?”
“Beats me.  Also says it can be assembled in forty-five minutes.”
“Yeah?   How long have you been working on it?”
“I’m on step four and I have about four hours into it.”
I found the instruction guide and quickly thumbed through.  “Hell, I think you’re doing great.  Says here there are only fifteen steps.”   I flopped the guide back down on the arm of an over-stuffed chair.  “You don’t need my help.”
Terry called me a few hours after I returned home.  “I made it to step five-and-a-half,” he informed me.  “I have about six hours into it.”
“You make me proud, buddy,” I told him.  “You’ve got this!”
-- Mitchell Hegman

Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving Dinner

Following is an actual conversation from my Thanksgiving dinner at a local dinner club:
Mitch: “The turkey and ham are very good.”
Terry: “My asparagus does not taste all that great.”
Kevin: “I think I can explain that.  Those are beans, Terry.”
Deb: “Yep, those are beans.”
-- Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Truth with Charity

I’ve got my truth.
You’ve got yours.
Between those
we have conceived an ugly baby.

Bukowski was reckless,
but said it best:
“Love breaks my bones
and I laugh.”

I need someone in my life to tell me to “stop.”
I can’t go on obsessing about finding that exact word,
flinging whole stacks of magazines to the floor,
jerking open drawers,
flipping over yesterday’s clothing
and newspapers I should have thrown out,
opening and closing doors,
scratching a mess into my hair,
reading Sylvia Plath poems over and over again.
Looking.  Groping.  Grinding my life away.
Obsession is a dreadful word,
but it’s close.

-- Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Charolais Cattle

Driving a gravel road through ranchlands the other day, I whisked past some twenty Charolais cattle in various pose at center of an otherwise empty pasture.  Some were standing.  Some were lying down.  But all were strung into a somewhat orderly row that, at first glance, looked much like the final crumbling marble remnants of an ancient Greek structure.
Charolais cattle—not surprisingly given the name—originated in France.  Interestingly, the breed came to the United States by way of Mexico (not France), in a 1936 shipment to the famous King Ranch in Texas.  King Ranch, for those unfamiliar, is the largest ranch in Texas, today comprising over 800,000 acres—an area greater in size than that occupied by the State of Rhode Island.
So here we are.  We have all arrived together at the third paragraph.  I began this writing with a firm thought I would tie all of this up in three neat paragraphs.  Right about now, I imagined, I could end with a pithy statement.  But now that we are here, I must admit: I got nuthin’.  You're free to go now.  Please, have banner day!   
-- Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Princess Mackenna and a Walk into the Woods

One day, while still a very little girl, Princess Mackenna decided to go for a walk into the woods near her castle in Kindly Kingdom.  Her two dogs followed along.  When she stepped out the castle door, she said “goodbye” to Hedgy the hedgehog.  Hedgy always stood just outside the door, waiting to say “hello” and “goodbye” to Princess Mackenna.
Often, Princess Mackenna touched Hedgy’s cold nose and said “nose” to remind Hedgy where his nose was.  Hedgy was forgetful about most everything, including where his nose was and which color was blue and which yellow.  But he always remembered to say “hello” and “goodbye” to the little Mackenna!
Princess Mackenna had named one of her dogs Gentle.  The other dog was Bear-Bear.
Bear-Bear was a big, grumpy dog.  He woofed at bumps in the night.  He woofed at leaves blowing in the wind.  He spent most of his days sitting near Princess Mackenna, protecting her, because even grumpy dogs loved the little Princess.
Gentle was a very small dog with pointy ears and a waggy tail.  Gentle bounced from place to place.  He ran in circles and always wanted to play.
When Princess Mackenna and her two dogs reached the woods, they found a path.  Walking along the path, they soon came upon an orange and green turtle.  The turtle spoke to Princess Mackenna.  His words came out slowly: “How  -  old  -  are  -  you?” the turtle asked.
“I don’t know for sure,” she said.  “I am little.  That is all I know.”
“In  -   the  -   forest  -   you  -   will  -   grow,” said the turtle.  “Everyone  -   here  -   grows.”
“Thank you,” Said Princess Mackenna. 
She and the dogs said “goodbye” to the turtle and continued down the path.  Soon, from above, in green leaves and silver coins of sunlight Hoo-Hoo the owl called down.  “Hoo-hoo,” he said.  “Who-who goes there on the path?”
“Me, Princess Mackenna,” answered the little Princess.
“You are very pretty,” said Hoo-Hoo, “and I should know, because I have very big eyes.  I see everything.  How old are you to be so pretty?”
Princess Mackenna held up three fingers.  “I am this many,” she said.
Hoo-Hoo counted: “One…two…three!  I see three fingers.”
Princess Mackenna said, “I know three!”  She counted her dogs, “One..two...” and then counted herself, “three!  We are three travelers in the woods.”  Only then did Princess Mackenna realize that she was not so small anymore.  She had grown a little!
She was three!
The three travelers said goodbye to Hoo-Hoo and walked along the path once more.  Before long Bear-Bear began barking.  Princess Mackenna stopped walking.  Gentle bounced in circles around her.  Above them, ooh-oohing and swinging from branch to branch in the trees, were three monkeys.  The monkeys stopped and hung there just above.  “How old are we, little girl?” asked the three monkeys in unison.
“I have grown.  I am five now,” said Princess Mackenna   “But I am not a we.  I am a me.”  She held up one finger. “One makes a me.”  She held up all the fingers of her other hand.  “It takes two or more to make a we.”
“Five, you say!” called out the three monkeys at the same time.  “One more than four!  One less than six!”
With nothing more said, the three monkeys swung away high in the trees, ooh-oohing.
Princess Mackenna realized she had grown into a bigger girl than before and the afternoon had grown late.  She was getting a little sleepy.
Everybody knows big girls don’t take naps.  Princess Mackenna wanted to take a nap and pondered what to do.  She was too big in the woods to take a nap.  “Maybe we should go back,” she said to her two dogs.
Bear-Bear sat there grumpily, thinking how curious the monkeys were, always saying the same thing at the same time and always ooh-oohing in trees.
Gentle bounced and bounced, wanting to play.
Soon, the three travelers were walking back home along the path in the woods.  Mackenna grew smaller and smaller as she walked back through the green trees.  By the time they reached the castle again she was the same little girl as when she left.  And she was glad because she wanted to go inside and sleep.
Before Princess Mackenna opened the door and went inside, she touched Hedgy and said “Nose.”
Hedgy said, “hello…or goodbye…there it is, my nose!”
-- Mitchell Hegman

(From Papa to Mackenna)