Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

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

Monday, October 23, 2017

Binge-Watching

Somewhere between my reptilian brain and the lobe of my brain that prompts me to open doors for other people, I have a part that loves total destruction.  It’s not easy for me to admit this, but I sometimes sit alone on my sofa, squealing, pounding my fists against the cushions, and flopping around as I watch competitions where one combatant rips into another and literally tears away chucks.
Only total annihilation will do.
I’m talking about BattleBots.  Fighting robots.  Machines that come at each other with kill saws, flamethrowers, drum spinners, flipping arms, and giant hammers.
The fury is undeniable.  Flying sparks.  Smoke.  Whirring blades.  The screams of metal meeting metal.
Naturally, that girl would rather watch house flippers or watch a romantic comedy.
I am on my own with this television production.  I have, therefore, taken to recording BattleBots so I can binge-watch three or four episodes in a row when I am left alone.
My 20 pounds of housecat has learned to hide under the clothes dryer when he hears from my television “It’s robot fightin’ time!”  I don’t think it’s the robot fighting that bothers my cat as much as my shrieking and bouncing about as I watch machines battle to their own end.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Hunting Camp

The pages of your poetry book melt in your hands
as you read aloud the poems you’ve read a thousand times before.
The other hunters grimaced when they saw you’d brought your book
and not a blued rifle, not a single round of ammunition to hunting camp.
They disbersed at first ruddy blush of light, rifles in hand.
Up into honey-colored parks where antlered bulls clash
but whistle like flightless birds.

You remain at camp,
feeding gathered sticks into a woodstove inside the wall tent.
The sides of the tent ripple and glow with full light.
Far above, in thick stands of pines gnashing together in the northwind,
elk have turned into ghosts and whisked away.

Inside your book, on one page,
a man rides a roan horse off through green sage. 
On another page, a woman with red hair returns to a battered lover.
Everyone, from beginning to end, hunting.

--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Way Back

Today, I am posting photographs from various points along our drive from the Canadian border back down to Helena.  That girl and I could not have asked for a better day.  The temperature eventually reached into the seventies and the high clouds never erased the blue sky.
At Great Falls, we diverted to the frontage road and began looping alongside the Missouri River where it uncoils amid cottonwood trees, wild rose, and tall grass after having carved through the stony Big Belt Mountains.
We stopped at several fishing access points so we could rake our fingers through the waters of the river.  We also stopped at Tower Rock State Park and took a half mile hike up into the volcanic fortifications of another time.
Note in one photograph, that girl standing at the base of a giant cottonwood tree—a tree that is obviously many hundreds of years old.  Also note the tiny deer standing against the sky alongside the stone turrets at Tower Rock State Park. 



--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, October 19, 2017

To Canada and Back in One Day

Today, that girl and I are driving to tiny and out-of-the way Sweet Grass, Montana on the Canadian border.  Located three hours directly north of us on I-15, Sweet Grass, population 58ish, is not even a real town.  According to Wikipedia, Sweet Grass is a “census-designated place” and an “unincorporated community.”
On the other side of the border from Sweet Grass, six inches away, is Coutts, Alberta, Canada, another non-place.  At Coutts, the interstate takes two crazy turns and becomes Canadian Highway 4.
Other than that, all around for a gazillion miles, is empty Great Plains and squared fields.
The Facebook page for Sweet Grass, when I looked, listed two things to do there. One: attend a community pot luck.  Two: flip a U-turn and go back home.  I am kidding, of course, the pot luck is pretty much the only thing listed.  That will be occurring at 6:00 on Saturday, if you are interested.
Strangely enough, that girl and I have a damned good reason to go to Sweet Grass.  Montana being Montana, the border crossing at lil’ ol’ Sweet Grass is the nearest place we can go to meet with an authorized customs agent to interview and complete the process for acquiring a Global Entry Pass.  Such a pass will expedite our passage through TSA security at all airports.
So that’s it.  Off we go at five-something this morning.  Sweet Grass or bust.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Suffering From a Lack of Imagination

Sidney tried to convince Natalie that her fear of paperclips was irrational.  “Think about it,” he told her, “They are paperclips.  They hold papers together.  What’s to fear in that?”
“They are always turning up in the wrong places,” Natalie pleaded.
Sidney lacked the imagination required to see a paperclip doing anything beyond clasping loose papers together.  He could not fathom when she meant by ‘turning up in the wrong places.’
Then, early one morning in October, as Sidney flew his Piper Cub airplane over an expanse of ocean, the engine suddenly seized.  The plane immediately began to plummet toward the waves shuffling whitely across the water below.  Stunned, Sidney scanned the gauges of his instrument panel, as he had done regularly since taking off from the airport.  Recently, a mechanic had recalibrated all of the instruments. Only on this scan, as his plane spiraled down, did he notice the paperclip lodged against the needle of the oil pressure gauge, falsely holding the needle to point at normal pressure.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sticky Note Rationing

Well, it has finally happened.  I have officially been placed under a strict sticky note rationing program by the local authority having jurisdiction (formerly known as that girl).
I will admit to slightly heavier than normal use of sticky notes.  I have an innate need to compile lists, jot down important dates, and extend myself reminders.  I recently wrote about this.
Not long after waking and pouring herself a cup of coffee yesterday morning, that girl sat at the kitchen breakfast bar and began scouring through a swell of sticky notes splayed across the countertop.  She was seeking a note she had written to herself a few days ago.  As luck would have it, she found, instead, a flurry of notes I and Geddy Parker had assembled while estimating the cost of the electrical system for an upcoming construction project.
I will admit, we generated a few notes.
After flipping over three or four notes and setting aside several others, that girl said: “Okay, that does it.  I am going to have to start rationing sticky note pads to you.”  She then split in half a nearby sticky note pad and handed half to me, laughing.  “Here you go.  You can use these for now.  We can talk about more when those are gone.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, October 16, 2017

After the Fires

Only recently, the Forest Service allowed the public back into some areas scorched by wildfires this summer.  On Saturday, that girl and I drove to the mountains above Lincoln so we could directly survey where the Arrastra Creek and Park Creek fires clawed through the forests and scaled up the steep mountainsides.  Alongside the road, long before we reached the black trees and understories of ash, we drove past huge decks of trees cut and stacked as part of the firefighting and clean-up effort.
Climbing in elevation, we soon reached areas touched by fire.  For the most part, firefighters managed to contain the fire to the north side of the road we used to access the forest.  Fortunately, this flank of the fire never experienced a blowup.  While some areas alongside the road saw both the entire understory and canopy blackened, much of the immediate landscape held patchworks of green understory and trees untouched by flame. 
The higher forests and rocky inclines above, however, experienced Hell on Earth.  Fire, uplifted into those trees, bellowed through them, scorching every living thing, high and low.  I tried to capture images of the devastation, but fresh snow overwhelmed and defined the landscape (as snow does all landscapes).
The fire burned right through the upper section of Arrastra Creek—a run of creek defined by huge boulders, white cascades, and clear pools.  The heavily timbered notch in which Arrastra Creek flows survived fairly well.  We could see where firefighters downed trees and cleared brush to starve the fire there.  I captured an image of the creek and have posted it here.
Almost immediately after leaving Arrastra Creek, we entered into forests and mountainscapes untouched by fire.  We soon found ourselves in a normal autumn highlighted by high elevation snow.  Both that girl and I thought our drive back down the far side of the mountains was one of the loveliest we have had this year.
I thought about California as we stopped to survey an expansive view of the mountains and watch the clouds pouring in over us.  October is a bad fire month down there.  This year has been devastating.
I hope their fortune changes soon.




--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Are The Popular Girls Up To These Days?

The construct of one’s popularity is somewhat nebulous.  Popularity is as difficult to define as love and as fleeting as lust.  But during seventh and eighth grade, especially for girls, “popularity” seems a real thing.
Popular girls flounce with the stuff.
Some popular girls are magnanimous and inclusive in their popularity.
Others are harsh queens.
Outside these two distinct courts of popularity, all the other girls (and boys) simply try to get along and try not to get run over.
For whatever reason, one of the “popular” girls in my daughter’s eighth grade class bullied my daughter on more than a few occasions.  My daughter was easily strong enough to survive that sort of thing, but I recall several times when she and I discussed all of this in depth.  I tried to assure her that popularity in eighth grade does not necessarily translate into beauty or success in the long term.
The other day, in our local newspaper, an article featured a story about the popular girl who bullied my daughter.
What are the popular girls up to these days?
Felony methamphetamine possession and criminal trespass, in this case.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, October 14, 2017

What?

Yesterday afternoon, while that girl drove us through the valley on the way to Helena, we whizzed past a fenced field in which both of us swear we saw three emus trotting around with a fawn deer.  One of the emus stopped alongside the fence to watch us roll by.
That was exactly the last thing I expected to happen yesterday.
--Mitchell Hegman

Friday, October 13, 2017

Three More Reasons to be Thankful

—I am thankful that every raindrop hitting the ground does not instantly turn into a spider.
—I am thankful my truck does not catch on fire from friction when I drive with my parking brake engaged.
—I am thankful I woke at 4:42 AM this morning instead of 4:41 AM (because I can always use an extra minute of sleep).

--Mitchell Hegman

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Slow on the Uptake

In my hometown of East Helena, Montana, people like me are referred to as “slow on the uptake.”  What that means, when translated into the Queen’s English, is that it took me until yesterday to figure out that women are totally different from men.
I even have a photograph to prove it!
Yesterday, after spending a good portion of the day prepping for a class I will be teaching today, I slammed around the kitchen cupboards looking for something to munch on.  When I opened the cabinet where we store our crackers, I saw the saltines I had opened and then stored the other night and the Ritz crackers, that girl had opened and stored the same night.
Based on the photograph, I think one of us is bumbling through life and the other is that girl.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Princess Lilith

One morning, Princess Lilith went out walking in the forest.  This was not the enchanted forest, but pretty close to it.  She soon found herself alongside a small stream.  The stream was attended by low dogwood and wood rose and the clear water murmured as it threaded along the shadows of larger maple trees.   
Princess Lilith removed her slippers, raised her long billowing dress and stepped into the stream, allowing the chill water to tickle at her ankles.  And that’s where she first saw the small frog sitting on a green, moss-covered rock on the bank nearby.
The frog did not object when Princess Lilith scooped it up and brought it close to her face.
The frog was unlike any other she had ever seen.  It was deep red in color—almost Real Red, the same color she had recently found at the Sherwin Williams paint store when she went shopping for castle paint.    
“I am Princess Lilith,” she informed the frog.  “I have long been seeking a handsome prince.  It is said that kissing the right frog will turn the frog into a handsome prince.  I can only imagine what a handsome prince you would make!”
Princess Lilith kissed the frog.
Almost immediately an acrid taste swelled across her tongue.  She dropped the frog, splashed out of the stream, and retrieved her slippers.  Dizzy and unsure, Princess Lilith made it about twenty feet into the woods before she fell over, dead.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The ‘Goodbye’ Problem

I sat down with a yellow pad, thinking I might write a poem.  For those of you smart enough to have never attempted writing a poem, such a task is generally, often, specifically, totally, undeniably frustrating.
Writing a poem never pays.
On the yellow paper, after several minutes I had written only this: In “goodbye” there is a rusting truck and an old man watching it rust from a wicker chair under a shed roof.
Frankly, good-bye has always been a problem for me.
The word good-by has fitfully, fretfully, foully floundered inside my head for as long as I have had a head.
It’s the spelling.
Is it goodbye?
Or good-bye?
Or good-by?
Or goodby?
As a failed poet, I had little choice but to seek my answer from the internet.  Off I went, sailing, swooping, swimming through the vast sea of information.
In the end—much to my dissatisfaction—all forms of spelling are correct or incorrect, dependent, it seems, on your personal selection, preference, or sensibilities.
There exists no authority to firmly settle the dilemma with spelling good ___ (fill in the blank).
I did find an interesting graph (reposted here today) at a WriteAtHome.com, a blog written by Brian Wasko.  The graph charts the usage of the various spellings of goodbye (suddenly my strong preference) in thousands of books over the last two centuries.
With that I say: Good grief.


--Mitchell Hegman

Monday, October 9, 2017

I Said a Dumb Thing

I said a dumb thing the other day.  While teaching a class, I twisted up some details on grounding and bonding.
Let’s review for a moment.
As of this year, I have been involved in the electrical industry for forty years.  I can honestly say—for the most part—I loved my work.  Within a few weeks of starting my electrician’s apprenticeship, I knew I had found an honest career.
I took my work seriously.  I wanted lights to turn on when I flipped a switch.  I wanted appliances to work.  I wanted my conduit runs to look pretty.  I wanted zero mistakes.
Question: How did that “no mistake” stance work out for you, Mitch?
Well, the answer is: About as well is a boat made of screen material.
I made mistakes.  Lots and lots and lots of mistakes.  Thing is, I would often get angry with myself for making mistakes.  Sure, I fixed everything.  I eventually made all the stuff that was supposed to fling rocks fling rocks.  All the refrigerators soon enough refrigerated.  But I almost always walked away from my mistakes a bit miffed.
Then I started teaching in the IBEW/NECA apprenticeship program.
If you want to make mistakes, there is your perfect venue.  My default mode is pretty much one of misspeaking.  I can spare you the zillion details of my mistakes, but can clearly illustrate by telling you about a simple habit I developed.  I would see apprentices in classes for a week at a time.  I soon developed a habit of writing on the whiteboard, each morning, a list of any wrong information I dispensed the previous day.
Early on, I filled the whiteboard with big mistakes, little mistakes.
In the morning, before we started to review our scheduled material for the day, I would work down through my list of mistakes with the entire class.
And a funny thing began to happen as I detailed my mistakes on the whiteboard: I began to accept my mistakes without the anger.  Sometimes, I even laughed at myself.  The apprentices were not angry.  I was not angry.
The other day, I realized a said a dumb thing almost as soon as I finished speaking.
So, I stopped speaking.
“No,” I said, “that’s not correct.  I think I am confused here.  Scratch that.”    
I feel so much better now.
I don’t think that’s a mistake.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Changes I Would Make

Sitting here with my coffee this morning, I got to ruminating about a few changes I would make in my earlier life if that were possible.  For one thing, I would have learned to play House of the Rising Sun on a guitar.  I would have taken my grandfather fishing more times than I did.  I would have avoided meeting one of the women I came to love, driven more backroads that rise into dark storms, learned to whisper whenever I am insistent, and risen to my feet as I clapped at the end of every one of my daughter’s piano recitals.

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fault Line (The Song)

I posted this song previously—about two years ago if memory serves.  I thought I would repost again since my post for yesterday was about a fault line of a different nature.
--Mitchell Hegman.
Vido Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQDLf8xI7BE

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Fault Line

Seismologists are in the process of establishing a dashed line.   The line is being drawn through the mountains less than a dozen miles from my cabin.  The line will define the location of a previously unmapped strike-slip fault—a fault that sees two sections of the Earth’s crust grating against one another like a pair of cars side-swiping in a tight parking lot.  The result is something of a rumbling and rolling earthquake.
This all started back on July 6 when a magnitude 5.8 rattled the hell out of everyone within several hundred miles of the Lincoln epicenter.  That was the largest quake Montana has experienced in 40 years. Since then, according to earthquaketrack.com, activity near Lincoln has been fairly constant.  As of this morning, the Lincoln area has seen 20 earthquakes in the last 7 days, 61 in the past 30 days.  The other day, a magnitude 3.5 rumbled through.
There are three types of faults.  One type is the strike-slip fault such as the one near Lincoln.  A second type occurs where two sections of the Earth’s crust abruptly pull apart, forming a valley.  The third type of fault thrusts one section of curst overtop another. 
Determining where the strike-slip fault lies is detailed work.  In addition to studying seismic graphs, scientists study creeks and rivers to see if they can identify points where the flow suddenly jogs sideways: an indication that the landscape has shifted laterally underneath them.  
At the same time, this is nothing new in these parts.  Many of our iconic mountain ranges were thrust skyward by thrusting earthquake faults. The Big Belt Mountains, rising immediately behind my house, are an example.  In those mountains you will find, at 8,000 feet, tickled by passing clouds, the limestone sea beds (complete with sea shell fossils) of an ancient ocean upheaved by eons of earthquake activity.
We are still in the process of making mountains and shifting rivers out here.  Unfortunately, it’s something akin to making sausage.  The process is not all that pretty.  Following the magnitude 5.8, I found cracks in the concrete slabs of my driveway some 40 miles from the epicenter, cracks in the concrete siding at the base of my cabin walls, and waking to the shaking and rumbling was a bit unnerving.
--Mitchell Hegman.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Don’t Walk a Mile in my Shoes

From a general standpoint, I think the admonition to “walk a mile in another man’s shoes” before you judge him is valid.   For me specifically, instead of walking a mile in my shoes, maybe you could stop wearing underwear for a week (I stopped wearing them years ago).  While doing so may not entirely alter your thoughts about me, I can guarantee a few startling moments. 

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Road to Automatic Love

Clearly, we took a wrong turn.
If we backtrack, maybe we will find two signposts.
One that reads: Automatic Weapons.
One that reads: Automatic Love.

Obviously, we are not on the road to Automatic Love.

But we can imagine.

Your grandmother’s house will be the first home along the way.
Brilliant white with red shutters.  Happy-face violets in the wind boxes.
Children have set up a lemonade stand under the leafy canopy of a giant oak.
The sign draws travelers in: “free cookees with eech glass!”

The road we missed is not so long, not so punishing,
and the locals cheerfully wave to uncertain wanderers.

There are no wrong turns.  No potholes.
No snarling traffic.

Bang, bang, bang!  On the road to Automatic Love, that’s the tattoo of a small boy playing his tin drum as he marches off into a field of timothy and foxglove.

--Mitchell Hegman

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

That Girl

I knew that girl was right for me the morning she smacked me with a fly-swatter.  Why she smacked me is not near as interesting as why her hair seems electrified when caught in backlight or why the sound of her voice always makes me feel as though I am on my way up.
The fly-swatter was made of leather.  Handmade by the Amish near Roundup, Montana and without logical reference.
That girl’s voice is made of clear water, green hills, and a dash of warm ocean breeze.  It’s a place where I want to go.
I seek her out when she first wakes, when she is perfectly soft and dreams have gifted her with a smooth optimism, smooth understanding.  I can speak my normal nonsense and she understands me.
And she merely laughs when my cat hisses at her.
When she was gone for a few days, I sent her a selfie of me and my cat.
Not a joke.
One of us missed her fiercely.
And speaking of light, if I stand outside my door, the light issued from the sun requires eight minutes and twenty seconds to reach me.  I sometimes imagine what sort of things might happen in that time.  A flight of geese could lift from the lake and fly to the valley wheat fields.  A footrace might be started and won.  The last dozen leaves might fall from my mayday tree.  A bee could sting me whirl off to perish in the blonde grass. 
But eight minutes and twenty seconds is not near enough time for me to spend with that girl.
I ask for more.

--Mitchell Hegman.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Followers

Back in 1994 a really ugly thing occurred—something that sent thousands of innocent people flailing across floors all around the world.
It was a dance called the Macarena.
Not just a dance: a craze.  The song Macarena, which inspired the dance, was performed by Los del Rio, a Spanish duo approaching middle age.  I was deeply concerned about society as whole as I witnessed otherwise normal people jerking about to a truly awful song.  A song which, by the way, extols a young woman who cheats on her boyfriend with two men at once.
Here’s the thing, I didn’t hold the people caught up in the Macarena craze responsible for their actions.  I blamed the song (a sparsely musical chant) and accompanying video for the entire mess.  The masses were merely followers caught up in a bizarre singularity that took them by surprise.  Perhaps everyone was drinking at the time.
I am about to make a larger point here.
Yesterday, after reading my carping about October running around calling itself the “eighth month,” my friend, Ken, correctly noted that November and December are likewise singing false tunes.
November means “ninth month.”
December means “tenth month.”
Clearly, they are the eleventh and twelfth months, respectively.
Okay, my point really isn’t “larger.”  It’s a medium-sized or maybe a small point.  But here it is: I don’t hold November and December accountable for where they stand.  They had no choice but to follow October.  To do otherwise would triple our confusion.  Also, like those dancing to the Macarena, they are natural followers.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, October 1, 2017

October

October has been misplaced in a most glaring manner.
Normally, I am not terribly persnickety about where we situate our months.  January is fine where it’s located.  Some years, I will admit to wishing January was closer to July so we could have a few warmer days.  But I muddle though.
April looks lovely sitting there between March and May.  When spoken, April tastes like sugar on my tongue.  Songbirds sing in the mornings.  I can return to my once snowbound cabin nestled in the toes of the Great Continental Divide.
June: absolutely.
September is perfectly stationed to usher in the “ber” months (translated in Montana as: brrr, it’s getting cold).  Give me those cool evenings, warm days, big skies, and calm evenings.  Mountains stand taller in September.  Bluebirds gather into cheery flocks that twiddle about the fences along our country road.
All the other months are fine in a workmanlike manner.  No issue.
Now, back to October.
I have no particular complaints with October’s associated weather.  We are transitioning between hot and cold—I totally get that.  I have no issue with the spelling (as I do with February and, frankly, calendar).  My problem is this: the name October literally means “eighth month.”
Hello, October, you are not the eighth month!
I know it’s not your fault, October.  I understand that you are a vestige from the Roman calendar.  I appreciate that some late-coming goobers threw January and February up into your face.  But don’t be strutting around the calendar like you are the “real” eighth month.  Because you’re not.

--Mitchell Hegman.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Stepping Stones

5:03 in the Morning.  The constellation Orion stands on the roof of my house.  I saw him there at 4:31 when I went out to set that girl’s pot of mums outside after a night indoors.  At present, the sounds of the song of White Room, by Cream, fills my living room.  20 pounds of housecat is sprawled across my lap.  For no particular reason, I have been thinking about a day when I was not very nice to my late wife.
She had made a series of brick stepping stones on the hillside at the back of our house.  I thought the stepping stones were silly and of no use where they were.  She had worked all day to bed them in the earth alongside blue grama grass and blue flax.    
“I don’t like it,” I said.
5:12 in the morning.  20 years later.
The stepping stones are still out there and I hate myself.

--Mitchell Hegman.

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Dust Devil Meets a Powerline

Drawn up like a snake charmed from a basket, a dust devil rises into an empty sky before swaying off across the open stubble of a wheatfield.  The last of summer’s sun has bleached the wheat stubble to an undeniable blonde color.  The dust devil scours through the rows of cut grain, growing darker, directing itself toward certain collision with high tension power lines strung between two purple, high-bucking, mountain ranges.
You might think catastrophic failure would result where these two powerful forces meet.  But the dust devil ghosts right through the thrumming lines; leans right through them and does not thin until abruptly turning in a new direction.
At once, the dust devil dissipates.
Watching, as I do, I am always trying to seek a point in all of this.

--Mitchell Hegman.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Crow Creek Falls (2017)

Three years ago, on September 26, that girl and I met for our very first date.  Our date was a six-mile round-trip hike into Crow Creek Falls.  The falls is the largest in the Helena National Forest. 
For a century preceding this date, the waterfall lay on private land as part of patented mining claims.  In the 1980s a miner moved in to remove placer gold deposits from the deep pool below the waterfall.  At the end of his venture he left behind a heaping junkyard.  Rusting bulldozers.  A battered crane.  Empty barrels in various states of repose.  Small bits of refuse strewn from end to end of the claim. 
Thanks to the combined efforts of the American Land Conservancy and Montana Fish and Wildlife Trust, the area around the falls has been cleared of junk and the property is now in public holding (purchased by Helena National Forest in 2004).
Yesterday, we repeated the same hike.  The hike in is gorgeous.  The first half of the hike follows along Crow Creek.  The creek is perfectly clear and ever active, bounding through smooth boulders and spilling whitely over deadfall.  The forest there seems as ancient as any I have seen.  The shadows are deep and tree moss hangs from all branches of the tallest trees.  Thimbleberry, snowberry, and chockecherry bushes grown tall alongside the trial.  The sun remains a distant jewel hanging above.

The sound of the waterfall reaches you long before you arrive there.  By the time that girl and I found ourselves at the edge of the deep pool at the base of the falls, we were yelling to carry on conversations.
We did stop our blasting conversations long enough for a kiss in celebration of three years together.

--Mitchell Hegman.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

One More Thing

I am a dedicated maker of lists.  I love them.  Nine out of ten times, when I drive to town, I will have with me a list of stops I need to make.  I make lists of upcoming work projects, details about classes I am currently developing, home projects I need to complete, and materials I need to take to the cabin when I go there.
I have even posted a few lists on this blog.
Lists are the nearest to a living thing words on paper can be.  They grow and evolve over time.  They are never complete.  When I see an open line at the bottom of a list, I think to myself: “What’s the next thing?”
Yesterday, while visiting with my sister and brother-in-law, I noticed a list on the countertop.  I could not help myself.  I had to sneak one more thing onto the list.  I have posted a stealthy photograph I captured of the completed list with my smarter-than-me-phone.







--Mitchell Hegman.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Brain Functions

For once, I have the jump on all those fancy-shmancy scientists linking together syllables until their words become barreling freight trains.  Not only that, my (somewhat controlled) study did not cost anyone else a dime.
Here it is: I have successfully mapped the function of the human brain.
Well, my brain, specifically.
Looking around my office yesterday, I suddenly realized my office and my brain have similar memory functions.
Sticky notes!
That’s right.  Sticky notes.  My office is filled with sticky notes.  Yellow notes flagging pages of books.  Purple, yellow, blue, and pink notes fixed like the scales of a reptile to my desktop.  A sticker on my computer keyboard.  A sticker on my monitor.  And on.
Point is, my brain is exactly the same.  Just a pile of sticky notes I have assembled together.  If I see them enough, I remember something.  As I kick around during the course of an average day, the notes catch my attention in a more or less random manner:
“Don’t forget that girl’s birthday!”
“Arc flash study for batteries.”
“80080.”
“Call (illegible name).”
To be fair, the last note was written in the dark late at night.
And my brain is not perfect.
Perhaps Robert Frost put it more succinctly than anyone else: “The brain is a wonderful organ: it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”
--Mitchell Hegman.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Don’t Touch That Fuse

I woke from a dream in which I was surrounded by three offended, if not angry, electricians.
In the dream, I had done a bad thing.
I had walked up upon three electricians—all of whom were gathered around an electrical control box operating a series of conveyer belts located immediately behind the box.  “Kinda quiet around here,” I joked.  “Normally I can’t hear myself think.”
“Belts crashed,” the nearest electrician, a bearded man, told me. “We’ve been troubleshooting to see if we can fire up the belts again.”
I appraised the rows of contactors, motor starters, timers, and rainbows of bundled wires connecting all the components together.  At the bottom of the controller, I saw a small fuse block holding a single fuse.  I noticed that one of the other electricians was holding a digital multimeter in his hands.  “Mind if I borrow that?” I asked.
Using a screwdriver, that somehow appeared in my back pocket, I pried the fuse from the holding clips.  I tested for continuity with the multimeter.
“There’s your problem,” I announced.  “Fuse is shot.”
“Hmmf,” said the electrician as I handed him his meter again.  I also handed him the fuse.
"Why don’t you to see about rustling up a fuse,” the bearded man told the other electricians.  After they had walked away, he turned to me.  “You did a bad thing here.  You checked the fuse.”
“Why is that bad?  The fuse was blown.  I fixed the problem.  I was taught to always check the fuse as a first step.”
“That’s not the point.  The point is, you never check another man’s fuse.  You might make him look bad.”

--Mitchell Hegman.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Another Day in Montana (With Bears), Part II

Weird.
Yesterday, the blog I posted was about a bear some dude here in Montana found injured on a highway.  After posting my blog, I drove to Butte to teach a continuing education class for electricians.  During my early evening drive home, while negotiating one of the back-to-back curves along I-15 where the highway trickles through the dense mountains between Butte and Helena, I spotted a black bear just sitting there on a mountainside immediately off the highway below a strand of jade-colored pines.
Not long after arriving home, I picked up the newspaper and found an article about grizzly bears that have been pushing their territory onto the plains on the eastern side of the Front Range of the Rockies.  Some of the bears were recently involved in killing cattle near Dupuyer, Montana.
Apparently the “something’s afoot” around these parts applies to bears.

--Mitchell Hegman.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Another Day in Montana (With Bears)

I can think of several reasons not to haul around an injured and unconscious bear in the back of my truck.
First, it’s a bear.
Second, it’s an injured bear.
Actually, that’s enough reasons right there.
I have experience with this sort of thing.  Not with bears.  With a big bull snake.  I once flipped one I found on the road into the back of my truck with a stick and drove down the road a short distance to show my buddy.  I mean, this thing was big!
When I got to where my buddy was: no snake.
Oh, dear.   Where was it?  Had it climbed down and wrapped around something on the undercarriage of the truck?  Was that possible?  Had it dropped itself back on the road again as I drove along?  Just to be safe, I parked my truck outside the garage that first night.
Now, back to Bear World.
Seems a would-be rescuer, chanced upon a black bear that had been struck by an automobile near Polson, Montana the other day.  Somehow, the man managed to hoist the bear into the back of his truck.  He then drove to nearby Confederated Salish and Kootinai Tribal Complex in Pablo, hoping to find help for the injured bear.  That’s when the bear became not-so unconscious.
Remember…first, it’s a bear.
Just to remind ourselves, let’s go down the bear list here:
1. Giant claws (check)
2. Mouth filled with long, sharp teeth (check)
3. Deep growl (check)
4. Six-times stronger than the Terminator (check)
5. Standing upright in the back of the pickup (check)
6. Really, really angry (double-check).
The folks in Pablo were more than a little concerned about the angry bear in back of a pickup.  In just the last few weeks we’ve had a couple grizzly bear attacks.  It didn’t take long before a tribal law enforcement officer arrived.  Sadly, the officer had no choice but to dispatch the bear.
Me?
It’s been years, but I’m still on the lookout for than darned snake.

--Mitchell Hegman.