Author Archive | Donna Hesterman

Burning truck in an Afghanistan fuel convoy

What is taking so long?

Dotting the desert landscape of southern Afghanistan, there are 12 U.S. Marine Corps outposts. Two of them are fairly large Marine Corps bases, approximately 10 miles in diameter, and 2,000 to 3,000 Marines live and work there. They have cinderblock buildings, green circus-sized tents, and hundreds of little white rectangular trailers that serve as living…

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Sean uses clay to replace the plaster parts that melted away.

Seven Steps to a More Beautiful Face

“Water vapor is your enemy, heat is everything, and there is always another step,” says Sean. He runs a bronze foundry in Santa Cruz. Bronze casting is a messy, multi-step process that pulls beauty from chaos. And Sean is a chemist, a material engineer, and an artisan. I followed Sean’s work this week as he…

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Election night in Selma, Alabama

Election night, interviews, and mom

Today I had a conversation with a man who I have read about in history books. I’ve also seen a few movies about him. And the night Barack Obama was elected President; I saw this man’s face on a television set in a bar in Selma, Alabama. He was talking, but I couldn’t hear. I…

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Since I was a little girl, I’ve taken what I call “mental snapshots” of moments that I want to remember. I almost always carry a camera now, but back before digital cameras became ubiquitous, I hardly ever had one handy when something significant was going down. I still take mental snapshots when I feel that…

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My seven-year-old has been congested and coughing for a few days now. This morning when he complained that his chest hurt, I called to see if I could get him in to see the doctor. Surprisingly, we were able to get an appointment right away. A few hours later, we were in the examination room….

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In less than 100 days, my husband will be on his way home from Afghanistan. I didn’t say anything to the kids, because it just reminds them that he’s gone. And of course, there is always the possibility that the plan will change. Still, it’s a milestone, so for just this one day, I’m letting…

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Sparky sniffs out Donna Hesterman's lede beneath two tons of word rubble.

Excavating my lede

Here I sit, digging my lede out of the second paragraph — I hope it’s okay. It’s been down there since Monday with no food or water. My editor found it. He heard it whimpering under the crushing weight of a superfluous first paragraph. That’s where I usually find my ledes; poor things. I’m actually…

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Field Biology Trip to the Desert

Here are some pictures from a field biology trip a few years ago. We went from Auburn, Alabama to Portal, Arizona and back in 9 days. We camped on BLM lands and surveyed small mammals (bats and rats) at every stop. The picture with the bucket shows how you catch a ground squirrel (should you…

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Disaster, inspiration, and the way home

The biology department at Auburn University has a tradition called Bio-Lunch where graduate students invite a scientist to come and speak about their work over a brown bag lunch. My friend, Sara, came bursting into the lab one day to tell me that she had been chosen to invite the guest speaker for the next…

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