August 21, 2017 Eclipse at Powell Butte, Oregon by Tanya Klowden

Scenes from quarantine — Day 365:

In August of 2017, in a very hastily planned trip, we piled our family of five into the car and drove nearly a thousand miles into the very middle of the path of totality of a solar eclipse.

There, in a field miles away from anything we were plunged into darkness in the middle of the day and in just over one minute of our lives, found ourselves transformed forever.

I had planned and read and intellectually knew what a total solar eclipse was. A quirk of the moon’s orbit and its particular size…


CDC Staff Meeting in the Movie “Contagion”

Scenes from quarantine — Day 180:

It was, I believe, about three weeks into this pandemic that, late at night, I dragged Kevin downstairs and made him watch Contagion with me. Our pediatrician had recommended the movie to me years ago, praising it for its accurate and well-done handling of a pandemic scenario and for including solid science in its narrative instead of getting silly as many disease-outbreak stories have. At the time, I didn’t resist, precisely, but as a mother of small children with absolutely no medical training it was never a priority to sit down and consider what…


Scenes from quarantine — Day 154:

It was a day, maybe two, after Super Tuesday, after Elizabeth Warren stepped down, that I had the crushing realization. I had made an awful mistake. I had spent months defending the handful of women who aspired to our nation’s highest office, had insisted that this country WAS ready for a woman president, and that “because I don’t think anyone else will vote for her” is a terrible reason not to vote for the candidate you believe in. I had spun words like cotton candy and completely missed the pivotal central point.

I knew…


Scenes from quarantine — Day 167:

Knitters call them “vanilla” socks, though they are never the plain, white, machine-made and store-bought sock that name seems to evoke. The tens or hundreds of thousands of handknit vanilla socks come a riot of colors and patterns — you won’t find two pairs of vanilla socks that look the same. Some are made from patterns, most others follow what they call a “recipe”. A little of this, a pinch of that, mix it all together and out emerges a sock (or even two, if you’re lucky!). What binds the infinitely varied socks together…


Contact tracers at work

Scenes from quarantine — Day 67:

67 days. 10 weeks. 96,354 reported deaths in the United States. 5,197,776 confirmed cases in the world. In the past two months (almost five really, going all the way back to the earliest reports of some strange pneumonia outbreak in China), we have all gotten used to following a steady stream of numbers.

Despite many of us feeling insecure about our math skills, most people seem to like numbers. Numbers feel solid, reliable. 5 is always 5. 3 is always 3. You know that 5 cookies is always better than 3 cookies. …


President Bush in a classroom finding out about the World Trade Center attack.

Scenes from quarantine — Day 69:

It started like a typical, lazy Saturday. After lazing about in bed for a while and entertaining vague thoughts of breakfast, Kevin pulled himself from the soft and snuggly blankets and went out foraging for fresh donuts. He arrived back home with his prize only to discover that the order from the baker’s I’d made earlier in the week was delivered, so we had fresh bread, jam, and coffee cake too. Every possible carbohydrate comfort we could imagine was ours. We didn’t even bother with plates.

We took a little time to take care…


Scenes from quarantine — Day 171:

We keep a piece of paper taped to the wall right beside the front door, just a plain sheet from a notepad, utterly unremarkable save that it is filled with cryptic numbers: 2, 7, 8, 14, 15…they climb higher in no discernible pattern for several rows, each number carefully crossed out but the last one. The handwriting shifts and flows from row to row. …


Scenes from quarantine — Day 115:

As we talk about schools, returning to schools, and the importance of schools, and the push to reopen schools, the first elephant in the room is really childcare. Here in the US we tend to conflate school and childcare so routinely that we almost don’t notice anymore but it is important to recognize that fundamentally, schools are not childcare and childcare is not school. …


Today the United States is over 52,000 deaths and almost 1 of every 6 workers is out of a job. As the complete and utter failure of the US response has become apparent, I have seen more people asking how did we end up here? What went so horribly, catastrophically wrong?

For a heartbeat, at the beginning of all this, other countries looked to ours for leadership. Yes, we’ve had some missteps in recent years, but we have a very long track record of being prepared and knowing what to do when faced with the unimaginable. This is America, right…


Scenes from Quarantine — Day 158

Deeply scarred but still standing.

We were in Yosemite, a few months after one of the many wildfires that plague California had ravaged the landscape. Miles of mountain roads twisted through a blackened landscape and we peered out the windows at the tall skeletons of what had once been trees and now were vertical streaks of black charcoal and silvery ash. …

Tanya Klowden

Tanya Klowden is a parent, scientist, designer, and person in her neighborhood. As she writes she seeks to amplify the voices that have been hushed in history.

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