Smile Politely

Dispatches from isolation: April 11th

Here’s the next installment of our dispatches from isolation series. We’ve seen how our Managing Editors Jess Hammie and Julie McClure have spent their respective days, so catch up with those if you’d like while you’re reading this one. How are you spending your days in isolation? Here’s a glimpse into how we’re spending ours, and we plan to bring you more from different people for as long as we’re doing this. Have questions, or want to suggest a person for this series? Email us at [email protected].


Though we are staying-at-home, for all intents and purposes, this was a very nice, fairly normal Saturday at our home in Champaign. I hope that this glimpse into a day in my life will be an enjoyable way to spend a moment of your day.

8:07 a.m.

I wake up and let our dog, Patchouli aka “Patchie” (adopted early last year from CCHS), outside to do his business, and serve him up some breakfast in his bowl. While he’s outside, I start to make some coffee. Patchie comes back to the door, begs for a treat, and then runs upstairs without even acknowledging the bowl of food I just put out for him. He has to greet my fiancée first, she’s upstairs still, before doing anything else. This is very routine.

8:41 a.m.

I must admit: I habitually over-water our plants in our living room. I’m trying to not do this as often, though now it has been enough time to give them some more nourishment. One of my favorites that we have is this monstera right here, shout out to Plant Mode.

IMAGE: Three plants lined up next to a window. There's a grey curtain in the middle-back. of the photo, and you can see the edge of a rug at the bottom. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

9:15 a.m.

My fiancée is a member at Hatha, and they’ve been doing their classes over Zoom these days. While I continue to not do much, aside from drink more coffee and scroll on my phone a bit, she’s down in our makeshift basement gym participating in the class. Patchie is just so lovingly pathetic and sweet, he sits down there next to the door until she’s done. If he’s in the basement, she won’t even be able to do her workout because all he wants to do is play.

IMAGE: A laptop sits on top of a stool, there are a few pieces of workout equipment on the floor,  there's a black frame around a mirror on the white wall. There's a blue yoga mat on the ground. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

9:36 a.m

Big Thief’s U.F.O.F. remains on our turntable from the night before, so I just hit play and do it over again. That album is so good. Patchie remains at the foot of the stairs in the basement.

IMAGE: The cover of Big Thief's U.F.O.F with a turntable in the background. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

IMAGE: View from the top of a set of stairs, a dog sits at the bottom of the landing next to a closed white door. There's a hand railing on the right side of the image. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

10:14 a.m.

On Friday, we bought a few things and picked them up curbside at Old Time Meat & Deli. The process was pleasantly easy if you’re looking to buy something from them. We didn’t want to go into the store, so we paid ahead of time over the phone, and they brought everything out to us. We are smoking ribs today, so now is the time to prep them for later. This is the first time I’ve ever smoked ribs on a grill before, so this was a fun staple of the day. We were potentially going to do this on Sunday, but with weather being iffy at best, we pushed things up to Saturday to make sure this could happen. 

IMAGE: A countertop with a slab of ribs on the left, and seasonings and salts on the right. A bunch of bananas sit in the background. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

This is only a half rack of baby back ribs (the whole thing was  $14 for 2.8lbs from Old Time), so I season it with salt, brown sugar, paprika, ground cumin, onion powder, hot Mexican style chili powder, a little bit of black pepper. Don’t mind the mess. Then, I wrapped it in tin foil and put it in the fridge for a bit.

10:53 a.m.

My fiancée’s class ended a bit ago, and we threw together a pretty basic breakfast by most standards: Eggs, bacon, toast, coffee. Done deal, and onto the next part of our day we go.

12:13 p.m.

While I love that spring is starting to be a real thing, fortunately (and unfortunately?) now is the time to finally mow the lawn for the first time this year. I know, we are likely not as stellar of homeowners as some of you out there, perfectly manicuring your lawn. Get off your high horse, will you?

I’m definitely projecting this onto you because I was feeling a bit insecure about our own because it was in rough shape. I remember while this is happening that the city’s spring yard waste collection dates have been postponed, so I’m curious when that’s going to happen. No big deal though, we don’t have that much for them to collect, though there will be some, no doubt.

Oh, what do I listen to while mowing? This time it was Hamilton Leithauser, Dogleg, and Deeper. All three have new records out that are worth some of your time. Oh, here’s a photo of me noticing my fiancée (a photographer) pop out from behind our shed and surprise the shit out of me while I was zoned out mowing. 

IMAGE: A large tree truck is in the middle of the photo. A man operating a red lawn mower appears on one side of the tree, the mower on the other. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

2:26 p.m.

Mowing takes about an hour or so given the size of our lawn. Once I’m done with that, the weather is still super nice, so we decide to go on a walk. We live fairly close to Robeson Park, which is typically our go-to, but neither of us had ever been to Morrisey Park, which is about a 20-minute walk from our house. The park is in great shape, and though there weren’t many people around, we did see a few (small) clusters of humans in pairs and one group of three throwing a football around. I hope they were all of the same household for the sake of social distancing. There’s no way that football got wiped down, I thought. We were glad to see the playground taped off, and the tennis courts having a lock and chain to keep people from using them.

We walked around a bit, checking out the sledding hill, thinking about how we aren’t even that far removed from winter here in Central Illinois, though it feels like a lifetime ago there was snow on the ground. We make our way back home after hanging in the park for a bit. 

IMAGE: A grey and black dog sits on top of a hill in a park, the grass is very green, trees are in the background. There's a curved sidewalk. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

IMAGE: A playground, wrapped in yellow caution tape. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

3:37 p.m.

OK, now is the time to start smoking these ribs. I put them in the oven on 250º for about two hours. While that was happening I showered up because, well, it needed to happen. I had a brief thought about how much I wanted to get my hair cut, but can’t right now. Shout out to Midwest Barber Co, which is where I go these days. I just so happened to put on a ZXO three-quarter-length tee that I picked up at one of their shows a few years back at Cowboy Monkey. I swear this was a coincidence since the piece of clothing I decided to wear was during a day I was going to share with a hyper-local C-U audience.

4:32 p.m.

It’s time for a cold one. On Friday, I also picked up a few four packs of one of my favorites Triptych has ever brewed: Fiesta Forever. So good. They are doing curbside pick up and delivery as well.  

IMAGE: A can of beer being held in a hand. Label says FIESTA FOREVER: A Mexican Style Amber Lager. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

5:15 p.m.

I realize I’m writing a quarantine diary, but legitimately, I wanted to play American Football’s LP1 even though this is extremely predictable. I’m sorry I am this way. While this is on, I fire up the grill to smoke the ribs with wood chips on low heat for a few hours. This process took up a bit more time since I was learning how this whole process works.

IMAGE: A grill top with a slab of ribs in the foreground, a wrapped tin foil object in the background. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

7:30 p.m.

IMAGE: A slab of ribs being cut by a knife and fork. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

IMAGE: A slab of ribs cut in pieces. Two ears of corn are on the right side. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

It’s finally time to eat after the ribs finished up, I’m pretty proud of how these turned out. There are a few steps between firing up the grill and what you see here that I’m not elaborating on for the sake of space in this article. Of course, as I’m basically done with cooking, the rain starts to come down, covering our back porch and the grill I just got done using.

IMAGE: View of a back porch through a sliding glass door. There's a black grill on the right. Photo by Anna Longworth.

Photo by Anna Longworth.

8:25 p.m.

We finished up dinner, and while attempting to digest and decompress after that process, I discovered from seeing a few tweets that HUM’s You’d Prefer An Astronaut came out 25 years ago on this very day. As it goes sometimes in our SP world, or at least mine I guess, now is the time to post such a thing. I couldn’t wait until tomorrow, the news wouldn’t be as ripe as the day-of, you know? I am a strange person, I realize. I published this post and put it out on our social media pages. Publishing time stamp 8:44 p.m.

9:12 p.m.

We decide to wind down and watch some TV. Both being Wes Anderson fans, we decided earlier in the day that we’d watch Moonrise Kingdom, so we did that, and then put on a few episodes of High Maintenance on HBO. I’d highly recommend if you are unfamiliar. That show is fantastic.

IMAGE: Photo of a distant television screen, featuring a girl standing in a field. There's a candle lit in the foreground of the photo, in a dark room. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

11:55 p.m.

We decide to call it a night, as one more episode in this binge will probably result in me falling asleep 25% into the episode I just had to watch. I think I do this because there’s something comforting about falling asleep on the couch in a comfy zone. We let the dog out, and then hit the hay, and that was that for our Saturday.


Even though we are under this stay-at-home order, I’m most certainly checking my privilege on days like today, where I can do many of the things I’d normally get to do without interference. Even though it isn’t a workday, me writing about my Saturday in relative isolation, there are a wide variety of community members out there working, earning a paycheck in order to get through this however they can. Acknowledging this is important to me.

Top photo by Anna Longworth.

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