Smile Politely

Dispatches from isolation: April 5th

We’re starting a new column featuring dispatches from isolation. How are you spending yours? It’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 all doing this. Have questions, or want to suggest a person for this series? Email us at


This is the end of week three of isolating/staying home/social distancing for myself and my family. Things moved really quickly from “maybe we shouldn’t take our spring break trip to Memphis” to “we are staying in our house indefinitely.” The first week was kind of loose, with kids on “spring break” and my husband not working because he’d taken those days for our trip. The past two weeks, we’ve settled into some sort of weekday schedule(?): Mom and Dad working, the 15 year old and 13 year old each doing their own forms of school/learning type activities, some exercising, walks around the neighborhood, trying to become a puzzle person, reading, tearing through shows, eating the products of the 15 year old’s baking experiments, listening to the 13 year old play Fortnite with his friends (online, of course). Put that on repeat. 

My entry into the dispatches from isolation actually involves the least amount of isolation that we’ve experienced thus far. This was the day we all entered the world beyond our neighborhood. 

A close up of a dog's face. He is light brown with a black snout and his ears stick up. He is laying in gray and white covers. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

8:09 a.m.

This dog has always been attached to me. Since I work from home, we have the most interaction with each other. Now that I’m home all the time, his attachment has become a bit intense. If I am stationary, he is by my side or draped across my person. He, like other dogs right now, is truly living his best life. 

Birds eye view of a gray wood rectangular table. On one side is a partially put together puzzle, on the other side is a silver laptop and white coffee mug. In the center is a silver bowl with blue, brown, and black decorative balls. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

9:37 a.m.

Yes, there was an hour and a half from the time I woke up to the time I made it downstairs. It’s Sunday. But also, what are days? Our dining room table is always my workspace, but now it’s become a double workspace, a puzzle station, sometimes the only place I can sit by myself and read a book, and we also eat here sometimes. It’s shockingly clean right now because we just did a weekend house cleaning.

A partial view of an open laptop. On the screen is the altar of a church, with a woman pastor standing there wearing a mask. In the foreground is a white plate with eggs, bacon, and toast. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

10:23 a.m.

Breakfast and online church with Community United Church of Christ. Places of worship of all faiths in this community have amazingly adapted to this new reality, and it makes me very angry when I read about assholes that insist on holding in-person services, endangering their congregations and communities. I’m sorry I said asshole while talking about church. Okay, not really. Also, I did put butter on my toast after I took this, because I’m not a monster. Also, there’s dog hair on my laptop. There’s dog hair everywhere.

A collection of equipment on the floor: Two rolls of white paper towels, a blue peanut ball, a broom handle, a cup with an orange block

Photo by Julie McClure.

12:03 p.m.

This is exercise during a stay-at-home order. Before the world fell apart, I had a good exercise game going. I was super invested in classes at Leonhard Center and Defy Gravity. Thankfully, my instructors from both are doing some online classes so that we can continue to move and connect with each other. It’s not the same, but it’s something. This is my set up for a Defy Gravity Bend and Flex class over Zoom. The paper towels are substitutes for blocks. 

1:24 p.m.

I worked on handstands, or the steps to achieve a handstand. I’m not showing you a photo of that. 

A wide path of green grass. It is lined with trees with bare branches. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure. 
A close up of a plant with green leaves and a small purple flower. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

2:33 p.m.

We took our first family excursion outside of our neighborhood, to Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve. I was a little apprehensive pulling into the parking lot at Buffalo Trace Prairie. There were a lot of cars. Thankfully, there are multiple trail variations out there, and we really did not encounter that many people. The trails are pretty wide, so it was easy to maintain distance when we did. There were no groups that didn’t appear to be families, and I saw a few familiar faces, so that was nice. 

A stand up chalkboard with a large

Photo by Julie McClure. 

4:20 p.m.

Back when life was normal, I probably went to the grocery store about four times a week. This has forced me to be a way better planner in that regard. Despite my efforts, I realized I still needed a few items, and it happened to be a Common Ground call in order day, so I gave it a try. This has been a popular service, and even though I know they were swamped, they moved through the process as efficiently as possible, and did it all with a smile (and gloves). Please be gracious to anyone who is out there doing these jobs.

A white plate with four large hamburger patties. Two have melted Swiss cheese and two have melted American cheese. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.
A blue bowl filled with salad. It has spinach, thinly sliced radishes, chopped hard boiled eggs, pieces of bacon. There are two silver salad utensils sticking out of the bowl. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.
A bottle of red wine with a white label that has a drawing of a duck. It says Decoy, Sonoma County, Red Wine. It has a partially filled stemless wine glass on either side. It is sitting on a gray table in front of a silver bowl with green palm leaves in it. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure.

 5:54 p.m.

It was such a beautiful day, we decided to grill. This week I placed a meat order with Hamilton Walker’s, and brought home four steakburger patties. As you may remember, they made our Top 8 burgers list from a couple of years back, and they remain my favorite thing to order at HW. I even attempted to recreate in some fashion my favorite HW spinach with bacon dressing salad. It was pretty good, not the same, but a valiant effort. Fun fact about the wine: We got turned on to Decoy after Duckhorn did a wine dinner at Jim Gould’s. Remember Jim Gould’s? No, it doesn’t bother me that the wine glasses are mismatched. Nope. Not at all. 

A Tl.V. screen with a green background. It says The Good Place in white text. In the background is a rocking chair and fireplace utensils. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure. 

6:21 p.m.

This has become our daily family viewing. Before all of this, there was never enough time for all of us to watch a show together regularly enough to get through a series. 

7:09 p.m.

We made the kids clean up dinner, then played a couple of games of Fakin’ It on Jackbox. If you do not have a Jackbox pack, you should consider it because it’s lots of fun. This post was not sponsored by Jackbox games.

A close up of the side of a dog's face. He has light brown fur and a teal blue collar. He is laying on a navy blue blanket with orange markings. A T.V. screen is glowing in the background. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure. 

9:08 p.m.

We end our days basically the same as we did before, parked in our usual spots, watching our current show, with the dog of course. Right now it’s Ozark season three. Does anyone else get anxious seeing people congregate and touch each other on T.V.?

10:00 p.m.

Drag myself up to bed, read like two pages of my book before falling asleep.


As I write this out, my privilege is not lost on me. We are still living a stable existence. We have everything we need to adapt to our current situation. I still lose it, at times. I hate that we can’t see people we love. I hate that my kids are missing out on experiences with friends. I’m sad that all of our plans for everything are on hold indefinitely. I’m worried about this affecting someone I care about. However, I know that our family still has choices that others do not have. 

A close up of a dog's face tilted back towards the camera. He has light brown fur, a black snout, and pointed ears. Photo by Julie McClure.

Photo by Julie McClure. 

Also, the dog is still here, very close to me.

Top photo by Julie McClure.

Staff writer

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