And so this week’s moment of happiness despite the news.

It was very weird here last week in Wisconsin. We had a multitude of air quality warnings, unlike any we’ve ever had in my time of living here, which is since 1976. The warnings were the result of the wildfires in Canada. At one point on Wednesday, it hit the news that Wisconsin had the worst air quality of anywhere in the world.


We were told to stay inside if at all possible, to turn on the a/c if we had it, and if we didn’t, to still shut the windows. If we went outside, we were to wear masks. It was very gray outside, putting us into instant February, but with really hot temperatures.

I did have to go out, and when I did, my lungs seemed fine, but my eyes just burned.

During the warm months, which I consider to be anything above 55 degrees, I park my Chrysler 300S, named Barry, and drive my convertible, a Chrysler 200, named Semi. Semi is so named because, before Barry, I had a Chrysler 300C Hemi, named Hemi, and because of the 300 and 200, Michael said that my convertible was a semi hemi. And so, Semi.

Years ago, approximately in 2002, I bought my first convertible, a hunter green 1997 Chrysler LeBaron, named LeB (pronounced Luh-Bee). It was the car I always wanted, and as I tooled around in it that summer, which included a road trip to my residency in Vermont for grad school, I fell in love and swore that I would never give up having a convertible. Even though it’s really kind of silly, in a state like Wisconsin, where it’s cold for a good portion of the year. (By the way, if you read my novel, Hope Always Rises, LeB is the car that Hope drives in Heaven.)

Eventually my love for convertibles led to my trading in the LeBaron for a Chrysler Sebring LXi convertible, named SeB (pronounced Suh-Bee).

And then SeB was traded in for Semi.

As I’ve grown older, I have, at times, become more practical. A few months ago, I seriously considered selling Semi. I love Barry, he’s a joyous car to drive. I am the only driver in the house – Michael does not drive. Olivia, of course, is gone a lot of the time, and she drives the VW Beetle I gave her for her birthday/Christmas/high school graduation/all gifts for the rest of her life. So really, there are two cars at my house that only I drive. Practically speaking, I don’t need two cars.

I came to a decision – I was going to do it. Sell Semi. But only after summer ended. I wanted one more summer.

And then spring was late to come, and summer even later. And then the air quality warnings hit. I couldn’t drive Semi when the air was so bad.

But this past Wednesday, the worst day, the day Wisconsin had the worst air quality in the WORLD, well, this past Wednesday passed. And on Friday? Glorious blue skies. Sunshine. A breeze. Decent temperatures.

And I went out. Well, Semi and I went out. Together. Just the two of us.

CD tucked into the player. Coldplay’s Ghost Stories. I pushed forward to “A Sky Full Of Stars”. I cranked the volume.

Oh, and I stopped at Starbucks for a grande iced cinnamon dolce latte, with only 2 pumps of cinnamon dolce. My drink.

And then I hit the gas!

Oh, baby. Blue skies above. Sun warming me from head to toes. Perfect amount of wind. A dance-in-your-seat song. And my drink.

Euphoria. Absolute side-splitting, smile-exploding, wild-whooping euphoria. With that car around me, and the music, and the sweet, sweet taste of a cinnamon dolce latte and caffeine roaring through my veins, there was absolutely nothing in this world that I couldn’t do. Nothing.

And…I could breathe and the air didn’t burn my eyes.

I think if I could have kept on driving, forever and ever, I would have. But there is still that practical part of me, donchaknow. I slurped the end of my drink. I pulled into my garage. I gave Barry a pat and told him I still loved him and would indeed return to driving him soon.

And I hugged my convertible. Shamelessly.

Honestly, I think my convertibles have been the best therapists I’ve ever had. Sometimes, a drive is all it takes.

And yes, that helps. Despite. Anyway.

Semi. The current convertible. Chrysler 200.
Barry. Chrysler 300S. The current “rest of the year” car.
Before Barry, there was Hemi, a Chrysler 300C Hemi, meaning he had a Hemi engine. I truly miss this car. I called him my bodyguard.
On the back of SeB, the Chrysler Sebring, the convertible before Semi, this bumper sticker. This was also on LeB, my first convertible, the Chrysler LeBaron. First, there was the Almost Famous bumper sticker. I X’d it out with duct tape when The Home For Wayward Clocks was accepted.
My first book author photo, taken in SeB, for the book The Home For Wayward Clocks. Hanging from the rearview is a Snoopy ornament, with his typewriter. That same ornament is now in Barry.


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