“Makoa in trouble now.”





“Wait!” Davy shouted from across the room. Three other kids sat around his table all of them scowling at textbooks. “Do you know anything about Macbeth?”


“Can you help us? We have to figure out how this dude telling stories adds to the suspense.”

“Davy, the lady is on vacation. She’s not here to explain Shakespeare to you,” Mak snapped.

Yeah, but it was a good excuse to hang around. “I don’t mind. It gives me a chance to use my degree.” Something she definitely did not do putting together press junket wardrobes. As she crossed the room, an itch formed in the middle of her back that could only be Mak’s gaze, one of the kids at the table pulled a chair from another table for her.

Mak appeared to provide coffee and snacks as they studied. The sound of the ocean outside mixed with the burble of voices, punctuated by the occasional “Oh!” She had worked with the group at her table through a worksheet on building suspense in the third act of Macbeth and they were in the middle of story boarding the act when a weird hush fell over the room.

“Hey Shona, what are you doing here?” one of the kids asked.

The woman didn’t answer because she was busy staring at Jami. Mak stood from where he’d been working with Kayla and her friends on their essays. He strode across the floor and grabbed Shona by the arm, hauling her through the kitchen door. Davy whistled. The hush broken, the kids laughed and turned back to their homework.

“Makoa in trouble now,” Davy muttered.

“Shut up.” Precious punched his shoulder. “What’s happening in this scene, Miss Jami? Can we make it one panel because then we’d be all done, and it’s just that dude talking, right?”

Ah, the distinct sound of someone changing the subject. The woman, Shona, was gorgeous. She looked like she should have been on a poster of Hawaiian beauties with a lei around her neck and flowers in her hair. She should be smiling too, but she had not been doing that. Instead, she had been glaring daggers. Should have stuck with the impulse to get out of here when Mak wasn’t pleased to see her.

“Is that woman Mak’s girlfriend?”

Davy snorted. “She wishes.”

Precious punched him again. The boy was going to end up very bruised before the day was over.

“She was his girlfriend, but they broke up when he left.” Julie closed her English book.

When he left. The memory of him imitating Stitch rang in her ears. “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind.” Jami nodded to make them think she understood. Unfortunately she had more questions now than she had before.


Jami doesn’t see it yet, but she’s already part of Mak’s ohana. This scene came about in part because I was working with a student on Macbeth, which is my least favorite Shakespeare play after I studied it three times in school and my group nearly burned down my friend’s house making a video for a class project. (We thought it was be more interesting to have our credits on a piece of paper and film it burning. We had water handy, but an ash did not fall straight down and landed on the carpet instead. Cue 5 girls screaming and stamping out a flame.)

Borders Wrapping Paper




Mrs. Kohler had gravitated to a group near the Christmas tree. Two older ladies sat side by side, wiping their eyes. She probably needed a minute.

Flora sat down next to a blonde woman at the wrapping table. Laundry baskets full of toys lined the wall, each with a little tag on it. In front of each seat at each of the six-foot tables was a huge roll of wrapping paper on a metal rack.

“Here, let me show you.” The blonde pulled some paper from the roll under a metal bar. Then she ripped it along the bar. “It works like a big roll of waxed paper. We got these when the Borders at the mall closed. The paper, too. It’s made the whole process so much easier.”

“Thank you.” Flora grabbed a toy from the basket behind her chair and wrapped it in the paper the blonde had just ripped off.

I worked at Borders for 10 years. We did free gift wrapping. The wrapping paper was on these huge metal racks that allowed us to pull it off in lengths. The rolls were massive. A few times while I worked there we were told to throw out paper before the roll was finished. That never happened. I got 2-3 rolls over my years. They weren’t as easy to use as they had been with the racks, but man that paper lasted forever. Good sturdy paper, too.

I miss Borders.

Christmas in The Philippines




“What is your family doing for the holiday? They have Christmas in the Philippines, don’t they?”

“The Philippines has the longest Christmas season in the world.” Flora passed over the next dish.


“We start in September and finish in January on the Feast of the Epiphany. There’s caroling and food and decorations.”

“It sounds lovely.”

Flora nodded and swallowed. “When my grandmother was alive, the whole family would come to our house on Christmas Eve for a big dinner and we would all go to midnight mass together.”

Do yourself a favor. Look up Christmas in The Philippines. It’s amazing.

Riding Boots




“Are those the shoes you’re wearing?” he asked as they got to the rental.

Flora looked at the UGG Australia boots Amanda had gotten for this trip. They were lined and laced up the front and reached right to where her jeans fell. The look was perfect. “Yes.”

Wally shook his head. “You need a heel.”

“A heel?”

“So your foot doesn’t slide through the stirrup. Come on.” He went to the huge garage and opened the person-sized door on the left. The inside was huge and empty enough to shoot an indie movie in though there was a big piece of equipment on the last bay. It even had a second floor. Wally climbed the stairs.

“Where are you going?”

“There’s some old boots up here.” Wally stepped off the top step and the rafters creaked.

Years ago, I took riding lessons. I went to my first lesson (which I had worn sneakers to) my instructor told me I needed boots. She took me out to her car and opened the trunk. In her trunk, were approximately thirty pairs of boots. She found a pair in my size and sold them to me for $15. I still have those boots.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!





Wally glanced away from the bar as he stopped at the crossing of old seventy-six. Two evergreens had been planted at this end of the circle when he was in high school by an Eagle Scout. At some point in the last dozen years, someone had strung lights on the trees and never removed them. They glowed from the inside of the trees like the ghosts of Christmas Trees Past. “It’s a small town. Probably nobody sees a point taking the lights down when they still work.”

Not far from where I grew up was a town right off the interstate. In the middle on one of the off ramp cloverleaves was a pine tree. One year the town put lights around one of those trees.

And never took them down.

Those lights were up for at least a decade before somebody cut the tree down. Of course the tree kept growing and the lights didn’t so about the second or third year the tree looked like it was glowing and by year five or six you could see the outline of the old tree inside the current one. It was hilarious and much remarked upon in local media. Which is probably why it got cut down. Now they just put up an inflatable snowman which just doesn’t have the same pizzazz.