Pupu o Ni'ihau

Aloha...

Today was May Day, better known as Lei Day in Hawaii. The schools always have pageants and the children perform a hula or song for their ohana, usually decked out in their flower leis. It is sooo sweet, and I always looked forward to it when my keiki were young.

Today's post is in celebration of another sort of lei. Instead of flowers, these leis are made of gifts from the sea. The breathtaking shell lei are strung with tiny gems washed up on the shores of Ni'ihau and Kauai. The debris line during the winter months is scattered with the shells . Pickers spend many hours picking shells with tweezers, often lying in the sand to be close enough to better see the tiny gems. Many hours in the sun can yield a film canister of shells.

Once the shells are gathered, they are sorted into shell types, sizes and colors, discarding any flawed shells. Removing grains of sand from inside the shells is a delicate process and has to be successfully accomplished in order to pierce the hole for stringing. A stainless steel awl that is sharpened often is used to create the puka (hole). Depending on the lei style, the shell is pierced in a particular place. I've read that an average of one out of three shells break during this process.

There are several styles of leis, some strung in patterns similar to flowers, some strung singly and wound around a cloth foundation, some sewn in layers on cloth in the style of feather hat bands. Whatever the style, the love and patience of this art form is a way of life, a spiritual practice.

I am fortunate to have multi-strand Kahelelani lei from the 1950s. This fuzzy shot posted is a picture I took through a magnifying glass of my necklace. I thought it might be fun to try and see the detail of the colors and patterns on the shells. These are the smallest turban shells, measuring 3-5 mm. Kahelelani are the most tedious to collect, sort, pierce and string, and the most expensive. I have been thinking about having my lei re-strung, and began researching possibilities. A wonderful site I discovered belongs to a talented couple, a photographer Lisa Seed, and a lei maker Rob Arita. Their Hawaiian Lei web site is an oddessy of beauty. Rob's striking leis are filled with aloha, start to finish. Lisa's photographs capture the beauty of these gifts from the sea. I am posting two of Lisa's photos today. Her shots are the obvious clear and professional photos. You are invited to visit their site, perhaps choose a piece of jewelry.....it will be an heirloom to cherish.

I hope you've enjoyed this story, and if you are blessed with a special piece of Ni'ihau jewelry, it also has been on an amazing journey....wear it well and with aloha.

Happy Lei Day!
A hui hou,
Cherie

Happy Mother's Day

Maui Hawaii rainbow
Aloha Dear Moms,

Today is a special day set aside to honor you. Being a mom is the most challenging and rewarding job on the planet. It requires a willingness to have your heart open, filled and broken countless times. The breaks can be small little tugs, or they can be wrenching aches.

As well, the fullness of love can be quiet contentment, or bursting at the seams. Being human, we all know and have experienced the rainbow of life.

Today I am sending out a beautiful rainbow that I witnessed from my garden. Hawaii is the land of rainbows, and some of them just take your breath away.

flower lei in the shape of heart floating on waterI am also sending out a flower lei of love. I placed this lei in the ocean almost one year ago. The lei took the shape of a heart as it floated away. I don't know if putting flowers in the ocean is a tradition from ancient times, I only know that this is something I do when I need to. Being
mindful that the string is only cotton thread that will not cause harm.

Happy Mother's Day to all you moms, and dads who are also moms, and aunties and uncles and tutus and papas...to all who nurture and hold our children, our future.

Aloha

Holoholo o Wahine / Women's walkabout

Aloha,

I am really excited to finally set the date for the upcoming woman's walkabout. I get e-mails once a month asking me when it will be. April 25th to May 1st 2009 is Holoholo o Wahine week. Check out the information on the B&B web site.

My focus with the bed and breakfast is now opening up a bit. I would like to create more intimate events and small gatherings. I enjoy spending time with my wonderful guests at breakfast daily. People always bring their life stories to the table. I have learned through all these years of meeting new people at the b&b, not to make snap judgments. If I am not open, I may miss something special. So, I gladly look forward to getting to know a few women who are coming to explore the heart of Maui.

Many hours I have spent hiking the beautiful trails of Maui with old friends . One thing that I have always loved during my time of living in these gorgeous islands, is the opportunity to share Hawaii with folks who may have never been in the ocean, or hiked to waterfalls. Joy is contagious, and I just love catching it!

I also have really enjoyed exploring my creative side with family, and friends. I love to watercolor, have taken classes and workshops, and think it would be great to share artistic time with new friends. The quality of light and natural beauty of Hawaii is always inspiring.

In my younger days, I used to make leis for everything, parties, birthdays, dinners, arrivals, and, departures. It seems I had more time back then. The pace of life was a little slower. My daughter and I would gather flowers and sit down on the lanai and string leis. She has now taken lei making to another level. She makes all the leis for her and my granddaughter's hula performances. Her leis are breathtaking, and, I always look forward to my birthday because I get to wear one for the day. It will be fun to gather our materials and make leis with the women coming to holoholo. I look forward to slowing down enough to string leis and "talk story" with new friends .

The picture I am posting this week is a shot of the stunning jade vine flower. This is the only flower I have seen drenched in this amazing color! The jade vine flower usually blooms around March, just in time for my birthday lei!!

If you feel ready to connect with other women on their life's journey on a magical island, please consider coming to beautiful Maui for Holoholo o Wahine, a woman's walkabout.

A hui ho, until next time........

Cherie