Niihau Shell Lei, a Little Bit of This and That




From the small little island of Niihau, 18 miles long and 3-6 miles wide, comes the small little shell, columbella varians sowerly, or more commonly known as the Niihau shell. How small you ask? Well in the above photo of a lei made from a variety of this shell you can count 7,000 of them!

And like the shell, Niihau is small but unique. Niihau was purchased in 1864 from King Kamehameha the IV for $10,000. Imagine owning your own little island at that price today. The Sinclair family bought it to start-up ranching. The native Hawaiians lived and worked there but no other people were allowed to visit or take up residence. It became known as the Forbidden Island. Through the years the island came into the hands of two brothers, the Robinson’s, who were descendents of the Sinclair’s.

The island being isolated for many years meant that the Hawaiian language and culture were in many ways preserved. The Hawaiians were employed by the Robinson’s and provided with places to live.

I had heard people say how there were no modern conveniences and that the only entertainment they had was a radio. I’m not sure how they lived as I never met anyone who had managed to get on to the island. Only friends or relatives of the residents there could visit. But in my research I was fascinated to find that their was a school for the kids that was supported totally with solar power that allowed the children to use computers. Now that seems modern to me.

Alas in 1999 the family had to shut down the ranching. That left residence with very little employment. Now there is said to be maybe 70 Hawaiians living there and during the summer when they go to visit relatives on nearby Kauai, there are as little as 30 left on the island.

The Niihau shell lei which can sell for more than $10,000 is considered now to be the prime source of earning an income on the island. Unfortunately with all of the people moving away there are very few left to collect these microscopic shells. This means that there are very few people who are carrying on the art of making the lei and there are few skilled artisans to make and pass on the craft.

Once a piece of art that you could buy for five dollars on the street may become a thing of the past. But for now the leis are still available and still quite popular. Here are some photos from the current exhibit at Bishop Museum. I’ve also included some sites where I have gotten some of my information from. You can check them out at the end of the photos.






Niihau shell drapes.  From the late 1800’s to early 1900’s. It would have been used to decorate a doorway or display over a mantle.











Green World Farms And Hawaiian Coffee

coffeeWhat is a coffee shop and good coffee without good friends to share it with. Our first visit to Green World Farms  coffee shop

It was about a twenty-minute drive and when all was said and done I came home shaking. But, I will  do it all over again.

Ah, the cool country air, taupe colored clouds grazing the tops of Velvet crevices and bingo, fresh, locally grown, smell it; Coffee.

I drank my fill from a cup I purchased as I was planning to come back more than once.

Visions of Saturday mornings sitting at my computer and enjoying the surrounding country side has already filled my head. Another Coffee shop has been added to my list.

I guess it was pretty strong too as I could barely hold anything with my shaking hands by the time I got home.


As my friends and I entered Green World Farms it  was like a coffee museum with so much to look at. It must have  been a good fifteen minutes of gawking before we finely got around to ordering our coffee.

IMG_1109Of course I did not bring my camera with me so I had to rely on my trusty phone to record the day.


Loved this old Coffee tin. Oh how I would love to have these for my own.


Ain’t she great. And if you look closely at the reflection in the glass you can see other antique covers


I did not even realize that Kauai had been producing coffee long enough to have such an old poster.

IMG_1121And we all know how much I love the big Island. One day I will have to attend this yearly festival. For sure I will have to look out for these posters.

IMG_1115Hmm I don’t know if I could drink enough coffee to warrant one of these old coffee dispensers but it would be nice trying.

IMG_1114This is a piece of Monkey Pod from a tree that fell close by to Green World

IMG_1122Green World Farms made their counters from the fallen Monkey pod.

IMG_1112Green World Farms has started growing their own coffee beans. Here are there plants. They sell all local coffee and support local bakers for the fresh pastries they serve. Great scones by the way.

IMG_1123 The view from my new coffee cup. Very nice indeed

Halaus and Art at Bishop Museum

Happy faces and wonderfully behaved children visited the museum today. At least in this instance. In the Kahili Room I met these children who are visiting from the island of Kauai to dance in a hula festival tomorrow at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

They were doing a self guided tour so I took the opportunity to tell them about the Little Prince, Albert and his Kahili. (See Prince Albert to read about him) They listened attentively and were a pleasure to talk to.

Halau Na Hula O Kapulani with their Kumu Hula, Kapu Kinimaka Alquiza (top left)  From Hanapepe Kauai

Artist David Kalama working on a piece. Kukailimoku

This young man was very interested in the piece that David was working on. We all love it when he comes to the museum to work on the Ku. His work is stunning and amazingly life-like. He sits for hours and patiently works. He answers all the curious onlookers and even us docents who can’t help but look over his shoulder are tolerated.

Here is his website and you must take a look you will be very, very impressed with his talent, eye and skill that emanates from his work. What a pleasure having him at the museum. So my morning was a great one. David Kalama

Then my teens showed up. They were a hard audience. Eighteen kids who were to have an hour tour. Great. That was what I liked because a 25 minute tour is never enough time to go through the three floors of exhibits. But from the get go half of them were going off on their own.

They did not seem to care about anything I talked about. A few faithfully followed and asked questions. There was nothing I could do to keep the 18 to pay attention. I was taken back to my time in high school in my history class when my eyes would roll when we sat there listening to the teacher grinding out the facts. Seeing the boredom in these  faces made me even more tongue-tied.

By the time that we got up to the third floor I would say Three fourths of them were leaning over the railing, their teacher not seeming to even notice.  So I just gave a private tour to maybe five  kids out of the eighteen. But those five cared. They asked good questions and made intelligent comments.

By the time I finished that tour, my throat hurt, my foot was aching and I just wanted to go home. I got home let out the dogs, quickly drove to the school and picked up Nico and thought to myself it is a three-day weekend, no more kids, questions or eyes rolling.

As Nico got into the car we drove off to the bank he  started; Grandma why can’t we just walk in the front of people and quickly get  out of here? Then at Fed Ex, Grandma, why are you sending that box to someone? What happened to the printer, how do you know it’s broken? And so into the evening it went. But now I sit here by myself, Nico’s gone off to his other grandma’s house, Chris is out shopping and I’m surrounded by the three dogs. Life was good today and it is right now. Maybe I’ll go and get me something to eat. Not having to cook? The best pleasure of all.