Finding joy in making, giving away pua kenikeni lei


Thomas Yamane, pua kenikeni picker: I don’t golf anymore so this is where it is now.

Thomas Yamane repurposed his golf club, so he can pull down the branches to pick the pua kenikeni. His wife Jane, stands at the ready to gather the flowers.

Thomas: Because I’m getting older, we try to keep the tree lower so after the thing all blossoms we try to trim the thing down especially the center part.

He also weighs down the branches with Jane’s hanging plants and something to scare their cat away too. Jane received this tree as a gift from a friend more than 20 years ago. But it wasn’t until after Thomas retired, and just a few years ago they started regularly picking, March through May .

Jane Yamane, pua kenikeni whisperer: Every other day is when we have flowers so last night we could tell the buds were already turning white and this morning they were all in bloom.

Jane has an incredible green thumb. Any plant she touches, grows and multiplies.

Kathy: Do you talk to the tree? It’s like part of the family.

Jane: Yah um I think at one point I was telling the tree that if you don’t give us any blossoms we’ll have to cut you down. But that’s with any plant I think you know you threaten and then they’ll bloom .

To the tune of four-thousand flowers so far this season, according to Thomas’ meticulous records. Then Thomas clips.

Thomas: Instead of cutting them straight across, cut it at an angle like this.

Jane strings.

Jane: He even made my needle with paper clip.

Jane and Thomas have been married for 58 years.

Jane: So it’s a teamwork kind of thing you know. Yah, we get into little tiffs but.

Thomas: The tree and doing the flowers does it help your relationship? I think so yes it does because we work together, and of course we do disagree at times because she likes to make em nice  and I am looking for volume and quantity.

Thomas: I try to take all the thicker stems first cause if you put the thick and small one in between, it won’t sit very well.  And this is why we get into some arguments.

Jane: This is thick.

Thomas: See. You heard that ah?

Jane: No, really it is.

Jane: Now I have it done so it’s and a half, I don’t go from stem to stem, you should go by the stem. 

They make two to four or five lei, every other day. Eighty so far this season.

Kathy Muneno: You sell them right? 

Jane: “No we don’t sell. No, we just give them to whoever wants, we don’t want to sell no. It’s just our … I mean we just feel good when somebody you know wants it and wears it yah.”

Oh my goodness, thank you, thank you, so gorgeous.

There you go, thank you so much.

Thomas: The joy of making these leis is because we give it away, all we ask for is a picture of the people wearing the lei. So I got them all in my ipad all the pictures and that’s the joy we get.

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