At Home with Venetia in Kyoto

From the first time I see her in NHK channel I know that she’ll be a good friend of mine, and I’m quite right about it. Yes, it’s her: Venetia Stainley Smith from ‘At Home with Venetia in Kyoto program.

She is brewing spearmint

If you are one of my close friends, I’m sure that you know this person. Venetia is a British lady who moved to Japan 38 years ago. She appears publicly as herself in one of my favorite programs in NKH titled ‘At Home with Venetia in Kyoto’. The series mainly discussed about Venetia’s eco friendly way of life. She is now around 60 years old, a grandma with 2 grandchildren. It’s really funny to think of a weird connection between us-a real country girl (which is me) who lives here in Indonesia and a granny who lives faaaar away in Japan. Venetia and I haven’t met each other yet though, but we have one similarity that ‘connects’ us right away: T.A.S.T.E.
I don’t know if you ever find someone who really matches you in every ways, or have some similar thoughts with you, let’s say that both of you have similar TASTE. *It’s hard for me to find right word to describe it, well, just use it anyway*

You may ask to me: ‘What kind of taste?'

Well, Venetia lives in Ohara, a countryside located in Kyoto, Japan. Japan is my favorite country; all of the things about Japan are always interesting and never break me out so far, so it’s a good point that we both love this country. She lives in a beautiful farmhouse surrounded by nature of Ohara. Countryside, nature, and farmhouse are keywords that promising someone a serene life. I love indulging myself with nature and living in countryside in an old unique farmhouse sounds great for me. Whoa.. I am getting excited!
Venetia's beautiful house
Venetia loves gardening. She has a little garden around her farm house. It’s about 132 m2. She never misses every little part of her house to be a ‘home’ for her plants. Her favorites are herbs and flowers. She plants over 300 kinds of plants in her garden! Wow. No wonder she tags every plant with a piece of board containing name of the plants. ‘You might forget later’, said Venetia.  For her, herbs are best friend in life. It’s not only maintain her health but also very natural and useful in her daily life. She promises to herself not to use any chemicals in her house to preserve the beauty of Ohara’s nature, so she uses herbs instead. This great idea attracts guests to come. The guests are not only human, but also tiny little creatures such as frog, birds, and insects. Interesting huh? It seems that those animals are able to tell that Venetia’s garden is free from chemicals.

Most of the tools and households in her house are handmade. Venetia and her husband create their own things. They rebuilt the house 13 years ago when they first came to Ohara. Some of her household are antiques (I guess they were bought from antique market in Tokyo) from England and from Japan, reflecting two different cultures of Venetia and her husband Takuji. The thing that really amazed me is that some furniture and dishes from both cultures go quite well together and even they complement each other. I adore Venetia more because she creates many things from herbs in her garden. So far, she does all of these:
1.       She makes wash up liquid from rosemary to wash dishes. She also makes shampoo, tea and remedies from this herb.
eco-friendly soap
2.       She preserves old things in her house by polishing them using handmade lavender beeswax polish. Beeswax polish is made of bees wax (of course;) ), linseed oil, dried lavender, lavender water, and lavender essential oil. It gives a whole room a lovely lavender scent ;)
3.       She makes some herbal teas. Rosehip and hibiscus tea, fresh spearmint tea, lemon tea (lemon balm, lemon verbena and lemon grass). They look refreshing and also good for health.
4.       She cooks some delicious foods, beverages and snacks: smoked salmon and fennel omelet, rosemary chicken, Perila juice, watercress soup, Mediteranian summer salad, salmon bras with fennel, and many others.
5.       She makes some natural insect repellents, lavender vinegar for washing dishes, some natural fertilizers, and some dried herbs for foot bathing ;)
Another Venetia’s good point is she loves sharing inspiration to others through her programs. Gardening, using NO harmful chemical in daily life, recycling and preserving things, taking a nice bath foot with her grandchildren, visiting friends, cooking delicious foods, hiking with her husband, and writing diary are the things she does. All of them captivate people’s heart, including me. No wonder that in her 60 something years old; she looks very happy and blessed. Even, it make her 10 years old younger. It’s kinda reflection of Venetia’s beautiful heart. She loves nature and does her best to preserve it, as reflected in one of her gardening diaries:
How we live our life is an art form in itself. I love going to antique markets and secondhand stores to see if I can find and save an old Japanese treasure. The old traditional country’s crafts in Japan are filled with beauty. They were made from natural fibers and materials. We can still feel the warm hearts of the craftsmen who are carefully made these things. The old woven basket, wooden bequest, and the many other things that we want use every day in the Japanese homes. These old things can be given a new life if we can think a new way to reuse them. Finally, they can return to the earth. Old things are very cool.
I agree with your thought, Venetia ;)
I really want to meet her, once in a life time. Having little chit chat with her-talking about gardening and everything, shopping and bargaining at the local and antique market, taking a trip around the village, cooking salmon omelets together, drawing some pictures in the beautiful mustard field, or simply enjoy her rosehip tea, I will never mind at all. I have been waiting the moment to meet her. But…
Japan is in deep sorrow. It seems that all people in the world are praying for Japan, and so do I. Once I heard about the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan I thought about Venetia and her family. Are they alright?. O Allah, please send me to Japan. I want to meet her somehow….

Venetia thinks that beauty is about loving the earth by taking good of things, planting useful plants, and appreciating friend’s works. What do you think? What beauty means to you?
Share your beautiful thoughts dear ;)

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