The Cambrian

Lady Tie Di: Lots of living in this living room

I washed the picture window in my living room today. That doesn’t seem like much to most of you, but let me tell you it has been a while. There were still outlines of the vinyl ghosts I’d stuck to it for Halloween. For the last five years!

In a good rain, the whole thing leaks like a sieve through the aluminum tracks the side panels slide into. Not that we get many good rains, but when we do I run with the towels to try and stem the waterfall. After the last big earthquake, when this house got seriously tossed, the whole picture window had to be taken out and reset.

My experience with earthquakes alerted me to the chinks of mortar missing immediately afterwards. The landlady decided to stack the whole thing in the yard and cap off the fireplace. It’s been there since. I put candles in the hole that once held a blaze that actually did quite well at heating the room physically and visually.

I still have Christmas up. I keep thinking a friend of mine is going to make it to town to celebrate it with me and I want to be ready. I also like the visual overload of ornaments hanging around the edge of the room, from the string of lights that live there like crown molding. The snowman and angel collection are nestled so comfortably in the faux snow on the mantel, I hate to disturb them. And the silver tinsel tree isn’t going to die for another 500 years.

Time for some yard work. I turned some attention to the strands of crab grass growing through the walls in the garage. I admire their tenacity. I think the only other thing holding that building together besides the grass is the army of termites that must be holding hands while they puree the attic.

I also pulled weeds from the deck we’ve built that serves as a stage at our “Woodstock Party” every year. Twenty-one of them to date. Friends, family, strangers and dogs. Good times.

I took a break from my chores by lying on the uneven but carpeted floor there in my “studio.” After living here over 20 years, it is finally the art studio I’ve always longed for: work benches for different crafts, storage neatly marked out and space in which to set up tables for gatherings.

My mind flooded with thought. Zachary was born at home here in the living room in front of that leaky old window (17 years ago, come Tuesday). Miles wore a track in the front lawn running back and forth in the fantasies going on in his head and I watched him battle bad guys through that same window. The Christmas tree always sits just off to the side of it.

This old garage has had roommates, stuff and cars of ex-men, stored belongings of countless friends at various stages of their lives. Now it’s my haven. I often encourage Zachary and friends to use it, but it’s my little bit of heaven. The whole house is. And then it struck me.

How much of my life is wrapped up in this pile of sticks and nails? How much I’ve lived here. What happens if after all these years the landlady decides to sell it? I know it’s bound to happen, one day when she passes away, and likely the kids will.

I’ll still have my boys. We’ll have all the memories. I’ll still have all my stuff. Well, that’s part of the rub. Eek! What is it that makes this home?

More importantly, how lucky am I to have had this resting spot for so long.

I went back to weeding.

E-mail Lady Tie Di, aka Dianne Brooke, a member of the Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees, at tiedi @, or visit her Web site at