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Meet Me At Emotional Baggage Claim

Lisa and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, have teamed up to bring their hilarious and witty perspective on the everyday life as mother and daughter in their weekly essays which you can find in their latest collection, Have a Nice Guilt Trip. With stories that will have you laughing out loud one minute and tearing up the next, Lisa and Francesca connect with readers on a deeply emotional level because of the honesty they bring to their stories and by the time you turn the last page you will feel like you just found two new best girlfriends. Earlier collections include Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim, Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog, My Nest Isn't Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, and Best Friends, Occasional Enemies.

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Chick Wit: Requiem for a Meal
Lisa Scottoline | March 1, 2015

One man’s ceiling is another man's floor.

And one man's entree is another man's pet.

Today I'm talking about one of my chickens, who just died.

And yes, I had it cremated.

Rather than barbecued.

I can't decide if this makes absolute sense.

Or is completely crazy.

You be the judge.

To give you some background, I keep a flock of about fifteen hens, of different varieties.  There are white Wyandotte’s, a shiny black Australorp, a few Rhode Island Reds and brown Ameraucanas, which lay greenish-blue eggs.

At my house, there is such a thing as green eggs and ham.

Without the ham.

I’ve become a vegetarian, and it was the hens that turned me into one, because they're so damn cute and smart. 
In other words, I used to love chicken. 

But now I love chickens.

My hens are all named for Gilbert & Sullivan characters, since Daughter Francesca and I love Gilbert & Sullivan, and she performed in their musicals in college, at the Agassiz Theater.

So our coop is named the Eggassiz Theater.

I know, I need to get a life.

The standout hens are leading ladies like Yum-Yum and Princess Ida, but the docile Plymouth Barred Rocks tend to flock together, happily clucking away, so they’re collectively called the Women's Chorus.

By the way, I don't have any roosters.  I'm not discriminating against men, but I don't want to live with anything that wakes up earlier than I do.

I’ve had the hens for eight years, and in their early days, they laid about seven or eight eggs a day, which was awesome. 

I heartily recommend having a pet who feeds you, rather than the other way around.

In those days, I had so many eggs that I handed them out to friends, brought them to New York for Francesca, or even gave them as a hostess gift.

Luckily, I have the kind of friends who think eggs are a good gift.

I'd say my friends are good eggs.

But I'm above that sort of pun.

Anyway, my hens are getting older, and nowadays, they lay only one egg a day, if that.  I'm no biologist, but I think they’re in menopause.

Or henopause?

Either way, they're running out of eggs.

And so am I.

And unfortunately, the other day, one of the Women’s Chorus looked like she was ailing, so we went to the chicken vet.

Yes, there is such a thing as a chicken vet.

Thank God.

The vet said that my hen was basically dying of old age, since eight years was elderly for a chicken, which meant that my entire flock was ready to join AARP, if not headed for that great chicken coop in the sky.

Sadly, he also said that the hen was suffering and recommended that I euthanize her, so I said yes, and she passed away peacefully.

Moment of silence.

After which I had to deal with a dead chicken.

To back up a minute, I've lost one or two other chickens, but that was a different time of the year, so I buried them in my private little pet cemetery.  But this time of year, the ground is too frozen for digging, and when I mentioned that fact to the vet, he suggested that I put her in the freezer until spring.

I rejected that option.

I know a lot of people have chicken in their freezer, but don't think it's precisely the same thing.

My other options were two.  I could have her cremated and the ashes disposed of by the company, or I could have her cremated and have the ashes returned to me. 

I chose the latter, because if you care enough to cremate something, you should care enough to keep the ashes.

And the ashes just arrived, in a small cardboard box, with a sympathy card that reads, “This is to certify that CHICKEN, the beloved pet of LISA SCOTTOLINE, was individually cremated.”

Which made think I should've given the hen her own name, not just a member of the Women's Chorus.

I mean, when I go, I hope my urn says more than, HUMAN.

I put her ashes in my office, which already contains one chest of horse ashes, five boxes of dog ashes, and one box of cat ashes.

It’s not an office, it’s a mausoleum.

And you know what?

I’m fine with that.

My animals are with me forever.

Rest in peace, little CHICKEN.


© Lisa Scottoline 2015

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