Chick Wit: Never too late to refeather an empty nest

Posted: January 15, 2012

I've been nesting like crazy lately, which is funny, considering that I have no eggs left.

I can't explain this, but I'm betting that I'm not the only Mama Bird who looked around her empty nest and realized that it needed curtains.

At first, I dismissed the idea. I thought it made no sense, timing-wise. I've had no curtains, on any of the windows, for the last 20 years. Why fix up the house now that it was empty? The horse had not only left the barn, she had moved to New York.

Then I realized that I still lived here, and I still count, even though no one is peeping inside my windows to see me, except a bird or two, and a really desperate squirrel.

But I have bats in the shutters outside my bedroom window, and that's reason enough to get curtains. The bats aren't looking at me, but I'm looking at them, and it's spooky. I see them when they fly, squeaking, at night, like the winged monkeys in the Wizard of Oz.

I'm the wicked witch, of course. She used to terrify me when I was little, but now I relate. It's hard to say when in life we stop identifying with Dorothy and start identifying with the witch, but my guess is:


Sometimes I stand at the window and call to the bats, "Now, fly! Fly!"

Also, the witch was a shoe fan, like me. She even says to the monkey, "Take special care of those ruby slippers! I want those most of all!"

The Wizard of Oz was a movie about two women fighting over a pair of pumps.

This happens every day at a Nordstrom's shoe sale, but goes unremarked.

To stay on point, you may remember that my curtain renaissance began after the decorating debacle of the family room, where the yellow curtains came dotted with black spots that looked like pre-toxic mold. In the end, the company agreed the fabric was defective, and I learned to love again. In fact, I found a new curtain maker who came over, measured my windows, and is already on the case. But when I imagined the nice, new curtains against the scruffy walls, I realized that the walls needed painting. And then I looked again and realized that nobody could paint anything with the room so messy, so I started cleaning.

This is why you should never actually look around your house.

You see things.

And I realized that if I wanted new curtains, I had to clean my entire house, and I couldn't clean after my bunion surgery, so I got busy.

Also, if I died in surgery, at least my house would be clean. Everybody would say, "She kept a nice house," when they came over after the funeral. My tombstone could read, SHE REALLY WASN'T THAT MUCH OF A PIG.

So I started by cleaning my family room, then moved onto office, my bedroom, and my laundry room. Yes, even the laundry room, where gravity is the hamper.

I picked up all the dirty clothes and even went through all the sheets falling out of the shelves. The sheets don't fit on the shelves because there are way too many, left over from beds of bygone days, and even past marriages. You know you don't clean enough when you find ex-sheets on the shelves.

I wanted to burn them, but settled for throwing them away.

The laundry room shelves are a mess because nobody can fold a fitted sheet, not even Tom Cruise. Folding a fitted sheet is Mission Impossible, so I always roll them up into a ball and stuff them onto the shelf. This time I tried to make smaller balls, in case my mourners came upstairs.

Then I cleaned my bedroom closet.

It took me eight hours of sorting through old shirts and sweaters, and even skirts. I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt. Soon, skirts will become extinct, like slips and sanitary belts.

Moment of silence for the sanitary belt.

Even though it wasn't sanitary.

Finally, I sorted the filthy mound of shoes at the bottom of my closet, setting aside muddy clogs and ancient Frye boots until I found a pair of black pumps I'd been looking for for 10 years.

Not exactly the ruby slippers, but close enough.

And wearable when I get my new feet.


Lisa Scottoline's new novel, "Come Home," is on preorder and will be published April 10. Lisa and Francesca Serritella's book, "Best Friends, Occasional Enemies: The Lighter Side of Life as a Mother and Daughter," is in bookstores now. Visit Lisa at

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