#Friday Reads – A Dead Tomato Plant and a Paycheck

Let’s start off a weekend of fun with this cute meme. Who can resist a kitten?


Some of you who have been following my blog for a while know that I got my professional start as a columnist for a Dallas suburban newspaper. It was a humor column about family life at the Miller household, written during the years of the most nonsense. It was quite fun to write, and some people encouraged me to put those columns into a book.

I thought they meant a scrapbook, which I did, but they really meant a book that they could read. So now, these many years later, I have finally finished doing that. (I hope some of those folks are still around to read it.) 🙂

This wasn’t a project to which I dedicated most of my working days, or weeks, or months after writing the columns. I was busy writing mysteries, working at other publications, working as a chaplain, and… Well, you get it.

Plus, one does not simply plunk the columns into a file and call it a book. There is quite a bit of organizing that goes into the project, and culling. Culling is important, as not every gem needs to be in this new piece of jewelry.

Anyway, the book is finally finished and published for Kindle. A Dead Tomato Plant And a Paycheck will be exclusive to Kindle for a while, so it will be free for KU members, and a bit later I will make it available on other platforms.


There is no doubt in my mind that we got through some of the challenges of raising a large family by using humor. It can pretty well diffuse any situation, although the humor wasn’t always apparent right away. For me, certain things had to age before they took on comic proportions.

For instance, spilling a pan of chicken broth on the floor didn’t make me laugh until I quit sliding past the sink as I took my first step into the kitchen.

It was difficult to laugh about one of my kids storing her unwanted sandwiches in the bench in our kitchen, especially when it was my neighbor who found them a few weeks later.

It took me a good two weeks to find anything amusing about the youngest two playing dress-up and taking all the clothes off the hangers in their closet.

I was sure I would never see the humor in our son losing one of his tennis shoes or the fifteen futile trips he made to the creek to look for it.

And to think, when I saw a shoe in the street, I used to wonder how someone could lose just one shoe.

I knew I could live to be at least ninety before I’d laugh about the fact that I couldn’t get my kids to go outside and play until I mentioned that it was time to clean house.

It took several months to see the humor in finding six spoons, three bowls, two dried up old sandwiches, and the contents of at least two boxes of cereal under the kitchen table after the kid who swept told me he was finished.

It was equally difficult to laugh at the broken window after one kid threw his cereal bowl at his brother, who ducked.

At least that’s the story I got.

I used to wonder if all the spilled milk, chairs covered with soggy cereal, buttered bread dropped on the floor face down, or the macaroni noodles that have squished through my toes as I walked across the kitchen floor, would even qualify as fond memories when I’m old and gray, let alone be funny.

Now that I am both old and gray, I’ve decided that all those family escapades are funny. And to tell the truth, they were pretty funny back then, too.


“Maryann’s quick wit and honest insight provide all of us a nice chuckle as we can all relate to what it’s like to be part of a family. Whether you relate remembering what it was like to be a sibling. or what it is like to be a mother, this book reminds us that we are not alone, and we get to smile along the way.”


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That’s all for me folks. I will see you on the other side of the weekend, and I do hope that yours is a grand one, filled with lots of good times and laughter.

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