Deni Dietz


Today I’m focusing on BITS rather than Quibbles.


Thanksgiving is celebrated in Canada on the second Monday in October, while in the US, Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November.

Why the difference?

Having researched the Pilgrims for the historical portions of my mystery, EYE OF NEWT, I know that the Pilgrims didn’t view their first harvest, held in 1621, as a thanksgiving act or feast. That custom began two years later as a religious observance of thanks, rather than a feast. The Pilgrims, as most everybody knows, were a group led by separatists from the Church of England, who arrived at Massachusetts rather than their intended destination: Virginia.

In truth, they sound like me, navigating a drive from one state [or province] to another. While traveling, you don’t want me reading a map. Trust me on that.

Anyway . . . While the Pilgrims were shucking corn, starching their white caps and aprons, hanging witches, and making those cute turkey place cards, a wee bit further north, settlers were already giving thanks. In 1578 explorer Martin Frobisher held a formal ceremony that followed the traditions of European harvest festivals, in what is now known as the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Frobisher was thankful for surviving a daring voyage, risking his life and crew in a fruitless search for a gateway to the Orient.

Thus, Canadian Thanksgiving.

Sometimes, when I think too much about the book biz, I feel like Martin Frobisher. While I haven’t risked my life, or – god forbid – the life of others, I’ve survived a daring voyage to publication. I am, however, still searching for a gateway to bestsellerdom.


Genetic Savings and Clone of California shut down it’s pet-cloning operation because few humans were willing to pay $50,000 to have cats cloned.

While I deplore that rather unsympathetic attitude [are you listening DorothyL?], I have to admit that there are enough strays in the world already.

Speaking of strays, if you haven’t read Gordon Aalborg’s novel CAT TRACKS — a Story of Survival — you’re missing out on a gem of a book that addresses the issue of "dumping" cats into the Australian wild. The feral protagonist of CAT TRACKS is called "Cat," and he’s the narrator as well.


British inventor Simon Rhymes invented a device that "boils" an egg with lightbulbs and then cuts the top off.

I know I’ll be first in line to buy it [she said sarcastically].

Have you ever invented, or had an idea for an invention, in real life? Or written about one in a book?

FOURTH BIT [hey, I’m finding this fun, in a weird sort of way]:

Following Bouchercon, I spent a heavenly week in Granger, Indiana, with my daughter, Sandi, my grandchicklet, Marley, 5, and my grandkidlet, Will, 2 1/2. Yes, I know, I look too young to be a Granny — if you don’t say it, at least think it  πŸ™‚

Sandi is in the process of "potty training" Will, so  we visited B&N and bought two Children’s books with that theme [Sandi had one book left over from Marley, but the illustrations showed a girl rather than a boy].

Since my daughter works part-time as a bartender at a sports bar/restaurant called "Between the Buns," I was, er, stuck reading the books to the kids before they went to sleep. The euphemisms were . . . interesting.

One book used the words pee-pee and poo-poo, but didn’t mention a penis [or vagina]. One book, specifically for boys, called the penis a "pee-pee" and — so it wouldn’t get too confusing, I guess — used wee wee and poo poo.

I tried to remember back to my youth, but all I could come up with was Number 1 and Number 2. In fact, my third grade teacher insisted we raise our hands with one finger or two . . . how embarrassing! This was the same teacher who gave me a failing grade on my short story – THE PENCIL WHO GREW UP TO BE A STUB – because I screwed up the assignment and broke the "rules" by writing 4 pages rather than one and using a pencil [the first-person narrator] rather than an "ink pen" . . . but I digress.

[Except I really must add that the above teacher looked exactly like Miss Grundy in the Archie comics!]

Until the day she died – in her 80s – my lovely, intelligent mother-in-law used the euphemism "tinkle." She’d think nothing of sitting amidst a dozen party guests and announcing, "Excuse me, I have to tinkle."

I used that for one of my characters in EYE OF NEWT.

Marley, Will and I also watched the DVD Curious George. Twice. To my mind, that was a terrific transition from book to screen, but I couldn’t help thinking about the last scene in Forest Gump.

And the feather. [Sniff.]

As you wish,
Deni, who has decided that, rather than spending 50k to clone a cat, she’ll re-read Stephen King’s Pet Semetery. And congrats to Mr. King, recipient of MWA’s Grand Master Award.

5 thoughts on “A PINCH OF THIS & A BIT OF THAT

  1. Bill Cameron

    In the spring of 1983, a friend of mine and I drove from Ohio to Florida for Spring Break. We were on our way to Key West, but we stopped in Orlando to drop a couple of friends off with their grandmother for the week.

    We’d been driving about 15 hours at that point, so we took a break. Grandma offered to fix us something to eat and make us a pot of coffee. Delightful lady. She had a pet iguana who roamed free in her house.

    She sent me and my friend in turn back to the bathroom to wash up while she made the sandwiches. When my turn came, I went to the toilet first, and as I stood there, I saw on the wall in front of me a decorative ceramic toilet seat. Festooned in painted flowered and ribbons, the lid was embossed with the words:

    If you sprinkle,When you tinkle,Be a sweetie,And wipe the seatie.

    In that moment of exhaustion, fighting off the effects of white line fever, in a little house in central Florida with a three-foot lizard roaming loose and a little old lady fixing me a sandwich, it was the most surreal thing I had ever seen. And it changed my view of the word “tinkle” forever.

  2. pari noskin taichert

    Okay, Bill, that’s just hysterical. I’ve heard and said a slightly different version for years. Lucky for us, my hubby is very considerate.

    Deni,What a fun ride this post was. Thank you for it. I learned about Thanksgiving in O, Canada. Considered the merits of pet cloning. And was transported to the potty-training times with my kids (not a particularly joyous memory). Again, during that challenging time in both of my children’s lives, my hubby came through with the comment that very few adults needed to be reminded to go to the bathroom. It sounded so consoling then.


  3. Ron Estrada

    I wonder if your editor is reading this and feeling a kinship with your teacher. Canadian Thanksgiving has nothing to do with the founders of that nation. It’s a celebration of opening day of the NHL. And once we’ve completed our takeover of that league, they’ll have nothing left to be thankful for. It’s all part of America’s evil plan for world domination.

  4. Deni Dietz

    Ron, I’ve lived in Canada for 6 years now and no one could really tell me about Canadian Thanksgiving [I had to look it up], so you’re absolutely right. It’s the start of the NHL season. [Go Avalanche!]

    My friends work on “American Thanksgiving Thursday,” and my kids live in the States, so I’ll be chomping…diet food…and watching NFL football. Go Broncos!

    Bill, I loved your story, felt like I was *there.* You must be a writer or something πŸ™‚ I am soooo looking forward to LOST DOG.

    Pari, thanks for your comments. I plan to do another BITS blog on Halloween [Tuesday, Oct 31]. Boo.



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