To the Crocus Born

My wife and I are home in Manitoba for the first winter in nine years. We spent the last damn-near-decade in Chilliwack, BC – where every Manitoba Mennonite has a relative and where the view is better but the pews are just as hard.

Not that I would know about the pews, but maybe I’ll start my own Mennonite Conference – ACC or Pac 10, if they don’t mind sharing the name – and become an expert.


Incidentally, “anyway” is a word that I need to use frequently when I blog. (OK, Fussy Frances – when I write in my blog.) I need it so much that as the self-decreed prose laureate of Jessica Lake (including the islands) I also decree that “Anyway.” is a proper sentence. Grammatically correct, for all prose written at Jessica Lake (and the islands).

It’s like dirty sex talk — the rules of grammar may be suspended, by mutual consent, for proper effect. Not that I would know about such, but for the sake of argument.

Anyway. (SEE!? I was totally down a descriptive rabbit hole there, and AbraCadabraIjustWannaGrabYa, I write an ‘Anyway.’ sentence and I am OUT.)

Back to the topic. Jan and I are facing the prospect of a Manitoba-length winter, REASONABLY truncated by a term in Mexico, but still long and cold. But what I have noticed is that even after a stretch on the coast, in Canada’s best weather/insect/insufferable loud-mouth schnook combination climate (two outta three), we are still Manitoba stock. We are grizzled. We are hardy – and I don’t mean the familiar for Hartmund, although some of the nicest people I know are Hartmunds. (“Robusto” in Spanish. Now there’s a freakin’ name!) I mean tough, dude.

Here’s my Top Ten ‘TOBA TUFF TELL-TALES. (Out-alliterate that, you Ontario pantywaistes!)

Note: There may not be ten, as counting is made ‘toba Tuff because I may have lopped off a digit or two working construction in the summers, and/or I am slightly blind from a youth filled with Uncle Ben’s Beer/Anti-Freeze.

1 – I have frozen my ears often enough to have a doctor tell my parents that if I freeze them, ONCE MORE, they will fall off. My Mom still tells me I should wear a toque (rusty or otherwise) and I am bloody sixty!

2 – I think it’s OK to have cyclists pedal on the 2-5/8″ wide yellow stripe on the edge of the pavement, next to the gravel shoulder. The only paved shoulder in the province is still that commemorative stretch out by Portage where the Queen pulled the motorcade over to spit, right? Hasn’t changed?

3 – I would waterski in the Red River. I would waterski in the Red River, fall and then squirt a mini-geyser of river water out through the tiny gap between my two front teeth until (deep breath) …until it plugged.

4 – I could identify Nick Hill by voice alone on an episode of CSI Miami (the one out by Portage) before the DNA could come back from the lab.

5 – I have played Fris-beer in winter; in the snow; by headlight. Bonus points – I did it while stoned on Rosemary from Ben Friesen’s Mom’s spice rack. “Nice rack, Mrs. F.,” I said, and then we all laughed for a really long time.


That’s about it. These blog things should be kept short so that my devotees are not delayed from also playing Words With Friends. As long as they don’t send me a thousand of those stupid Candy Crush requests. Oh but ignorant.


If you want more reading punishment of a similar nature, please visit this awesomer than average site where more of my real stories — ones where the “Anyway.” bylaw is not in effect — may be found. It is a UK site and everyone knows they are terrible smrt, so be sure to mention that at coffee tomorrow:

The website is Literally Stories and the tagline is Short story fiction from around the world and especially Manitoba”

SKILL-TESTING QUESTION: What do the English call the two items in the picture?

Hint: The one on the left is a glass of water from the Red River.


Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016

Do You Fiction on the Web?

You should.

Editor Charlie Fish @FishCharlie publishes a lively, online short story compilation. Each day sees a new story – from fast-moving flash-fiction pieces to longer short fictions. The stories span all genres, styles and topics. Fiction on the Web is UK-based, but it features authors from around the world.

Charlie was kind enough to publish one of my favourite stories, “Nothing to Lose” and I’m hoping you will read it here, on: FICTION ON THE WEB. It touches on baseball, hockey, family and regret. Nothing, I’m afraid, about Donald or Hillary, so you might want to shout, “You’re the puppet!” a few times, just to tide yourself over.


Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016

Nearly Friends

ON FACEBOOK THERE IS A CATEGORY called Nearby Friends. I glanced at my phone this morning without my glasses and thought it read, “Nearly Friends”.

How would Facebook know? I wondered, addressing my fried egg via mental telepathy.

Then I opened today’s rejection letter from a literary journal.

“Aha,” I said, and the egg gave me a knowing look. The sausage looked bored and read his Manchester Guardian. Poser.

I re-read my short story rejection letter as if it were the response to a request to be a friend of someone on Facebook:

Dear Mitchell, you simpering, insignificant wad of banality;
If you weren’t already dead (I speak of your social life, as described on FB) I would have you killed. Or maimed – at least then you’d have something to post.
Thank you for applying to be our friend, but unfortunately, with over 12 submissions this social period, we have been unable to find a place for you and must reject your application for friendship.
We applaud your submission – it’s adorable, really. In fact, we here at the Forlorn Recycled Paper Depot want to spend about eight seconds knitting together a few cliches to smugly show our complete and utter lack of regard (that’s one, for those scoring at home). We’d take the time to actually say something meaningful about the content of your application, or anything really but, no. Like a well-worn trollop, this is fast and easy and we know where everything goes.
In fact, let’s all just save some time, shall we? Just re-read one of your other rejections.
Please be sure to compost this letter – it is made with the hopes and dreams (that’s two) of would-be Forlorn friends. (And fish heads — there are fish heads in this paper too. Also bull manure.)
Keep friending!
Marzy & Pan
Friendship Editor and Assistant Friendship Editor

“Look,” my half-eaten egg said, slurring its words slightly due to the drool of yolk oozing out over the plate. “See that clear, somewhat eggish stuff you left in the frying pan?”

I looked. Sure enough, there was a cellophane skin of egg-yuck left in the pan. I had cut it away with the spatula before lifting the egg onto my plate.

“Well, you are kind of like that clear stuff,” the egg said, continuing patiently. I ate the sausage, pretentious cableknit sweater and all, as I listened.

“We know the clear stuff is egg. It came from the eggshell; it would pass an egg DNA test — in fact there was an episode like that on TV last night (on two different CSI-style shows, actually). It’s egg, buuuut, it’s not egg. Ya know? Where’s the yellow? Where’s the yummy? Where’s the cholesterol — although I am pretty sure we as a pop culture are off of hating eggs now, but I have not listened to CBC Radio for a few days, so don’t quote me, eh?”

She — by the way, I asked and she identified as a female. Her WordPress blog name is Madame Ovary. Pretty good stuff, if a little scrambled. Anyhow, she took a deep breath as I slid her onto a piece of buttery rye toast for the coup de grâce.

“Look, buddy – don’t feel bad. You are like the cellophane. You are a Nearly Friend, just like that clear eggy stuff is a Nearly Egg.”

allfornow – m


Copyright Mitchell Toews ©2016