“The One Foul Blot on Dakota’s Map”

I was going to post this on Friday. But, instead, we shoveled snow away from our cars and plowed down the pasture road and out to freedom. 

Freedom being the paved road about a mile away that was completely clear and dry. Ten inches of snow on Thursday; sunny and 52 degrees on Friday.

So, Editor/Husband and I went out to lunch. And, shoveled just a little bit more, but mostly out of guilt because everyone else seemed to be shoveling, so we thought we probably ought to, too.

Snow Day Feb 14

Nice walkways, yes?

This post should have ended up on the scrap heap. That’s where most of my posts end up. You get only the very best ones. You might now be thinking, “Good god, what kind of crap doesn’t make the cut?”

(That’s very rude and hurtful, by the way.)

Some of what doesn’t make the cut is stuff like this:

“Skdjkl sj;lagja ppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppppp”

This was a guest post from Stevie who paws her way across the keyboard from time to time. Every cat is attracted to a keyboard at least once. My cat Squeekee once stepped on the “enter” key and sent an unfinished, typo-filled email to a consulting client. Always a plus when you’re charging to edit their copy.

I was going to scrap this post because it’s mostly about (me). Writing about (me) simply means there isn’t good baseball or Yoga to write about.  And, there’s always good baseball and Yoga to write about.

For those of you still reading (as you wait for the Olympics or tonight’s Downton Abbey), here’s the post I should have scrapped:

When I was in Junior High, my parents uprooted me from California to return to their original home – a farm in North Dakota (a few dozen miles from the geographic center of North America; a good 10 miles from the nearest paved, two-lane road, and 15 miles or so from the nearest grocery store).

It was cold and flat. It was very, very cold and very, very flat.

I had the foresight to keep this newspaper article.


I went outside that day, but I am not the person jogging. Needless to say, that was my last winter in North Dakota.

The eastern half of North Dakota is so flat that from our farmhouse, I could easily see the town lights at night 14 miles away … except when the snow blotted them out (which was more often than you can imagine).

I lived in a town called Devils Lake.

In 1883, a local newspaper editor wrote this about there:

“If they persist in their infernal mobs, shooting scrapes, shanty burnings, etc. people cannot but be convinced that the Devils Lake country is inhabited by a band of roughs and that a decent man’s life is not safe there. … All respectable people regret to see the settlers of Devils Lake … the one foul blot on Dakota’s map.”

The Devils Lake high school sports teams were called the Satans and no one there thought it odd when a gym full of high school students yelled, “Satans spirit never dies! Never! Never! Never!”  (After nearly 80 years, they changed the name to Firebirds in 2002, but, they’ll always be the Satans to the locals.)


High School Yearbooks were called “The Satan.” And, how about that artwork?

It was far too cold and far too snowy for the high school to have a baseball team and no one there thought that was odd either.


No baseball. But, we did have curling. I was an awesome sweeper.

My years there was time spent, I guess, as the foundation for saying “I’m much happier here in this better place” ever since.

(If you think I’m being tough on that old town, you are right, although I’m being far kinder than I would be if you and I were to sit down together and have a beer. For the record, I recently checked the school’s alumni pages, and I am not included with my graduating class. It’s as though I never existed. This, at first, pissed me off. But, now it just gives me validation in rehashing many not-so-kind memories. It also makes it much easier to lie about my age.)

Finally sprung from both high school and college, I came east, happy to find much warmer weather, far better music, Yoga, and, yes, baseball.

I never looked back.

In North Dakota when it snows, the snow sticks around, often for months. In Devils Lake, the main streets in town have a permafrost layer of packed down snow, ice, and gravel throughout the winter. You just live with it.

Snow? -100 wind chills? You just live with it.

Here in Virginia as soon as there is a threat of even two inches of snow, everyone panics. The store shelves are emptied and schools are closed, often for days on end.

It snows.

And, then the sun comes out and the day turns warm.

The snow melts.

Baseball has come. Spring Training’s underway in Florida and Arizona. College games are being played.

Enough about (me). It’s baseball season!

(Want more curling? I’ve written more curling! Click here.)

Snow Cat

8 thoughts on ““The One Foul Blot on Dakota’s Map”

  1. Loved this post. That’s because I’m not a huge basefall fan (as you know) and I LOVE reading about you – you’re so interesting! You don’t give yourself enough credit that you’re interesting enough to write about yourself.
    See you soon,

  2. Looking out on the Virginia snow that I haven’t shoveled (depending rather on Mother Nature to eliminate the problem she provided), I watched the Orioles and Camden Yards being featured in one of the new episodes of House of Cards on Netflix. I hope the fact that all the lights in the stadium went out before the start of what was to be the opening game of the 2014 season is not a portent of things to come (truth being stranger than fiction after all). Loved learning that you were one of Satan’s Curlers!

    • The curling part of the post has certainly gotten some interest … so I had to write a followup!

      As for the Orioles, I think it’s interesting that political shows still use Camden Yards for their story lines, rather than Nationals stadium (Veep on HBO has also used Camden Yards). It’s either because the Orioles are more welcoming, or that the Nationals Park is just so hollow and ugly … or a little of both!

  3. Love reading your blog posts! So the fact that you lived In N. Dakota is really cool. You can wear it as a badge of honor! I’ve only met one person in my life from there…..really nice guy from Fargo…..he got out too. : ) Do you take requests? I’d love to hear more about curling.

  4. Pingback: Five Things You Should Know About Curling | Baseball, Yoga, Life … (and me)

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