Five Things You Should Know About Curling

It seems that I still have a few friends here in Virginia who don’t know that I curled.

This is less a factor of me being modest and unassuming, and more of a factor that I increasingly blot out entire chapters of my life (most of them spent in North Dakota).

For the record, I have curled. I was a good sweeper, but a lousy curler. I couldn’t slide a rock to save my life. (They’re 40 pounds, those rocks.)

But, I could sweep, although I would often get so engrossed in my sweeping – back-forth-back-forth-back-back-forth-forth – that I wouldn’t hear the thrower or skip yelling directions to us sweepers down past the hog line.

(I just wanted to say “hog line.”)

The Olympic curlers are so loud they’ve been heard outside the Sochi arena barking orders to their sweepers.


Photo by: Otchampery via Creative Commons.

There are no photos of me curling, so stop asking.

I looked forward to curling days in high school gym class.

If it was basketball or volleyball day, it was simply an hour in the gym running around or getting whacked by the bigger, more athletic girls.

We played indoor soccer in the gym, too. That was more fun, and occasionally the tough girls would kick their rivals hard in the legs intentionally, and then blame the ball for the accident.

But, curling was great, because we had to take the school bus to get to the curling rink. (Devils Lake, North Dakota didn’t have much, but it had a curling rink … like a bowling alley only icier. And, colder.)

DL Curling

You thought I was kidding about the “Satan” thing in yesterday’s post?

Shuttling a bus load of high school students to the curling rink … and back … absorbed a good amount of the school day, or at least the daily gym requirement.  Ergo, curling was great.

And, every four years, come Olympics time, I have to defend the sport (and, yes, non-believers, it is harder than it looks, and it is a sport).


public domain image

Curling on a frozen Nova Scotia lake in 1897. Look how popular it is!

As a public service, here are five things you should know about curling.

5) That ice is not smooth.

At the elite, Olympic level, they manufacture an uneven icy surface – known as the sheet – by spraying water on it. At the beer-drinking levels of the sport, the ice just gets dinged up and scuffed on its own.

(I always thought this rough-ish surface was to keep us from falling down. But, the curling gods care less about the safety of its players and more for the maneuverability of the rock.)

4) Curlers wear special shoes.

Sweepers today have special slip-slidey shoes that have Teflon soles. The thrower wears one Teflon shoe (on his front foot) and one non-slip-slidely shoe on his back (hack) foot.

While novice curlers can get cheap “slip-on” soles to turn their normal-people shoes slidey, Olympic curlers will pay upwards of $450 for the perfect curling shoe.

3) The word “curling” has nothing to do with the movement of the rock.

The “currrrr” is the sound the rock makes while it slides on the ice. (I wrote a paper on the history of curling in high school, I know this stuff.)

2) The Beatles curl in the movie “Help!”

If there ever was a reason why I would love curling when I was in high school, that was it. (Spoiler Alert: The bad guys in “Help!” replace the curling rock with a bomb!)


If the Ramones had curled, I’d have Olympic medals by now.

1) A weekend round-robin curling tournament is called a “bonspiel.”

This is one of the greatest, most beautiful, and most underused words ever. Please use “bonspiel” in conversation today.

(Bonus Fun Fact: In bonspiels, teams win “stuff” like tee-shirts, and curling shoes, and brooms, and, possibly, beer. If there’s money involved, then the tournament is called a “cashspiel.”)

Now, go watch curling … and impress your friends!

“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