Storm Hags

myth and meme month

It was 85 degrees when I left work tonight. Well past sundown. In September.

I am so ready for this to end. The mums I bought this weekend are already dying from the heat. I am slowly going mad, and not just for want of my normal fall behaviors (I am due an Operation Autumn update, I know).

But I know that when the weather shifts, it’s going to shift hard and fast and we’re due a year with November Witches (the storms that come in during late fall on the Great Lakes). To that end, I’ve decided to write about the storm hags tonight-since I’ve finally found reference to them.

My googling skills are odd. Things will show up once and then never show up again for me, if they show up at all. I read one reference to the hags years ago, that placed the hags in Buffalo-I can tell you that in the decade that I’ve been here (give or take a decade, at least) I’ve never heard about this story. Mid has no idea what I’m talking about either, but he did mention a cryptic lake monster. More digging will be needed there.

I think that this is like that photo series that came out last year-maybe not made up completely, but misplaced. Because the storm hag is a myth, though perhaps one born out of modifications to older legends. The way that I heard the legend was a green, fairly angry fairy that rises out of the lake to throw storms at the city.

The way that the more developed American legend goes is that the Hag is a water spirit, green skinned and ugly as dirt who rises up out of the lake (Lake Erie) and drags entire ships down with her. She is not terribly nice, and yes, at least one version of the story links her to faerie, though whether the legend actually intended to suggest that she is a faerie or just to invoke an image that would have been more familiar at one point than it is now, I don’t know. There are multiple faerie like, not entirely nice (there’s that trend again, faeries not being ‘nice’) creatures known for their strong interest in drowning innocents.

The most obvious answer is that the Irish and English who settled this part of the Great Lakes (Buffalo was at one point broken between the Polish, the Italians, and the Irish) brought preexisting faerie belief (mainly in a spirit called Jenny Greenteeth, who meets the same physical description and hobbies as the Storm Hag) and used it to explain weather patterns on a lake notorious for taking down ships, often quickly.

Steel and Father

steel and father

I still can’t photograph hats for finished knitting projects when by myself…and Mid is rarely around (or willing…or, oddly, capable of producing the types of shots that I want without me devolving into a borderline tantrum. Me: take a photo of the hat. Mid: Okay. Me, going home and looking at the camera:…why are all these shots from like 15 feet away. Mid: I did what you asked. I took a photo of you wearing a hat. Me:…I’m going to stick with my terrible only half a hat at a time and never the back of the hat selfies).

I want you to know that I endangered myself for this hat.

I almost fell off of the step trying to get photos. Because I’m just that graceful.

I am in fact capable of knitting things other than socks, hats, or scarves. But most of my knitting time is on the bus and I’m not going to try to work an armhole on the bus. Maybe on the train…but not on the NFTA. So most of my projects turn into simple things that I don’t really need to have he pattern out for.

This hat was supposed to be for sale or trade, or at the very least, for donation-but I should never be allowed to write a hat pattern because I finally just let the lace devolve into chaos lace and do what it wanted at the crown. I’ll wear something like that but I’m not going to ask someone else.

The next hat should go better. It’s just a rib.


There seems to be some great confusion about this Buffalo storm on Facebook…and I’m having people who don’t live in this city kindly trying to teach me about the city I live in when they don’t live here themselves (yes, that was snarky. I’m a snarky person. Bourdain is my hero).

Buffalo is broken down into two major sections: the north towns (or northtowns, one word) and the south towns (or the southtowns, one word)-and a dozen smaller neighborhoods like Kenton, Elmwood Village, University Heights, so on and so forth.

Ironically, Buffalo proper is getting little to no snow. The north towns are getting little to no snow. The south towns are hoping they’ll be melted out by Halloween.

Please…PLEASE…if someone from Buffalo tells you that the south towns are getting snow…please don’t tell them to stop changing the subject by shifting the conversation to towns not related to Buffalo-because it is the Buffalo storm after all.

So if you see someone talking about the south towns getting hit…we are in fact talking about the same storm. Because I’m frankly getting tired of admittedly well meaning people telling me they don’t understand why I’m talking about Cheektowaga when it’s the Buffalo storm. Buffalo isn’t a giant mono-city.

Meanwhile, in Buffalo…

day squall night squallThat is the infamous Buffalo November storm snow line. It’s hanging out several blocks down from house…just chilling…intent on destroying the southtowns.

For the love whoever it is that you pray to…stay wherever you are. And if you hear the weather reports telling you multiple feet-and for the love the gods IF THEY’VE ALREADY ISSUED A TRAVEL BAN…stay where you are. Unless you’re essential staff, this is not the time to be traveling-and a large chunk of the problem in the city right now. Harsh, but when they’re talking about bringing cranes in from Canada to get abandoned cars off the road so they can plow enough to get rescue crews into Cheektowaga…yeah. Time to call into work. Let them get to work cleaning this up-there is only so many plows in this city.

I have the dubious luck of having been in the 2007 storm that dropped 12 feet on Oswego. That storm is in large part the reason I’m a food prepper.

Be safe people, stay warm, and stay calm. It’s supposed to move north and then rev up again on Thursday.

It’s going to be a long winter.

Winging It

Photo from Morguefile stock photos

Photo from Morguefile stock photos

For something completely different, a look at one of those foods that has become so ingrained with a place that they’re named after: the Buffalo wing.

Chicken wings are serious business in Buffalo. After being here for close to 7 years I finally have been to both Duff’s and Anchor Bar, both being wing places that claim to have deep roots in Buffalo food culture and the chicken wing.

In order to be a ‘true’ Buffalo wing, three things have to be in the sauce. While you can get different sauces in Buffalo (though honey mustard, garlic, and bbq seem to be the big three other than Buffalo), in order to be ‘true’ Buffalo sauce it has to have:

1. Frank’s Hot Sauce

2. Vinegar

3. Butter

The wings are deep fried and then tossed in the sauce.

There is a line in the Wikipedia for Buffalo wings that say that in the city of Buffalo we don’t call wings “Buffalo wings” and refer to them simply as wings. I suppose that’s true, though I’m not sure if I’ve ever thought about it-and I do wonder if they’re called Buffalo wings anywhere other than Buffalo wings. I do know that Buffalo wing flavored foods are called that; it’s not hot wing dip in this city, it’s Buffalo wing dip.

The creation myth as it were that I’ve heard most often is that Teressa Bellissimo at the Anchor Bar made a batch of wings to feed her son and his friends when they came in after a night of drinking. Apparently, there are other stories that claim that she made them after a snow storm or to serve meat after midnight Friday when Buffalonian Catholics could eat meat again.

Regardless of how they started, I have something controversial to say: if you go to Buffalo, Duff’s and Anchor Bar, while good, don’t have the best wings in town. I think La Pizzeria on Elmwood and La Nova do much better wings-but Duff’s on Sheridan Drive is definitely authentic and fast.

Linked to-

nifty thrifty things

flamingo toes

this gal cooks

memories by the mile

Haunted Western New York-Grain Elevators (Buffalo)

The supposed haunted state of the grain elevators have only now come to my attention. I was reading a list of the most haunted elevators in America (really, what inspires a person to write a list of haunted elevators, specifically?) and once again Buffalo was granted the dubious honor of being recognized as a national hot spot.

I think that in the near future, Buffalo should just throw a large chunk of its energies into advertising itself a paranormal draw; there’s certainly enough there to entertain tourists…

Regardless, the grain elevators appear to be viewed as a paranormal hot spot. Frankly the buildings do give me the willies, but I haven’t been able to track down anything other than vague suggestions of bodies being dumped in the elevators and workers falling to their dooms. I would love to hear more concrete stories if anyone has any.

Dating back to the mid-1800s, the buildings are no longer in use. However, the elevators are certainly iconic landmarks and it’s easy enough to understand why people are so drawn to them.

Haunted Western New York-the H.H. Richardson Complex

Located on Forest Avenue, the H.H. Richardson Complex, also known as the State Asylum, the Buffalo State Hospital, and the Buffalo Pyschiatric Center, is one of the most recognizable structures in the city of Buffalo. With the Central Terminal, the Complex may be known as the most haunted location in Buffalo.

In the second half of the 19th century, Dr. James White petitioned to have a new pyschiatric center built in Buffalo. The petition was granted, with construction running from between 1869 and 1895. Named after its architect the Complex opened its doors to patients in 1895. By 1974 the Complex was closed and patients were being admitted to other centers.

The claims made about the building, which borders the Buffalo State campus on Elmwood, stem from further claims made about the style of medicine practiced on the grounds. While the Complex was a Kirkbride institution (Dr. Kirkbride was a physcian famed for his desire to improve the lives of the mentally ill) the style of medicine practiced on the grounds of the Complex is claimed to border on the barbaric. It has been argued that therapies ranging from ‘theraputic’ comas to eugenics were practiced on the grounds; the hauntings are said to have been caused by the level of spiritual and emotional traumas taking place on the site.

The building is said to be incredibly active with multiple forms of activity taking place on the grounds, ranging from the classic phantom sitings to shadow people and items left on property moving on their own. The building itself is under disrepair and is not open to exploration, which may be adding to the legend of the property. In 2008 grant money was received in order to begin to rehabilitate the building as a national historical site. The property is now fenced off, and patrolled at all times to prevent entry.

Paranormal investigators have been attempting to verify the validity of the claims made about the Complex for decades. One site, http://www.hauntedfilm.com, claims to be an archive of images and footage of the activity dating back to 1997. However, the researcher who claims to have shot the footage also refuses to be identified.

The Kingston Lounge has a beautiful write-up on the building that has many pictures of the state of the Complex.

Mad House: Into the H.H. Richardson Complex

The H.H. Richardson Complex

H.H. Richardson Complex

6 months ago-the view from my porch

1 year ago-chaos cabling and crazy lace

Haunted Western New York-I Did a Bad Thing

I did a bad thing once. And it still amuses me greatly.

The first summer I was enrolled at the University at Buffalo (a SUNY campus), I was riding the shuttle bus between North and South Campus.

The school is split in half, with the majority of the science and health buildings, along with dorms, being on the southern campus located on Main Street and the majority of the liberal arts and humanities beinng housed on the northern off of Maple and Sweethome. The two campuses are connected by a private bus line that runs back and forth.

There is a shopping complex across the street from South that I would do my groceries at, so I was bringing food back to my apartment on or near opening weekend. Two freshmen got on the bus.

They were talking about how the dental school was supposedly haunted. So I, being the loving, gentle creature I am, deadpanned that it’s not the dental school they needed to be afraid of, it was the dorms. The dorms were full of ghosts, and the only place safe was the bathrooms.

I told them about how people would wake up with the dead leering over them in their sleep.

I didn’t think anything about it…until I started hearing rumors that my ‘ghosts’ were making the rounds through the dorms…and people were trying to sleep in the bathroom (though I think that’s when this jumped over the shark into urban legend territory).


Ironically it turns out that we’re both right.

The dorms on South Campus actually were built on land that was treated as an epidemic graveyard when the medical school that would eventually grow into the University at Buffalo was in its infancy. Most of the graves weren’t moved until recently (very recently) and the buildings were put up over the untouched graves. People have reported the normal cold spots and noises associated with traditional hauntings; trust me, those buildings are definately weird, an observation I made before finding out about their history.

The medical buildings have a much longer, more direct haunting history. The school started out as a mental institution and a medical school in the late 19th century. During its early years patients and medical students shared the same land, as medical ethics of the time didn’t look down on using patients as test subjects. Rumor has it that the icepick lobotomy was perfected in those buildings. It may be urban legend, it may be not.

Many of the original buildings still stand on South, though instead of housing mental hospitals they’re now a dental school and other hard sciences. Stories circulate about the dental school in particular- it’s apparently not too horribly uncommon for professors and dental staff to watch people in era-inappropriate clothing walk through walls like the building isn’t laid out the same way for them that it is for modern visitors.

Skeletal Remains Found

The Haunting Truths of Hayes Hall