Braving an Ypsi snowstorm

Every time I visit the architectural treasure trove of Ypsilanti, Michigan, I’m met with atrocious weather. Once when I came to visit Eastern Michigan University as a high school senior, EMU had a snow day. I was relegated to a pool hall for the day until my mom could pick me up hours later. Of course, I wasn’t sold on the school, having not seen much other than the empty student center and a strangely proportioned water tower, and yet I’m left with the feeling that I might have enjoyed calling Ypsi home for four years (queue the Iggy Pop).

Today’s weather was no different, but we couldn’t hunker down without some tourism first. Ypsi’s architecture captures an age of seemingly prolonged prosperity spanning from the Civil War to WWII, and includes impressive collections of Classical, Georgian, Romanesque, Italianate, Victorian, Shingle Style, and Arts & Crafts revival and period architecture. Even through the snowstorm, Ypsi read as one of the most complete and coherent historical cities in Michigan.

Although Ypsilanti represents a living collection of historical neighborhoods rivaling Michigan preservation towns like Grand Rapids, Marshall, and Mackinac Island, a figurative soot lingers on the City’s surfaces to remind the tourist of his whereabouts. Ypsi is a small, blue-collar college town in the shadows of Ann Arbor and Detroit – Michigan’s Cambridge and Gotham, respectively. It’s as if all of the City’s pristine Victorian Painted Ladies, complete with their tracery, fretwork, and poly-chrome mannerism, are obliged to disclose that they are also reasonably haunted.

But while some baseline menace may be measurable, one should rest easy. In the case of Yspilanti, darkness and romance pair beautifully. This town smokes Marlboro Reds and has Y-P-S-I carved into it’s knuckles, but it’s also a lovely travel stop for friendly company, lively conversation, endless historical cataloging, and a Coney Dog.


Bean counting

Within the scope of Memento, one blog-worthy topic I’d like to explore is Sustainability through frugality and creativity. In a nutshell, this comprises the tips, tricks and miscues related to our financial survival over the course of our three year stay at Notre Dame. Our survival, or sustainability will indeed require creativity, just as jumping out of a perfectly good airplane with an under-sized parachute might require some brainstorming prior to impact.

Creative solutions for self-funding and spending reduction can range in size and reach. Ambitious cost reductions may involve the exploration and utilization of Obamacare or the down-sizing to one vehicle. Smaller improvement examples might deal with our diaper, grocery or coffee consumption habits.

For us, the coffee example is low-hanging fruit (beans). When we lived on W. 9th St. in the Historic District of Holland, Michigan, we enjoyed a walkable proximity to a true artisan coffee shop called Lemonjello’s (

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