So, sometime last week, our local Panera Bread cafe was converted to the second-ever "Panera Cares," a non-profit cafe where all the prices are converted to a "suggested" donation level and customers can pay what they can afford.  So, my most excellent spouse and I went there last night to check it out.  Verdict?  Well, the menu is pretty much standard Panera fare.  I had the black bean soup in a bread bowl while he had a combo from their "pick two" menu.  We each had a peppermint mocha and bought a cookie for later.  The suggested donation price?  More than twenty-two dollars.

Yeah.  I paid it, being a hard-working virtuous citizen, but that sums up why we never went to the place when it was just a regular Panera Bread.  Their food is good but not spectacular, their baked goods are crazily oversized and consequently way overpriced ($7.00 for a day old loaf of bread!), and their menu selections are apparently designed to be frustrating.  Example: my husband calls the "pick two" option "pick two, as long as one of them is something you don't want"-- the salads that come with the combo default to Caesar, Greek, and house instead of the Signature salads that people actually go to Panera for.  In a town filled with excellent Coney restaurants featuring wonderful Greek salads, I'm not paying Panera prices for a so-so Greek salad.

Panera was a regular haunt of mine back when I had dial-up Internet at home; I really do like the soup in a bread bowl.  But as an overall experience, Panera Cares is more something to support out of community spirit than it is a place I'd go for a nice, reasonably-priced meal.

 Vocal Neighbor Lady on the street behind us is upset because her precious kitty brought home a "three pound rat" over the weekend, and she blames the local abandoned property (which we're trying to save).  Neighbor Lady is advised that the surest way to prevent kitty from bringing home RATS is to keep "Mr. Orange" indoors, instead of letting him roam the neighborhood where he acquires rats and such from the railroad tracks and the garbage bin at La Pita.

We have witnesses.  Keep the damned cat indoors.

It's one thing to know you're in the same voting precinct as the mayor of your city, and another thing to see Mayor O'Reilly waiting his turn in line as you spin around, completed vote in your hand.

The woman holding up a George Darany sign on the street outside the polling place (an elementary school) asked the guy holding the Suzanne Sareini sign if he wanted to share her pizza for dinner.  He looked surprised and said no.  Maybe he just didn't like Hot-N-Ready?

I picked up some "shortbread cookies" from the bake sale table there at the school.  They turned out to be sugar cookies-- soft and chewy instead of dry and crumbly.  I like sugar cookies, but I bought them under the impression they were little rounds of shortbread.
Each city has its own code.  Say "chihuahua house" in Dearborn and everybody knows you're referring to the little brick house with the neatly clipped lawn and several dozen dead dogs in the freezer.

Chihuahua House came up last night as my sub-committee for the neighborhood District discussed what to do about the place my spouse and I refer to as the "sad house," the derelict specimen across the street and several houses down.  The sad house, with its broken windows and appropriately somber-hued siding, is a disaster zone-- leaking roof and flooded basement, rotten plaster and mold.  Every sad house has its story and this one's tale involves long-dead parents and indifferent heirs; you'd need a flow chart to track the number of people who need to sign a quit-claim deed to the place, but not one of them bothered to take care of it.  Or legally inherit it.  Or pay the back taxes, which aren't especially much.  Or even move out the junk, until this weekend when we noticed signs of movement.

The sad house, like the other homes in our District, has historical and architectural significance in a uniquely Dearborn way (hint: Fords are involved).  It may be as much of a loss as Chihuahua House, toxic from neglect, but it would be worth the effort to save.  



February 2012



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