The hallway at Oakland Junior High School is partially lit by fluorescent bulbs that hum over stacks of chairs and tables. On this August day, the building has that chalky school smell with a whiff of generic cleaning products — taking you back to the days when you roamed halls just like these.
This is where Bill Hawthorne has worked for 10 years. As he tours Oakland, Hawthorne talks about his summer projects — waxing the linoleum floors and cleaning the carpets. The furniture must be moved out of each room so the floors can be properly cleaned.
Sutu’s Sirens’ first practice was held in Sutu Forté’s living room, where a drum set, a stand-up bass and a couple of guitars were crammed among the furniture.
On this recent Wednesday evening, the Sirens were still unsure of how their collaboration will sound. The band — pianist Forté, bassist Linda Bott, saxophonist Nancy Dietz and drummer Aubrey Van Hoose — had never performed together.
As I walked slowly down the stairs this morning, I already had a topic for this week’s column. Then when I turned on the light in the kitchen and viewed the disaster area, I knew I had to change the theme. Every two feet my slippers stuck to some gooey concoction on the floor. The counters, table and island were loaded with half-empty cartons of food. I felt like I’d been run over by a two-ton truck and I barely had enough energy to make the coffee. When I let the dogs out, I gazed upon my deck. The table was greasy with fingerprints. There were paper cups on the ground and bottles sitting here and there. No, I didn’t have a wild party over the weekend; I baby-sat four of my grandchildren.
My youngest son and his wife had planned a weekend with friends sans children six months ago. Then at the last minute, the baby sitter had a family emergency and had to cancel. I had already asked another son, if Papa and I could have his two sons for the weekend, because we seldom get to see them. I figured I could handle the situation. The 10-year-old was no problem, the 5-year-old could “help,” and the two youngest, ages 3 and 2½ , could get to know each other.
For Katie Bauer, getting an early start is habitual.
The Rock Bridge High student wakes at 5:15 a.m. to catch an aerobics class before school. She arrives at appointments 10 minutes ahead of time. She took the SAT 10 months prior to any college application deadline.