Monday, May 2, 2011

Traveling, illness, death and birthdays

Hiking trail near Boulder, Colorado
All of last week I was at a workshop in Boulder, Colorado.  It was my first time at this workshop and the first workshop I have been to - as opposed to a conference.

The basic differences between a workshop and conference is this: scale.  A conference is typically much larger, has concurrent session going on, and has many topics covered.  A workshop is typically smaller, has only one track of talks, and is based on a singular topic. 

During a conference, there are typically a few times during the conference that nothing is going on that is of interest to me.  So I go and work in the hotel or at a coffee shop or something.  I tend to be ultra-productive during these times, finishing up little projects, writing up research papers, or really digging into something I just haven't had the time to get to.

I found out last week that a workshop does not allow this to happen.  I was in talks and discussions from 8 am until 5 pm everyday.  I learned a crap-load.  But I was exhausted.  COMPLETELY EXHAUSTED.

Before I left, my daughter, Sweet Little Hellion, was sick with pneumonia.  Not bad, but she was down and out for sure.  So before I left on travel, I spent time taking care of her and trying to leave Beautiful Wife as much free time as possible as she (BW) was going to be stuck dealing with the Berserker Brood for the week all on her lonesome.  So I was more than a little tired when I left for my trip...

George Marie, first member of the Berserker Brood.  RIP.
On top of all this, BW called me bright and early last Wednesday morning telling me she was bringing George (our cat) to the Vet hospital.  She was obviously very sick - couldn't stand up on her own, hadn't used the litterbox in a few days, wasn't taking food or water.  We had to put her down that morning.  Kidney failure.  Super bummed.  Nothing really strikes chord of grief like your family dying and George had been a part of my family since I first met my wife.

Funny thing about George, she was a girl cat named George, George Marie in fact.  BW has a goofy sense of humor and she had ALWAYS wanted to have a pet named George.  This stems from her love of all things looney tunes.  And looney tunes would do a bit based on the book "Of Mice and Men" about a little "wabbit" name George.  She was all full of attitude, all 7 pounds of her. 

George was 11 years old when she died.  All she ever wanted out of life was to lay in my lap - all day long.  When I was doing my PhD courses, she would lay on my lap under the table for the hours upon hours of homework I would do.  During the last few years my patience for having another little furnace on my lap after I put the kids to bed had diminished markedly.  I regret not having a little more time for her.  I regret not getting to say goodbye.  I really wish I could have been there when she died.

So that morning I had to have breakfast with 3 work colleagues, my former boss and a big-wig in our research discipline.  Supposed to schmooz and network... I failed.  Oh well.

Worse than that is explaining to a soon to be 2 year old and soon to be 4 year old that their kitty is not coming back.  Then explaining all about death.  Nothing makes you feel less adequate as a parent than having to explain all about death.  And how you have absolutely no answers and there is nothing anyone can do about it...  sucks, big time sucks.

Happy Birthday SLH!
Photo Credit: D Sharon Pruitt
From Wikimedia Commons

On top of all that, we celebrated Sweet Little Hellion's 2nd birthday yesterday.  Beautiful Wife made a carrot cake from scratch (oh, the god's know I love carrot cake... so good!) with yellow frosting - SLH's favorite color.

Little Berserker Spawn refused to eat on the princess plates, so I spent most of dinner having a little talk with him about the situation in the other room.  Trying to make him see it from her point of view.  Limited success.

After almost throwing a fit about not wanting to eat on Princess Plates, LBS didn't have any trouble wearing the pretend play high heels his little sister got as a present from my wife's brother and his wife... Don't worry, I have blackmail pictures.  MUUHAHAHHAHAHA! (evil laughter!).


  1. So sorry to hear about your poor kitty! But you are not alone in having gender issues with animal names. My oldest named a female kitten Steve... after the hedge on 'Over The Hedge'

  2. Thanks and LOL! I love it! I actually it was the perfect name for her, she was a George. I may have problems with Steve. Since I know about 50 Steves and they are all guys. Good stuff!


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