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Pat Rieger




Skipped Back 10

January 30th, 2017

Another Connection Gone

Like so many people who have been divorced, there are many connections, links, to my previous marriage. As the years go by there are less and less. They can not go down to zero, at least in my case, as we did have a son together.

One of those links to the past passed away Friday night. My cat, Remus.

It was June 2001, and grad school was coming to a close. One day my ex received either a phone call or an email from one of her professors, Carla. Carla had found 2 kittens in her yard. She thinks they were dumped outside as they were very friendly, and wanted to come into her house. They were very hungry too. Carla would have taken them in, she was a cat person, but she was about to head to Greece for the Summer. All of the shelters were full. So she asked if we wanted them. Being the big softies for cats that we are, we said yes. Carla brought them into her garage, putting a carpet remnant into a box for them to lay in, and gave them food, and they ate a lot.

We picked them up the next day (I think, I know it was a short time after being asked). We asked our friends for name for these 2 brothers, and my ex-sister-in-law suggested Romulus & Remus. Those were the name we chose.

Romulus died in 2005 of an infection. We didn't have the money to take him to an emergency vet, so we planned to take him to a regular vet on Monday. He didn't last the weekend.

The next year my wife an I split up, and I took two cats, Hypatia and Remus. I couldn't afford two cats, and Hypatia was too wild for anyone else so my now late ex-parents-in-law took Remus in. 2 years later, November 2008, after I had Hypatia put down I got Remus back, the same day. My parents-in-law had both passed away by that time (first him, and then her), and their house was being cleared out. With Hypatia's behavior I needed to put her down anyway so this kicked me in the butt to do it. I put her down, and that same evening I went over to get Remus.

It was just him and me in my little apartment for a few years until my wife and I met.

A year later Remus got a kitty companion, Chelsea. They became very close, snuggling, grooming, both at open windows watching the animals and anything else.

Recently Remus was showing his age, not as energetic, thinner, slower, but still very much mine, and snuggled up to me at every opportunity.

But starting last weekend he showed a quick decline. Urinating just outside of the litter box. Hardly eating, hardly drinking. Not interested in treats. He wasn't as clean, he had major eye boogers. Thursday he went under Vaughn's bed and didn't come out. Friday it was obvious the end was close. I checked on him a lot, and watched him decline. It was obvious systems were shutting down. The smell was getting bad. Around 10:30PM he breathed his last. I was there when it happened.

The next day I took his body to the Animal Rescue League for disposal. We could not afford a burial, or cremation.

Chelsea doesn't know what to do with herself.

My 4 year old son doesn't understand. He spent 5 minutes on Saturday calling for Remus.

There are many connections from my old marriage I don't care to keep. Remus was not one of them. He was my kitty.

January 27th, 2017

No Where To Go

The last few years have been rough for my family and I. I was laid off 3 times, followed by periods of unemployment. Daycare is pricey, and we had no choice but to put our son in it until he was of school age. Problem with our old car, and unexpected move 4 years ago, plus other problems that cost money always coming up.

Somehow we were always able to get through.

But now we have come to a problem where we have no way out.

Our new car needs new front brakes and a wheel bearing replaced. We have no way to pay for it, and no one can help us. Unless something happens I can not see or envision, we're stuck. With out the car I can not work. The garage wants at least the cost of the parts paid, and then I can pay the rest next week. But we don't even have that.

I am going to do something fun for now, perhaps I'll think of something afterwards.

January 18th, 2017


16 years ago tonight I got the call that my mom had died.

She had a major stroke the previous late October, resulting in her going into a coma. After 2 weeks in the hospital she was taken home to rest in a hospice bed in her livingroom. My then wife and I were able to take time off from graduate school to help at home. But we had to be back in school in Cincinnati for the new quarter.

I do not know what it is like to have grandparents.

I do not know what it like to have a dad.

They all died when I was very young (my paternal grandfather died 5 years before I was born).

But I knew my mom. The woman I was named after, and who people think I look a lot like. I had friends who told me they wish they could have been their mom.

And I miss her a lot.

Every day I wish I could hug her again.

I wish she could meet her grandsons, and do all of the things grandparents and grandchildren do together. I wish they could go to her on place on Christmas and open presents.

But she died before either one was born.

My mom would have been happy to have more grandchildren but even happier they would be in the same town as her. All of the others lived in Derry, New Hampshire, and she didn't see them much.

Duncan has red hair, and Vaughn has auburn hair, which would have made my mom very happy.

She would have also been happy I was back in Pittsburgh. It broke her heart when I moved away.

I have a few things of hers. The afghan and pillows she crocheted after retiring for one. My sons have used the afghan on occasion, and I like to think it is their grandmother making sure they are warm.

Her good china set and good silverware. I use them on Thanksgiving and Christmas, or the rare times when friends come over for dinner.

These things are a connection.

So if she can not be here, at least there are ways to remember and connect.

December 8th, 2016

When It Rains...

Yes, it is an old and well used phrase. But sometimes it fits.

So we are catching up from Thanksgiving, and will have a while until we do.

I knew rent would be late, and I was hoping to pay it Thursday.

Then Tuesday night I started to hear and feel something from the rear brakes on the car. Wednesday it got worse. Then I heard a scraping noise from the right rear when the brakes were not applied. When they were applied I could hear a deep grinding.

If I had a driveway I could do it myself, but I don't and I am not about to do the work in the street, especially not in 30 degree weather.

So it looks like instead of working in the morning I will be heading off to get the brakes fixed.

I am not happy.

November 19th, 2016

Put On Your Best Face

Sonic Screwdriver
For over 5 months I have been a Lyft Driver.

Nearly 2 months ago I started driving for Uber as well.

It is best that a driver be friendly, positive, and likes to talk, and I am all of these things.

Because I see people from all over, from many walks of life, I feel a responsibility to be a good face for Pittsburgh, just like when I worked at Carnegie Science Center. So I do my best to represent Pittsburgh, as much as a non-sport person who also does not drink can do that.

I love meeting new people, and I love to talk, so this is a good a job for me. I know my way around very well, which helps.

Two examples:

1) This evening my wife and I joined some friends at the Harp & Fiddle, a friend of ours was performing. We were there not very long when I heard a woman calling out my name. When I looked at the bar I saw who it was, and as she started to head down to where I was I met her. I had given her and a couple of friends of hers a ride the night before. She gave me a huge hug (which I will never complain about), and introduced me to the people she was with.

2) As we were leaving, a couple in their 50s from St Louis, and who came to Pittsburgh for the National League of Cities convention, came walking in. I had given them a ride 2 nights before to an Air B&B 1.5 blocks away and suggested they go to the Harp Friday for Terry. They liked the idea, and for most of the night I thought they decided not to go. They did, just later, and so my wife and I stayed and talked to them for at least 20 minutes. They loved Terry's music, so when he took a break I asked him to come over. It was a great time, and I am happy to have represented Pittsburgh as well as I did.

So without even trying I have become an ambassador of sorts, a face for Pittsburgh. It is very satisfying that to know I am doing a good job.

November 14th, 2016

Let's Get Physical

Sonic Screwdriver
Even with being a contractor instead of an employee of Lyft, there are still benefits and perks. One of them is a good price at LA Fitness, the nearest being in Bakery Square.

For financial reasons I had to quit the Y over 2 years ago. Since then I have seen and felt the results of not doing regular intense exercise. For all of my intentions and plans, I am not able to do it at home. There is too much to do, and I am the only one to do it. I need a place where I can focus and get help when I need it.

So the benefit of a discount at LA Fitness will be wonderful!

I admit I was always hoping to rejoin the Y but the current situation does not look good for it.

I mainly need to lose the weight gained around the middle. Then I can go back to a size 10, or even a size 8 which I could squeeze into about 6 years ago.

I have also signed for Healthy Ride, and some day this week I plan to take it for the first time, the destination being downtown. I need intense cardio more than muscle work. I don't want to be bulky, but instead slim down.

September 25th, 2016

My wife and I have decided to take the plunge. We plan to get a house. It's going to be tricky. Our finances are not in the best shape. But we are tired of living where we are. She has said she has never been sick so often since we moved into the apartment we now inhabit.

I have contacted a friend of ours who is an estate agent, and she passed contact information on to me of someone we can talk to about applying for a mortgage. I did, and now I need to start collecting the necessary documents and information.

So we are just getting started.

But it will be oh so wonderful!

Here is hoping we will be successful.

We have the criteria for the place we want:

1) Minimum of 3 bedrooms. 1 for us, 1 each for our sons. If we have more than 3, wonderful, it/they can be a guest bedroom, hobby room, office, or whaetever.

2) Livingroom, kitchen, diningroom, and preferably a half bath for that extra toilet.

3) Space for a work area. We both have multiple hobbies, and it would be good to have a space dedicated to them. No more having everything put away in various locations. I want to build a 1/350 scale Enterprise and I'll need the space.

4) A yard. This would have multiple purposes, one of them being for a long wire antenna for the shortwave radio.

5) At least a driveway if not also a garage. I want the car off of the street, and I want the space to do our own maintenance and cleaning.

6) A porch.

Our landlord has asked we not move out until Spring, so that gives us time. Hopefully at this time next year we will be in a house of our own.

September 15th, 2016

My now ex-wife and I moved out of our house. It was a great house and I still miss it. Lots of space, large rooms, 4 bedrooms, a stained glass window, mantles to fill with Christmas Cards (and they did get filled).

We moved into our separate abodes. Her to a duplex unit, me to a 4 room apartment in a neighborhood I would love and plan to move back to when I can.

A lot has changed since then. I lived on my own for the first time ever. No roommates or spouses. I worked multiple jobs. Dated a fire eating bellydancer. Joined a gym and got into the best shape of my life. Met and became friends with awesome people called rennies. Married again and had a wonderful second son. Watched as my first son grew out of the little boy stage and is now a teenager. A geeky and smart teenager, who adores his little brother, the one sibling he asked for.

Came out to multiple people as trans, though still not in a position to transition.

I have rejoined and became more and more involved with the local astronomy club. If I could get a job doing star parties I'd be very happy.

Not everything has gone well. I have been laid off multiple times, 2 times from the same job! Which I happened to like. The biggest problem has been financial, as I am sure it is been with most people. Now I am a Lyft driver, which is fun and helping to pay the bills, though the very late nights can be tiring.

We were renting a nice house until our landlord's now ex-wife decided she wanted a divorce. So we were kicked out so he could move in. He was very apologetic about it and even sent a check the following Christmas as a thank you for cleaning the place so well, and to get us started on saving for our own place. We weren't able to start saving.

My beloved New Beetle of 14 1/2 years finally had too many problems and had to be sold, and a new (to us) car bought, a Subaru Outback. But at least we now have a car that has a lot more space, and no problems, especially for the very long telescope we recently acquired!

We learned our younger son is mildly autistic. Thankfully we have lots of support, and he is doing great!

Now to look to the future. We are going to try to get a mortgage so we can get out of this cramped apartment and into our own home, and hopefully back to the neighborhood we prefer, Highland Park. We want to finish the latest telescope we acquired (doesn't need much) and start using it. At the same time start using the planetary imager I won a few years ago. Start building our own train layout. Have a garden. Set up an antenna for my shortwave radio.

Now to see what the next 10 years brings.

August 30th, 2016

Another School Begins

house, christmas
Ugh. Summer is nearly over and I feel we didn't take advantage of it like we should have. But then my wife works two jobs (to be down to one at the end of September), and I work when she can be home, which is at night, so planning things as a family is very difficult, and relegated to the few times we have together.

With my older son having started school yesterday, and the little guy starting Wednesday, our time is even more limited.

I wanted to go through boxes of stuff, with my older son going through all of his things and getting rid of what he no longer wanted, which would probably be nearly everything. But that didn't happen. It's amazing how much time having the little guy's wraparound therapist's being at our home 5 days a week takes up. Then off to get my wife from work, some days of the week taking her to her other job right after, and by then the little guy is asleep in the car so I park somewhere and let him nap. I either read or take a snooze myself.

Now that the new school year is here I plan to bring boxes up from the basement and have us go through them a few at a time. It needs to be done. Next Spring we plan to get a new place, and the less we need to move the better.

The new school year also allows me to do some things I couldn't being a stay-at-home dad all of the time. I had started a walk-run routine before the end of last school year but couldn't keep it up over the Summer. I really want to get back into shape, lose the weight I have gained the past year, and fit into clothes that have languished.

OK, I am falling asleep at my computer. I am going to go to bed and continue this another day.

June 24th, 2016

To Thine Self Be True

Sonic Screwdriver
For 2 weeks now I have been a Lyft driver. I have a number of people who were obviously drinking. I could smell it on them, and a few it was obvious because of behavior.

One passenger was talking about his drinking times with a "You know?"

Thing is I don't know, which confounds a lot of people. I can't stand the smell of alcohol let alone the taste. To me it is vile.

Years ago, like a quarter of a century, I did get drunk twice. I didn't understand what the big deal was all about, or why people love it so.

So I don't drink, which in the long term is probably better for my health too.
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