Chapter 13: Mail-order brides

I just finished reading a book by a guy who was on an expedition to sea kayak around Australia.  It was utterly exhausting reading, and quite daunting to realize that, while I've been in very good shape at different points of my life and hope to be so again someday, I have NEVER been doing the kind of work that requires me to eat 12,000 calories a day just to keep from losing weight.  And there is no way I ever will, either.  Oh, well.  I think kayaking is boring, anyway. 
Was that Paul Theroux? He did something like that, "The happy isles of Oceania" or something.  I read it once.
No.  It was Eric Stiller, I think.  The book was called "Keep Australia on your Left."  He sold Paul Theroux his sea kayak.  I used to do some kayaking,  before the bad arm, so I was keenly interested in it.  Paul Theroux came out to Midway before I left it, so I know him pretty well. That's a pretty damned good put-down. He and I still e-mail occasionally.  I actually kind of knew him before he came to Midway, as he moved to Hawaii and married a woman I know through the friend of a friend, so, etc.  I've had words with him about his theory that the reason Spam is so popular throughout the Pacific is that it tastes like human meat, and all us former man-eaters have genetic tastes for it.
I trust you took a bite out of his anatomy (with raincoat) for comparison.
No.  When I saw his name on the passenger manifest, I showed up at the airport with my mascara on and boobs (I still had them) jacked up under my chin, but a) he had his (new) wife with him, and I don't believe in messing with married men and b) I found out that while I liked his books, I didn't like him all that much.
It was very disappointing, as I had a foul crush on him from his writing.

Since marriage Catherine had been signing as Catharine H Kramer, now reverted to Catharine Honeyman.
Oh, you've changed your name back
I've changed my name back because I like it better.  So there.  (dainty, ladylike raspberry.)

I am disappointed, and maybe you can help me.  I love that I'm swimming again, and I love actually swimming.  But it plays hob with my bad hip.  My muscles aren't sore the next day, just this damn hip.  To me, the benefits to the whole body outweigh the ouch in the hip, but my oncologist is making disapproving noises and trying to load me up with more pain pills, which I don't want to take because then I can't drive.
Any words of wisdom?

Well, NSAIDS I suppose for a start. 
I'm on one already for the arthritis in my ankle.  Which, by the way, hurts far more than any bone metastasis I have had so far.
Maybe you have to restrict the sort of strokes you do, I daresay a backstroke would be fairly kindly on the hip but still keep much of your body busy.  Or just keep to crawl-style leg kick whatever arm style you use - that doesn't involve much hip movement.  I suppose the breaststroke froggy kick is too much work for it.
Yes.  I actually do a kind of Dorothy Lamour- don't get my head wet breast stroke thing, and then a very leisurely backstroke for about a half hour.  Then I do water aerobics.
I don't subscribe to the zero-pain religion.  If you stop the pain then you just become more active and take more damage until it hurts again.  Trying to titrate a painkiller dose this way in an active person is an escalator to infinity.  It may be all very well in wheelchair-bound over-80s but it didn't work for Lyudmila and it doesn't work for Cindy.  You can only titrate the dose if you keep the activity constant, and you can only 'titrate' the activity level if you keep the dose constant.
I think I got the same effect with this toothache.  During the antibiotics I tapered off the Ibuprofen I had been taking to control the pain.  When I finished the antibiotics the pain came back. 
Yeah, and the ibuprofen was probably also helping you keep a potential fever down. I think I was putting too much load on it when the Ibuprofen was working (I took it at night to sleep) because it didn't hurt, and so I was aggrevating  the inflammation, and once the drug wore off it hurt again, so I favoured it, and the inflammation went down again.  I went through a few cycles like this, but it seems to be getting slowly better and I've stopped the Ibuprofen again now.

Oh, I went to the breast cancer support meeting in Seattle yesterday and met Carolyn! (newsgroup contributor) Quelle thrill!
Great.  Glad you made it at last.  How was she?  She sounded pretty rough last time she posted.
She's older, but has light brown hair.  She does the full make-up thing, with drawn-in eyebrows and all that.  She was very nicely dressed in a pants suit.  Poor thing, she was feeling rocky.  She had the shaking chills and had an explosive vomit & diarrhea moment about half way through the meeting.  She may not be able to come back again.  Her daughter was with her -- a pleasant woman named Julie who lives in Germany.
I think I will keep going.  I need to have human contact at SOME times.

There is a middle aged lady called Joyce who walks a small Scots terrier past our house every day, and has done for the sixteen years I have been here.  She is a receptionist for one of the doctors in the town.  I used to chat to her now and again before I was married, but haven't really talked to her for a long time.  A few weeks ago I hadn't seen her for a while,  but then I hadn't been working at home much, and I noticed that she no longer had her trademark long blonde kink-curls.  I saw her and stopped for a chat today, and of course you guessed it, she had BC.  N=4, + lymphedema, she has just done CMF.  She's been having terrible reactions to tamoxifen and no-one told her that there were alternatives.  So it was a long chat. God, it does seem to strike all over the place. 
I told Artyom, he said "Ah, another recruit."  Cheeky sod!  I feel like the Grim Reaper sometimes.
I know, I know... but it *was* pretty funny.

David just got my computer networked to his, so I have a cable connection, too.  It's amazingly fast!  What a treat.

More bad news.  Remember my friend John of the bowel cancer and chronic asthma.
Well, he went back into hospital last week to investigate a persistent problem with an abcess on his leg.  They cleaned that up, and he felt a lot better and was expecting to be home again yesterday, but collapsed with a chest infection again.  His wife was called in in the afternoon and was told he has extensive mets, and is on the way out.  They were discussing whether it was worth attacking the infection with antibiotics, or whether it was kinder to let it proceed and just give morphine.
Oh, God, Tim, I'm so so sorry.  How terrible and scary and sudden.
He actually died about three hours after I wrote to you.  They were still debating whether to go with antibiotics when it was taken out of their hands.  Funeral is next Wednesday afternoon.  While we all knew it was on the cards, that he wouldn't last forever, and that he was running with very little 'headroom' in his system, it was still surprisingly sudden.  I guess that is the downside of not going mets hunting, they can remain concealed under other symptoms until all hell breaks loose.
Probably better for him.  I'm very sorry for your loss.
It was Johns funeral yesterday.  His wife's sister read a beautifully fitting piece from the start of "Wind in the Willows" beginning "A little brown face with whiskers and twinkly eyes" and ending "there is nothing so nice as messing about in boats". 
Oh, God, WITW always makes me cry.  Even the part where Rat is describing the picnic to Mole makes
me cry.
It suited him so well, he spent all his spare time on his canal boat, and like me he was bearded and had a rather Jewish-looking complexion.  It was all very sweet.  A bit more churchy religious than either he or I would like, but that is the way of it. 
Yes.  Remember that funerals are for the living, and John probably couldn't care less.
Oh yes.  I was discussing this with my mother.  They had just been on a tour of a "Green Cemetary" whatever that is, which they rather liked as a final resting place.  Something to do with planting an oak tree in the deceased's ashes.  It sounded a bit less romantic when I asked about the spacing between the trees, and she admitted that  they -would- have to be 'thinned out' after a few years. 
Oooh.  Eeek.  I wonder how they choose whose tree gets thinned.
I concluded that the choice of style of destruction, ie burial or cremation etc. was largely 'for' the peace of mind of the to-be-deceased, but the style of memorial was definitely 'for' the viewers. HBO, a cable network here, has had a wonderful show on this past year called "Six Feet Under," about a (normally) dysfunctional family of undertakers.  John's request for Queen's "Another one bites the dust" to be played at his funeral was gently declined by his relatives.  I worry about that.  I have burned a cathartic and (I think) tasteful CD to be played in the event of my own funeral, and I have a feeling that I will be overruled.  Remind me to add "Another OneBites The Dust" to it -- what an excellent idea.
They played "My best friend (you make me live)" instead which I thought a very diplomatic solution.
Diplomatic?  Or... cowardly?
There were about 50 people there, and I only knew a handful.  One man got up and made a speech about how he had known John for 40 years.  I felt kind of irrelevant and insignificant, having only known him for 16.  Somehow it
seemed important to me to feel that I had been important to him.  I don't know why it should be, and anyway I probably was.  I suppose everyone feels like that.
I *know* you were, Tim.  You are hellaciously important to me, and I've never met you.  I can't imagine how important you are to your real friends.
You can't imagine how telling me that makes me feel, either.  All fluttery inside.  I'm glad I was able to give you a flutter.  ;-)  And you -are- a real friend.  In the last year I have spent more time in your company than anyone else's (except Natasha), even if it has never been face-to-face.  Life would be lonely without you.
Well, then you will be delighted to know that I was just called with my bloodwork.  My CA-127 is perfectly normal, as is my alkaline phosphatase.  My doctor has told me I can take a two-to-four month break from chemo and we'll see what shape I'm in after that.  Other than being perfectly miserable, of course, I feel very strong and healthy, except for my plumbing.  And that must just be borne.
I went to a local sandwich shop for some lunch the other day, then remembered that it had been his habit to buy lunch there whenever he was working in his factory (as opposed to on-site).  So I told the staff of his demise.  No-one had told them, and there had been no announcement in the local paper either.  They said that the last time they saw him he had been complaining how few of his friends still wanted to know him now he was seriously ill.  OK, a stoma bag doesn't do much for your social life, but that is a shame.  Of course it may not be the same people, but there were plenty at the funeral, perhaps they were business competitors wanting to make sure it wasn't just another sales gimmick. I admit I didn't see him much either, but at least it was more often than when he was healthy. Good for you.  That's when it counted.
Mostly I gave Cindy time off so that she could help them, and kept informed through her.  I gave her a task to put a notice in the paper.
So I lose my child minder for a little while, because his wife needs Cindy's support, e.g. to stay with him while she goes home for change of clothes. She (the wife that is) is having problems coping with this emotionally. They live on a farm in the hills, rather isolated.  It must be a very lonely place to be by yourself.
Sounds lovely, as long as one has cable and a cable Internet connection.
It would need a long cable.  They did have a phone modem though, and had got interested in the net, in fact I originally met Cindy because she was writing his website for him.  They liked the isolation, and a couple of Golden Retrievers for company.
Ah, yes, the Golden Retriever.  Thick as a brick and just as loyal, but a darling personality and a great smile.
He had an old MG sports car in pieces in a garage somewhere, I think a TC model.  Apparently he recently sold it to a mechanic who restored it, and a couple of weeks ago he saw the finished result and promptly bought it back. I don't know if he ever got to drive it.  I didn't see him very often, but I'll miss him.
Oh, how sad.  Maybe he'll leave it to you?!?
Oh, I couldn't even think that.  I don't even know if he left a will, although I suppose he did because they weren't legally married, and it wasn't the sort of detail he would overlook, he always did things 'properly'.  I sure hope so, for her sake.  I guess his significant other will sell it eventually, although she has a lot more important things to think about just now.  I guess I could claim back the copy of the SU27 flight simulator I lent him, and the fancy joystick I bought him, when he was bedridden, but such thoughts are selfish and unbecoming and shall be banished back to the nether regions from which they peeped.
Yes, indeed.  Though isn't it universal that we all have those types of feelings, probably dating back to, "Urg got killed by that mastodon.  I wonder when I can ask for the return of the pointy stick I lent him?"
I had a bout of food poisoning over the weekend and I didn't die or anything!  I feel mighty, indeed. 
Though when I throw up hard and often I get petechiae, little broken blood vessels all over my face, especially around my eyes.  A very observant (and kind) police officer saw them in the grocery store yesterday and kind of cornered me to make sure I wasn't being strangled or anything at home.  Thanks, but no, I'm not.  Really.
Poor you.  I am glad you're getting better.  The food poisoning must have been scary. 
Not really.  It was three weeks after my chemo and eleven days past my last G-CSF shot, so I knew it wasn't neutropenia.  And I've done so much throwing up in the past two years that I do it neatly and discreetly.
I'm impressed that a policeman would know.  Do you think they get trained to look out for that sort of thing?
Yes, they do.  And I told him I was proud of him.  (I also told him it was a sign of auto-erotic asphyxiation, so he shouldn't ask anyone who looks like a furtive adolescent male.  He laughed.)
Good grief.  The things people get up to, to get their kicks.

I'm dinking around, supposed to be going to the store to get some fish for dinner tonight, but in reality lying around enjoying the last fading symptoms of food poisoning. 
I heard from Douglas, the container ship captain who turned out to be cheating on his wife while romancing me.  I'm wondering whether I should preserve a dignified silence or break down and tell him everything that's happened since we parted ways.  (c 1998)  Part of me wants the dignified silence and the six-year-old part of me says, "Pity!  Pity!  Pity!" and jumps up and down and waves her arms.

I think it rather depends on how much interaction you want with him, although it is hard to tell which would have which effect. 
Yes.  I ended up e-ing a short, cool note.  I wanted to give just enough information that he didn't feel I was trying to a) be mysterious or b) resume the relationship.  I pointedly mentioned that I'm married now, and I take that seriously.  And I told him to make sure that his wife does her breast self-exams.
Silence might end up with him wanting to resume the relationship, or it might just leave things as they are.  Dumping RAM might lead to him running a mile, it might lead to him hanging around feeling guilty, or it might lead to him wanting to be supportive, possibly even ending up excessive.  I guess I don't know enough about the situation, simulation runs differently whichever way you set the boundaries.
Douglas is a guy I loved well but not wisely.  He was the first boyfriend after my two-year fugue state, where I didn't date at all after my three lovers who died three in a row. 
Ouch.  Maybe we should call you The Black Widow.  Or was this another of those erotic things, like mantises biting their lovers heads off to make them come?  Joke in bad taste, sorry.
Ra-ther.  It was an awful time.  I really did feel like an agent of doom, and was very despairing.  The show "Northern Exposure" was on at the time, and the main female character was supposed to be in the same situation.  It was supposed to be very funny.  It sure didn't feel very funny.
He is the captain of a container ship, the Kainalu, for Matson Shipping.  The Kainalu is 972 feet long!   We met in a restaurant.  We had what I thought was the perfect relationship: he came into town for three days every two weeks, we went out to expensive restaurants each night he was in town, and he bought me nice presents.  (Well, I never said I was a *good* girl.)  That's all right, I never thought you were.  Where's the fun in being good.  I got to ride back and forth from Honolulu to Oakland on the Kainalu a couple of times, which was very exciting and cool.  I prefer long-distance relationships and I was prepared to keep this going forever. 
He started making noises about getting married, I can understand that you would have that sort of effect on guys.  and I started making noises about how much I liked the status quo.  It all culminated in San  Francisco; I had to go to a conference there, and he met me there and our plan was to drive down the coast after the conference, go to Monterey, and then drive back to San Fran before I went home.
We had a terrific time.  The conference went well, my talk was well-received, I was in a great mood, and we spent the day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.  (So I'm weird.  I liked it.)  We went to a wonderful restaurant that night, in Monterey, and he brought out one of those portentous little velvet boxes.  Argh!  He asked me to marry him.  I said, as gently as I could, that I didn't want to lead him on by "thinking about it"; that I liked the relationship the way it was and I wasn't ready to get married.  He turned purple and hissed, " I left my wife for you."
Oh, the shame.  I pride myself on being a great slut, but in reality I am fairly conservative and don't believe in adultery.  I squeaked, "You're MARRIED?" and he launched into this yes I'm married but I'm not a bad guy and I just love you so much and etc.  I got up, walked out of the restaurant, and found a cab that would take credit cards.  It cost $125 to get back to San Francisco.  That was the last time I heard from him. 
Another Matson captain whom we had socialized with in Honolulu took  me out to lunch a couple of weeks later, and I got the whole story out of him; that the Matson guys all share an expensive condo in Oakland and that's where we had stayed there; silly me, I thought it was his.  All the merchant crews did this, and I was lucky not to have ended up in a bigamous marriage, and Douglas was very sorry and wanted to know if I could take it back to the way it was.  I said no.
So from what he said, he's back with his wife and three kids and making lots and lots of money. (Man, join the Merchant Marine if you want to bring in the bucks.) 
It's a bit late to tell me that.  I probably should have done. 
I'm planning on it in my next life time.
So now you know the whole sordid story.
Could have been worse.  You could have stayed home and dated the guy on the supermarket checkout.  What the heck, you came out ahead, you got the presents, you got a ride, you got laid, you got a story, you didn't get maimed, mutilated or even pregnant.
BAAAAAAAAAAAAW!  I've had four miscarriages, too, and he's making jokes about getting pregnant!
(Naaah.  I'm not really upset.  You are absolutely right.)

Hey I've got a new virtual girlfriend.  I got a serious response to one of my 'personal' net ads, from South China!  Well, it's different.  The last one was a thrice-married God-botherer from Newfoundland, and that didn't have much mileage in it.  This one is pretty, 37, reasonably computer literate, seems nicely open minded and writes every day.  Makes a change from Russians writing a few lines every week or two with the help of a translator.
Hmm.  Beware that the Chinese are just as desperate to come to the free world as the Russians are.
Yes, I'm aware of that.  From my geographical viewpoint its the same only more expensive.  Well, f***ing expensive really.  Flights, language lessons, driving lessons, and a teenage daughter to contend with too.
Yes, and the cultural differences are even more massive.
Its a bitch, it took me eight years to learn about 20 words of Russian, and then I get a totally different language to deal with.
What does she speak?  Cantonese?
I guess so.  The guide website says "Official Languages: Putunghua"  I haven't done enough homework yet to know if that is the same thing.
 Other than that, I wish you well.
Does this really mean that people have to search the whole world to find a partner these days.  What the hell is wrong with English women (or Chinese men for that matter) that the only interest I get is from halfway around the world.  Well, you are actually further away, but you know what I mean.  I suppose when you multiply the intelligence % by all the other %s you pretty quickly start putting zeroes after the decimal point, but I still find the observed statistics hard to reconcile with the theory.  Possibly I'm just a perfectionist, but I don't think so, although if I walk down the high street here I don't often see a woman I would be interested in knowing better.

That may be due to your perfectionist characteristics.  Maybe some plain woman is just a delightful person who smells good, cooks well and makes lots of money, and you will never find her because you're looking for the cuties.  Pay no mind to me.  I'm feeling very plain today, as I learned how to pencil my eyebrows on and wish I didn't have to.
I'm not looking for cuties, BUT if all I can interest is women who are financially challenged and speak a different language, then there has to be some compensation.  You have a point there, bud.  What I am looking for first and foremost is 'interested' (oh, and 'single').  If she were poor, foreign AND thick AND ugly I would certainly think twice.
Mostly what I see in the street is people who can only use one pair of muscles to control their mouths.  "Duh".  The only vaguely interesting ones are nurses from the hospital.  I can cope with nurses, but there aren't many single ones.  We had a wonderful district nurse, very caring and observant, highly intelligent, 40ish and somewhat middle of the road in the cutie stakes.  I could really go for that, but of course -she- was married to a toyboy with a PhD.
Maybe she has a friend or a sister?  Give me her e-mail address -- I'll ask her for you if you're too shy. 
I don't know anything personal about her, doubt she has email personally but her husband would.  I only know where she works.  I bump into her in the street or the supermarket about every three months.
Tell her, "I've had a mad pash for you for a year and I know you're married, but do you know any similarly delightful females to whom you might introduce me?"
I've tried quite a few combinations.  I had a "brilliant, with a face like the back of a bus" journalist, but couldn't stand the jealousy.  She assumed that every woman was after me, and that I would prefer anyone to her, so did things like making sure I never spoke to anyone else at parties.  God, that is so dreary.  David is slightly jealous (wanting to know where I am every minute of the day, etc.) and I get TIRED of it.  I'm reasonably attractive (except to beard-haters and six-pack girls) and going down-market in that respect just doesn't work.
I tried plain, wealthy, intelligent, cooks etc etc.  She went for MUCH wealthier, real makes-you-sick public-school privilege about 30 years older and is having a ball.  It seems most wealthy women can't really respect a man unless he is even richer. 
Sigh.  I think so, too.  I wonder why rich men will often marry poor women but the converse rarely happens.
I'd like someone who can turn me on sexually, which generally means within the 'normal' to 'sturdy' range of build and appearance, with intelligence and confidence, and probably under 50. 
Well, when my hair grows back I'll give you a holler.  I'm thinking of getting tattoos over my mastectomy scars.  What do you think, and what ideas do you have for them? 
You mean a built in bikini top or something like that?  It's an idea. Depends who you want to impress.  Maybe a hairy chest? <giggle>
Now that's a thought.  I was actually thinking of opposing Hokusai-style waves.
Russians, Chinese, Phillipina etc. on the 'net are competing in a cattle market, so it is only the cute ones you see.  They make the few British girls there look like real dogs. 
I am firmly convinced that women from the Philippines are the most beautiful on earth.  However, they stay looking like that until they're 60 and then they crumble and get old overnight.  
They also generally have a strict religious upbringing with all that that entails.
Yes.  They look like such sex goddesses but are really just very nice girls.  (Except for Imelda Marcos.)  How sad.
Natasha is always trying to persuade me to buy her more shoes.  I say she will end up like Imelda. She always comes back "But she had thousands and I've only got 8." (or whatever she currently has).
Her little tootsies may be growing faster than you think.  Maybe her feet hurt?  We chuck them out / recycle them as soon as they do.  This is a question of Style.
Does she wear a uniform to school? 
Then she doesn't need any more shoes.  So sayeth the Mom Manquée.
Yes I know but convince that Imelda there.  She is asking every day if we can go to the shoe shop because she wants some 'cloppy' boots, ones with hard soles that clack when you walk. Apparently that is cool. 
Oh, not here!  We call them clodhoppers.  Big heels and heavy soles are cool, yes, but don't clunk as you walk.  Maybe she's ready for tap dancing lessons.  At least when she practiced at home it would keep Artyom awake.
She already did tap and ballet. She was tap dancing in a dance show in the local public hall the night before her mother died.  Now THAT will land her on the therapist's couch as an adult.  (joke) She has since given up on the tap but stil does ballet.  We just got back from getting her a size larger ballet shoes.
Is she en pointe yet?  Tell her that, at the age of 38, my feet have just recovered from childhood ballet.  She should get out now before it's too late.
No she is only in grade 1, doing her grade 2 exam soon.  Pointe is around grade 5 or 6 I think, her 10-year-old friend just reached that stage.  I doubt she will keep it up that long, but as it is the exercise, control and discipline seems good for her.
Yes.  It's a good transition from walking like a little kid to walking like a grown-up.  The balance work is also very good for her.  She's your daughter, but I'm offering my two cents here:  for her sake, I hope she gives it up in a couple of years.  Many years of dance training are hard on the developing skeleton; as she gets older and more serious about it, then comes all this worry about whether she's the right body type for ballet and crushing disappointment when she's not. 
Frankly, I think you can get just as good coordination skills, musical background, etc. from taking tap, jazz, and musical theatre classes, with a couple of years of ballet to anchor it.  But then I'm a dance freak and believe that EVERYONE should take it, no matter what you plan on doing with your life.
Quite honestly I think that is how she sees it.  She likes doing it, but she has no dreams of being good at it.  Phew, phew, phew.  All you need is a bulimic daughter. I think she might well move over to a drama-related discipline in a while, but I'm sure the initial ballet training is a good grounding for anything that requires controlled body movement.
Yes.  Or Tai Chi, but I doubt you'd be able to find a children's class of that in Lancashire.
And she wants a tutu because she has been watching the new Japanese cartoon series 'Card Captors' ( from the Pokemon/Digimon school, which Artyom says is Manga or something) and the heroine wears one.  Familiar scenes of explaining to her mother that we can't afford to just buy everything she feels like on the spur of the moment.  Birthday ideas though.
Yes.  Does she want a long, knee-length one, or the sticky-out-around-the-waist kind?  Tell her the sticky-out-around-the-waist kind will make her bottom look jiggly.  It's true. 
She says the cartoon character wears bloomers underneath! 
Oh, well, THAT's a festive picture.
They're most unflattering unless you are a New York City Ballet prima ballerina.  Unless the tutu-wearer is anorexic, I cannot help but think of Hyacinth Hippo from Fantasia.  Help!  I'm a self-hating fat American woman!
Is that the remake?  I remember Dance of the Hours in the original, although I'm not quite old enough to remember it coming out.
<gasp> The remake is scum.  Dance of the Whales my large pink ass.  The original is the only good one.  It's available on video and DVD now.  The Dance of the Hours is still my absolute favorite thing in  it.  The look of combined glee and fear on Ben Ali Gator's face as Hyacinth Hippo soars through the air towards him... all that done without computer animation.  But of course, one has to sit through twirling goldfish and Mickey Mouse to get to that.
I, myself, am an awful aunt.  I don't know if I've told you this (forgive me if I have) but my sister lives in one of the most PC cities in the U.S.  She originally was going to raise Hannah, my niece (3.5), in a gender-neutral way.  She gets mad at me because when I see Hannah, we often talk about girly stuff.  My first clothing present to her was a teeny-tiny tutu, which she loved, and which she now sleeps with.  The last time I saw her, we came home with pink sparkly shoes, which she also wants to sleep with.  My sister grits her teeth and buys her pants, tool sets, and books about trains.  She doesn't WANT those.  She wants Barbie dolls, etc.  I, as her aunt, feel that I should spoil her with these.
And they all like kids; children, especially someone else's, seem to be a turn off to British women.  They have romantic dreams of being pampered.  Why should I want to do that, what's in it for me? 
Why, you getting pampered right back, ideally.
Somehow I think that's about the point in the dream when she wakes up.
There has to be give and take.  In my mind "romance" is what you find on credit card advertisements, it is a synonym for spending money we can't afford.
Maybe I'm dreaming too.  Even with a good communicator like this one, the information pipe is hopelessly narrow, and most of the image I am building is probably artefact of my imagination.  It is nothing like what we can do, with a (relatively) common language, and there is absolutely no room for party tricks.  Even with that 'Newfie' woman I could do real particle physics and engender a collision to see how she reacted (it wasn't good). It is a big risk to commit thousands of pounds on the basis that she is keen on what she has seen of me and she presents a well organised image.  I have not previously encountered a 'second world' correspondent who has her own computer, scanner, internet connection, etc. 
Yes.  It would be better if she'd at least go Dutch. 
But that is he whole point of economic migration.  If they were rich they wouldn't be so keen to leave their home country.  You don't see many 'new' Russians on the cattle market.  This one says she earns about $1000pa, I guess that's part time as she is a single parent.  A year's pay would barely pay for one plane ticket.  My Russian brother-in-law earns something like $10 per month.  The danger is of getting dragged into supporting the whole damn family.
Once I start committing investment to the project it gets much harder to admit the image was wrong and back out.  Most of the commitment really happens NOW, its really a one-shot because of the cost - I couldn't do it twice.  All the business of getting to know each other, engagement and all that is bollocks, it's just a matter of trying to make work whatever hand you got dealt.  Does that sound like cold feet? No, it sounds like the sadder-but-wiser guy.  
I know what you are going to say, I am looking in the wrong places and if I am going to invest that much in an attempt, the money would be better employed in making a more aggressive search. 
Have you looked into matchmaking companies in the U.K. and Eire?
Ha Ha.  Some guy set up a website for matchemaking in Northwest England and advertised it on Usenet.  I had a look at his database.  He did look lonely rattling around in there all on his own.  Literally, one entry, the owner. We are not the most intensely computerised region. 
No, I don't mean a Web-based one, but an established introduction company.  It might set you back some money, but if you're serious...   My mom met her current husband that way.
Oh I did that to death in the '80s.  It was quite fun but not very successful.  I found it didn't make much dent in the statistics on serious relationships although I got a lot of dates, and got laid occasionally. 
Too bad.  Surely that was not terrible, though? 
No, not (often) terrible, but not feasible to repeat with a seven(nearly eight)-year-old in tow.  Far too inefficient use of time.  OK when you're single.
I forget again:  Can Artyom babysit?  Though I imagine it would be tacky to ask him to babysit when you're dating his mother's replacement.
I couldn't imagine asking that.  I daren't ask him to babysit anyway for fear he'd forget what he was supposed to be doing and go out for a beer.
Could he take Natasha with him?  I hate to think of you doomed to enjoy only late-night Internet porn until Natasha can legally drive.
Not to the pub, no.  She doesn't have to be able to legally drive, just to be legally left in the house alone, and that is 12.
Cindy is on holiday this week and I am working on it by getting him to meet N from school.  He appears from his bed bleary-eyed at about 14:50.  He was disappointed yesterday when I told him I needed him to stay with her for an hour while I went shopping for our tea, he had been intending to go out with his mates.  God, that guy is so lazy and self centred it is hard to believe.
Is it him or is it just the age he's at?  I seem to remember being fairly horrible then.
Is he obsessed with his hair, or is he not because he's a guy?
No but he occasionally stinks the house out with aftershave which he sometimes uses instead of washing. 
EEEEEEEEW.  Is that a Brit thing?  Because I remember Colin doing that every once in a while.  Perhaps, living in a cold country, he doesn't understand the concept of washing often.
Maybe it's the Russian childhood.  He does wash his clothes every month "whether they need it or not".  I know because I found them in the washer one day, so I dried them and put them aside in the laundry room. After a couple of weeks I reminded him to take them back.
EEEEEEEW.  Does he actually have any luck with females, or might this be a time to send him an anonymous note?
I just checked, the clothes were STILL there.  A quantity about half my personal weekly wash.
He doesn't seem much interested except the sort you find in magazines.  When asked he says they're bloody expensive.
Oh, well.  The Internet is spoiling this generation of men, in my opinion.  In my day, they had to take you out to dinner and possibly a movie to get sexual gratification.  Now they can just find it on the Internet.  Tsk, tsk.
It has a couple of times got so bad I had to keep his bedroom door shut to pen in the stench of unwashed socks. Jeeeeezus God, you can bet I'd have words with him. We had words about that, and things -have- improved, at least to the extent that I don't have to apologise to visitors as they come in the front door any more.  He does bleach his hair ( and parts of his bath towel) sometimes.
That's why God gave us white bath towels.
It did a lot of good for my confidence, you can't imagine how shy I was beforehand. 
Why what?  Why was I shy, why did it help or why can't you imagine? The former.
I was shy because I went to a boy's school and because I wanted it too much, and because I'm naturally like that, I constructed the confident image later.
Now, see, when I was in school, we regarded the boys who went to the private, all-boys school
(Saint Mark's) as very glamorous, sophisticated beings in their navy blazers and khaki slacks.  We
always ran into them at debate tournaments.  They thought we were sluts and we did everything we
could to encourage that view, as we knew they were sex-starved and desperate.  It was quite a coup
if we got asked out by one of them:  I don't know why, as they *were* so desperate.  Maybe it was
because we thought they were rich, too.
Hmm, maybe.  I did become captain of the school tiddlywinks team for this purpose, but it wasn't very successful. I mean, yes I got some mixed social life, but no I didn't get to go out with anyone except one of my sister's friends, and that was after I left school.  I'd sure there are reasons, but they are probably complicated, and I never really could put my finger on one cause. 
It's probably because you are so intelligent.  You might scare off potential girlfriends.  Either that or, if you were not a sports god, you might have felt as if you were just not gorgeous and muscular enough.  Heaven knows a lot of guys feel like that here.
We don't worship sports gods so much here as there.  Just money.  It's probably the competition thing, most women would prefer to be right at least sometimes.  That is the trouble with being omniscient.
Whatever anyone else's image of me I certainly didn't have a very good self-image, and I never believed anyone could be interested in me.  My social contacts rather bore out that impression.  I could make friends with and talk to girls, but then they treated me as a girlfriend, someone safe who was obviously not a contender for their affections.  Just another geek.
I think I'll become a misanthropist.  Who needs people anyway. :)
People... people who need people... (singing)
I'd still much rather solve problems for myself than ask anyone to help.
On the second line my little finger made a Freudian slip to the caps lock key on the last "I" and so typed the next few words in caps.
At first I didn't have the courage to phone people cold, having got their number, I felt I had to write and introduce myself.  I knew that if  phoned I wouldn't know what to say, I'm not very good at thinking on my feet (The mill grinds exceeding fine, but it grinds exceeding slow.  That why I love e-mail.)  Then I identified the problem and wrote myself a script.
But you have an English accent!  : )
That isn't exactly an advantage here!  Not that there is anything wrong with my accent, it's educated middle class, with northern hard vowels.   Bath not barth, but locals still think it's 'posh', they think its funny that I say 'butty' (dialect for sandwich) with a standard-English high 'u', which to them sounds like 'batty', whereas local dialect would have a low 'u', as in standard English 'book' (and some nearby dialects pronounce 'book' 'boo-k').
School kids with working class accents sometimes got teased.  At school it was correct, and not something I had thought about since I was 10, when we moved from the Midlands and I had to quickly get rid of the Black Country lazy flat vowels I had learnt there.  Fortunately I had never acquired the nasal twang that usually goes with it.
That is one thing that we don't really do here.  Thank heavens.  I am an accent chameleon.  I've told you that I still say fookin' 'ell from Leeds.  <Giggle>.  I am reminded of a strip cartoon in a highbrow newspaper in which a character once expressed surprise with the expletive "'kinnell". When I was in Texas, I spoke Texan.  I've never lost my Pidgin sing-song, but I can hide it.  Now I'm acquiring a kind of Northwest Scandihoovian sound.  Must stop it.  Most of the time I speak mid-America news anchor English, but I slip sometimes.
I still got one interesting relationship every 18 months regardless.  Somehow, even if I do nothing, encounters come out of the blue.  I will cross my fingers for you.
Lyudmila was a chance meeting with my mother, I had one previously who was a prospective buyer for my old house.  Searching gets a lot more bad ones but no more good ones.
The trouble with physically meeting people now is having to arrange childminding.  The Blackpool girl dropped out when she tried to schedule a meeting, probably realised how difficult it was for two single parents to align a little free time with each other, even though we're only an hour's drive apart.  At least the 'net allows getting to know each other while babysitting.
Are there Parents Without Partners groups in the U.K.?  A lot of my friends have met their husbands through those.
You asked me that before.  I have never heard of any.  I would have thought the statistics would make that a pretty bad bet for women in the partnering stakes.
Searching around the net I see a couple of dozen ads within 50 miles.  I have mailed most of them and got two or three contacts, one 50-somethings, one not very exciting but seemed interested until a meeting became likely then she chickened out. Most don't reply.  I think if they are into kids and 40ish they are single parents and so don't have time for the 'net. 
Probably, its hard to stand back and make a long term plan, the timescale looks frightening.  It is easier to be dragged along by events.
Yes.  Plans rarely work out in affairs of the heart.  Maybe we were better off when all of us got married off for financial or political reasons.
Bring back arranged marriages?
Well, why not?  Kids are apt to decide who to marry in the heat of the hormonal moment.  The adults around them have had a lifetime to assess their personalities and decide who might make an appropriate match for them.

Natasha was asking about sun-tanning.
I said if you got too much over a long time it made your skin go rough and wrinkly.
Plants stay out in the sun, why don't they get wrinkly?
The only ones that stay out as long as a human lifetime are trees. Do you want your skin to end up looking like tree bark?
Really excellent response.  Slather your little chickadee with sunscreen, and keep her fungus-white.