November 10, 2015

What I learned from my sweet kitty. RIP Moira.

Today, we wished our dear ginger kitty, Moira, our last goodbye. Recently diagnosed with cancer, it was unlikely that with or without our intervention—of any sort—she would make it to the end of the week. Not wanting her to suffer any more, we went ahead and put her to sleep today.

I will miss Moira terribly. She’s the cat who used to lie on my outstretched legs as I sat on the sofa after our son had gone to bed each night and as I finished off work. She’s the cat who loved playing red dot. She’s the cat who slept between us every night. She’s the cat who mourned her adopted out (by people other than us), and much-missed kittens at least one night a week, by rounding up athletic socks, purring at them and licking them, while cuddling them. She’s the cat who was slightly obsessive-compulsive about licking, and sometimes had to be reminded to quit licking the sofa, when she had progressed on from her own body.

I feel terrible about putting her down in many ways, but I do believe it was best to spare her the suffering of the last few days (or maybe even hours) that she had left. Like most pet owners in this situation, I’m sure, I’m trying to focus more on all the wonderful memories that we will have of Moira, and as part of that process, I was thinking earlier today about what I learned by virtue of living with her for nine years.

(Moira, modeling for the 2013 Mair Strategies Holiday card)

So, here’s to Moira, and here’s some of what I think I learned in my time with her—lessons big and small, silly and serious.

1.    Cats’ noses feel like marshmallows...

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June 1, 2015

Liz's Top Five Sites

As my top five cities entry probably indicates, when I travel, much of what I prioritize is visiting historical sites, especially ancient ones.

It’s hard to narrow a large list of amazing places down to a top 5. But this represents my best effort. Here goes.

1. Angkor Wat

OK, this one was easy. There is nowhere more spectacular that I have been than Angkor.

Undoubtedly, if you travel there today, it will be much more touristy than it was when I visited in 2002. Nonetheless, you should do it, and do it before it becomes more touristy than it already will be. 

The way we did this was a) to fly from Bangkok and b) to hire a car and driver for the day (actually, a couple of days). This gives you latitude to spend lots of time at every temple you want (Angkor is a large temple complex). It also gives you the benefit of air conditioning, which you don’t have if you hire a scooter driver (very common in Cambodia). Since I was traveling with my mother, a car was also going to be better than going by scooter (the latter is a lot more tenable when you’re under 40 than when you’re retired or pushing retirement).

All of the temples are special, and gorgeous. They date from as early as the 9th century when the Angkor area was a major global population center, and were originally Hindu. Thereafter, several centuries later, the temple complex became Buddhist. There is a specific Angkor Wat temple, and this is probably the most photographed and visually familiar. However, my personal favorite temple within the overall complex is Banteay Srei. It is a small, pink-red sandstone temple and has particularly intricate bas relief carvings. Lost to the jungle, it was rediscovered in 1914.

Banteay Srei...

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May 30, 2015

Top five street food/fast food joints

As someone who tries to keep costs down when traveling, to free up money for more of it (or for spending on genuine, must-have luxuries while traveling), street and fast food are things I pay some attention to.

I will admit, I am also somewhat wary of certain street food in certain countries due to hygiene and disease considerations; in some cases, I’ve had to be, because of things like potentially being pregnant (and wanting to stay pregnant, should I have been). For that reason, while I wish I could say the samosas my husband ate in Kuala Lumpur could make this list, they can’t quite—I didn’t try them because if it’s a choice between being extra cautious about food because your doctor told you to, to avoid any risk to a potential pregnancy that you were told you would probably never be able to have, or tasting the samosa, you sacrifice the samosa. For the time being. I will go back to Kuala Lumpur and I will eat their samosas. And, I suspect, so will my kid. 

In any event, with the samosas disclaimer now being out of the way, here are my top five recommendations in terms of street food/fast food.

1. Pieminister, London (and elsewhere!)

Pieminister is phenomenally excellent. The food is high-quality. The selection is vast. They come with mash and mushy peas. What’s not to like?

My ability to sample Pieminister’s full range of pies is limited, as I cannot eat beef (for medical, not religious or ethical reasons). However, I have had the pleasure of sampling the Chicken of Aragon, Deerstalker and Thai green curry chicken pies.


(picture via

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