Sept 4, 2020: "If you are constipated in English, press one. If you are constipated in Spanish, press two"

Early morning Seneca River in winter in Baldwinsville, NY. Photo by Lisa Saunders.

In December 2019, we moved from the seaside village of Mystic, CT, home of Mystic Pizza, to another river community with pizza, Baldwinsville, New York. But unlike Mystic, which is like living in a Hallmark Movie, living in upstate New York along the Erie Canal is like living inside a snow globe several months a year.

According to the locals, people don’t move here in the winter without a very good reason. When I applied for a library card in January 2020, the clerk taking my information, said, “You just moved here--on purpose?” Why was everyone from the lady at DMV to our new insurance agent saying that to me? I didn't feel like explaining that my husband retired relatively young (age 61) from Pfizer to recover from an aggressive form prostate cancer, but I did explain that we wanted to move here to be near our only grandchildren. That seemed like a good reason. Once I assured them we would follow their advice by trying the "chicken riggies" of local village restaurants, we were accepted as neighbors. I have to say, if you don't like spicy food, you best order the "mild" version your first time around! (Chicken riggies are an Italian dish thought to have been created in the Utica-Rome area--villages along the old Erie Canal. Ingredients: "chicken, rigatoni, and hot or sweet peppers in a spicy cream and tomato sauce--Wikipedia.)

If you know us, or are interested, I keep our family and friends updated on our personal lives as we continue our Erie Canal quest. Too busy helping my husband recover from cancer surgery and mother from a stroke in 2019, in addition to prepping and selling our house and settling the three of us in NY during the pandemic shutting us all down in March 2020, it took me until September 2020 to give everyone an update on our lives:

Sept 4, 2020:

Dear Friends and Family:

My schedule is getting lighter now that Jim, myself and my mother are more settled in Baldwinsville, New York, a small village near Syracuse named "Top Ten Snowiest Major Cities in the World" according to AccuWeather ("lake effect snow" off Lake Ontario is the cause).  

Changing addresses and getting new doctors in a new state is more complicated than I remember. Aside from helping with my grandchildren and mother, one of my tasks has been to be on hold, listening to "on hold" music. I often laugh thinking of my dad who used to impersonate recorded messages: "If you are constipated in English, press one. If you are constipated in Spanish, press two", etc. Our good news is that Jim has now been cancer-free for a year, my mother has made great strides since her stroke last year, and that we all live in the same village as our daughter, Jackie and grandchildren.

Jim and I live in an apartment complex (so no shoveling) and Mom has an apartment in assisted living. We are in the process of selling Mom's house in Suffern, NY. I try to minimize news watching to find and maintain some inner peace, but I am happy to share things about my daily life and would love to hear from you about yours.

As a result of the virus, until last week when school reopened, we had our grandson Paul from Mon-Weds. I found a great homeschool site, Khan Academy Kids. It's free and has a phone app for 2-7-year olds, plus all kinds of programs for older children (and adults). Paul loved doing his "homework" for a couple of hours a day.

Other than initially, when daycare was closed and we also cared for our granddaughter, Elizabeth (named in memory of my Elizabeth), we mostly see her Sunday mornings because, like me, she gets up early. I like to take her to the Erie Canal to watch the boats go through Lock 24, which is a mile from where we live. We whisper to each other when we see quiet boats as we figure everyone on board is still sleeping. Elizabeth asked me if boaters slept with their pacifiers. I asked one early-rising boater if she did, and to Elizabeth's delight, she told her she accidentally left hers at home.

The summer months, though unusually hot this year, were great for getting outside and seeing Jim's family and high school friends (we live only 35 minutes from his hometown) and walking the Old Erie Canal, a trail that runs 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo. "It was the longest artificial waterway and the greatest public works project in North America." We've walked about 20 different miles of it so far. There are very few bathrooms along the way so bikers have an easier time getting more explored, but it's a beautiful walk with many interesting things to look at such locks, aqueducts and museums. Click here to learn more.

Many who I have chatted with ask about the books I listen to for free from my phone app: "Audiobooks". It's full of books with expired copyrights (at least 95 years old) read by volunteer readers. These books can be found at: I usually listen to memoirs from soldiers, nurses, escaped captives such as Harriet Tubman, explorers, etc. For people who would rather read than listen to ebooks, you can find many of them, including classics, through this list: If you have extra time on your hands, Librivox is always looking for volunteer readers!  I thought about doing it (but doubt I will) as I would like to see this book written by my ancestor, Capt. Benjamin Church, considered the father of the U.S. Army Rangers, as an audio book: "The history of the great Indian war of 1675 and 1676, commonly called Philip's War; also the old French and Indian Wars, from 1689 to 1704".

I am still very involved in working to prevent cytomegalovirus (CMV), the virus that disabled and killed my daughter Elizabeth. I collaborate with universities and other organizations to create free resources for those interested in educating their caregivers/teachers that they are at increased risk for contracting CMV. This morning, I was contacted by a Japanese literary agent who told me a Japanese group would like me to write a children's version of my book,  Anything But A Dog!: The Perfect Pet For A Girl With Congenital CMV  . This Japanese group translated the adult version of the book and I assume they would translate the children's version for me.

As time permits, I have been interviewing people through Zoom for the local access station in Baldwinsville, PAC-B TV. If you have a topic of general interest and are willing to be interviewed through Zoom, please let me know! Here is a sample of one of my interviews with Cornell's hand washing expert, Nellie Brown, an Industrial Hygienist, who tells us everything we need to know (and wish we didn’t know) about hand washing in public/work restrooms at: . I also did one, Ask the Expert: Everything You Need to Know about Protective Masks, with Dr. Gail Demmler-Harrison, a CMV expert.

Every day, I look for a Scripture verse to help me find peace and joy. A good one for these times: "When I said, 'My foot is slipping,' your unfailing love, LORD, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy" ( Psalm 94:18-19). Another I like: "Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff,  they comfort me" (Psalm 23:4).

My cooking skills have not gotten any better and my mother has even thrown out some of the food I've sent over to her apartment. For Jim and my mother's sake, I better come up with some new recipes or revisit some of the old favorites.


Lisa and Jim Saunders

P.S. As some of you know, I'm very interested in Bible prophecy so have been studying that even more as I see what's going on in world events (Luke 21:10).    

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