What if a mouse…

I mentioned before the potential hazards of constantly moving computer equipment around, especially for someone with my genetic makeup (klutz gene). After 6 weeks and only one issue, it was only a matter of time…

The mouse smashed into 4 pieces when it hit the tile floor of my apartment. (I have decided I am going to stay away from tile flooring in any future home). Never having seen a mouse motherboard before, I spent 10 seconds in admiration of the technological prowess of the thing before spending 45 minutes not-so-silently cursing trying to put the pieces back together. Technology is fun right up until you have to pay special attention to it.  Like a rollercoaster – fun to watch, rather terrifying to be a part of it.

The first 30 minutes proved the definition of insanity – I kept trying to fit the pieces together the same way and it kept not working.  When I finally turned the thing upside down (figuratively-kind of), it slid into place.  Leaving the next 15 minutes trying to put the two outside pieces together.  I finally resorted to brut strength and presto! Of course, there was that annoying clear plastic piece left over, but since everything fit together, I figured it was an unnecessary bit put in to confuse and annoy people like me.

I was on a tight time schedule to leave Accra and head to the Volta Region by tro-tro – a small van full of people smashed together for a 3 hour road trip.  Lots of smashing in this blog…hmmm…

I got to the Advans office in Ho, regional capital of Volta Region, without mishap.  Until I tried to use my computer and mouse, and the mouse didn’t work.  There was a hole on the bottom I didn’t remember from the past years of using a mouse.  Ah-ha!  It was what focused the red light to allow the mouse to move the arrow!  Perhaps if I stuffed a piece of tissue in it…

It quickly became obvious I needed the annoying leftover piece.  Had I saved it or pitched it before I left? The genetic thing of course came to mind, so likely I had pitched it.  But I had paid $5 for this mouse here (because the bluetooth one I brought from home smashed when I dropped my computer 6 weeks ago), and I wasn’t going to just toss this new broken one away.

5 days later I got home.  The plastic leftover piece sat calmly on my table. (😜😜😜to genetics!) 10 minutes silently pleading and cursing the thing to come apart and go back together.  (The back together part took 9.5 of those minutes.)  VOILA!!!!!  A WORKING MOUSE!!

I feel inordinately proud of myself.  If I could high-five myself I would.  Instead, I put it all on blog for posterity, to remind myself that “What if a mouse gets smashed…I can fix it!” really happened.

SNIPPETS ENLARGED

It’s been awhile, and I am afraid I will start forgetting all the fine, wonderful, wacky things that are making up my current life.  You get to help me keep the memories and share in a laugh and a nod.

  • Exploding curry powder – it wasn’t the curry powders’ fault, it was the ants. Of course, I blame the ants.  They were converging en masse in my kitchen, and I had to move my recently bought spices, cans of tuna fish, and top ramen aside quickly so I could kill the tiny buggers.  And the bottle of curry powder dropped to the floor – a glass bottle.  It absolutely shattered. A haze of orange filled the kitchen, and I thought for a moment I was in the best Indian restaurant ever.  But I wasn’t, I was in my kitchen on a Saturday morning, not even having a cup of coffee yet.

Do you have any idea how invasive curry powder is? Let me just say I was finding orange particles for 3 days, hiding in cracks and crevices I had cleaned only an hour before.

The great news is that my whole apartment smelled fantastic for about 48 hours.

  • I really was going to buy a dark backpack last weekend. I somehow got sidetracked while shopping the streets of Osu (area with nice shops, bars, restaurants – a bit of an obroni hangout) and found myself buying yards of fabric from Woodin.  My new goal was to hunt down a wonderful tailor named Esther who made me a dress 3 years ago (also from Woodin fabric).  She was around here somewhere…

After wandering the streets of Osu for about 30 minutes (no mean feat, it’s not that big, but dodging cars and open sewers was a bit exciting), I heard a “Hello Madam!” Sure enough, there was Esther welcoming me back to her shop that I had just  walked by +3 years!

After exchanging greetings and catching up a little, we got down to business of fitting me for my new wardrobe: two dresses, a skirt and a simple short-sleeved jacket.

Fabric: $30

Tailor: $55

Reconnecting with a lovely lady: Priceless

Stay tuned for photos!!

  • Same theme – fashion: I wore my dress to work last Monday. The one that Esther had made me 3 years ago.  It created a bit of a stir; everyone was quite excited I had something with Ghana fabric.  Three of the Loan Officers I knew demanded photos with me.

Can’t wait to see what happens when I wear my new collection!

  • The picture of me doing aerobics for Advans’ 10th Anniversary Walk is showing up on various office powerpoints…I am choosing to be flattered, although hand-covering-eyes was the first reaction.

 

  • Toe kicks are an interesting thing. I don’t have any in my kitchen.  The lower cabinets have doors that I now call ‘toe scrapers’

 

  • I can get my 2-room apartment cleaned and sheets and towels washed for $4.50. I wanted to get it done every 4-5 days, but management asked me to keep it to every 2 weeks.  Some concern about water consumption, and the comment “This is Africa after all”.

I have compromised to every 10 days.

  • I have found a place to stay in Tamale, my next 2-month stop on my Kiva Fellowship. I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago (okay, a Facebook Friend whom I had actually never met in person) at a local restaurant.  He lived for a while in the US, and understands the hopes of comfort an obroni has.  Since he spends a lot of time in Tamale, I asked if he could help find me something, preferably a house-sharing situation.

Turns out he has a friend who is going to be out of town for several months – and a housemate willing to share the empty space!  With hot water and A/C!  AND A COFFEE GRINDER!!

  • About the coffee grinder…a sweet friend from Pfizer days was in town (really – she was here visiting another friend from her Global Health Fellowship days and I was a bonus). She had just finished a safari trip to Tanzania, and was travelling home with some coffee beans.  I didn’t know about the beans when I exclaimed over her luck in visiting a country with good coffee.  She promptly made me a gift of a pound of delicious Tanzanian coffee beans.

I have been searching off and on for a coffee grinder ever since.

My finding the house in Tamale is obviously a God-wink.  Must be doing something right!

  • There is a mosque not that far from my apartment. I can hear the muezzin calling the Muslim for prayers.  It is quite beautiful and haunting, and I know I will miss it.

 

  • Hitting the road for all of next week, back for the weekend, then out for the following week. See MAP in Photos for locations, and keep good thoughts!

 

  • What I am hearing: dogs barking, cars honking , a soprano singing opera, the beat and bass of dance music, the muezzin, a radio talk show…but nothing while I am writing.

 

The Potato Salad Caper

Women in their bright fabrics with children tied to their backs dodged in and out of the traffic –  both human and vehicle – with fully loaded heads. Why use your hands and arms to carry stuff when you have a perfectly good head that can balance buckets with fish, bananas, glass cases with baked goods, clothes, etc.

C0001T01-001

Well, when in Ghana…seriously, did you not read my post about being a klutz?! I will eventually give this a try, but not during work hours when I am chasing down my dream – a potato salad.

Tomorrow (August 21) is a Muslim holiday that celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God’s intervention.  This got me thinking about the 4th of July. And yes I know, other than they are both in the summer months, they have absolutely NOTHING in common. Other than the requisite feast, of course.

Potato salad came to mind.  It’s easy, totally American, and holiday appropriate.

And I am in Ghana, at an outdoor market that sells everything from mangoes to salt to flip-flops to…you guessed it, potatoes.

My colleagues (2 Advans loan officers I was tagging along with to Nsuwam and its market) assured me they could find me potatoes – sure enough, a bag of 8 dirt encrusted slightely odd-shaped “yellow” potatoes cost me about $.75. I had mayo at home and an onion…what else could I possibly need? Ohhh – EGGS!

I hadn’t touched an egg since my traumatic experience two weeks ago.  It was time I stopped being chicken (  😜 ) and faced my fears.

After quizzing my colleagues about the likelihood of coming across another chick-in-the-egg, and (more) assurances that it NEVER happened to them, I bought 6 eggs for $.80.

Let me clear up the ingredients list issue right now.  No one sells celery, and I was so excited about potatoes I forgot about peppers, which they have plenty of here. I know, I know, I was already on shaky ground for good results.

Things back in my apartment were going fairly well.  Potatoes were cleaned, peeled, chopped and immersed in boiling water. A few minutes later, they were done, and I cooled them off the best I could – lots of running water, finally putting them in my fridge’s little box freezer compartment (no ice cube tray).

potatoes

On with the terrifying part – the eggs.

I spun each of them, promising myself if one spun oddly I would pitch it.  They all spun the same odd way, so I went ahead and boiled 4 of them.

Done!  But how to cool them off quickly so they didn’t overcook?  Easy! Put them in the freezer!

You remember what happens to Ralphie in A Christmas Story?  The tongue-on-the- flagpole thing?  Turns out eggs in a freezer compartment react the same way.  They were practically glued down.  I tried water to little effect.  I wound up wrenching them out of the freezer, leaving chunks of egg and shell behind.

Will frozen egg smell up the freezer/fridge? The water I used to try and unfreeze them created a nice layer of ice over the actual egg and shell.

Eager to move past the ridiculousness, I tasted the cooled down potatoes. Hmmm…not bad…but not what I expected from a slightly white/yellow potato.  Ummm…sweet???

Yup.  My good ol’ fashioned potato and egg salad sans anything green was now a sweet potato and egg salad.  I threw in some chili powder, onion, salt, pepper and mayonnaise with an air of desperation.

It’s almost 10pm, and I have decided to do the taste test tomorrow.  That way I can go to bed hopeful.

THE BIG DAY

Let’s not drag this out any longer…it’s edible!!  And not bad, in the grand scheme of things.  The chili powder is a definite plus.  Gumby oversaw my tasting, reminding me to be flexible – just because it isn’t a perfect reproduction of what I wanted doesn’t make it bad, just different.

potato salad-ta da

And as I sit at my table eating sweet potato and egg salad, listening to the sounds of Ghana around me, different seems to be pretty darn good.