Sunday, April 22, 2012

Doing Taxes And Looking Back At Peru

It was about a week and a half ago while getting my taxes done (yes I realize that I waited a long time to do it) that I realized it had been almost four years since I visited Peru. How did doing one lead me to think of the other you ask? Simply put as my mind was on money (or the lack of) I started to think of  things that I’d like to have or do. Like the ability to pay off bills on time, you know, simple stuff like that. As my mind drifted over to how nice it would be to afford another trip to my wife’s home country to see her family and friends and explore a bit I couldn’t help but get a little sad. Not only did I really enjoy my time there experiencing another culture, where the pace of life is looked at differently, but I also had the chance to meet my wife’s brother, whom as fate would have it shares many a similarity with yours truly. Scary idea, isn’t it?

More importantly it gave my son John the opportunity to not only meet his uncle Gary and his great-grandmother Mama Estela but also the rest of the family. Mama Estela is no longer with us so it’s very important to me that she got to see him. He won’t remember of course, he was only fourteen months old at the time but that’s what pictures and stories are for. Mama Estela was old school and didn’t like me going into the kitchen, excuse me, her kitchen even when all I wanted to do was rinse out a glass. That was clearly not my domain in her eyes.

I laugh now when I relate the story of how she kept telling my wife that I needed to put on a jacket before we went out or I would catch a cold and get sick, never mind that it was 65 degrees out and perfect weather as far as I was concerned. Perhaps if I were to spend more time in Lima I would acclimate to the weather but as it stood it was much nicer than the ninety five plus degrees that existed back home. I guess it’s all a matter of perspective.

Recently I read a blog post of an expat living in Lima and he talked about how gringos are seen as being cold by Peruvians. We tend to have a hard time adjusting to customs such as shaking the hand of every man and kissing the cheek of every woman whenever we enter a room. I must admit I am no different and perhaps am even worse than most when it comes to greeting people I do not know. I mean, my wife threw me a birthday party the first year we were married and I spent the majority of the time in the kitchen with one or two friends hanging out and talking.

On our very first full day in Lima Tio Mayer took us to meet Gary for, as it turned out a lunch of pollo a la brasa, a very typical Peruvian meal. The waitress came and brought us our drinks (Inca Kola of course) and then shortly afterwards brought out the food which surprised me. After all, I hadn’t even placed my order yet and here was a whole chicken in front of us. As I confusingly asked my wife what was going on she told me that Gary had ordered for everyone and the food was ready. After all, that is why you come to restaurant like this, to eat this meal. I didn’t think of anyone’s feelings when I immediately relayed to her “But I don’t want to eat that. I want something else.”

More than likely she felt embarrassed as she called over for the waitress to bring me another menu so that I could order something different. She certainly wasn’t happy that she had to tell her brother and uncle what was going on. Clearly her husband was just a rude gringo right? In her view I should have just gone along with everything and kept my feelings to myself but I don’t care for meat on the bone and to be honest I come from a country where we order for ourselves individually. I am accustomed to being able to choose what I would like to eat and letting others do the same so if that made me rude then I would just have to be rude.

Of course if my wife had explained to me what was going on as it happened we could have prevented any misunderstandings before they occurred but that’s life. I’ve come a long way in the last (almost) four years even though my Spanish has increased only modestly. I am more open to eating things that previously I wouldn’t touch and am now not quite as socially awkward as I used to be but old habits do die hard. Perhaps if I keep changing poco a poco then everybody that we know in Lima will be pleasantly surprised the next time they see me, whenever that is. If we can turn the corner financially and get my wife healthy then hopefully it will be sooner than we think. I’m dying to get back there even if it is just for a short visit.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Today at lunch my mother in law served piccarones and I was reminded of the first time that I had them, almost four years ago in Lima. My wife, son and I had gone with her friend Jenny and her daughter to see some of the sights in Lima including the Magic Water Tour in the Parque de la Reserva which is a water fountain complex some of which are interactive. It's a pretty impressive sight.

On the way back Connie and Jenny decided to have the taxi stop and so that they could get two orders of piccarones. You might ask why only two orders, well it was because since I had been such a picky eater Jenny was sure that I wouldn't like them. They were so convinced of this that they didn't bother to explain what piccarones were or even ask me if I was interested. Once we returned to Jenny's house where her husband Ernesto now was they found out just how wrong they were. I not only liked piccarones, I loved them!

Since they had only gotten two orders there wasn't enough for everybody to eat and be satisfied with but at least they learned their lesson. Never think a fat guy won't like something covered in syrup, only bad things can happen when you do this. Piccarones look like donuts but are made from pumpkin or sweet potatoes and served with a bitter sweet syrup. They are delicious and I haven't had them for a long time, too long in fact.

Since that trip to Peru my eating habits have become decidedly less finicky and I can't wait to return to really experience a part of Peru that I passed over the last time. Although I have to say that since my mother in law is such a good cook that maybe I'm already experiencing those things while I'm at home. Lucky me.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Podcast Episodes Are Ready

A new episode of the notmovingpictures podcast has been up since yesterday and can be found at In a very brief episode 3 we talk about my wife's surgery (which was upcoming when the episode was recorded as well as the state of playing original music in Tulsa and finally whether the pursuit of money is evil. Yes I know it's an odd grouping of topics but it's what we felt like talking about so there you go.

Additionally a new episode of Ten For Tuesday is now up, after all, today is Tuesday. For that one go to and hear the following music:

Everybody Out! - Intro/Wide Awake
Social Distortion - I Was Wrong
Bad Religion - Cyanide
Alloy - Live To See The Day
Fugazi -Waiting Room
Arsenal (Peru) - Lo Adverso
Bedouin Soundclash - Mountain Top
Sublime With Rome - Lovers Rock
The Slackers - The Fried Chicken Song/Mary Mary (Live)
The Thermals - Never Listen To Me

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A New Era Has Dawned, It's The End Of The World As We Know It

In my last post I alluded to a third thing that I had been doing that not only was taking up my time (in addition to my wife’s condition and helping build a website for my friends band) but also my creative time. It was my attempt to explain why I hadn’t been writing very much lately. Well, the time has come now to speak about just what that third thing is. I have (finally) joined the ever growing number of podcasters in the world. Some time back I acquired a portable digital recorder (as a Christmas gift from me to me) and after playing with it for a bit I started to record a podcast with my best friend and virtual brother Tommy. Then I downloaded some free editing software (Audacity) and after also playing with it I finally was ready to unleash my creation on the unsuspecting world. Needing a name for the podcast my decision was easy, I would name it after this blog, notmovingpictures, which itself is a nod to the band Rush.

Tommy and I have recorded three episodes but since my wife had her surgery we just haven’t had the time to do any more, so far at least. The podcast will be the two of us talking about music, concerts old and new, writing lyrics for Tommy’s band Alloy and whatever else we decide to delve into at any given moment. To be sure, I feel that so far we are still trying to find our rhythm, after all, I haven’t done anything like this since my radio days in the latter 90s so please be patient. I want it to be a conversation between the two of us and to show our humor more than we have so far. Episode one dealt with our history and Tommy’s trip to see Megadeth and Motorhead (sort of) while in episode two I spoke of going to see Van Halen in 1984 and how I ended up spending the night in a hooker motel……….with another dude. Have no fear, it was all innocent, nothing untoward was going on, at least not on my part. To hear the full story you’ll need to go to where you can stream, download or even get the podcast on Itunes.

But wait! There’s more! Not only have I started notmovingpictures as a podcast (and a continuation of the blog) starting today, Tuesday the 2nd of April I am also launching a second podcast, one dedicated to playing music, called 10 For Tuesday. Allow me to explain how it came to be. Every time I try to find a music podcast that has just a portion of music that I like I invariably end up disappointed. Usually I find myself scrolling through the episodes hoping that I come across a morsel of sonic goodness that will appease my auditory hunger for a short time only before becoming frustrated at what is offered and unsubscribing form said podcast and starting the search all over again. Finally it dawned on me that if I can’t find what I like then I need to create what I like. If others come across it and like it then all the better for don’t be fooled, the music I am playing is all for me, there will be nothing that I do not approve of myself. Basically it will feature music from different genres, decades and styles. Whatever I have come across that I like and has stuck with me and it will all be mixed together no matter how different is from song to song. Don’t be surprised to hear Ska, Americana, Metal, New Wave, Punk and whatever else I feel like playing.

10 For Tuesday will be a free form music podcast with the motto of Less Talk, More Music. That’s right, unlike radio you won’t have to hear me prattle on taking up your precious time and instead can enjoy music, sweet music. The first episode features songs by Alejandro Escovedo, Amy Cook, The Ruts, The Skids, Chuck Prophet, The Crombies and more so if that sounds like something you’d like feel free to go to and download, stream or subscribe to it on Itunes, just like notmovingpictures. My hope is that if I can’t do it every week I will at least do an episode every two weeks. Maybe that way I can stay creative and focus my writing on all of my stories and (dare I imagine it) my movie script ideas. Ah well, time will tell how it all goes but truthfully the point is to just do it, no matter what the consequences. Whether it is adored by millions or reviled by an equal number it matters not, so long as I enjoy myself. So do me a favor and check them out, enjoy the content, drop a comment or two but ultimately be kind with your (hopefully) constructive criticism. Now I need to figure out how to really make it easier to do. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it.

Written and Published by Don Leach. May not be used without permission from the author.