Archive for March 2011

Dance a Day Celebration – March 7, 2011 – Day 103 – Let’s Walk and Talk, by Carlos Santana

March 28, 2011

Yes, same song – two days in a row.  Tonight I danced it with Russell – hot, hot, hot rumba.  He is such a great dancer – one of top two favorite dance partners too.  As much as I loved dancing this solo yesterday, I enjoyed it ten times more dancing it with Russell.

While I believe that my dancing has improved specifically from doing this dance celebration each and every day, I do miss dancing with a partner.  I am working on fixing that.

Again, no YouTube


Dance a Day Celebration – March 6, 2011 – Day 102 – Let’s Walk and Talk, by Carlos Santana

March 28, 2011

by Diane Rocha on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 11:02pm

It is March 28th as I write this.  I still haven’t missed a day of dancing, but I haven’t been posting.  Life interfered.  I am attempting to get caught up during spring break, but I am sometimes even busier when I am off than when I am working.


This particular song came about because I was vacuuming and listening to music on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon.  I could hear the beat of this song over the hum and whir of the vacuum.  I stopped the machine to listen, and loved it, so I re-played it and danced to it.  Great song; great rumba – even solo.


No YouTube of this song tonight.


Carlos Santana


Dance a Day Celebration – March 5, 2011 – Day 101 – Harvest Moon, by Neil Young, from Eat Pray Love

March 17, 2011

by Diane Rocha on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:21am

Great song from a great movie, plus the iconic Neil Young.  How can you go wrong.


And it was a wonderful nightclub two-step, one in which I fell into a glide across the floor, getting completely lost in the music.  That is the best part of this whole daily celebration.


Still finishing the book, but I loved the movie.  Watched it about three times.  For those of you who have already seen it and/or read the book, Richard from Texas is one of the wisest characters I have ever encountered.


YouTube Link:


Javier Bardem and Julia Roberts from Eat Pray Love – Great Chemistry




Dance a Day Celebration – March 4, 2011 – Day 100 – Talk to Me of Mendocino, by Linda Ronstadt

March 17, 2011

by Diane Rocha on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 12:05am

This one is for you, Cate.  Do you remember this?


Okay, so there are lullabies and there are lullabies.  There’s Rock-a-by Baby – lame – and the one my mom sang to me The Tennessee Waltz, and then there is Talk to Me of Mendocino, which is the song I sang to Cate nearly every night for years.  She was so funny.  There is a lyric that says, “Talk to me of Mendocino; Closing my eyes, I hear the sea …”  When I would sing that to her, she would blink her eyes.  When I figured out that she knew she was kidding around, I just  cracked up.  She is still cracking me up nearly 28 years later!  Love you, Cate.


A little bonus – I discovered tonight that this is a wonderful nightclub two-step.  Thinking of Cate as a baby as I danced to this was a special memory indeed.


I didn’t actually get to Mendocino until the Odyssey 2009.  It is as beautiful as I thought it would be. Best lunch – ever – at the Cafe Beaujolais, a place I had wanted to visit for over 20 years.  Margaret Fox no longer owns it, but the food is still amazing.  And there is the “Brickery” in the back of the restaurant in a beautiful garden, where Marco bakes all their bread.


Went back to Mendocino last summer and had a great time.  My poor Cabrio broke down about an hour south just outside Point Arena – but that’s another story.


YouTube Link:


Diane at Cafe Beaujolais in Mendocino



Diane and Marco at the Brickery in Mendocino


Dance a Day Celebration – March 3, 2011 – Day 99 – Whatever Lola Wants (Remix), by Sarah Vaughan

March 13, 2011

by Diane Rocha on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 11:47pm

This is a great version of the classic from Damn Yankees.  Danced a hot, hot, hot tango with Russell. It was great fun and we did a wonderful tango.


The video is from my dear friend Mary Pinizzotto’s dance challenge, where she danced and recorded herself dancing, and posted it on FB and her own website,  One of favorites, Mary.


YouTube Link:


Diane & Mary


Dance a Day Celebration – March 2, 2011 – Day 98 – Love Will Keep Us Alive, by The Eagles

March 13, 2011

by Diane Rocha on Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 11:32pm

Great song – love The Eagles – perfect nightclub two-step.  Who could ask for more?


YouTube Link:


The Eagles


Dance a Day Celebration – March 1, 2011 – Day 97 – The Shadow of Your Smile, by Wes Montgomery

March 8, 2011

by Diane Rocha on Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 12:04am

In 1965, my brother, Al, worked in Mission Valley at what was then one of the most elegant movie theatres in San Diego – the Cinema 21.  As a lucky result for me, he would occasiionally take me to work with him, and I could sit through the movie – usually more than once.  I loved this.  I loved it because I got to hang out with my cool older brother, and I loved it because I got to see great movies like one of my all time favorites, The Sandpiper.  Apparently not too many others in the world at large thought much of this now cult classic, but I loved it.  I saw it at least 5 or 6 times back then, and I have since bought it on DVD and watched it two or three times.


One of the things I loved about this movie was that it took place in Big Sur, and I fell in love with the sweeping vistas of the Pacific Ocean with the wild mountain backdrop instantly.  In fact I am still in love with Big Sur today, as is evidenced by my FaceBook picture which was taken there with the Bixby Bridge in the background.


The song, The Shadow of Your Smile was the theme song from the movie, and I fell in love with it instantly too, so what better song to choose for today’s dance.  Today was Al’s funeral and burial.  It was a day of sadness – a day of goodbye – and a day of grief. We shared stories about Al and his wife, Carol – their wonderful marriage and life together.  We cried – some tear of sadness – some of joyful remembrance.  We hugged – we renewed old acquaintances and met new faces.  It was a day fraught with the highs and lows of the emotion that frames the lives of those of us who live and love with abandon.


I am including here a poem that I sent with Al to his next journey – whatever that may be – and the eulogy that I wrote and delivered at the Mass said in his honor.   I think it will tell his story and give the reader insight to who Al Rocha was.


Parting Words

by Diane Rocha


What words do I send off with you

my dear bro

on this your new journey

for who really knows what is next for you


You were here with me throughout my entire life thus far

we experienced so much together

there were trying times to be sure

but there were great laughs too


And love

through it all

we never lost the love

and for that I am so grateful


You gave me immeasurable gifts

my love of music

to this day

so largely influenced by you


And memories

great memories –

The Purple Iris

the reenacting at the dinner table –

of the slapstick humor of Soupy Sales

and our perfecting the voices of all the actors from the Amos ‘N Andy show

and of course, the legacy of the “Snail Story”


Yes, memories

bittersweet memories

blend with salty tears

as I say good bye to you

as I held your hand as you

peacefully slipped away from us

to the inevitability

to the whatever it is that awaits us all


But in the end

all that is left

all that matters

is one simple thought


You are my brother

and I have always loved you.




Eulogy for Al


Al was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on October 24th, 1942 – at a time when papaya trees grew in everyone’s front yards and pineapple fields abounded.  Our family moved permanently to San Diego in February 1953, flying across the Pacific to the “mainland” in an airplane thrust into and suspended in mid-air by propellers as opposed to the jetliners that are as common as clouds today.  It took 9 ½ hours to make that flight.  A ten year old boy at the time, he loved everything about it, fascinated by what was then a fairly new concept – flying over the ocean, rather than sailing through it as his ancestors had done in the 1850s on their way to “Paradise” from the Azores Islands off the shores of Portugal.


When we were growing up together in Ocean Beach in the 1950s, my poor brother had to put up with me – his pesky little sister – who showed her love for him by constantly pranking him.  There was the infamous snail story – far too intricate and detailed to recount here – ask me later – and many others, but perhaps the best was the Tale of the Purple Iris.  My  best friend, Pep, and I thought we were sleuths in training – just like our hero, Nancy Drew.  We found these beautiful purple irises growing in the side yard.  We carefully cut one and laid it on his pillow with a note we had painstakingly written: “Beware the purple iris – as it wilts – so shall you.”  I don’t know what we thought he would do, but being the 17 year old “hep cat” that he was – and having tolerated these shenanigans with humor for years, I’m sure he rolled his eyes and went back to practicing his guitar.  We laughed about that crazy antic just a few short days before his passing.


Al graduated from Point Loma High School in 1961.  While still in high school, several years after discovering his innate talent for music – a passion that would last throughout his entire life – when most of his classmates were listening to that “new” music – that “rock and roll” – some guy named Elvis and those four guys from England with the scandalous hairdos – he developed a keen interest in the esoteric jazz music of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.  One of his guitar heroes was Wes Montgomery.  He would play Wes’s albums – yes, vinyl – on a record player (!) so often, and practice and practice until he learned that style – something about playing octave chords.  I didn’t understand the technical aspects of Wes’s music, but I have Al to thank for giving me the gift of introducing me to his music as well as that of Sergio Mendes – still two of my all-time faves.


In 1967, while I was still in high school, my big brother, his then new wife, Carol, and Al’s best friend, Frank, took me with them to see Wes Montgomery – live – at the El Cortez – a very happening place at that time.  Imagine my delight in getting to accompany these three people – these grown-ups – who I thought were the coolest people on earth, to my first live concert – Wes Montgomery – and we got to meet him after the concert.  Still one of my fondest memories.


1967 was a really big year for Al.  On September 9, he married the love of his life, his beloved Carol.  They celebrated their 43rd anniversary this past September.  They met while they were both working at the North Park Theatre.  I remember him telling me all about his new girlfriend.  He was so enamored of her.  Sure he had a girlfriend or two in high school, and of course we talked about that – isn’t that the most interesting subject on all our minds?  But I had never heard him talk about a girl like this before.  He would get this certain look in his eyes; his voice would grow softer, and he never quite finished a sentence – lost in thoughts of Carol, I am guessing.


Our family welcomed this beautiful, shy girl from North Park with open arms.  We all loved Carol the instant we met her.  Finally – I thought – I have a sister.  They had a wonderful life together – one laugh after another – and they always surrounded each other with love – the love always came first.  In fact, I never heard a cross word between them, and he never once related any stories of arguing or bickering.  They just made it look so easy.  I think their secret was they each knew how very lucky each of them was to have found their bliss at such a young age, and they protected and sheltered that bliss from this often chaotic and potentially hazardous world.


Over the years, Al continued to pursue his passion for music.  He found he had a knack for tuning pianos.  I remember the first time he opened our home piano and showed it to me.  What looked like a frightening mess of wires to me, held a never ending fascination for him.  He studied those wires, made sense of them, and could take the most out of tune piano from a painful dissonance that hurt the human ear – and with what seemed like a sleight of hand, turn that dissonance into beautiful melodious harmonies that would soothe the jangled nerves of even the toughest among us.


In addition to his piano tuning business, Al played in many different musical groups over the decades of his life.  Many years ago, before salsa music was commonly heard in San Diego, he played in a salsa band.  I can remember saying to him, “A what band?  Salsa?  Isn’t that something we eat with chips?” Now I am a salsa dancer. He was always ahead of his time.  His musical interests had a wide breadth. He played in Dixieland bands, a rockabilly band, rock bands, and swing bands. He studied and played classical, Hawaiian, and in the style of Django Reinhart, just like our guitarist dad – Al’s first music teacher.  While always adventurous in his quest for musical satiety, Al inevitably returned to his musical roots – jazz.  He played piano, saxophone, guitar, and bass – electric and string or stand-up. He was a multi-talented and accomplished musician – well liked and respected in the musicians’ community.


Al was also a wonderful son.  Sharing their musical gifts, Dad and Al would entertain at all the family gatherings, thrilling our Grandma Rocha and causing Mom and Dad to beam with pride at their son’s obvious talent.


More recently, Al was devoted and attentive to our mother, Olga Gessleman.  He would often do her grocery shopping for her, and I often smiled when I thought of him in the produce aisle pondering whether to choose gala or fuji apples for her that day, or trying to remember exactly how to choose the sweetest, ripest  cantaloupe. They were very close.  He would go to her house often and sit with her and talk and talk.  He was a great comfort to her, and she to him.


Al and Carol’s love for each other blossomed over the years.  In a world of growing wariness and cynicism, they knew what they had and they nurtured each other.  Al was always supportive of Carol’s passion for her horses – as she was equally supportive of his passion for music.  If we were to ask Carol today what she admired most about him, I have a pretty good idea that she would say, “His fierce loyalty, his commitment to his passions, and his ability to always make her laugh.”


You were well-loved, my Bro, and you will be deeply missed .  Rest in peace.


YouTube Link:




Al Rocha – 1942 – 2011



Al – age 12



My Beloved Big Sur