A life by chocolate entails finding sweetness in the light and dark. Moreso, it's about addiction to cocoa. An insatiable sweet tooth doesn't hurt. Well, not until the yucky tartar buildup and stuff. To the point, I strive to entertain with topics such as the utter hilarity and cuteness of children; the challenges of dating, my related rationale for celibacy; and chocolate as a precious remedy for it all. Thanks for sampling Life by Chocolate. I hope you keep coming back for more.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sunflowers for Tina - September 8, 2014

Sometimes, somehow, along the edge of trauma, we find beauty. We find it in large doses in the blogosphere. Thanks to Alex and the A-Z Team, here's another example.  Even if, like me, you didn't really know Tina, please join us in brightening up cyberspace.


In memory of
Tina Downey, the A to Z Team is hosting a sunflower tribute on September 8, 2014 – Remembering Tina Downey.

Prior to that date, purchase or plant a sunflower in her honor. (If you have to resort to plastic, that’s cool.) Take a photo of your sunflower and post in in her memory on Monday, September 8. Tina loved her sunflowers, and we want to splash the blogging world with sunflowers that day and honor a truly amazing woman who was friend and family to so many.

You can sign up now or add your link when you post your sunflower.

Please help us spread the word! Let’s brighten the Internet with sunflowers the way Tina brightened the lives of so many.
You are next... Click here to enter
This list will close in 12 days, 8 hrs, 27 min (9/8/2014 11:59 PM North America - Eastern Standard Time)
- See more at: http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/#sthash.i8gttZgR.dpuf

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Snapshots, Quotes, and Tina Downey

"Recognize that everything is art." -Author Alan Heathcock (Esalen Institute, Big Sur)

Did you have to look twice to see the pigeon? I love how it appears to have proudly settled atop of this fountain.
Jerky elk, anyone? (Somewhere between Saco. and Chico)

"It's [your voice is] as distinctive as a fingertip." - Samantha Dunn
My favorite Chico sight - water play in the downtown plaza.

"Surrender to your own mediocrity." - Cheryl Strayed
    Very, very sadly, we lost a member of our blog family, Tina Downey, this weekend. I regret that I hardly knew Tina. We corresponded only a couple of times, commiserating about our respective struggles with depression. Tina recently messaged me to apologize for a delay in accepting my facebook friend request. I hadn't even noticed a delay. She explained that my name was similar to someone she had good reason to avoid, and we joked about a need to set clear boundaries with certain people. Tina was incredibly sweet and selfless. I had no idea she was contending with health problems, much less very serious ones. She wasn't one to ever complain. Her blog title, Life is Good, was clearly Tina's genuine philosophy.
     Our thoughts, love and prayers are with Tina's family. To those of you who were close to Tina too, I'm deeply sorry for your heartbreak.
     Her spirit lives on vibrantly, lovingly, and in every blossoming sunflower.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chocolate-Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda & Maple Bacon Taffy

   Whenever I enter my favorite local store, Powell's candies --which also serves wonderful gelato -- I give myself this speech: "You can look. That's all. Do not buy anything."
    So when I saw this the other day, I grabbed it and took it to the cashier. "Darn you for always having something I can't resist," I told the distinguished looking older man with white hair and a playful smile.
   "Let's see. What is this?" he asked.
   "It's a pretty label that says Chocolate-Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda. I'm a blogger. My blog is called Life by Chocolate and I'm pretty sure my readers will be curious about it. Do you know if it's good?"
   "Nobody's tried it yet. I can open it for you now," he offered. 
   I agreed. I sipped..."Mm, I like it," I sounded somewhat neutral. "It's sweet and smooth. It tastes like cream soda. And I taste the maple syrup. But-" I sipped again. "I have to fight to taste the bacon. It's in the aftertaste a bit."
   "Wait right there," he said. The man dashed away and returned with a piece of taffy. "Here, try this."
   I love taffy. This piece was mostly pink, with some brown and other light colors. 
   "It's similar to the soda, syrup and bacon. I think you'll like it."
   I unwrapped it, while he attended to other customers. Soon, a sweet but smokey bacon flavor delighted my system. "Wow, I really taste the bacon," I told him, as the other customers brushed by me. "It's REALLY good. Thank you!"

  If you come across bacon-maple-syrup flavored taffy, I highly recommend it. I'm not sure where you can find it besides Powell's. Sorry.
  As far as Real Soda's Chocolate-Covered Maple Smoked Bacon Soda, I recommend it for the novelty factor and its sweet, smooth taste, but not if you're craving bacon. I'll give it a 7 on a 1-10 scale, 10 being phenomenally good.

   Be well, and I hope the new week goes down smoothly for you.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In Memory of Robin Williams

A friend shared a story about Robin Williams. This friend's teen relative was in the hospital -- in a coma and on the brink of death. He'd accidentally taken a horrific fall. Robin Williams was at the same Northern California hospital visiting his mother. They spoke, and my friend told Robin about his relative. Robin went directly to the young patient's room, where he sat for forty-five minutes - holding his hand, talking to him, and joking with him. What a precious soul he was!
Dear Robin
Through the screen 
your gentle spark
Calms our view of worlds dark
The I.C.U. 
where kids fill beds
Your big red nose 
 heals more than meds
Though Vietnam 
 brings horrors near
You jolt us up 
 with morning cheer
And stuff your bra
then mop the floors
For a chance to see
those kids of yours
You're trained to sit
and use a fork.
"Come in, Orson!" Mork from Ork.
The laughs you give
seem without end
A comic genius
Humble friend
You teach and counsel
You're Popeye too
But there's one thing you couldn't do:
Win the war that stole your stage
Depression, drugs - a silent rage
Your fragile soul, beyond compare
A wit so sharp
A heart so rare
 May our love for you
Lift your loved ones through

Your legacy
Now ours to share.

"It is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions." - Susan Schneider, Robin Williams' Wife

None of us is alone. 
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the U.S., 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Chocolate Scare!

   The writer's conference that I've referenced in earlier posts spoiled me with an inexplicably gorgeous venue along the cliffs of Big Sur; hot mineral baths, in which I could luxuriate under the sun and stars; newly renovated, cozy, heated lodging with plush beds and a bathroom shared with only a few others; incredibly entertaining and informative workshops; and divine food. 
   There were locally harvested fruits and vegetables, homemade breads offered alongside a multitude of fresh berry spreads; raspberry-lemon iced tea; approximately sixteen flavors of soothing herbal and caffeinated teas; coffee, organic honey, fresh lemon, and much more.
   All of the staff and fellow attendees had been exceptionally nice thus far.
   "Excuse me, do you have hot chocolate?" I asked one of the kitchen staff, on my first morning there. 
   "No!" the man grunted, then abruptly turned away.
   Say what? Rude-ass! No chocolate? Am I being punked? How will I survive?  
   Somehow, I did. I suppose the Paradisial setting eased my five-day withdrawal.

    While driving home, my head started to flop slowly sideways, and I labored to keep my eyes open. So I decided to stay at a hotel. It was July 4th, and I didn't want to be in crazed traffic anyway.
   The young, cute hotel clerk said, "There's a party here too. Just for you! You can see fireworks from there." He pointed towards the outdoor patio to my right.
   A decent hotel room? A party? For me? Young, cute hotel clerk? View of fireworks? This place has it all!
   Incidentally, the party and fireworks were just alright. I was happy to watch a few bursts of color in the sky, dance a bit amongst college kids, and turn in early.
   The next morning, I was pleased with a variety of appealing breakfast options: corn puffs, corn pops, and frosted flakes; bacon; sausage; scrambled eggs; fresh apples and bananas; do-it-yourself waffles; yogurt; coffee, and Lipton tea.     
   "Excuse me, do you have hot chocolate?" I asked a hotel assistant, as she re-filled the milk dispenser. The woman looked at me, eyebrows slightly raised, as if curious as to why I'd ask. I admired her almond colored pupils, long curled black lashes, and generally compassionate demeanor. "No," she said. "No hot chocolate."
   No hot chocolate? Has the cocoa plant gone extinct? Is there a chocolate famine? Did I miss an important memo? Must I redefine my entire existence?
   Thankfully, I found chunks of sweet, dark goodness upon my return.
  oops, wrong photo. Here we go.
Have a sweet new week!