Saturday, September 6, 2014

Jumping Ahead

Normally, it would be rare that I'd recommend you jump ahead with a book that someone and their publishing team worked so hard to put on bookshelves.  But if you have never read Roald Dahl's BOY, or it's been a good long while since you last read it - like, since you were a kid - I'd say jump ahead to The Great Mouse Plot chapter from Llandaff Cathedral School, 1923-5 (age 7-9) section. One word: Brilliant!

Now, that section, beginning with The Bicycle and the Sweet Shop through Mrs. Pratchett's Revenge is a doozy! Go on, check it out.  Trust me.

                       Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Thanks son,
for introducing me to
Roald Dahl's books
over 12 years ago.

Good Times.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Stepping Stones

Beauty happens when one simply decides to look up.  Try it.
This is not my tree.

But first a little more about BOY.  One of my favorite lines from chapter title Papa and Mama "...and then he would announce to her that 'the glorious walks' must begin." about how during the third trimester of Dahl's mother's pregnancies Papa and Mama would go on daily walks, "so that she could absorb the splendour of the surroundings." makes my heart soar.  I love the thought of this. How wonderful would life be for all humanity if leading up to childbirth every mother would be entreated to walks out among the most beautiful surroundings accessible. 

One line from the chapter called, Kindergarten, peaked my curiosity as well. Dahl states, "It is astonishing how little one remembers about one's life before the age of seven or eight."  Roald Dahl wrote that he recalled very little, but the one memory he shares in the book is sweet, and an indication that that little boy had an adventurous nature and appreciation for good fun.  

 The Papa and Mama chapter made me wonder what might have filled my momma with splendor during the time she was carrying me.  I once learned that while pregnant with me she often went hungry.  Dahl's Kindergarten chapter had me wondering how I can seemingly still have vivid memories from before elementary school.  I think my stepping stones are the reason for this.  As adults we are fortunate if those personal life stories can be easily recalled.

Life is often referred to as a journey.  Indicators of my journey are represented by stepping stones... one for every time during my childhood that there was a move from one house to the next.  Naturally, the first two stepping stones provide no memories whatsoever.  Step stone three on the other hand, well... memories from this house are warm and sunny, mostly.  There is also that sunny-side up egg incident from during that time, and the very unpleasant recollection of the time the old-timey washing machine with the wringers that stood on the porch. It ate my hand then sucked in and squished my arm up past the elbow which required emergency medical care. I still have the scar.  There are so many more memories. I had to be about three years old when we left that house.

The stepping stone that came right after, number four, is where I started preschool.  I have a handful of memories from that time... all good. There's a post on this blog where I shared, "I remember some things so vividly; the powerful love I had for my teacher, Miss Rosalie, reciting “Mary had a little lamb,” singing “Frere Jacques.” At the time I thought I was bilingual after learning that song. (I now spoke English and French – regardless of the fact that I spoke Spanish), learning about good nutrition and hygiene, but mostly, the way the room smelled. I think it was a church building, but when I went in, it was my classroom. It smelled like pinewood, Crayola crayons and oatmeal."  I began Headstart at 3 1/2; we moved sometime during kindergarten.

My kindergarten teacher's name was Mrs. Reading,  and I was now on step stone five.  There was one time I accompanied my older sister - by 4 1/2 years - to a nearby hair salon.  She had been given $5.00 to have someone cut her hair.  I don't remember being inside the salon, I just recall the hilarious episode of my sister hating the hairstyle and running out of the shop without paying. I was stunned and in awe.  Sometime while living at that house I was presented with a brand new tricycle from an unknown relative... unknown to me anyway.   And that was the house we lived in when my family went to Disneyland for the first time.  I also recall that I became an avid music fan during that time and that I loved to dance.  I was about 7 years old when we moved.

Stones six and seven brought on an entirely different view of life. I decided on stone six that one day I would leave that place forever.  Stone seven was where growing up was becoming a challenge I may not have been quite up to.

Here is where I'll sign off for the night, grateful to have this book full of wonderful memories about a boy from across the Atlantic Ocean and from a time I think I would have fit into perfectly.  I also appreciate how so many of my own stories leap forward in my mind as I continue reading Roald Dahl's BOY.

Until tomorrow, Lil

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Reading Tree

Every kid needs a reading tree... that is my recommendation, anyway.  A good book and one shady tree was perfection and all I needed to get the full effect of sheer contentment on a breezy Summer day. Mine was an American elm... I loved it, and I think it sensed that.  Sitting under that tree with book in hand is one of my best memories from childhood.  I named my tree Steve.

We moved into an apartment across the street from the place mom had been renting for fifty dollars a month.  And, yes, she got what she paid for; that was all she could afford. We lived in that crumbling, cement covered, four room with one bathroom (cement walls, floor, and no tub) house from the time I was about age 6 through age 10.  Mom, my older sister and I crossed the street and moved into the much more up-to-date 4-unit apartments.  My grandmother and cousin had the top unit directly above us. The path from the front gate led visitors to our front door and past it to get to the other apartment.  I had full run of the ample front yard; it was like it was there just for me. Steve the tree was still small enough that if a grown up got up out of a lawn chair they would hit their head.  It was the perfect size for little ol' me.  I loved that tree.

I know I've gone on and on here without yet giving a word about Roald Dahl and his tales from childhood that fill the pages of BOY. I promise, I will get to that soon. When I sat down to read the book this time around, I was immediately taken back to the first time I read it.  One of my family's favorite pastimes has always been visiting bookstores, and my kids were more than happy to select books recommended for their reading levels by teachers to buy and add to their personal book collections.  My boy was in 3rd grade when he first read BOY. I was in my mid thirties.

So, back to the moment I sat with the book this week... I was ready to have some fun, after all, I have been on this adventure countless times before.  Well, I couldn't get past the forward before my head was filling with ideas I wanted to convey in this blog post.  The moment I read the last paragraph of Dahl's introduction about his stories - "Some are funny.  Some are painful.  Some are unpleasant.... All are true. ~ Roald Dahl, BOY - I wanted to start typing away on my laptop.

When I turned the page to begin the section titled Starting-point, I had to stop to share this:  We all have stories.  We have personal histories; some of us are lucky enough to have heard these stories, and have found them interesting enough to commit to memory. We have families and family friends to pass on stories from years - generations - before we were even born. We might have an uncle with a glass eye... what happened that this was necessary.  There might be that family member who scared the dickens out of you when they threatened to use the belt if you didn't eat the sunny-side up egg on your plate... even though you hated runny egg yolks.  How about a story like the one where mother was attacked by dogs as a young girl that still - at age 86 - will make her voice small and fear filled recalling the incident.  These stories are ours. We can choose to share them or keep the close to the heart.  Roald Dahl was genius at telling his stories... we are lucky to have them at our fingertips to enjoy.  And if  we are really lucky, there's a shady tree, lush full of leaves to lounge under and read the day away.

More tomorrow, Lil


  • Roald Dahl,
  • BOY,

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

One Word... CHOCOLATE!

One word... chocolate.

More words?  How about rich, creamy, luxuriously delicious chocolate.  Yes, please.  Another word... gold!  Well, golden, actually. I like gold. Imagine guilded gold with the next word.  Next word... ticket.  To a chocolate factory?! Heck, yes!  

So there you have it:  A Golden Ticket - finding one of five, wrapped around a chocolate bar... among millions of candy bars distributed the entire world over - allowing entrance and tour of a famous chocolate factory!  That lucky Charlie Bucket.  Forgive me, all the excitement at the thought of a scrumptiously sweet milk chocolate candy bar; I guess I've gone a bit off track.  Sure, I'll get to more about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but first...

My desk!
Welcome September:
 The season of freshly sharpened pencils,
squeaky pink erasers,
ink filled ball point pens,
and books! Books! I gotta have books!

'Tis the season.  It's been ages since a calendar was marked indicating return to classes for me.  However, as a parent, I've been through the process of enrolling and registering my children for the start of a new academic year over the course of thirteen years.  Stocking up on school supplies has always been my favorite thing about the whole back-to-school production. Which is funny because I hardly ever write on a paper any more... does anyone? Even school enrollment is done online these days, so printers are doing all the work.  Nonetheless, I've gathered all my implements and study material today to help me share the wonderous works of author, Roald Dahl, as September rolls on. I'm also excited to learn more about illustrator, Quentin Blake.

Roald Dahl was born, 13 September, 1916, and to say, "What a life?!" would be an understatement.  He is mostly known for the fantasies he created in his head which, lucky for us, were made into books - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is one of his most loved. The book was published in 1964 in the U.S. as a children's fantasy novel.  The story was inspired by what could only be described as a child's wildest dream... the opportunity to be a chocolate tester/expert reviewer!  Dahl actually went to school near a chocolate bar company, and well.... 

Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Thanks son,

for introducing me to
Roald Dahl's books
over 12 years ago.
Good Times.

I'm about to re-read it myself.
UPDATED 09/03/14  10:15PM

Monday, September 1, 2014

Hello September!

September is here! And, it could not arrive soon enough... I love this month. Why? It's the whole notion of starting fresh as it is usually back-to-school time.  As someone who was not particularly fond of going to school; once I arrived and settled into my seat, everything was good.  Grade school was mostly a good experiences, but there were some types who made some days, well... stink!

That occasional  unpleasantness was certainly made up for by wonderful friends, teachers and after school activities.  I even liked attending Summer school sessions.  My favorite subject was reading and it was the only subject in which I made good grades.

So, in celebration of back-to-school time, a love of reading, and September being Roald Dahl-apalooza, I'd like to dedicate this month's blog posts to one of my favorite book authors.  Notice I did not specify 'children's' book author.  Why?  Because I didn't discover Dahl's books until I became a mom.  I recall those evenings when one of my children and I would be rolling on the floor with laughter... literally.  The Charlie books were hysterical, James and the Giant Peach, a treasure. But the two books that really captured a sense of whimsy and adventure - sprinkled with mischief and danger -  were Roald Dahl's autobiographical stories collected in BOY and GOING SOLO... I recommend them to everyone; young and old.

Happy Birthday, Roald Dahl, and Happy 50th Anniversary Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  It's a month long celebration... join me, won't you.

In addition to re-reading and sharing some of Dahl's books here, I will also be reviewing movies adapted from books, like Matilda, James and the Giant Peach, The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, of course,  Charlie and the Chocolate Factor and  Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 

Roald Dahl Month: September
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Celebrate Roald Dahl Month this September or any month of the year! Explore and enjoy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator, The BFG, James and the Giant Peach or any of the other Dahl masterpieces. Plan a splendiferous event in honor of Roald Dahl's birthday on September 13th, or on any other simply marvelous day! Downloadscrumdiddlyumptious activities and a gloriumptious bookmark. See below for these wonderful ideas and more.

VLOG OF THE DAY:  Testing. Testing...

Link source:  


Sunday, August 31, 2014

Lil's Week In Review ~ August 31, 2014

Ciao, amici!

Benvenuti, visitatori. (Listen to translation here.)

Sperando che si stanno avendo un fine settimana molto piacevole, sicuro e suono. (Listen to translation here.)

Translation: Welcome, visitors. Hoping you are having a very nice, safe & sound weekend.

Man, I love the Italian language... so beautiful.

Now, back to American English. Bonus: tremendous amounts of grammatical and punctuation errors.  I. Know.

This week in review...

  1. The new and improved YouTube Channel - THIS IS FIFTY WITH LIL has been created.  Yay, me! I haven't uploaded any videos yet, but don't let that stop you from subscribing, liking, commenting or just sending well wishes. You'll find a brief description of what to expect here; I hope you check in often.
  2. In the area of wellness, I've re-established healthy breakfast habits, improved my sleep pattern, and lost a couple of inches. I'm pretty happy about that last item.
  3. Prepared home cooked dinners everyday last week.
It's not much, it just feels like it is.


~ With The Carilo Family 55 Must Watch Movies: Summer 2014 over now, it's Mom's Choice. Yay, me again!  It took some doing, but someone - who shall not be named... no, not Voldemort. Ha! - finally caved and purchased an in demand (by me) movie through Vudu to stream digitally on our living room television.  Oh, which movie was it? Only THE MOVIE of the Summer! Okay, after, Guardians of the Galaxy, duh. All right then, this week's movie... wait for it...

Stop reading this now and watch it. I'll wait here................... Right?!?


~ Summer Soundtracks! The Fault in Our Stars and Guardians of the Galaxy. Enough said, go listen to them.  again, I'll wait.

That's right, we still buy CDs.  You're welcome, cd mfg. companies & recording studios.

~ Something fun was catching up with a friend that I met over twenty years ago while temping at a job at the local probation office.  She was so much fun to work with, just she and I in a tiny office, tapping away on keys of ancient, even for those days, IBM Selectric typewriters.  We'd listen to the "cool jams" of the day, went to lunch together, and chatted about everything from family to dating to fashion and make up.  You know, "girl" stuff.


~ It's a wrap.  BlogHer NaBloPoMo August 2014 Creating Memories theme has come to a close.  I'm not sure if I'll be following blog prompts for the month of September.  I'm thinking of putting a literary spin on daily entries.  Come back every now and then next month to see what's happening on the ol' A How-To Guide


~ Most viewed post:  The Last Time Ever*
~ Least viewed post:  Remember Forgot to mention on this post that I also failed my Italian lessons.  I'll try again next month.


~ This month's A How-To Guide visits from around the globe:

United States
United Kingdom

Yay, world!


a giant box of Kleenex, a sad/happy/gut wrenching movie, and a good cry.

Until tomorrow ~ Lil


This post is written for Day 31 ~ Creating Memories with August 2014 NaBloPoMo