AAW: Out My Window

Pat Rice here: Today, we’re going to play a little game called Looking Out My Window. The idea originally came from https://www.window-swap.com/Window at the start of Covid. Anne Gracie blogged about it.

We’ll turn the idea about a bit. Each of us has written a short piece about what we see from the window of our writing space—but I won’t name who wrote the piece. Instead, I have labeled them A, B, C, etc. Let’s have a little fun guessing who wrote which piece, and it would be lovely if you add what you see out your window!


garden and wallThis is a bit tough. I can’t actually see out my office window unless I stand up. I can see the flash of raven shadows as they stop by for a drink from our birdbath. Locating my desk this way is deliberate. I’d never get anything done elsewise. But here’s what I see if I stand and look out. We’re going on vacation shortly, and our daughter is leaving at the same time, and consequently, we have no one to hand water the potted plants. So this is not the usual view. Most of the pretty plants have been moved to a corner where they’re not visible from this angle. We’ve set up a sprinkler to rain on that corner. The hardy geranium is the main pot you see, and the irrigation system should take care of it. There is no tomato in the tomato cage yet, but that’s a small corner of my husband’s vegetable garden. The orange tree is covered with oranges, although they’re hard to see from here. We’ve grown that immense staghorn fern on the fence since it was a little fella. Had to divide it at one point because it got too heavy. The clivia is getting way too much sun now that the carrotwood tree has been trimmed. I can’t see the blooms on the camellia, but I know they’re there. I’ll have to hope that back corner survives while we’re gone!

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Anne here, and today, I’m taking an easy way out (as I race towards a deadline) by  riffing off an article I recently read about Monopoly, the board game with which I’m sure we’re all very familiar. When I read this article I got a big surprise. You see, I’d always assumed it was first invented in the UK, because here in Australia we all grew up with the English version.

In fact, it’s pretty common for Australians visiting London to visit some of the monopoly squares. “Hey, I’m on Park Lane,” (which we all know has got to be pricey. <g>) I had no idea there was even an American version, set in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and it turns out that not only was it the original version, but there are hundreds of different variations, including Dog-opoly and Cat-opoly, as well as all kinds of variations in many different languages. (Photo above by Maria Lin Kim on Unsplash)

Monopoly was first patented in the USA December 31, 1935 by a man called Charles B. Darrow. But his version was based on a game invented by an American woman called Lizzie Magie, who in 1904, patented a game called The Landlord’s Game, which was, at its heart, an educational tool to teach players about taxes, and which effectively opposed the values implicit in the later game of Monopoly, where the grabbiest landlord wins. The Landlord’s Game became very popular with university students, and Darrow first came across it when his friends Charles and Esther Todd introduced him to it. (More detail here.)

Apart from the shock that the version that I knew so well was not the original, what fascinated me as I read on were the many ways in which Monopoly has been adapted and used. For instance During World War II, British intelligence created special Monopoly game boxes that they sent to British prisoner of war held in Nazi camps, containing not only the original board, but maps, compasses, small metal tools such as files, real money, and other objects useful for escaping. They were distributed to prisoners by fake charity organizations created by the British Secret Service. (Photo above by Robert Linder on Unsplash )

The maps were the crucial items. Paper maps were too fragile and also cumbersome and so they printed them on silk. Silk maps wouldn’t tear or dissolve in water as easily as paper ones and were light enough to stuff into a boot or cigarette packet. Best of all they didn’t rustle. (That’s a silk map below. Read more about this here.)

The company that produced these maps  was John Waddington Ltd. a company that was used to printing things on silk, for instance programs for grand celebrations and royal occasions. They were already printing maps on silk for airmen to carry. As well they were the  printer and board game manufacturer that happened to be the U.K. licensee for the Parker Bros. game Monopoly. Fascinating, eh?

That’s it from me today. I hope you enjoyed this brief dive into a short history of Monopoly. If you want to know more, click on some of the links in this post. Do you play Monopoly? Which version do you have, and do you have a favorite token? Mine was always the horse or the dog.

Another Christmas Quiz (2023)

Anne here, and since Christmas is less than a week away, I’m offering you  a Christmas Quiz. However, since I’m working madly towards an imminent deadline, I have recycled some of the questions from my previous quizzes. How many do you remember? You might know some, you might not, but as always, this is just for fun.

Write down your answers as you go, then pop over to the link at the end to see the answers. Then come back here and tell us how you went.

1)     Which Christmas carol might have been sung by Regency people?
a) Hark the Herald Angels Sing
b) The First Noel.
c) God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.
d) We Three Kings of Orient Are.

2) The first member of the English royal family to display a Christmas tree was        a) Queen Adelaide in 1820
b) Queen Charlotte in 1800
c) Queen Victoria in 1848
d) Queen Caroline in 1825

3) Mince pies in the Regency contained:
a) ground nuts
b) dried fruit and meat
c) minced steak
d) chicken and other kinds of poultry

4). Stir-Up Day is:
a) The last Sunday before Advent, when the minister traditionally gives a fiery sermon to stir the congregation from sin and complacency.
b) The day when in the country, the winter hay is turned, to prevent it going moldy.
c) the day when all the members of the family gather to stir the Christmas pudding.
d) The day when the foxes are stirred from their dens to prepare for hunting on Boxing Day (26th December).

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What a Quiz!

Quiz winnerNicola here. This weekend we took part in our local village charity quiz, fifteen teams trying to answer questions on everything from the names of Disney princesses to Olympic swimming champions. Amazingly, we won – as a team we knew a lot of obscure, random general knowledge! – plus we raised some money and enjoyed an evening out with friends and neighbours. It was all very good humoured, unlike some of the quizzes I've been involved with where professional teams got very irate if they didn't win!

I’ve always liked the word “quiz.” It's got a fun feel to it, and, being a writer, I've often wondered where the word originated from. I remember it featuring in Georgette Heyer, but as a description of a person rather than an activity. So I set out to find out more.

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