We came across this bird in Montréal, and wondered about its name. I said it looked a bit like a blackbird, with added red stripes.


Wikipedia tells me it is indeed rather unimaginatively called ‘red-winged blackbird‘. Its sounds were quite varied and beautiful, so I suspect in its own mind it will have a rather more impressive concept of self than being merely a pimped up blackbird.

I tried to stick to French when visiting Montréal this week. I have some French, of the basic summer holiday camping variety, but it’s a far cry from what I define as ‘speaking’ it, which is the way I feel about English, German and Dutch. I tried to do it especially as we were in an otherwise English full immersion setting, to break the default as it were. Almost got away with it for basic interactions (coffee, cab driver, lunch), but there’s always an additional question that then throws me off the track.

Ordering coffee for both of us for instance worked fine right until the lady at the counter as a final question looped back to my espresso by asking me about whether I’d want my espresso court ou allongé, short or lengthened. While I was playing back the tape in my head to interpret what she’d said, she concluded I had reached the limits of my French and switched to English. At such moments it isn’t so much the language that throws me, but a question that I didn’t expect as part of the exchange we’re in. Asking about short or longer espresso is a cultural difference to interpret more than a language difference. I don’t get asked that question back home where espresso is always short. I didn’t know it was part of the common pattern here, so I didn’t anticipate hearing it, and thus it was an unexpected turn in the conversation for me, making me stumble “ehhh short” and indicating it with my fingers.

Our last cab driver, while I was paying him remarked on me doing the exchange in French. He asked me where I was from, and told me his daughter lived in Amsterdam. He was curious how I learned French, so I told him it is standard in secondary school. “So you speak French, English and Dutch?”. And German I said. “And German? Four languages, you guys are so fortunate.” He’s right. We are fortunate, even if it is just a little bit of French. Merci Montréal, one of your cab drivers ensured I left with a smile.

20190610_124208 Montreal


Court ou allongé? At Tommy‘s in Montréal.

And then the unconference Crafting {:} a Life had ended, and you have to come back to the regular flow of things. Dealing with the aftermath so to speak. Sunday, still on PEI, we spent mostly hanging out on the deck in Peter and Catherine’s back yard. Then we joined some lobsters on the flight to Montréal.


Monday we had a day to explore Montréal, before our early evening flight to Amsterdam. Now fighting jet lag on the couch, and trying to figure out how to take time this week to reflect and write more on the event.


Montreal Montreal
Impressions of Montréal

20190610_201524Sunset over Labrador

It is good to see that the event is already causing ripples that move forwards in time. Rosie started a blog with support for IndieWeb standards, and Clark thinks he may permanently reshape his approach to workshops and presentations. I’ve also got a conference call planned with Mark on organising an unconference around the creative hub / makerspace project he is shaping.

And that is the real way participants can thank Peter for organising Crafting {:} a Life, and how ‘our’ participants, such as Peter did these past days, have thanked and are thanking us for our events: by taking something out of it and run with it. Bring it forward. Not an aftermath therefore, but unconference forwarding.