Been a while.

The Lakewalk, Duluth, March 6, 2016

The Lakewalk, Duluth, March 6, 2016

There is something spectacular about light around water. Even on a cold and cloudy day here in Duluth, light bounces around in fascinating ways over the Lake, but along the stream beds and rivers, too. Like having a magnifying glass everywhere I go, ready to frame what I want to see most.

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago, when two dear friends (world travelers both) came to stay in Duluth for a couple of days. I’ve written about my travels with Nathalie and Michele before. I love these two women, and I love the gift of seeing my new hometown through their eyes. They wanted to go everywhere I go in my daily life, and we did. Somewhere during our tour days, I realized we were always near water of one kind of another: the Lake, of course, but rivers and creeks and streams, too. I’m pretty sure they don’t want to live here, but they understand why I do!

I’m getting ready to teach a writing workshop at Waite Park Library for Great River Regional Library in St. Cloud. Hence, the visit to my own web site to update the resources I like to have ready for students.

Most of my time in recent months has been taken up by One River, Many Stories, the journalism and storytelling project about the St. Louis River that’s led by UMD. We moved here for the Lake — an adventure to get to know the city from the perspective of its River.

Saturday, March 19, I get to see the Mississippi River and its tributary, the Sauk River, and talk to writers there about their relationship to their rivers.

Water, water, everywhere!


Writing Visually, and a collaborative poem


This gallery contains 3 photos.

Writing Visually, and a Collaborative Poem Setting: Saturday afternoon, June 6, at the Chanhassen branch for Carver County Library’s class on Writing for Real People: Writing Visually. Purpose: to have fun with words! And to get ready to write a … Continue reading

Oh, goody! The Textile Center!


I’ve been invited to teach a series of writing workshops for artists at the Textile Center in Minneapolis, one of my favorite places on Earth!

Register for one or more. The Textile Center on University Avenue is now served by the Green Line light rail (Prospect Park Station) — think about giving yourself time to explore this wonderful neighborhood of restaurants and shops! I might have to treat myself to an early dinner at Ngon on University at Dale…

Tuesday, October 7 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM       Writing An Artist Statement
Tuesday, October 28 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM     Write to Sell Online
Tuesday, November 4 from 6:00 – 8:00 PM    Writing for Proposals and Grants


Other good stuff.


I recently changed my email signature from “Writing, Editing, Research” to “Writing and other good stuff.” I still pay the bills with Writing, Editing and Research, but I’m having a blast with Other Good Stuff now, too.

Behind me here at Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis are pages of handmade paper dipped in indigo dye. Mary Hark does wonderful things with indigo and paper. She taught a really fun and not-as-messy-as-you’d-expect weeklong workshop in which we made many, many sheets of linen/abaca/hemp paper and then dipped most of it in indigo. I’m more familiar with indigo and textiles, like the beautiful Shibori techniques, from which tie-dyed T-shirts came. (Remember RIT dye?) It’s still around.

The strength and suppleness of the paper was a delight to behold. It was a leap of faith to dunk those gorgeous sheets into a stinky vat of dark, oily, bubbly sludge. But the results are incredibly beautiful — darkest navy to be sure, but overlaid with hues of green, pink, purple, sometimes even iridescent. Most of the papers I dipped are heavy enough to be book or journal covers, and I’m looking forward to binding them with small signatures of white and ivory, maybe pale green and lavender. After I gelatin-size them and hang them to dry again, lest that lovely blue rub off on the hands, clothing, etc. of gentle readers.

And here’s what happened when I wrapped and twisted an old linen dresser scarf from my great-grandmother, and dipped it in indigo. Other good stuff, indeed!


Ordinary grace.

My book club read Ordinary Grace this month, by Minnesota’s own William Kent Krueger. The author voices the opening pages in this trailer, quoting Aeschylus: “He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain – which cannot forget – falls drop by drop upon the heart, until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God.”

It’s a beautiful book, beautifully written, its characters demonstrating grace through their actions page by page. Sometimes, through their choices not to act. We spent some time talking about the difference between “ordinary” grace and “awful” grace — the kind of grace that is bestowed upon us versus the grace we earn through endurance, by living a life grounded in the realities of  relationship and circumstance.

No conclusions drawn; I’m still thinking. The hallmark of a really good book.

On the radio, part 2.


The podcast from my interview on the Aging But Dangerous show is available — once you’re on their podcast page, click on the link for the 5/18/2013 show. We taped the segment in two parts, so I knew there was a commercial break. What I didn’t know was that the commercial was one of their sponsors, a gynecologist, talking about women’s orgasms. Cool.

You can see writing ideas and prompts for telling stories from your life at Aging But Dangerous, but I’m posting it here in case you came to my website first. And there are additional writing prompts on my site here.

Does Writing Your Life Story — your personal history — sound overwhelming, and maybe… not much fun? Then start with one story from your life, and if you like recording that, do another, and another. Try one of these ideas:
–  write about someone or something you loved with all your heart at age 10 –  or 16, 38, 67.
–  tell about a time you moved from one place to another. What did you miss? What did you like/dislike about the new place?
–  write about a trip you took. Did it meet, or fail to meet your expectation?
–  is there something you wanted but never got? What filled that space?
– write about your jobs in the order you held them, and how you learned what you needed to know. 

Writing can be a scary business. When we do it well, we place a little bit of ourselves on the page, exposed and vulnerable for anyone who comes along to see, to poke at, to prod, to question. This is especially true when we are writing for family members. “That’s not the way it happened!” we fear they’ll say. Well, they may see things differently from where they stand. You can only tell the story you see from where you stand.

So, a word about telling the truth: there are facts and then there is the truth. It’s easy to find facts like birth and death dates, who lived where when, etc. But the truth of the lives lived around those facts – including your own life – is the story you’re here to tell.

Oh, and by Writing Your Life Story, I mean get the story down in whatever way most appeals to you – write, record, draw, photograph, paint, collage. Add captions if you need to, but first and foremost – have fun!

Need help? Please contact me at judybudreau AT The Association of Personal Historians site has a wealth of resources, as does the Minnesota Historical Society.



Teaching Rotarians to write poetry.


JudyDickSueAnneatRotaryMy fan club got up very early this morning to hear me tell my story about my writing and personal history work to the Lake Minnetonka Rotary Club, even though they already know the story. Seated left to right, my friends Anne and Sue, and my wonderful partner, Dick. Bonus: Today’s NYTimes article on how digital technology is making it easier, affordable and possible for folks to preserve their life stories, memories, photos and mementos.

I joined our local Rotary about a year ago, and have been welcomed with open arms. Not being a churchgoer, I like the weekly fellowship and camaraderie, and the emphasis on service above self, both locally and internationally. They’re a great bunch of people. I’m learning a lot from them and having the time of my life.

I talked about my writing, and about my work with the Veteran’s History Project. And then we did a writing exercise — writing a love poem.

Want to try it at home? Simple:

1. Write the name of the person (or pet, or tree, or place) at the top of the page.

2. Freewrite for 2 minutes — forget everything you know about spelling, punctuation, grammar, and jot down your thoughts as fast as they come to you — every word or phrase that comes to mind when you think of this love in your life.

3. Write “I love you,”. The comma is important.

4. Edit. Cross out anything you don’t want there, rearrange words if you like, clean it up a little. Read it to yourself.

5. After the comma, write the word “because” — and fill in the reason you love this person. Done! If you want to be really impressive, copy it over (handwritten is best – I mean, come on — this is a LOVE poem) using nice clean paper, maybe add a drawing or certainly, your signature.

And then take a deep breath and give it to the person you wrote it for. Guarantee you will make their day.

Telling a story.


This morning, I told my story  to our local Rotary Club about my work as a writer and personal historian. Then I came home to find this article from the NYTimes in my inbox, quoting three colleagues at the Association of Personal Historians, Sarah White, Mary O’Brien Tyrrell and Stefani Twyford.

The article is a spot-on look at how digital technology makes it easy and affordable for people to preserve their memories, stories, photos, mementos. Rock on, personal history!