Once again this year, NAMI Montana (Montana’s Voice on Mental Illness) is gathering gifts for people receiving care at Montana State Hospital in Warmsprings. The program, “Gifts with a Lift,” relies on the generosity of communities throughout the state to collect new winter outerwear and other items to distribute to the hospital’s patients at Christmas. In Gallatin County, a gift drop box will be located at the Bozeman Daily Chronicle building from Mon. Nov. 22 through Mon. Dec. 13, 2021. The Chronicle, located at 2820 West College in Bozeman, is open Monday-Friday 8am- 3pm.

In an annual press release, the hospital publishes a wish list of items that donors can shop for, including but not limited to:

Mens and Women’s Winter Coats, Sizes M–3X*
• Warm Winter Hats • Winter Gloves (adult sizes)
• T-Shirts/Sweatshirts
(no hoodies) • Jackets
• Socks • Slippers
(without laces) • Blankets/ Throws • Pocket Games
• Cards/Card Games • Gift Books • Magazines • Craft Kits
(no pencils, pens, sharp items)
• Batteries • Headphones • Handheld Am/Fm Radios
• Prepaid Phone Cards • Stationery/Postage Stamps

* Warm winter coats in larger sizes are particularly needed.

NAMI-MT also accepts tax deductible cash donations to purchase needed gifts.
Give online at NAMIMT.org and specify your donation is for Gifts with a Lift, or
mail checks payable to GIfts with a Lift to NAMI-MT, PO Box 1020, Helena, MT 59624.

Contributors may donate items not listed above, but the program does not request certain items, due to hospital health and safety policies.

Items Gifts with a Lift is NOT collecting:
No Used items (The hospital’s thrift store accepts used items throughout the year).

No Food, candy or gum
No Hairbrushes/combs
No Hairspray, mouthwash, cologne, perfume (nothing with alcohol at all in ingredient list)
No CD or DVDs or MP3 CD or DVD players (as clients cannot have CDs on the units.)
No Scarves, laces, draw strings, hooded sweatershirts,
No long eletrical cords
No Facemasks
No Wire-bound items (e.g. spiral notebooks)
No Colored pencils or pens.
No Glass/ceramic, cans, metal or sharp objects
No Camo (and avoid frightening decorative themes)
No Aerosol or flammables

December 4, Sip a Cocoa for Gifts with a Lift – in support of the gift drive, Wild Joe’s Coffee at 18 W. Main in Downtown Bozeman will donate 25% of proceeds from Cocoa & Holiday Cookies on the day of the Christmas Stroll, Dec. 4, 2021 to NAMI-MT’s Gifts with a Lift fund.

Thank you to all who warm the holidays for Montana State Hospital through Gifts with a Lift. Montana State Hospital staff and residents share their gratitude every year, both for the needed and appreciated gifts that patients receive, and for the caring sentiments that the gifts express. A donation of any size, from a pair of socks to a warm coat, shows we are thinking of our friends and neighbors being treated for mental illness during the holidays with wishes for health and happiness.

Please feel free to download, print and share these 2021 Gifts with a Lift printables.

I am learning a piece by Robert Schumann on Theremin that Lydia Kavina introduced to me last weekend. It’s a lovely melody, but I was having a hard time memorizing the beats, so I wrote lyrics. Warning, if you read them it might ruin the song for you. I imagine it as a 1940s radio chanteuse (or Ella Fitzgerald) singing:

Traumerei ­— Robert Schumann, 1838
reimagined as a 1940s torch song by Marla Goodman 2021

In dreams
Of people that I’ve seen
There will never
Be another
Person such as you

And though
I know it’s just a dream
I can’t help
Hoping that you might just dream
Of me too

Each day
No matter where I go
I see faces of the boy
I left behind

Each night,
I lay me down to sleep
And I wonder will you be
Here in my mi-ind

In dreams
Of people that I’ve seen
I will never
See another
Quite as sweet as you

And though
I’m all alone it seems
That I will always
Keep on seeking
For that fellow
In my dreams

August 4-31 2021 — A rootin tootin posse of local artists present a colorful, humorous and family-appropriate exhibit of works that gently poke fun at our penchant for wrapping ourselves in the trappings of the Montana Myth. On display during business hours at Wild Joe’s Coffee 18 W. Main in Bozeman, MT.

Dress Like a Cowboy or “I See By Your Outfit” Group Art Show

When songwriter Greg Keeler wrote “There Ain’t No Such Thing as a Montana Cowboy,” what was he getting at? I decided to investigate—through a group art show focused on the trappings of richly imagined Western-hood.

As a member of a family that has made Montana home for seven generations, I struggle with the Montana Myth, and I saw this theme as an opportunity to poke a little fun while also playing with the grand tradition of Western wear colors, prints, iconography and mythos. This I explained in the call for entries when I invited art-makers from all walks of life to share their vision of “dressing something (or somebody) like a cowboy.” I welcomed goofy/fun interpretations and, perhaps hinted that a dash of subtle mockery was not off the table. I also stressed that works should be all-ages appropriate, and, if possible, “art that could stimulate a lively discussion with a preschooler.”

The result is a wild and wacky group of local artists, riffing on what it means to “Dress Like a Cowboy.”

Artists: Katy Atchison • Duncan Bullock • Mike Cook • Jacob Futhey
Wren Garverick • Neoma Geddes • Marla Goodman • Sharon Glick
Mark Grenier • Linda Hunnicutt • Rachel Leathe • Kate Lindsay • Cindy Owing
Shawn Raecke • Robert Rath • Becky Roberts • Joe Schwem • Carmel Wood

Selected works are for sale through direct contact with the artists. Please see display cards at Wild Joe’s for contact information. All pieces will remain on display at Wild Joe’s through August 31, 2021. Please join the artists in thanking Wild Joes for supporting local arts and donating this display opportunity at no cost to the artists!

Join the DLAC Street Team! Download a printable Dress Like a Cowboy PDF, color or decorate it, take a photo and post on social media or share your original masterpiece in a public location you frequent.

Sneak Preview: Here are select details from the 25 works on display. A full slide retrospective will be posted after the show closes.

I sell prints, cards and other paper crafts on Etsy, so I needed a place to store packaging materials, papers, cards, envelopes, art supplies and—messiest of all well-intended things—reusable odds and ends.

I wanted to support our local economy by putting my stimulus check toward the project, so I asked a local fabricator for an estimate to make me what basically amounts to some shelving units with a table top across them. But lumber is so expensive that the estimate was four times what I thought was an ample budget. Keeping it local just wasn’t doable.

When I searched for birch shelving, ECR4Kids kept coming up, and my daughter had bought some good shelves from them, so I decided to buy three of their units and build my own storage work table with the help of my spouse, David.

We bought:

Two 13″ x19.5″ x 36″h 10-cubby shelving units ($159.99 ea) – $319.98

One 13 x 48×36″h 8-Section School Classroom Storage Cabinet – $279.99

10 Clear Scoop Front Storage Bins – $39.99

1 24x48x.5″ thick sheet of MDF – $13.00

We also needed a desktop, which we ended up getting for free, so that was – $0

Total cost: $651.98 (desktop was free)

Total time: ~6-8 hours

The shelves required assembly, which took a couple afternoons, and an electric screwdriver came in handy. All the pieces were there and fit nicely. They came with casters, which we chose to use. This resulted in:

Top surface of shelving 26″ wide x 48″ long, with a 9″ gap between the two 10-cubby units
(where I stash a recycling sack).

We planned to haunt garage sales and resale stores for a ~30″x60″ desktop, but my sister had a 29.5 x 59″ Ikea desktop in her shed. Thanks, Sis!

Since the shelving units each has a ~3/8″ ridge that sticks up along the outer edges, we (i.e. David with his skill saw) cut a strategically placed C shape into the MDF and screwed the MDF “C” to the bottom of the desktop. This allowed the top to line up just within the ridges on the shelf unit edges. He added what he called a cleat (I would call it a wooden stop) to the inner edge of the C, to prevent the tabletop from shifting.

We may add more cleats to hold the top in place more securely, but I’m thrilled with the result and my Etsy paper craft workstation has never been tidier!


Regarding Amazon links in this post: I’m a self-employed artist and a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This is the Privacy Policy for Amazon. If you click on an Amazon link and buy something I get a small commission. Amazon may serve content and advertisements, collect information directly from visitors, and place or recognize cookies on visitors’ browsers when you click on their links.

My opinions are based on my first hand experience with the product.

Disclaimer: This is a free blog that WordPress monetizes by selling ad space. I do not endorse, nor do I make money from any creepy ads you may see lurking in this post.

(Except for my own book, of course! 🙂

Outside of SPELLING ukulele, tuning it is often the most terrifying thing for most beginners. Whether your ukulele (or uke) is brand new or it’s been sitting in a corner for six years, feeling confident about tuning it makes life easier and—needless to say—makes playing songs more enjoyable.

I’ll break down the basic steps of ukulele tuning below, but I’ve also made some videos to help you tune your ukulele if you’re frustrated, scared to try, or just plain mystified.

This one is a relaxed pace overall explanation of ukulele tuning for beginners.
This one is a review of the basics with even more tuning practice for people who really need some help!
This one is a simple step-by-step tuning video. It helps you tune your ukulele in about 3 minutes!

Basic Ukulele Tuning for the Absolute Beginner (or the Frustrated Novice)

Illustrations are from my book “The Easy Illustrated Book of Kids’ Ukulele Folk Songs: A first ukulele book for all ages”

Step 1. Get Out Your Ukulele (touching your instrument is key to tuning AND playing! Congratulate yourself!)

Step 2. Learn the names of your strings (Soprano, concert & tenor ukuleles are tuned GCEA in the U.S.) The G string is closest to your nose when you are holding the uke with the sound hole facing out from your body and the neck resting in your left hand. The A string is closest to your toes. I use the phrase Goats Can Eat Anything to remember string names.

This person is tuning the A string (closest to her toes)

Step 3. Listen to a reference pitch. You can use a piano, phone app, tuning fork, pitch pipe, Youtube video, etc. Even if you have an electronic tuner, listen to a reference pitch as you begin. Soprano ukulele string pitches are G4 (the G above middle C), C4 (middle C), E4 and A4.

Step 4. Hum the reference pitch. If you are starting on your G string, play the G pitch on a reference device and then use your voice to match it. If you are unable to match a pitch with your voice, try anyway, it’s good for you!

Step 5. Pluck the string (in this case, the G string, closest to your nose) and compare it to the reference pitch. Decide if your string sounds higher or lower than the reference pitch.

Step 6. Follow the string with your eyes or fingers to its peg at the head of the ukulele.

Step 7. IMPORTANT! Turn the peg a bit WHILE PLUCKING THE STRING, and notice if it is getting higher or lower.
(KEEP PLUCKING! If you don’t keep plucking, you will not know if it is getting higher or lower, and your electronic tuner will not know either, because it and your ear both use the vibration of the plucked string to detect the pitch.)

Step 8. Listen and notice as you keep plucking/turning, whether your plucked string sounds like it’s getting closer to or further from the reference pitch. If it’s getting further away, turn the peg the opposite direction, but KEEP PLUCKING and LISTENING, so you can tell when it matches the reference pitch.

Step 9. STOP turning the peg when your plucked string sounds like the reference pitch. If you think you are getting close, only turn a wee itsy bit as you pluck the string. If you go past the desired pitch, don’t freak out, just pluck and turn an itsy bit the other way until it matches.

A note on confidence: Just do the best you can. Have a little faith in your ear. If you aren’t perfect at first, don’t beat yourself up about it. People with well trained ears have been practicing their listening skills a lonnnng time. Don’t let being a beginner bum you out. Babies never think, “I should be better at walking, everyone else is one two feet, and here I am clinging to the table.” Just do your thing and try to forget that self judgment exists.

About electronic tuners

It’s fine to use an electronic tuner to help you tune. But be aware that musical pitches go upward in sort of a spiral, e.g., A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A (an octave higher from the first A). Thus, when your tuner displays something like D, you need to have some awareness of whether it’s the D above or below your desired pitch!

By the way, # means sharp, which means higher than. So when you see G# on your tuner it means it’s halfway between G and A (higher than G). Similarly, D# means halfway between D and E, so it’s lower than E. This can be a bit confusing, which is another reason it helps to listen to a reference pitch. (Flat, (b) means lower than.)

More tips about electronic tuners:
—Some tuners can pick up other sounds (birds tweeting, people talking) so if your needle is jumping all over the place, that’s probably why. If your tuner has vibration mode, use it to prevent this problem. Or, tune in a quiet room.
—Tuners can be calibrated to different frequency standards. Usually in the U.S. we use the standard where the A4 pitch = 440 Hz (vibration cycles per second). It’s pretty easy, if you’re pressing buttons, to accidentally change your tuner’s calibration, so if your tuner seems way off, double check that it’s set at 440.

What are you waiting for!

Go back to Step 1 (Get out your Ukulele!) and click this link to hear reference pitches for G C E and A, and tune up!

If you have never played ukulele and want an easy starter book, here’s a link to my book. The Easy Illustrated book of Kids’ Ukulele Folk Songs: A first ukulele book for all ages.
I wrote and illustrated it especially for people who really wanted an easy beginning to boost their confidence. It covers holding, strumming, tuning, and playing 12 easy songs that you will most likely be familiar with. Most of the songs only contain two chords, and I drew amazing illustrations and diagrams to help you succeed! The content is written with parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and childcare providers in mind, but it’s also a great book for the adult who wants to start easy, or to teach their child, grandchild or grandparent! 🙂

Disclaimer: This is a free blog that WordPress monetizes by selling ad space. I do not endorse, nor do I make money from any creepy ads you may see lurking in this post.

(Except for my own book, of course! 🙂

Wild Joes Window display, Dec 2020

I created a window display, coloring page and promotional materials to support NAMI-MT’s annual Gifts with a Lift drive to gather gifts for people receiving care at the Montana State Hospital in Warmsprings.

The gifts go to patients at the hospital, to ensure that everyone receives a gift this holiday season.

To download the coloring page and get more info, visit my Gifts with a Lift web page or Facebook event.

December 2-5: Wild Joes Coffee Spot in downtown Bozeman will donate 25% of Cocoa & Candy Cane Cookie proceeds to “Gifts with a Lift” to help buy gifts for people receiving care at Montana State Hospital in Warm Springs this holiday season. Drop GIFT Donations at Bozeman Daily Chronicle thru Dec. 11 (M-F, 8-3). Gifts with a Lift is coordinated by NAMI-MT, Montana’s Voice on Mental Illness. http://www.namimt.org
More info at https://dphhs.mt.gov/aboutus/news/2020/giftswithalift

I have made a video of the Big Brownpaper Christmas Mouse Alphabet Storybook, read by Brownpaper Granny herself, which you are welcome to share if you like. 

Brownpaper Granny reads the Big Brownpaper Christmas Mouse Alphabet Storybook on Youtube

There are two versions: 
One has some “the making of” backstory with Brownpaper Granny (8 minutes total)
And one has just the story:

Big Brownpaper Christmas Mouse Alphabet Storybook: (5 minutes total)

I hope you like them!

Find my books on Amazon, Etsy/shop/goodwerks and Ingram!

“Puzzling” Coloring Page, partially colored.

For free coloring page downloads and more, visit my website, Goodwerks.com/books.

My very favorite self-care indulgence is to listen to Audio books while I color. Here is my secret. A wonderful collection of public domain audio books is available, absolutely FREE, at Librivox.org

Here’s how to listen:
On Librivox, you can download the whole book to your device, or stream it chapter by chapter. After following the link to a reader or book, click on the book title to see listening options. (Librivox is a nonprofit: if you wish to help them stay up and running, here’s their donation link.)

The secret is finding the really good readers. My personal favorites:

Youth-appropriate* but still great for adults

*In old books like these, you may encounter attitudes/words that are shockingly, even horrifyingly, offensive to modern ears. I do find some depictions of race, class and gender offensive, but I see it as opportunity to appreciate how much things have changed.

Recommendations that I haven’t tried yet:

Additional Librivox readers recommended by others

More Librivox Tips:

I prefer books read by one reader, rather than a group of volunteers. To find those, go to the author page and filter results by selecting the “solo” link under Project Type (top, left)

You can bookmark a book on your device and stream chapter by chapter or download entire books to your device.

In addition to these recommendations, there’s a TON of other great stuff on Librivox, and you can even volunteer as a reader if you like!


Please note this is a free blog and WordPress places ads in it that I do not endorse or condone.

public domain image “Sleeping Girl” by Nikolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov, 1929

Insomnia started in my early 40s. At 3am on the dot it’s like an alarm goes if in my brain and “ding!” I’m wide awake. Or maybe I’ve gone to bed at 11pm and tossed until midnight, 2am, 3am and by 4am I’ve tried everything and still I can’t sleep. I can’t get my thoughts to slow down after an event or a busy day, I’m worried about the U.S. election, freaking out about global warming, obsessing about what I said or did or didn’t say or didn’t do…

Enter my trusty earbuds and a free audiobook site called LibriVox.org. — Ah, sure, you say, but I need something to put me to sleep NOW! I don’t want to go book shopping.

Never fear. I have right here my favorite soporific selections by the world’s sleepiest reader, Peter Yearsley. A wonderful reader, yet unique in that he’s engaging enough to interrupt obsessive thoughts, but sleepy enough to have you, if you are like me, heartily sawing logs in 10 minutes or less.

I keep these bookmarked and queue them up at bedtime just in case. If you want to know anything about the first half of Chapter 7 of Alice in Wonderland, just ask. But if you want to know how Chapter 7 ends, ask somebody else. I’ve never heard it.

“About Orchids, a Chat” —5 star snooze!

“Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” —Tell them the door mouse sent you!

“Highways and Byways in Sussex.” —Proven effective as a sleep aid, yet somewhat informative.

“Making a Rock Garden” —Amusingly dull!

“The Natural History of Selborne” — First rate mind numbing!

“Three Men on the Bummel” — Very funny but also very sleepy!

These are just a few tried and true selections, but once you have discovered Yearsley, a trove of beautifully read mundanity awaits you. I can face the 2020 election confident that the next selections on my list, “A Textbook on Assaying” and “Ketchup” will be equally rewarding in terms of snores.

Please note this is a free blog and WordPress places ads in it that I do not endorse or condone.

The Perfect Dress

I took a 2-session stop motion collage animation workshop from Minneapolis based filmmaker, John Akre via St Paul’s film education outreach entity, FilmNorth! I know COVID times suck, but it sure has been a goldmine in online learning opportunities.

We used the free app, Stop Motion Studio, which I found very easy to use. The most difficult thing for me was reining in my inner creative juggernaut. Luckily John is an experienced educator and gave us some brief, solid, no-nonsense guidelines on how to approach a project, so I felt empowered to give it a go. (John is also a walking film knowledge treasury and he shared with us some of his favorite collage animators in a briskly guided “you can look up more info on your own” format which I loved. I want a John Akre podcast where he just tells about cool stuff, but this was the next best thing.)

One of my favorite take-aways was the system of keeping your cuts for your animation between the pages of a book. I know this may sound trivial, but it was the kind of thing that made me less afraid of losing control of the project, my workspace and hey…maybe my life? Here are some pictures of my animation stuff, and see how not scary it looks in its drawer? (I had early on decided that I was not allowed to have any materials that would not fit in this particular drawer.)

I used Scotch restickable glue stick to make my jointed “puppet” (a word I learned in the workshop!) which worked pretty well overall, though I think if I were making a more elaborate animation I’d probably invest the time in making a more durable puppet. I also discovered that there’s no need to create puppets in different positions as long as your main puppet is really nicely jointed. You DO need them in different sizes and facing different directions though. At least to do something narrative along the lines of what I made.

Here’s my one-week animation desk, which is normally my coloring desk. I used a little bluetooth shutter activator that came with an iphone camera tripod adapter that I bought on Amazon and it worked GREAT. (John said you can also use the volume button on your earbuds as a remote shutter release.) For lighting, I used a combination of an Ottlite and a small clip on desk lamp (I used a a hinged photo frame as a stand). Those orange handled Chikamasa scissors are my best friend. They ROCK. I’m not sure how they came into my life, but they are my favorite collage scissors ever.


I fell in love with my puppet and all her little arms and legs:


Another interesting thing I learned in the workshop is that that in stop motion, scans printed on matte paper are preferable to original magazine photos, since they don’t present a glare problem (to save time I shot pics with my phone instead of scanning, and sized/printed them using desktop publishing software). This freed me up to use my most precious images. I normally shrink from doing collage with magazine images because I can’t bear to use up/destroy the originals.

I created my soundtrack live on my Moog Etherwave Standard Theremin, and added some pitch-shifted harmony layers in Garageband (I was shooting for kind of a siren song feeling) and edited a bit in the desktop version of iMovie. I’d estimate that the 2.25 minute animation took me 15-25 hours to create, which includes sourcing images and some photoshop work to “empty” backgrounds of unwanted objects and size/flip/etc. my puppets, backgrounds and props.

Thanks, John, this workshop was great!

Here’s my finished project, which first premiered during the Minnanimate Film Festival, Sept, 2020.

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My Brownpaper Granny Youtube Channel

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