About Me: A life of books, music, travel, curiosity

Cookie at the signing for their
La Jolla, Calif., town home.
Cookie entertains at Montana Jack's
where she played for several years.


"Grandpa Gus" Nystul, second from left, with his brothers
Joe and Nick, on a trip from North Dakota to Arizona circa 1911.

CHRISTENE Cosgriffe Meyers received her first newspaper byline as a 14-year old high school reporter.  The story ran in several Montana papers and featured her lifeguard sister, Peny, who painted her body for a summer swim fest. Another story -- for a bRUIBk youth magazine -- featured her grandfather Gustav Nystul and his early years, learning seven languages as a high-school general store clerk in rural North Dakota.  
"Cookie" signed on to Lee Newspapers and the Billings Gazette as an arts writer and night police reporter when she was a college freshman.  A beat reporter for 25 years, she never abandoned her first love, arts and travel writing.  Lifelong reader, musician and traveler, she reviewed hundreds of concerts, books and plays and developed the Gazette’s Friday entertainment section, Enjoy, which she edited until her retirement from full-time newspapering in 2005.

SINCE THEN, she developed a lively freelance career, teaches writing workshops, writes poetry, travels and published her first novel, co-written with her late husband Bill Jones.  "Lilian's Last Dance" went paperback in early 2015. A French edition is in the works, fitting since there are French passages in the novel, and the title character is from Provence.

Keller and Cookie in rural Montana with Nick and Nora.
Cookie's love of her native Montana shines through in nature
writing, and in her partner's photos of the landscape. 
DURING HER long newspaper career which continues as she freelances, Christene interviewed hundreds of actors, musicians, artists, writers, directors and other celebrities, from groundbreaking women including Jane Fonda, Sally Fields, Debbie Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine, Marian McPartland, Sigourney Weaver, Jane Goodall, Bette Midler, Mary Tyler Moore and Meryl Streep, to accomplished men: Fred Astaire, Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Roger Wagner, Robert DeNiro, Dave Brubeck, Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Spielberg, Al Pacino and Tom Hanks. 
She scored a rare interview with the elusive Marlon Brando on the set of “The Missouri Breaks,” with help from director Arthur Penn, whom she’d interviewed during the filming of “Little Big Man.” (Both films were shot in her native Montana.)
 Her book of poems, “Cats as Gravity,” was published by a small Seattle press in 1977. She has rekindled her interest in that art form, inspired by classes and workshops at Sarah Lawrence College, working with acclaimed poets Stephen Dobyns and Thomas Lux.

Sailing out of a European port,
toasting another Atlantic crossing.
Cookie and Keller enjoy the view, taking this
photo from a top deck of a cruise ship.

and reviews have garnered awards including a first-place from the National Council on Education. She was honored at the White House as one of 10 Outstanding Young Women of America, traveled to Israel as a delegate with the International Council for Peace, and to the Far East with American Women for International Understanding.
IN TOKYO, fellow Montanan Mike Mansfield honored her and her delegation with a reception at the U.S. Embassy during his tenure as ambassador to Japan and she charmed her Japanese hosts with an impromptu piano rendition of “Sakura,” to which the distinguished audience sang along.
Cookie's love of travel and exotic places
began in childhood, surrounded by readers.

Poet Dana Gioia, as chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, lauded her efforts to save the Alberta Bair Theater, formerly the Fox Theater, now a performing arts cornerstone in the Rockies.
Cookie strolls Paradise Point, San Diego,
above, and below, plays sax in Montana.
'COOKIE' IS  a public speaker on a variety of topics, from memoir writing to high plains bird feeding, cabaret piano playing and the art of finding unsullied places to picnic and bike near San Diego’s beaches.
She and her partner, Bruce Keller, renovated a town home in Vista LaJolla, in southern California.  Christene shares Keller’s passion for sailing, and the two log lots of ocean time. He also illustrates her travel and arts articles and weekly blogs. They are planning their 107th cruise.

Above, a Morrow Bay sunset,
and Cookie at the wheel!
AS A TEEN, Christene and her family, the Cosgriffes, traveled to New York for Broadway plays and the 1964 World’s Fair, kindling her love affair with that wonderful city and a lifelong passion for Broadway.  A longtime feminist and equal rights advocate, she covered the Miss America Pageant for Lee Papers in 1968 (the same year as publicity for bra burnings which didn't happen!), helped organize the first women’s rights coalition in Montana, wrote for Ms. Magazine during its early years and is proud of her Exemplary Service award from the Hispanic Community and her adopted status in the Crow Tribe. 
HER BYLINE has appeared in many newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune and San Francisco Examiner, and she is a regular contributor to arts and travel magazines, including Big Sky Journal and Western Art and Architecture.  She teaches writing in Arizona and California and conducts writing workshops in Montana when spending summer time at her Beartooth Mountain place, High Chaparral, on the West fork of the Stillwater River.
One of Cookie's favorite harbors is St. Thomas.
A favorite city is San Francisco, where she strolls, below. 
SHE IS among Montana Press Women’s most honored members, an Outstanding Alumna of Montana State University-Billings, an early YWCA Woman of Achievement recipient, and recipient of community service awards, honorary memberships and commendations from the National Education Association, Rocky Mountain College, Billings Hispanic Council, Billings Clinic, the Crow Tribe, Rimrock Opera Company and the National Endowment for the Arts.
WITH HER late husband, Ohio-born actor, poet and MSU-B creative writing professor Bruce Meyers, she  arranged and conducted many musicals, playing violin, saxophone, organ and piano. Their acting and musical collaborations at regionally known Montana venues helped raise millions to “save the Fox.”
Cookie served an 11-year tenure as president of the Fox Committee for the Performing Arts, which segued to the Alberta Bair Theater board when the Fox was renovated and its name changed. Among her favorite productions with Bruce are “A Little Night Music,” “Man of LaMancha,” "Beehive," "The Fantasticks," "Annie," "I Do! I Do!" and “Cabaret.”  After Meyers’ death in 1992, Christene attracted a small-press to publish his book, “Ventriloquist in the Rain.” That, along with the Bruce Meyers Poets Garden on the MSU-B campus, and a twice-yearly scholarship to aid English majors at MSU-Billings, are Meyers’ legacy.

Cookie's favorite tree is the lavender jacaranda, harbinger
of spring in San Diego, and in southern European cities.
Cookie and Bill in Barcelona.
WITH HER second late spouse, gifted
Arizona painter and film critic William Jones, Christene continued her world travel, revived her affection for poetry writing and collaborated with Jones on writing and watercolor workshops in Provence and Tuscany. The couple began a novel in 1997 ("Lilian's Last Dance," now out in paperback at Amazon) and were working on a musical when Jones died in 2005. With her partner, photographer and master builder Keller, she travels the world -- recently a return to the Far East, and many trips to Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the Holy Land. She is also working on a collection of poems and essays.   Her beloved Yorkshire terriers, Nick and Nora, are never far from her side and accompany her on frequent trips between California and Big Sky country. She keeps her tap shoes and passport handy!                                                                                                                                    

 Explore, Learn, Live! See you on the next page.


  1. Very interestimg, tell me more..

  2. You are so interesting ! I agree... Tell me more

  3. Even when my desk was across from yours all those years ago, i never knew where you were headed next. Just watched the Tony Awards tonight and the Cabaret part. Good memories. Bruce M. was a much better Emcee. And the Kit Kat or was it Cit Cat band was much better at BST, especially the piano player. Disaster of a year here but things are turning around. I've lost your email addresses somewhere. Have Cathy's but not yours HELP. Our five dogs send their love to you and so do I from the wilds of Oklahoma. Ellie

  4. Cookie, I finally made it to your blog. Thanks for helping me. I was going to try tomorrow. Checked the computer right before going to bed, and there you were again! I will surely come back tomorrow. Read "About You" and learned so much more about your past. You are the sweetest, most modest, very accomplished and successful lady I will ever hope to know!
    Love you, Janet

  5. Cookie, this is Joe Rassulo, an old friend of Bill Jones. We met many times in Arizona before I moved back to Los Angeles. My email is dreamstflm@aol.com. I have a question for you about Montana and I'd love to be able to communicate with you. If you get this, shoot me an email! Thanks! Joe

  6. Hi Cookie! I'm working on a story about the Bair Family. I would love to speak with you, if you're interested!

  7. Such a wonderful spirit you have and share. May you continue to embrace life and in so doing, encourage the rest of us. BRAVA, baby!