About Me

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Born in Santa Monica, California, I was raised in the small bedroom community of Sunkist Park that borders Culver City, Playa del Rey, Mar Vista and Venice. I attended Venice High School, West LA Community College and California Institute of the Arts. My studies included English, English Literature, Poetry, Creative Writing, Choir, Classical Voice, Shakespeare, Musical Theater, Television and Film Acting and Art History. In 1980, I relocated to the Pacific Northwest and in 1982 I married Kurt Wolf in Corvallis, Oregon. During the course of our long journey together, I have remained devoted to not only my husband, but to my friends and family, and the arts. What defines me most is my passion for expression through art. I’m an avid reader, writer and poet.I also enjoy painting and photography. Additionally, some folks consider me a pretty good cook.

Email Susie Rosso Wolf

If you have any questions about "New Prairie Woman", "Saving Susie", my "Phoetry", Montana, or writing in general, please email me directly at: GrumpySusie@msn.com — Looking forward to hearing from you. I hope you enjoy "New Prairie Woman". ~ Susie

Friday, February 11, 2011

00.04 Prologue, Finale'

           When we arrived home I carried the poster board into my bedroom and hung it with thumb tacks to the wall directly across from my bed. From that day on every time I would lie on my bed I gazed directly up at that school project and fantasized about Montana. The notion of living in a log cabin out in the wilderness where the buffalo roamed endlessly across the land filled my heart and mind with thoughts and questions about my own life in the city. I felt a soulfully powerful connection to the prairie and I questioned my faithful allegiance to my ocean. Why was I born at the Pacific Coast in this time rather than be born in the country in the early pioneer days or come to the country across miles of open grass land in a covered wagon? What fate would bring me to this now so boring place? The once exciting MGM Studios, FOX and Paramount that were all in my back yard seemed to pale in comparison now after reading about Montana and the women of Montana, the truly exciting lives they lived. What would it be like to live in a sod house out on the prairie where the grasses went on for miles and miles and miles and you lived day after day after day without ever seeing a neighbor? What was it like to be a trapper in the early days, who lived out in the wilderness in the most extreme weather and under the most extreme circumstances? I thought about the hunters killing their elk and deer to feed themselves and their families for the winter and wondered what that meat tasted like. What does a moose taste like? What would it have felt like to tend the soil, plant wheat with your bare hands? Or even more intriguing, what would it have felt like to come in after a full day of walking behind a mule while plowing, before tractors had been invented? I could only imagine trying to plow up a field with a piece of wood attached to the back of a horse or mule to grow crops and feed my family. I could only imagine it, particularly when walking into the grocery store each weekend with my parents to buy our food for the week ahead. A new appreciation for the ease of our daily lives began to swell within me.

          Those early pioneers must have been exhausted.

          I imagined being there. I wanted to so badly. To see this big sky state under the stars so bright. So many stars in the gigantic sky it was like looking up at the heavens filled with millions and millions of electric lights all glittering with energy and promise. I wanted to go there. So, I began to save my money. Every quarter dime nickel or penny I found earned or borrowed, I glued to the map of Montana on the poster board hanging from my wall. When Papa came into my room and noticed the change money on the map he asked what I was doing. I explained to him that I was saving for a trip to Montana. He then offered me a wonderful deal. He said that for every dollar I saved on the map he would match it and take me on a vacation to wherever the money would take us, as far as it would go.

          Four months later school was letting out for summer vacation and nearly all the space on my poster board map of Montana was filled. At that point I was willing to do whatever it took to fill the map. I washed extra dishes, washed the car, did all the laundry, mowed the lawn, took out the trash every day and night with great enthusiasm which was highly unusual for me. My grandmother hired me to polish her white nursing shoes and my brother hired me to polish his black patent leathers. I raked leaves and cleaned out the fridge. Finally the board was filled up with enough change to hide all of the color in the background, which was purple, of course.

          On Saturday, my father sat down with me at the kitchen table and carefully together we peeled off all of the change money and put it into neat little piles of dollars. Nearly the entire table was covered with change. Pop got out his huge stainless steel salad bowl and one by one counted off the piles of dollars as I recorded each one in my notebook and then placed the coins in the bowl. At the end of the count I had saved a total of $64.00. Not too bad, but even with Papa matching that, it was nowhere near enough money to get to Montana. I was disappointed and yet distracted by the offer of going on a trip to a more affordable vacation…all the way to San Francisco. San Francisco? The thought thrilled me only because I had been north in the past with my parents and I adored riding the cable cars and visiting the Fisherman’s Wharf. Although it paled in comparison to my Montana I thought the trip to San Francisco could be fun, and after all, I had worked very hard for it.

            Our trip to San Francisco that summer was the stepping stone to a wanderlust within me that continues to thrive to this day. But it was the thought of Montana where the fire Originated. That seeded the burning desire, that grew to lust to witness God’s majestic work in the mountains the rivers the prairie land. As I grew and lived and experienced life as it should be, witnessed life in many forms textures angles and perspectives Montana slipped further and further away. Every once in a while though, when the national weather report would mention the current blizzard conditions in Montana due to an arctic front I would fondly remember sitting behind Eva Yamamoto in Saint Gerard’s Catholic School and I could still see in my minds eye Sister Carmel Mary standing at the head of the class holding that basket. I would shiver when images of frozen rivers and miles of snow covered wheat fields would appear on the television news cast. But to me it was so beautiful, those images, and still. So quietly still. When mentioned, when reminded, the fascination continued to tug away at my sense of adventure. And watching stories of the pioneers settling in the Montana prairie land in some old movie would stir my deep seeded admiration for the brave women who once paved the way for many more women to follow. My sensibilities always spoke to me when thoughts and fantasies of living in Montana would creep into my consciousness but buried in my heart remained a soft and gentle whisper luring me, teasing me and taunting me with an invitation to become…

…a new prairie woman.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

00.03 Prologue, Part Three

            New Prairie Woman
            Susanna Wolf


          I let go of Montana. During the wait, I let it go. I ran from Montana and embraced California once more, making it my own state, reveling in my sunshine, my hibiscus bushes my camellias, African fern, nectarine tree, avocado trees… all my tropical plants and flowers that filled my world with natural beauty. My lemon tree in the back yard my ocean my sandy boardwalk my hip new skateboard, my groovy purple Schwinn Stingray bicycle with the banana shaped seat and my record player and my 45’s. The Beatles the Stones and Herman’s Hermits blasted the walls of my bedroom while I twisted away on my nifty twister board, helping to keep my waist trim. I didn’t give one thought to the Montana project. Montana dissolved like a root beer flavored Fizzy tablet in a glass of cold water. And yet, I felt haunted by Montana. Despite my love for California, I couldn’t help but daydream about the huge sky and puffy white clouds in the pictures of the rocky mountain state in the many books I read at the library. The cattle, horses, elk, moose, deer, antelope and bear all intrigued me.
           The more I tried to leave the Montana project behind the harder it was to not think about it. The rivers and lakes were calling me. The thought of growing a vegetable garden during a short summer and then canning everything from the harvest and putting the canning under your house in a special room called a cellar where they would store roots such as potatoes, turnips and carrots, so that you had food in the freezing winter truly captured my attention. I had never heard of such things before and found the idea of it all foreign and different in an odd way. Food under your house? How did they do that?
           I thought about the Native American Indians in Montana, the battles over land and the sturdy clothes that they made from buffalo hide to survive in. I thought about Lewis and Clark discovering Montana on their way west. I was mesmerized by the mere idea of Sacajawea, her life and journey, her bravery. I would lie on my bed and wonder how the Indians and pioneers would have survived during winters that brought temperatures down to forty degrees below zero. How did they survive? It’s true that many didn’t, but just the same, many did. Over and over in my mind, I imagined that I was an Indian woman leading the great explorers through the vast mountain range of Montana onward to the west coast. Montana had a deep impact on my visual imagination. With very little effort, I could transform myself into a pioneer woman coming from the east who sat in a covered wagon for weeks on end afraid but courageous tired yet strong, filthy dirty from blowing dust and being unable to bathe but beautiful just the same. I imagined every scenario of the early Montana settlers that my mind could remember from the books that I read and browsed through. Enthralled by the history lesson, I knew I would never forget Montana.

          When she was finally finished scrutinizing our projects Sister Carmel Mary called us up to her desk one by one to recover our reports and grades. As my name was called the palms of my hands were soaked in perspiration. I chewed my thumbnail down to the quick in nervousness. I remember it throbbing as I walked up to the teachers desk. When she was passing the poster board and the written report to me she smiled a tiny little smile and had a glint of approval in her eyes. As I grabbed onto the poster board, the right corner of the board caught on Sister’s large black rosary beads that hung from her habit at the waist. Sister gasped a little and so did I as my report became hung up on Jesus Mary & Joseph. Sister managed to unattached the board from God himself it seemed to me and I was relieved as I walked back to my seat, having survived a pat on the bottom from our Holy Father!

          Sitting back down I placed my poster board in the skinny space between my desk and Eva’s. I placed the written report in front of me. My heart swelled with pride when I looked down to see the bright red A nearly three inches tall written on the cover page. She gave me an A. Montana gave me an A. Deep sense of accomplishment washed over me. Although I didn’t actually feel as though I had deserved the grade I was happy to have it. So many students, such as Eva, worked hard for weeks to turn in their reports but I crammed mine into a few short days. Nevertheless, I had completed the project and received a generous grade.
           I was happy to crash into my father’s car at 3:15 on the nose when he came to fetch me from school that day. I stuffed the poster board into the back seat and planted myself up front with Papa. He looked over at me with a serious look on his face that quickly changed to a broad smile when I blurted out I got an A with a mouth full of apple.

Monday, February 7, 2011

00.02.P2 Poetry + Photography = PHOETRY by Susie Rosso Wolf

Montana Nights

Susie Rosso Wolf

Orange and yellow over blue and white

crowding thoughts in Montana’s night

Watching gulls from river’s bend

fly from Three Forks to Townsend

Gutsy geese from Canada’s shore

wait until fall to fly once more

Dusk is quietly drifting by

as the owl swifts through its sky

Counting on the prey beneath

the Russian Olive and Willow’s sheath

While the moon rises brightly

this new prairie woman

is in awe nightly

Sunday, February 6, 2011

00.02 Prologue, Part Two

New Prairie Woman
Susanna Wolf

1965, con't

          The weeks ticked by quickly with not one thought of the assignment. Time was marked by volleyball meets. Ice skating on Friday nights. Choir practice. Bike rides down to the beach. Rides on the carousel on Santa Monica Pier…all these childhood activities kept my mind busy enough for me to hide from the project that should have been nagging at me, but didn’t. And time flew by. Seven weeks later Sister Carmel Mary asked for a show of hands of all those who had completed their projects or whoever was close to completion. Nearly the entire class raised their hands. Suddenly embarrassed and worried I put my head down a little and squirmed in my seat. Eva turned around and looked at me, shot me a look of disbelief. At lunch, Eva asked why I didn’t raise my hand. I told her I had not worked one day on Montana. Her eyes bulged her mouth dropped open but she never said one unkind word. We simply ate our lunch together in the same fashion we did every day; sharing our little secret crushes on a cute boy and our childhood dreams.

          Too embarrassed to ask for Eva’s help, that night I asked my father to assist me in finding information about Montana in our Encyclopedia Britannica books. There wasn’t much there, just a picture or two with about two and a half pages of text written on the history of the state pointing out its importance and attributes. If I wanted more to go on, more to copy basically, I’d have to hit the library, my least favorite place on earth.
          Culver City wasn’t exactly the Mecca of intellectual wealth. Our town focused more on making movies and television shows, glamour, great restaurants fast cars and drives along Pacific Coast Highway which always ended at our beach, Toes Beach, at the west end of Culver Boulevard. There were only two small libraries in my town one so small on Port Road at El Marino Elementary School it could only fit a few kids in it at a time. Although in walking distance to our home studying at El Marino was equal to reading in a broom closet. I asked my big sister to drive me to the Mar Vista Library on Venice and Inglewood, which was located on the outskirts of Culver City in the sleepy town of Mar Vista. It was a full size neighborhood library, friendly with a large variety of scholastic books.
          I sat for hours combing the pages of any book written about Montana. I copied pictures in the book by taking tracing paper over the photographs and drawing my own version on art paper. I cut them out and pasted them to a large poster board. I created a map on the board of the entire state of Montana with rivers lakes wheat fields and farms, the forest areas of West Yellowstone, Glacier Park and the big Big Sky. In addition to the poster board art work I turned in a ten page written report. Cramming while jamming to my favorite top 40 radio station, KHJ, helped make the task a little more enjoyable. I made the assignment deadline with barely a moment to spare when Sister Carmel Mary announced that we were to hand in the projects two days after I completed my work. It was a Wednesday. The work was due on Friday. I asked my father if he could give me a ride to school so that I didn’t have to walk two miles from our home with my books my lunch bag and a poster board flopping around while I struggled trying to hold onto it. My father went into work late that day and drove me to the school yard then helped carry my project into the classroom. It was done. I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I had completed the task. But it was difficult exhaling, while waiting for my grade.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

00.01.P1 Cold Day In Paradise

After the tease of forty degrees yesterday, the mountain ranges that surround us here in our little country world are blowing a mighty cold wind that sets in our old bones causing lazy weariness and complete lack of motivation to do anything other than loaf around and eat.

The old man is planted firmly on his favorite spot on the sofa with the TV clicker securely guarded in front of him. The puppies are snoring together and I'm wondering how in the world I will ever accomplish anything today with so much love and comfort going on around here. Our love party will most likely last the rest of the day and into the night which means no house work for me today. There is a God! I'm wondering what I'll make for dinner, while contemplating my next excerpt of New Prairie Woman. I'm looking forward to posting part 2 of the introduction for you and hope that you enjoy reading about my journey to Montana.

Thanks for stopping in to say howdy. Have a happy day.

With love,
The New Prairie Woman

Thursday, February 3, 2011

00.01 Prologue, Part One

New Prairie Woman
Susanna Rosso Wolf

Sister Carmel Mary passed out states from her tall handled wicker basket like chocolate bars on Halloween. The names weren’t called out by her beautiful lyrical voice which was her usual style of assignment. This day she wrote names on little pieces of paper. Each word represented a single state in the United States of America. My seat was half way down row three and I remember standing behind Eva Yamamoto as we made our way up to the teacher’s desk. Eva’s gorgeous long black hair swayed down from side to side as she glided up the isle in front of me to Sister’s desk. I watched as Eva put her hand into the basket of names written on folded writing paper. Don’t be California, I was praying, save California for me, please God, save California for me! Eva turned and smiled at me, then it was my turn to know my fate. Sister Carmel Mary nodded at me with her cherubic smile and said “good luck Susanna” as I dipped into the diminishing pile. I held onto my paper assignment until I reached my desk. Once there, I slowly began to unfold the buff colored lined paper. I squinted my eyes so that I could barely see through them as I viewed the word Montana. Montana? You’ve got to be kidding me. MONTANA? I was mortified. What? Me? Write a report on Montana? Why do I have to write a report on a state filled with horses and cows, more cows than people, and not very interesting people at that. Montana has nothing to do with sunshine, the ocean, flowers, movie stars, or anything fun and interesting like Disneyland which of course at that time was my favorite place on earth.
Montana it was though, and no amount of pleading or arguing or begging would change the words on the paper. Sister Carmel Mary’s method of assigning states was her way of being fair and all of my inner moaning and complaining and sniveling wasn’t going to change the word Montana on the tiny piece of paper now crumpled up in a ball inside my sweater pocket. When I arrived home that day I collapsed onto my twin size bed with the hand made quilt cover and let out an exasperated sigh. I had absolutely no interest whatsoever in Montana. I shall put this project off for as long as possible. I’m not going to do it, and she can’t force me to. Besides, I have two whole months to get it done if I decide to do it at all. So, it can wait. I rolled off my bed with a grunt, shuffled my feet to the front door and headed out to play.

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