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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

01.E01 Chapter One, Excerpt One

New Prairie Woman
Susie Rosso Wolf

Chapter One

Looking out the large garden window in our kitchen that housed the tropical plants that I pampered and tended with love and devotion, I finally felt a sense of peace and knew that after eleven years of living in our Northridge, California ranch style house, I was actually, truly, home. It was a long haul from the early days of our marriage in 1982. We had moved many times during our twenty-three years of marriage and each time we relocated I felt unsettled and anxious. As much as I had tried in the past, I just didn’t trust that Kurt and I were actually grounded. But times had changed since our run of bad luck that began in 1984 through the1990’s and even into 2003. I had been battling serious health concerns. Together, we faced trying times and circumstances from cancer, bankruptcy, and plain tough breaks. Misfortune had plagued us, but at last I felt my footing was finally secure and so I was breathing easier about life and feeling a deep sense of calming serenity.
 Our home was a beautiful white, beige and red brick 3000 square foot ranch house on nearly two acres with a full size pool and Jacuzzi, formal dining room, living room, family room, studio room, three bedrooms and a wonderful full size kitchen in the San Fernando Valley. In our luxurious back yard Kurt had planted an elaborate rose garden with the most elegant high quality Tea Roses I had ever seen in breath taking colors and scents. The rose garden was my pride. Feeling great joy as I tended the roses that were so lovingly planted for me, along with an elaborate drip watering system and rose lady bird bath fountain I was enveloped by bliss in the warm California sunshine while I pruned and cultivated. Bordering the fence line under our gigantic Date Palm tree, Kurt had also planted a large section of Purple Bearded Iris and Day Lilies. On the west end of the rose garden was my beautiful vegetable garden. My hands were full with my daily gardening tasks but I was happy as I absorbed a full dose of fresh air and nature each day, and it was thrilling to bring in an array of breathtaking long stem roses by the dozens that I would place in large containers of fresh water throughout the entire house, and huge harvest baskets filled with lettuce, radishes, onions, beets, corn, artichokes, green beans and every other vegetable you can think of, including potatoes.
But now it was December and while I watched the Christmas lights twinkling in our front yard, I was overwhelmed by gratitude for having survived so much upheaval in my life and I looked forward to the weekend approaching; filled with plans to decorate the inside of our home and our Christmas tree. The outdoor lights were a tradition for Kurt and I and each year he went to great lengths to erect our twenty foot tall candy cane made from PVC pipe that he wound with motion lights and somehow managed to keep the candy cane upright all throughout the windy winter season in Southern California. We enjoyed decorating and entertaining our many friends with pool parties and barbecues and special Christmas dinners. It was always a magical time for us. And this year was not unlike the years before when we received so many Christmas cards from friends and loved ones that our entire family room was filled with greetings from all over the nation. As the Christmas mail began to flood our box, I became inundated by the ever growing stack of envelopes to open, therefore, a pile of cards sat on our counter bar in the family room and we both enjoyed opening the greetings together each evening when Kurt returned home from work.
Indeed, it was a time of contentment and I was unwilling to allow anything or anyone to interfere with our hard earned lifestyle. Although we had many friends and acquaintances, our little family unit was tight knit with a wall of armor around us. Love and devotion could not be penetrated with anything to harm the life we so deeply treasured. So it was quite unsettling when we discovered a card from Brenda Thomas sitting in the stack on the counter bar.
Brenda Thomas. Just thinking of her gave me the shivers. Quickly I dropped the card into the trash can in the kitchen without opening it. I had absolutely no desire to open that card. No interest in reading any of her dribble about how much she missed me or wanted to repair our broken friendship; a friendship that began when I was just a girl of fourteen years old. Brenda joined our family as my sister-in-law when she married my brother. Memories of the turmoil and recent heartache caused by Brenda and my nephew, their son Robert, haunted me as I tossed the card into the trash. But Kurt would not hear of simply discarding her attempt of reconnecting with us after so many months of silence, on my part. So he recovered the card and insisted that we open it. I pleaded with him to just throw it out, burn it, stomp on it, kill it like an evil demon, but he would not hear of this. He didn’t feel it was right to ignore Brenda’s effort to reach out to us so he opened the envelope himself and handed the card to me.
Her handwriting had not change in all the years I had known her but now it appeared so sloppy and loose and quite rushed as I examined each and every word with great determination to figure out what she was attempting to convey. Practically illegible, nonsense was scrawled across the two sides of the greeting card and I quickly recognized her crocodile tears, her plea to rekindle our relationship. “Please Sue,” she begged, “I miss my best friend.” Funny, I thought to myself, she doesn't behave like a best friend behaves. What does she want now? There has to be a motive…because she always has a motive.
I tossed the card back into the trash where it belonged and then I made my way down the steps into the family room just off the kitchen. I wasn't in the mood to allow this uninvited intrusion into my thoughts so I began to distract myself with television. While I had been reading the card Kurt walked outside to light the pool heater for my evening swim so I watched a few minutes of a Christmas movie on TCM as I waited for him to come back into the house. I simply wanted to enjoy our special season with peace and cheer. But now Brenda had invaded my thoughts, she crept back into my psyche and I was unable to stop thinking about her and my nephew, his children, the drama of the last few years within our fractured family and soon oceans of pain came flooding over me like a tidal wave. Unable to focus on the television, I poured myself and Kurt a glass of wine and went out back to join him in the yard. I walked around my rose garden and then into the veggie garden to check on my plants, spying for nibbles on leaves, vines and stalks. All looked well and so colorful with a light breeze making music on my chimes and moving yard art parts in circular motion. I loved my gardens and felt such peace as I breathed in the wonderful aroma of fresh winter broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, both red and green, carrots and leftover yams from the late fall harvest. I sat down on my gardening bench and watched the shadows cast from the yard lights dance across the freshly cultivated soil. I closed my eyes then, for just a moment, to release the anxiety brought on by that card sitting in the trash can in the kitchen. The light washed over the garden and I exhaled out, the negativity that was creeping in. I sat quietly, turning up my eyes, breathing in now, ever so slowly, a quiet chant on the fullness of my pursed lips. “I love you God, I love you I love you I love you.” I repeated my little chant of love ten or twenty times. “Are you listening Divine Mother? Do you hear what’s in my heart tonight?” Another three or four sips of wine and I was ready for a hard swim in the pool and then a good long soak in the Jacuzzi under the winter moon and stars.
The days that followed were filled with trepidation and anxiety. It was critical to me that I thoroughly examined the consequences of contacting Brenda. An attempt to repair our broken relationship could ultimately be very harmful. There was so much pain in our past, mostly caused by her son, Robert, who had managed to turn my world upside down when he made the personal decision to excommunicate me from his life. Because of Brenda’s powerful use of deception, caused by her need to control and connive, she systematically drove Robert against me during one of the most difficult times of my life.
It was in 2003 during a time of great personal suffering and I needed my family to love and support me and to care for me. But, Brenda and Robert were nowhere to be found. Well, that’s not entirely true, I suppose. She was there the morning of my surgery at St. Joseph’s Hospital. She was there with Kurt, waiting for me to survive the form of cervical cancer surgery that had turned our little world into a panic zone filled with the unknown and fear. But the moment I returned home from the hospital, she returned to her home, leaving my post-operative care to Kurt and my sister. It was as if she had completed her obligation to me, to see me through the initial surgery, but that was as far as she was willing to go. I remember thinking how odd it was that she wanted to leave so quickly, but I believed her when she said she hadn't been feeling well and just wanted to go home.
Sister sat next to my bed in an upright chair watching over me as Kurt prepared a little broth for me to sip. Together they tried to help me sit up, but I was unable to because the pain was simply too much for me to bear. No matter how many ice packs we stuffed into my panties, the pain was so incredible, to this day I can’t believe I made it through. Pain pills were my saving grace, along with a strong dose of nausea medication. One day led to another and another as I slept in a deep fog from the drugs. It was five full days later before I was aware enough to realize that I had not heard one word from either Brenda, or Robert. During the weeks that followed my surgery, my relationship with Robert deteriorated into a strange and eerie silence. Having to focus all of my attention on healing, I spoke to Brenda on the telephone only occasionally when she decided to pick up. Each time we talked I asked her about Robert. Why hasn't he called? Where is he? What did I do to deserve this? Why has he decided to shun me? She gave me a few sketchy details; Robert was in transit from Louisiana to Bakersfield where he will be working in a new position as a manager for Walmart. He will be living with my brother temporarily until he finds his own place. He has no phone, he has no way of contacting me. And once he arrives in California he will begin working full time immediately and won’t have time for much of anything.
Nothing about the situation between the three of us felt right. For many years we depended on each other and thrived on knowing we had each other as family. My father and I had helped to raise Robert when he was young. And Brenda and I were as close as sisters. I could not understand why they were pulling away and I noticed that she had changed. Not just toward me, but she had changed internally. There was something different about her that I couldn't put my finger on. Something was wrong. But I was too busy with my own problems to figure out what was the matter with her, or with him, so I decided to let it rest for a while. I waited two weeks and then placed a call to the High Desert where Brenda was living with her husband, Myles. When she answered the phone it was a very comfortable conversation in the beginning. We chatted for a few minutes sharing like we always had and having a laugh or two about nothing in particular.  But the moment I asked about Robert there was a deep silent pause. Her hesitation was deafening. It screamed as an alarm, warning me of the pain that was about to come from the blow she was about to strike me down with. “Robert doesn't want you to know anything about him, Sue. I can’t tell you anything and I don’t have any answers for you.”
“What are you talking about? What is he talking about? Why won’t he call me? Please, just tell him to call me. I can take anything he has to say. I don’t know what I did to deserve this from him but I can handle him telling me off. But I can’t handle him continuing to ignore me. Please, just have him call me right away.”
“It’s not going to happen, Sue. You need to give it some time.”
“Time? It’s already been weeks since my surgery. I haven’t talked to him since the night before I went into the hospital.”
“I know.”
“Brenda, what’s really going on? You need to level with me. You must tell me the truth.”
“There’s no truth to tell. This is what he wants, so you need to accept this. You’re better off anyway, you know what a jerk he is. Just think, you don’t have to deal with him at all and you can be free of his attitude!” She laughed as I cried and lay my head on the table. “Just let him go, Sue, you’re better off.”
“Brenda, what are you talking about? Why are you saying such terrible things about your own son?”
“You know he’s a hot head and a pain in the butt. Now you don’t have to deal with him.”
In that sentence, I knew there was something terribly wrong. There had to be something so dark, that she couldn't tell me the truth. And the weeks went on and on like this, the same conversation filled with my tears and her avoidance of the truth. I begged and pleaded to see my nephew. I cried and screamed and begged her to have him call me. I called my brother’s home and was told that he had no idea where Robert was. I was being lied to by his parents and I didn't know why. Each night Kurt and I went to bed, I had to get up and go into the guest room to try to fall asleep alone because I couldn't stop crying and my moaning in gut wrenching pain from losing my nephew was keeping Kurt awake. Thoughts of my nephew ran through my head like a video playing over and over again. Images of him sitting with my father when he was still alive reminded me that my father would not want me to give up on his “Bobby.” His grandson meant everything to him and he had always made me promise that I would watch out for him and I felt that Kurt and I had always kept that promise. We had helped him out of tight spots for several years and were there for him as much as we could be. I held up my promise to my father, and so the silent treatment from Robert was even more troubling; because we had been especially good and kind to him, and to Brenda. And yet, time ticked on. And on.
A full year later I had not heard one word from Robert and continued to listen to the lousy excuses from Brenda. I was no longer able to speak to her on the phone; to hear her lies and excuses became excruciating. So, I suffered in silence as the most personal area of my body was healing nicely from the surgical removal of the cancerous lesions and my blood tests and biopsies were all returning back from the lab, negative for any more cancer cells. I was given a clean bill of health from my doctor. I was officially cancer free and yet I felt as though I was dying. 


  1. I am hooked. I love this story and I can't wait to find out what happens next. This is such great writing! I can see everything in her garden and in her life. I am already invested in this story. Susie Rosso Wolf really knows how to captivate her readers. Thanks,
    Tamara Deems

  2. This is Phenomenal, Your descriptions are captivating. Your mastery of details is amazing, Its so vivid, I can see the garden as if I were there, I can feel the upset caused by Brenda's card, I can feel the pain of your past. This is a very good read and I think you are a very gifted writer from the onset, you tell your story very elaborately and capture your readers attention intimately, your language is prolific and I must acclaim this very highly! Keep it up, I am gonna look at everything else you have written, this has left a very good impression on me!!


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~ Susie Rosso Wolf

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