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, January 29, 2012

10.S02 Chapter Ten, Snippet Two

Duke & Dinky During the First Snow Storm of Fall/Winter 2006
Three Forks, Montana

New Prairie Woman
Susie Rosso Wolf
Chapter Ten, con't

The ground was covered in several inches of frozen icy covered snow and each step I took in my tennis shoes was crunchy and cold. Robert was right, indeed, we needed to buy the necessary gear to survive out here. I stopped at the water hydrant to fill the water jugs I left there on my way up to the big house and was surprised by how long it took for the water to come up from the well. Several minutes later I finally had a good flow going, speeding up the trickle that first made its way out of the spout. I shivered as I filled the second jug and made a mental note that I needed some good waterproof gloves as well as a good hat that covered my ears and the sides of my face. I was freezing there, at the hydrant, and knew I’d be even colder while I drew the water from the well as the temperatures dropped in the near future. The second jug was full so I grabbed onto both handles and walked them up to the trailer. The dogs were happy to see me and barked as I came through the gate. They were barking a lot so I turned and realized that Robert’s ranch dog, Duke, was right behind me wanting inside the corral to play with our three mutts. Since we had moved here Duke and Brenda’s two border collie’s, Misty and Wyatt, were fascinated with their new K-9 neighbors but it was Duke, who was a wild and untrained maniac, who behaved better than the other two. Misty and Wyatt only wanted to fight, whereas Duke simply wanted to play. “Not now Duke, we’re going to town so you need to get on home.” He cocked his head and moaned a little and then jumped up on the gate and cried. “No Duke, you’ll have to wait until later, we’re going to town. We’ll see you later tonight, okay?” He whimpered as I watered the roses and then headed for the trailer door after filling up the outside water bowl. I set the empty jugs down in their designated spot.
Kurt opened the door and said “Okay.”
I said “Okay what?”
Kurt said, “Okay Susie I’ll see you later tonight,” and then he made a barking sound and panted with his hands up like paws. I patted him on his head and said "good boy" and we both laughed. “Talking English to dogs again aren’t you? That was a full conversation!”
“Yes it was. And yes I’m guilty but I can’t help it I know they understand me so why not talk to them?”
“I’m not sure Duke does understand but he sure is a great dog.”
“You still like him a lot, don’t you?”
“Duke? You bet! He’s great! Wish he were our dog.”
“Kurt, don’t start that again, please.”
“Okay, I know he’s not ours but I do like him and he likes me.”
“You have three dogs of your own that like you too so pay some attention to them and put them in the truck so we can get going before it snows again, okay? You just can’t go around trying to adopt a dog that belongs to someone else! Keep it up and we’ll be back in a huge family war.” Kurt ignored me as I admonished him about bonding too closely with Duke. Gosh, he sure loves dogs I think the man missed his calling he should have been a veterinarian or a dog breeder or something like that. I looked at him while he continued to ignore me, exasperated as usual by the talent men have of not hearing their wives when they have something important to say.
“Okay, let’s go you guys, get in the truck.” Kurt whistled for them and the ever obedient mother, father and daughter came running toward Old Blackie. I closed the trailer door after grabbing my purse and headed for the truck. We were all together in the old bouncy thing, with the windows rolled up and the heater blasting. I said a quiet prayer for our safety as we made our way up Old Town Road toward the two bridges over the partially frozen Jefferson River. I put my hand inside my pants pocket making sure I had my rosary with me. Kurt turned left onto Frontage Road, deciding to take the old country road to Bozeman rather than the freeway. I was happy with his decision because the country road was a beautiful scenic drive and this would be my first view of the landscape covered in snow.

We crossed over the Jefferson, The Missouri and then in Logan we drove alongside the Madison as we headed for Manhattan. The three rivers were flowing but it was apparent that the weather had drastically changed since the last time we drove this route. Icy bergs frozen solid built up over the surface of the water with broken branches of trees that bobbed down river in the narrow thoroughfare of water still moving. The banks were bashed and concealed by tremendous bergs that seemed unreal to my beach bum eyes. As I looked out the passenger side window of our old truck I couldn’t help but think of my ocean and wonder what was more dangerous the power of the ocean or the terror of a frozen river. Only God knew the answer, of course but my curiosity led me to a sickness in my stomach and a headache that would probably have been diagnosed as homesickness. As the landscape whizzed by my window I imagined sitting at my table in the kitchen, talking with Sister as I served her a plate of my vegetarian spaghetti sauce that she liked so much with a good amount of fresh made garlic bread and my wonderful Italian salad covered in grape tomatoes cucumber slices black olives thin slices of red Bermuda onion pepperoncini peppers chunks of mozzarella cheese grated zucchini and grated parmesan. Sister missed me too, I knew, because she frequently called my cell phone to chat and check up on me. Leaving my sister was very difficult and painful and now I carried that pain with me as we drove twenty-five miles an hour through the tiny town of Manhattan with one stop sign at the Main Street intersection. Passing by the Volunteer Fire Department, local one-stop grocery market (the size of an AM/PM) and the Elks Lodge reminded me once again that home was long off, far, far away and that I’d better get rid of the sourpuss mug on my face, perk up, stop with the pity party and enjoy the drive.
The closer we came to Belgrade the slower Kurt drove because Frontage Road was completely iced over now very slick and dangerous and the many white crosses dotting the roadside were once again a reminder that all it takes to own one of those crosses is one wrong move that lands us into the ditch at a high speed. So Kurt crept into Belgrade at the same twenty-five mile an hour speed limit of Manhattan and now Belgrade proper. All of the other cars on the road in Belgrade were driving just as slow as we were, some slower, which added to the surreal effect that Montana was having on me. It was so beautiful and eerie and frozen and yet it was also dangerous and still and silent and peaceful. Yes it was a peaceful scene which was what pulled me back from the loneliness fear and depression that I was feeling. The peace of it all was too much to ignore as we made our way through Belgrade towards Bozeman and the closer we got to Bozeman the more magnificent the ride became with the Bridger Mountains practically smacking us right in the face with their massive snow pack and peaks that literally became one with the pure white snow filled sky. My mouth would not shut as I looked up at the remarkable scene above us. Never in my life had I seen such a sight with the clouds dipping down onto the mountains and then streaks of pink and grey and blue dancing in-between peak to peak. A sight I’d soon not forget. It was a sight that cured my inner blathering and filled me with an excitement that is to this day indescribable.
Frontage Road led straight to Murdoch’s on Seventh Street just as Robert had instructed. Kurt turned right into their parking lot and the dogs began to pace in the back seat and Lilly was stomping on poor Cutter with her rudeness as she began to sing and cry. Dinky was panting which was a signal that she needed to get out and go. I waited in the truck while Kurt let them out for a few moments and then quickly they all climbed back into the back seat of Old Blackie. It was too cold to crack the windows so we told them we would be right back and then patted them all on their heads before we shut them in and locked the doors.
Walking across the parking lot was quite a challenge for me and I scolded myself for not asking to be dropped off at the door. It was very hard walking on ice in tennis shoes. But soon I forgot the strain of the walk into the store because the store itself was thrilling. I’d never been to a ranch supply before; this was an interesting and foreign experience for me. Farm implements, equine supplies, veterinary supplies such as vaccination items for domestic animals as well as ranch and farm animals. Tools, electrical equipment, feed and seed and a full fledge nursery as well. They had everything you needed here, and more. We enjoyed walking up and down the aisles together getting our eyes full of new and interesting things. I drooled looking at all of the cowboy boots and shoes and then I discovered the women’s department. While Kurt quickly high tailed it into the men’s aisles where they carried everything from rubber bib-coveralls to skiing gear, I took in the sights of the beautiful clothes and shoes and hats and purses and leather belts and soon I was trying on warm Carhart jackets as instructed by Robert. Disappointment hit me hard though when I realized that the largest size of Carhart jackets in the ladies section was an extra-large. I knew I was going to require at least a double X, an XXL. But I tried the XL anyway and was so embarrassed that I could not get one arm into the arm hole. My God they cut these jackets small, I said to myself while I cringed at my heaviness. Why do I have to be so fat? I’m getting so sick of this weight. Now what am I going to do? I discovered other brands of heavy winter jackets made for extreme weather and began to try them only to discover the exact same issue with each one I pulled on. This store did not carry women’s jackets, sweatshirts, blouses, pants or anything else for that matter in big lady sizes. The truth was, I had been avoiding the truth for quite some time and here I realized that I was beyond heavy now. It was a humbling reality for me to face but more important it was an inconvenience because I needed this special clothing to survive living out in that trailer in my first Montana winter. What am I going to do?
Kurt came alongside me while I walked around in a daze and asked why I didn’t have anything in my shopping cart yet. He was holding onto a jacket and some heavy work boot socks and some Carhart full body coveralls insulated with quilted padding. I had nothing to show for the forty minutes spent in the women’s department. I sighed, put my head down in shame with tears rolling down my checks to my chin and then I felt Kurt’s hand lift my face up. I looked in his eyes while squeezing out the tears. I leaned into him, bent close to his right ear and in a whisper I said “I’m too big for any of the clothes here and I don’t know what to do.”
“Oh come on! There has to be something here that fits you,” he said in a discrete whisper.
“No, there isn’t anything not one thing fits. I’m sorry Kurt.”
“Don’t be sorry it’s okay,” he said as he too sighed while his eyes scanned the women’s department thinking I might have missed something. “Did you try those coats over there on the back wall?”
“Yes Kurt, I’ve looked at everything.” More tears continued to flood my face painting it with streaks of pain humiliation and shame.
“Well, let’s go look in the men’s department have you looked over there? They have a huge section of jackets and coats I bet we can find something. Come on Babe.” With deep kindness he led the way with one hand on the middle of my back. We walked up the men’s jacket aisle and stopped half way in the middle. “What size do you think we should look at?”
“I have no idea because men’s sizes are different than women’s, I guess we should start with a 38 or something like that.”
“Okay, a 38, there they are right there.” He pulled a sandstone colored jacket off the heavy coat hanger it hung on and held the sleeves open for me to slip an arm into. Shame, once again, covered me like a blanket of fresh snow. My arm could only get in the arm hole as far as the end of my forearm.
“Nope, I’m going to need something much bigger I can tell you that right now.”
“Okay, don’t worry, we’ll find something.”
“I hope so,” I cried. He looked at me with such sympathy . He knew I was embarrassed. He knew this was hurting me because I have always been so private about my weight, my size, how much I actually do weigh and anything to do with my weight in general. One by one we went through the sizes until we came close to the end of the long rack of choices. Just as Kurt was pulling off another jacket from its hanger a salesgirl walked past us, went up the next aisle and then turned back around. Coming towards us I cowered, not wanting her to ask if we needed help.
“Are you finding everything you need today? Is there something I can help you with?” She asked so sweetly, as I melted into a puddle of grief right there on the sales floor, mourning the woman I wanted to be but the woman that I wasn’t; trim, fit, cute, sexy, attractive, gorgeous, young, petite, adorable, well put together, a dish, beautiful…or all of the above. Kurt looked up at her and then back at me with worry on his face knowing I was freaking out not wanting this young cute girl to wait on us. I broke the silence between us as he held his breath.
“Well, to be honest I’m having difficulty finding anything warm to fit me in your store. I tried everything in the ladies department but that was a joke. Apparently you don’t carry Plus Sizes?”
“No, I’m sorry, no we don’t, no Plus Sizes, but I’d be happy to help you find something in this department. Do you have something special in mind?”
“Yes I do, I need something to fit over this belly and my big arms.” She practically gasped at my honesty and then she looked down at my gigantic stomach and quickly moved to the end of the aisle where the largest sizes were hanging. She pulled out a dark brown jacket, waist length, size 48. She held it open for me as I tried to slip my arm up into the sleeve. This time the arm did travel up to the shoulder but the jacket was gapped open in the front by several inches. She looked straight forward, did not make eye contact with either Kurt or me and then she grabbed another jacket in a size 50. My heart folded over as I physically felt both heart and soul break in two from sheer mortification. I tried the jacket on and again it could not be zipped closed. At that point I knew there was nowhere else to look so I thanked her for her help but she interrupted me by saying that she had a few coats in the back room she could look at if I was willing to wait for a few minutes. We agreed to wait and I thanked her for her efforts.
There were no words between us as Kurt and I walked the aisles finding many items to add to the shopping cart. Mere words could not heal the wound of the obesity issue that oozed over into our marriage so we walked along the edges of heartache in public as my husband gently held my hand and gave to me the sweetness of a loving spouse with tender smiles of understanding and compassion. We found very warm waterproof gloves for both of us and a warm wool hat for me that tied around my face underneath my chin and covered my ears. We walked over to the boot department and discovered the Sorel boots for extreme cold temperatures. Just as I was about to try on a pair I heard her voice at the top of the boot aisle. “I found something that might fit if you want to take a look at it.”
“Oh, thank you so much,” I said while my eyes zeroed in on the solid black monstrosity she held by the top of its heavy-duty coat hanger. Calling this thing ugly was a gross understatement but at this point with the snow falling harder each hour and not knowing the area well enough yet to shop around, realizing that the choices were limited anyway because this wasn’t Los Angeles with millions of stores in every neighborhood and the fact that our three dogs were freezing out in the truck I knew that this might be my only shot at finding the right jacket in a hurry. I followed her back to the coat aisle where there was room to try on the jacket because the boot section was quite narrow. She held the jacket open by the collar and I slipped my arm into the right sleeve and then I slipped my other arm into the left sleeve. Kurt and the salesgirl both looked at me with anticipation hoping that I could zip this jacket closed. But the jacket was so big and so very heavy and bulky that I had difficulty maneuvering my arms down to the zipper pulley that I couldn’t see over my belly. I couldn’t reach the pulley with my belly in the way and the weight of these cumbersome sleeves.
“Here, let me help you,” Kurt intervened. He grabbed onto the metal parts and connected them as I held my breath, sucking in my stomach as I listened to the sound of metal on metal zipping up to close the enormous jacket. Relief washed over me and over Kurt too. The ugly thing fit me. Hip Hip Hooray. “Hey! It fits!”
“Oh yay, I’m so excited.” I turned to the salesgirl and extended my hand to hers. She looked down at my hand and held onto it for a moment as I looked directly into her eyes. I mustered up my dignity to thank her for her time and patience. She had just witnessed my ego being chopped up into tiny little pieces and yet she held it together and remained completely professional, never casting her feelings whatsoever toward me. I felt nothing from her other than her ability to do her job well at all times. There’s something to be said for that. She briefly made eye contact with me and then dropped her eyes down to the floor before she walked up the aisle and back to the warehouse. God I hope I never have to meet her again. Kurt asked me if I wanted to go into the women’s department to look at myself in the jacket. I said no. I knew how I looked in it why did I need to torture myself? “No, I just want to go home now.”
“You want to go home? You mean back to the trailer, right?”
“Yeah, yes, back to the trailer,” I lied. I wanted to see my gardens again and to sit with Jo on my swing and talk all day. I wanted to meditate in the sunshine up at Lake Shrine and feel the ocean breeze caress my face. I wanted to run and hide under a rock at the jetty at Toes Beach where I could never be found again. I wanted to spend the rest of my life sitting on the jetty watching the breakers crash in. The reality of my life was that I had gained so much weight from being laid up from my knee injury, and other past illnesses, that the only jacket in Murdoch’s Ranch Supply Store that I could squeeze my massive self into was a man’s size 56  Carhart in black with black corduroy on the collar and on the sleeves. It was the ugliest piece of clothing I had ever seen and here it was in a giant brown bag in the back seat of our truck. I sat in the passenger seat and looked out the window as the snow continued to fall in record amounts, so they would say. My heart hurt with shame pounding and pounding while tears fell again. Kurt drove the old black truck in silence; never taking his eyes off the snow covered Frontage Road. I knew that I was very fortunate to have him, a husband who would not only show me the respect and compassion that he had in that store. I knew he was just as mortified as I had been, if not more, but he never lost his cool and he never criticized me or judged me. He only wanted me to be warm.
When we returned to the trailer we unloaded our many packages. The new snow boots were put into the tiny little trailer closet along with Kurt’s Carhart coveralls. We put the gloves and hats in the overhead compartments above the kitchen table and the socks and thermal underwear that we bought for Kurt went into the drawers next to the closet. We had tried to find some thermal underwear for me but again, Murdoch’s did not carry Plus Size clothing.
Kurt sat down at the kitchen table in our little twenty foot trailer and asked me to make him some lunch. He sat and watched me prepare a tuna melt sandwich and a cup of hot tomato soup. I served my husband his meal and then I began to clean the stove and the sink and the pot and the fry pan. “Where’s your lunch?”
“I’m not hungry,” I answered.
“Susie, you haven’t eaten all day, come on Baby, have something.”
“I’m really not hungry, trust me. I couldn’t eat a thing right now.” I looked back at him from where I stood at the sink to see his face covered in concern but I spoke not one word about what had happened in Bozeman that day nor did I allow one emotion to escape from my soul. I held onto my heart of hearts and cried a waterfall of gushing tears internally, but after what I had just put this man through I was not going to burden him with my pain and shame and personal torment. He simply didn’t deserve having to deal with my obesity and I knew that very soon he would have the world on his shoulders as we began to clear the land we had just purchased from Helicopter Dan, our soon to be neighbor, and then attempt to build his steel building that he would eventually call his shop. Kurt had an enormous amount of stress ahead of him. He simply didn’t need the added burden of worrying about my feelings of being overweight. Kurt didn’t need to worry about me at all.
“Are you sure Susie? Won’t you have half of my sandwich it’s really too much for me. Come on Babe.”
“No sweetheart, you go ahead and eat while I go up to the well and fill a bucket of water to wash the dishes with later. I’ll be right back, okay?”
“Okay, but you better be careful out there.”
“I’ll be careful,” I promised, as I put on my new jacket and my new hat and gloves. I opened the trailer door, stepped down onto the steel step and before I could shut the door behind me I felt a scream vibrate in my chest as I landed onto the frozen snow covered ground. It happened so fast it felt like it was in slow motion. The new jacket was so cumbersome that I could not see the steps well enough and I missed the second step leading down to the ground. Kurt came running down the steps in his sneakers but without a jacket on to help lift me to my feet as I wailed a bloody cry for help with a split lip a bit tongue and a sprained right ankle. “Oh this is just great,” I cried, as Kurt held onto my elbow and led me back up the steps and into the trailer. I peeled off the jacket, hating it of course, and cursing at the beastly thing and then I made my way up the aisle to the beds. I sat on my bed resting my foot up on Kurt’s mattress. The ankle was swollen and turning color quickly. He grabbed a kitchen towel and put some ice cubes from the little freezer into it and placed it on the fleshy mound that was beginning to rise. After a while Kurt grabbed the two water jugs and made his way up to the hydrant to fill them both. The dogs waited patiently for him at the gate until he returned. He poured some water into the dark blue enameled camp coffee pot that was sitting on the stove and began to boil the water. He plugged the sink, put the dirty dishes down inside, added some dish detergent and boiling hot water and some cold water to cool it down to acceptable temperature. He washed and dried the dishes for me while I sat up with my back against the room divider wall behind my bed. When he was finished with the dishes he sat down on his bed, held my hand in silence and then laid down on his bed for a nap. I sat there with my legs out and my right foot elevated on a stack of pillows. The snow kept falling that day and into the night while my husband softly snored like a baby while harmonizing with our three patient and devoted dogs.

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