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

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chapter Twelve, Snippet Two

Kurt, Robert & Duke Building a Fence Run for Horses on Robert's Land
Three Forks, MT - July, 2006

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

We both regretted having to chop down two of the beautiful Conifer trees in order to cut in our driveway  that would lead up to Kurt’s workshop and to the house, but there wasn’t any other choice if we wanted to fulfill Kurt’s vision of the scene that he had blueprinted in his mind. I found him on the Kubota tractor using the back hoe to dig out the stump from one of the trees. I couldn’t determine if he felt my presence there, in Zippie, or not, but he lifted his head and looked straight at me then looked down at the stump again. I waved at him, pantomiming a fork going up to my mouth in an attempt to say it’s time to eat but he ignored me and kept on working. I waited several more minutes for him to stop but he was determined to get that stump out of the ground. I shut the engine off and walked over to him. He knew I was standing there but continued to ignore me, fully intent on getting that thing out. I knew at that point I would be standing there forever so I walked back to Zippie and drove over to the paddock. Let him look for me when he’s hungry, darn it, I’m not going to be ignored like that again. Darn men, anyway.
Sulking while I fed my face with the brownies, my self-esteem crumbled further and all I could think about was how awful I was, as a person I mean, and how my lack of discipline was ruining my life. In the middle of my pity party binge, my cell phone rang and it was Sister. She called to ask how I was doing and to be updated on our progress. We talked for a while, actually had a very nice conversation and then said good-bye. After hanging up the phone I thought about Sister and her devotion to her meditation and SRF. Inspired by her resolve to live a spiritual life, I put the brownies in the little refrigerator and leaned back against the room divider next to my bed and tried to turn my eyes up. It had been at least a month since I last meditated, it seemed that long ago anyway, so it felt odd to close myself off from everything here in this new place so that I could commune with God, perhaps attain His guidance and find some peace, some freedom from this compulsiveness with food that had forever plagued me. I fidgeted for a good while but eventually I settled into a deep meditation that lifted me up and calmed me down. I was calm and refreshed and knew that I had desperately needed that aloneness with God. This was an exercise in sense memory. When I sense that I’m out of whack because of static, chaos, negativity, anger, frustration, attitudes from others, loneliness…fear, I need to remember that I can always go to God for balance and love. An hour later I was startled by the door rattling open and Kurt’s voice asking me what was for lunch.
“I’ve been keeping some burritos and pizza sticks warm for you in the oven.”
“Pizza sticks? What’s a pizza stick?”
“A pizza stick is a pizza on a stick and you will love it.”
“A pizza on a stick? You’re lying.”
“How do you know I’m lying?” I began to laugh and giggle and then cackled uncontrollably. Kurt looked at me and started to laugh too. He knew me too well, that man. I opened the oven and pulled out the pan of food covered in foil. He could smell the delicious aroma of the fried goodies and his eyes opened wide when he looked at the pizza sticks that were basically deep fried pizza dough in the shape of a long flat stick that was filled with pizza sauce cheese and chopped pepperoni. Delicious, let me tell you. It didn’t take long for him to gobble up the snacks including a brownie for dessert. He felt full after all of that and wanted nothing more than to lie down for a long nap but instead he put his jacket back on, his knit cap and work gloves as he headed out the door to make his way back to our land. Meditating had helped me, I knew, because the urge to continue to binge on high amounts of calories faded away while I decided if I would clean the little trailer, water the roses that didn’t look too good these days, visit with the dogs here or walk them over to the land so I could lend a hand before the day ended without me doing anything productive whatsoever.
Cutter, Lilly and Dinky followed me in single file across Conifer Trail and the four of us went straight to the tractor to watch the removal of the enormous tree stump being lifted from the ground with the new machine that cost of a small fortune. What a great machine though, it really was. Expensive, but I realized that at the end of the day it would be worth every penny if you compared its cost with the cost of a rental on a daily basis for God only knew how long. And then if you factor in that we would need to plow snow, mow down weeds and sage that would grow in the way of our little storage business customers, well I figured I could accept the cost in the end. But I was worried now, about money, Kurt was spending it like water on all of our needs and his supplies. He’d already spent more than twenty thousand dollars on the expense of the steel to build the shop and we still needed to pay for the lumber for it and the construction cost too. The numbers were ticking upward and I didn’t like that but I tried not worry because I trusted Kurt and knew, without a doubt, that he knew what he was doing. Robert had promised Kurt that he would help him build the shop and put up all of the fences around our land so that would save us a great deal in labor expense. It would be good for them too, to work together. They were a great team when they got going. During our second trip to Montana Kurt helped Robert place all of his posts and fencing on his land and it was lovely watching them work so well together. I always marveled how much they cared for each other. Kurt really loved Robert and I know that deep in his heart, somewhere, buried underneath all of his confusion and mistrust that Robert remembers how much he loved Kurt when he was just a young kid who looked up to his uncle. So, I was looking forward to the day that we were ready to rent a fence post pounder so Robert could spend time with Kurt while together they would build the fences, hang the gates we will need for our vehicles to enter the property. It was going to be a huge undertaking, but one that promised to be fun and fulfilling. Before we could get started on construction we had to secure the property so that our dogs were safe from coyotes and other threatening prey. And we also needed the fencing for the future livestock we had planned to raise. I was hoping for two horses in the future, I so desperately wanted to ride, to experience the true nature of Montana. This was horse country and I could see, in my own vision, a nice little barn in our future and a stall and a hitching post outside our back door. And, I envisioned myself thin and fit dressed in a western shirt with jeans and boots on, a scarf tied around my neck and a cowboy hat on my head. I could see myself sitting high in the saddle as I looked out at the big sky and mountains then down at my horse to give him a pat and tell him he’s a good boy. I could see myself thin and confident as I swung my leg over my horse to get up into the saddle, but as quick as I envisioned this scene reality bled through my fantasy and the true picture of my self image appeared, wiping out the hope of ever getting my body up onto a horse.
Another day passed by, one filled with hard work and sweat and the next day was more of the same as Kurt worked on the second tree stump removal. He successfully yanked the huge knotty thing from the hard prairie ground and now we were ready to call our general contractor to let him know that we have opened up the area for a driveway which will be the entrance for his trucks and machinery that he will use to excavate the land for the foundation of our new modular home that was currently being built in Nebraska. According to Montana Homes of Belgrade, the house would be completed and ready for installation onto the foundation no later than November’s end. I was feeling exhilaration now, running through me with sweet sensation at the thought of our new home being flown by a gigantic crane that will lower it onto the foundation. I could see it now, in my mind’s eye, I could see the lovely pastel creamy ivory yellow color that I chose for the house with the white and blue-gray-slate trim. I couldn’t wait to get out of the trailer so that we could begin our new life in the beautiful little house that will sit facing the four mountain ranges of Southwestern Montana.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Chapter Twelve, Snippet One

A Subtle Evening Sky With The Moon Rising Through Our Trees On Conifer Trail.
Three Forks, MT- October, 2006

New Prairie Woman
Susie Rosso Wolf
Chapter Twelve

            The weather was holding beautifully while we continued to work our land and as it began to shape up and come together in Kurt’s mind, seeing his vision form into reality each hour that we worked, my thoughts moved away from being called an old broken down mule and of the tension that we sometimes experienced with the family. Hard work has a way of fixing things in one’s head so that we can move out of the stale smoke left behind from burnt up feelings and emotions, and get back into the clear fresh air. Finally now it felt good to inhale all of the crisp Montana air each morning soon after the sun came up peeking through the trailer curtains. Kurt was vigilant and driven, behaving in a manner I had not seen before. Kurt was the master of his ship now, carrying out his plan for our future and knowing exactly how he was going to get it all done. Kurt never missed a beat in those early days of transplanting ourselves from Northridge to Three Forks and I was in awe by his strength and determination.
            The tube of Aspercream was bone dry and I knew I’d be in trouble without more of this magic potion that was preventing me from becoming a crippled, useless pain in the rear end, so I ventured out on my own for the first time since we had moved while Kurt continued to work on the land and prepare for his meeting with the general contractor we had hired who was on his way in from Townsend to meet up with us that afternoon. I drove Zippie up Old Town Road with curios enthusiasm, happy that I had the presence of mind to bring my pocket camera along on this drive. The rolling hills of golden prairie grass was home to deer, antelope, coyotes, wolves, fox, occasionally a moose and any other form of wildlife that was hungry enough to venture down to the bottom land from up top the mountains. I wanted to make sure I had my camera with me at all times because this place was a treasure chest filled with beauty and remarkable experiences yet to come. 
             But I didn't see anything that moved or was unusual that day as I headed to the bridges over the magical Jefferson and then up the end of the road to Frontage. I knew I needed to turn right towards Three Forks Proper and it felt good to know my way into downtown. But once I drove onto Main Street I became confused about where the grocery store was. Main Street was so short and small with only a handful of store fronts and businesses but no grocery store in sight. Believe it or not we had only been to Bozeman for our supplies and basically ignored our little town, being as busy as we had been during those first few weeks trying to get our feet on the ground while taking care of all the important business with the land purchase and plans for excavation for both the house and the shop. So rather than guess and drive in circles I called Brenda from my cell phone and was laughing at myself when she described the right turn at the only stop sign in the middle of Main Street that landed me on the famous old Highway 2 which you could follow all the way up to the Lewis and Clark Caverns. But today I only wanted to find the grocery store and was relieved to discover it after the right turn, just up a ways right next to the Three Forks Rodeo Fairgrounds. The store was beautiful to my eyes, so small and quaint and every bit a small town local grocery market. I looked up at the bright sign above the steel structure that resembled a farmhouse to read the words “Three Forks Market, Your local Home Town Grocer.”  Just as I parked Zippie in the adequate parking lot my cell phone rang and it was Brenda asking me to do her a favor by bringing her two packs of cigarettes and she promised to pay me back as soon as she received her disability check. Of course I said yes, hung up the phone and then walked through the sliding glass automatic entrance doors and walked past four rows of cute red grocery carts pushed up against a wall that was painted with a beautiful mural of Montana, its rivers and mountains and Lewis and Clark on their Expedition. Large bags of dog food was stored on the opposite wall and next to the store window was a nice little picnic style table where you could sit down to have a bite to eat or take a rest. Once I passed the carts I then walked through another sliding glass automatic entrance door which opened up into the most darling store I had ever seen. Clean and bright and so welcoming, Three Forks Market was just what the doctor ordered with all of the country flair a newbie could want as a reminder of why we moved here in the first place.
            “Hello! How are you today?” The front cashier asked as she acknowledged me. I fumbled with my purse and cane but looked up from the grocery cart to smile and answer her back.
            “I’m doing great today, how about you?”
            “I’m just fine thank you!” I smiled back at this woman who appeared to be about my age and noted to myself that she had a very nice smile and lovely figure dressed in her black jeans with a white shirt and a black apron embroidered with red letters that spelled Three Forks Market. Making my way towards the produce department that was an immediate right turn with my cart from the entrance, my first impression was how small the area was but the bright colors of green and red and orange caught my eye and I was happy, to say the least, to know that we would have fresh produce out here on the prairie, readily available to us any day of the week. So the thought of relief set in deep as I began to cruise each isle to see what I could see on the shelves of this tiny market. Naturally, to me at the time, this place was minuscule after having come from grocery stores that were the size of football fields. But this wasn’t an LA grocery store, it was a home town market and I felt myself falling in love with this quaint little place and its fabulous painted murals of Montana on the upper walls of the interior portion of the market below the crown molding. And I also felt grateful for it as well.
My cart was filling up with all kinds of food we had not eaten since we had moved because most of our meals were prepared in the big house with the family unless Kurt was too tired to walk over and on those occasions I would simply heat a can of soup to share with a grilled cheese sandwich. But here I found a wonderful, yet very small, meat department with delicious looking cuts of beef, pork, and lots of chicken. A wide variety of beef caused me to choose several cuts to place into our trailer freezer so I also stocked up on easy side dishes such as potatoes and rice and pasta. By the time I found the last isle on the far left back wall I was in heaven with so many choices to choose from in this place. Again, relief washed over me with a sense of renewed independence. I would figure out how to take care of us out there in that trailer, I would do it and let nothing stand in my way because I knew that Kurt was feeling much of the same feelings that I was having about the family…something was off. We both just knew it.
The freezer section was satisfactory as well as the dairy department. All of the departments had a small variety of this or that but the basics were there and that was good enough for me. Several long shopping trips to Walmart in Bozeman with April and Brenda quickly became not only time consuming but a burn out. I had little desire to waste that much time away from the work on our land because a round trip to Bozeman usually devoured half a day at least. But more than that, one trip in particular, when I suggested to April that she allow me to pick up the grocery bill because after all, they were cooking more food now to fit us into their dinner hour and it was only right that I would treat her to a day at the market even though I always bought many groceries for their house and pantry and often cooked for the family myself, of course. But upon this occasion April was overcome by greed during her gifted shopping spree and managed to shock my sense of disbelief by packing not one but two carts to the brim totaling close to $400.00. To say that Kurt was outraged when I broke the news to him is a drastic understatement and he repeated to me several times over and over that we would never do that again. So, this little market was ideal for us, carrying a little of this and a little of that. As long as they had tomato sauce, pasta, ground beef and bread, milk, cheese and my Aspercream, I was in hog heaven.
As I made my way back to the front of the store the wonderful aroma wafting up and over the little market that I had been enjoying all the while of my shopping became too much for me to ignore and soon I was lurking over the glass covered service deli hot food counter. Fried chicken, fried burritos, fried potato wedges, fried pizza sticks, fried cheese sticks, friend won tons, fried chicken tenders…fried fried fried and more of it. It all smelled so delicious my mouth began to water and next thing I knew I was out of control ordering burritos and pizza sticks and chicken strips too. I also bought fresh baked brownies and some vanilla ice cream to go with them. For dinner that night I had planned to make a quick chicken fried steak dinner with mashed potatoes and green peas. More fried food. But I needed to  test drive my ability to truly take care of us from our wee little kitchen, knowing and feeling all too deeply that the days of the twenty-four hour welcome-mat at the big house were quickly disappearing.
The gal behind the service deli counter was very sweet and cheerful as she greeted me and chatted for a moment while she packed my order in the cardboard fried chicken to-go boxes. After that I made a quick side trip up the laundry detergent isle and the dog food was there as well so that was a convenience that I really appreciated. I picked up some detergent, dryer sheets and a box of dog cookies and was thrilled that they actually carried the brand of cookies that our critters loved the most. Lucky dogs, indeed. The grocery clerk that initially greeted me when I first arrived at the market called for a carry out on my behalf but I quickly let her know that I was perfectly fine handling my purchase myself and didn’t need to pull someone from their job inside the store. “But that’s the most important job we have here,” she said to me. What? Did I hear correctly? Did she actually say what I think she said? Couldn’t be.
“Say again?” I said, as I felt my own eyebrows knit into a look beyond disbelief.
“We carry everyone’s groceries out, unless they refuse the service.”
“I feel like I’m dreaming!” I smiled a look of shock and she stared at me as if I was a zombie from another planet, which technically, I was.
“Out of towner?”
“Yeah, you could say that.”
“Where are you from?”
“Los Angeles,” I told her, not knowing why I decided to tell her the truth after we had been so sternly admonished by Robert to not admit to anyone that we were from California because, Montanan’s hate people from California.
But she didn’t seem to react in a negative way, she remained friendly and then said with the bright smile I was coming to know and appreciate, “I’ve never been there myself. Don’t they give good service there?”
“Well, it’s just different there all together. No comparison, you can’t compare apples and oranges.” She looked down at her scale and cracked a smile that became a laugh and then I laughed when I realized that she had just weighed a sack of navel oranges. We both began to laugh uncontrollably. “What’s your name?”
“Janice,” she giggled out, while tears were rolling down her face.
“Janice, it’s so nice to meet you, thank you for the best grocery shopping experience I can remember having in I’m not sure how long. You’ve been very kind, and very funny! You made my day, Janice!” I smiled at her and she put her hand out to shake my hand and asked me my name as well. Then the young grocery bagger interrupted and asked if I was ready or if I’d like him to take my purchase out to my truck. I said yes, I’m ready and then I said good-bye to this nice woman who brought a smile on my face in a sweet and simple way. Janice brought a smile to my face in a small town kind of way, and I loved it.
On the drive home I stuffed my gourd with pizza sticks and the chicken tenders while holding onto Zippie with one hand, trying to navigate over the two bridges and the hillside. My God, this food is delicious, I said out loud as I looked in the rearview mirror and I wiped my mouth with a deli napkin, not wanting the evidence of my snacking to be apparent to Kurt when I pulled up to the property where he was riding on the Kubota. Guilt swiftly attacked me though, I had just broken my silent vow to stop binging, stop eating junk food and to stop eating in-between meals which technically this binge could be considered my lunch if only I wouldn’t have anything else to eat until dinner time. But I knew that wouldn’t be the case, and I also knew that the moment I walked into the trailer that I was going to tear into those brownies to gorge myself on a chocolate fix. Inasmuch as I longed to stay on track with a sensible diet of healthy food in small amounts so that I could drop the horrible weight that was plaguing me, gaining true control over my obesity issue seemed as far reaching as the moon. 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Chapter Eleven, Snippet Two

Kurt and Duke Working on Conifer Trail. October, 2006

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

That night Robert and April walked over to our newly purchased land to invite us to dinner. We washed up in their bathroom and joined the family for a sit-down of tacos and Mexican rice and refried beans in front of the television. Duke tried and tried to sit next to Kurt on the sofa but Robert yelled at him every time he crept across the carpet to slide up next to Kurt’s leg with a sad look as he pouted and whined a little. “Dukes, go lay down, now,” Robert would yell, and then Duke would run to the living room to hide. Inevitably, Duke would show up again a few minutes later only to be scolded once more, and then again, until finally Robert picked Duke up by the collar and tossed his dog outside. Annoyed by the distraction and embarrassed that his dog did not mind him, Robert’s mood soured and suddenly he became quiet and unsociable. April and Brenda silently busied themselves in the kitchen while I played with baby Bella. I tried to ignore the uncomfortable quietness that hushed the household by singing little songs to Bella as she cooed and drank her bottle of formula that I held for her while I gazed into her fading eyes.
Soon after Bella nodded off to sleep Kurt and I walked home to our three lonely critters across their long back yard and into the paddock. The land was lit up like a Christmas tree on steroids by a moon that was bright and full and enchanting. We sat up for a while, outside staring into the nights sky, just talking and sharing our thoughts about our friends and family back in Los Angeles and in Oregon too. Both of us were a bit homesick for our friends, naturally. And the dining experience we had just encountered brought enhanced sudden longing for those we left behind.
During that night my tired body revolted in rude reminder that I had recently experienced a nasty fall and now added insult to injury by working like a horse all day. Horrible pain shot through my left knee injury from 2004, I could feel the swelling underneath the sheets as it pressed up against the fabric. My back was crying, my hips, arms, calves, thighs, neck and shoulders. I was in dire pain. But the next morning we were up at first light and the sound of our new tractor starting up bellowed over the hillside behind the paddock on Old Town Road and across the prairie towards Highway 287. While Kurt rode the tractor, tearing down anything in his way, I continued to pull on and hack up everything that could be yanked up or cut down by an injured wreck of a woman who had turned fifty years old earlier that year. It didn’t take long for me to feel as though somebody had beaten me with a huge mean stick so I made my way across the road to our trailer to rub myself down with more Aspercream and to start a fresh pot of coffee. Sitting down drinking the brew was a comfort so I sat in peace for a while and had a second cup to boost my energy level a little. I was so out of shape it was embarrassing yet I was determined to let this project catapult me into a new direction. I wanted to be thinner and to feel better. I longed to be healthy and to look pretty again. Working my rear end off was a great way, I thought, to get started. So I spread more cream over my knee and kept rubbing away the pain, hopefully, until there was a knock at the trailer door accompanied by a familiar “you who” in a high pitch sing song sound.
“Come in.”
“Good morning Miss Sue.”
“Good morning Brenda, would you like some fresh coffee?”
“Nope, I brought my own.” I paused while suspending my Aspercream application and I looked over at her with the large travel mug in her hand. “Whatcha doing?”
“I’m rubbing Aspercream onto my swollen knee and leg.”
“I thought I saw you over on your land but I guess I was wrong.”
“No, you wern’t wrong, I was over there pulling up more old growth and cutting down any dead tree limbs that I have the strength for but I’m in so much pain I had to come back to the trailer for a little relief and coffee.”
“Oh come on Sue, don’t start acting like a broken down old mule now. It’s way too early for ya to be calling it quits. That man of yours has his hands full and he needs you every minute of every day.” My blood began to boil and then curdle through my veins.
“Excuse me? Do you honestly think I don’t know that? You must not be aware of the fact that I’m injured from a terrible fall I had recently. My “man” understands that I’m in a lot of pain right now and I’m doing the best I can.”
“I’m just saying, Sis, that you can’t let Kurt down, none of us can. He needs all of us to help him so ya’ll can get out of this trailer and off Rob’s land and live your nice new life over there on your land.”
“It sounds to me as though you’re trying to push us out of here already and we haven’t even been here a month yet.” I lowered my eyes to the ground, shook my head from side to side and braced myself for her answer.
“Now don’t start your jumping to conclusions act that’s not what’s happening I’m just saying that we need to do all we can to get your house and his shop built, that’s all.”
“You’re telling me that you weren’t instructed to come over here and tell me that we’ve got to hurry up with the build because they would rather that we weren’t here any longer?”
 “That’s it Sue I swear it.”
“Thanks a lot Brenda; I can always tell when you’re lying.”
“No I’m not lying Sue, I’m only telling ya that you can’t be pulling this broken down old mule act when there’s so much to be done over there. Now come on and get up so we can get started doing something today because I’m here to help you if you want the help and if I were ya’ll I wouldn’t turn down free help from anybody.”
“Brenda, I don’t know what you’re trip is today, but whatever it is, I think you should just start over and go in another direction because this trip you’re on is really pissing me off.” She glared at me and rolled her eyes. I looked back at her as I placed the cap back on the Aspercream, pulled down my pant leg, got up and began to walk out the door with my coffee cup in hand. I walked right up to her where she was leaning against the little hall closet and then I put my face as close to hers as I could get it without touching her skin and oh so quietly I said in my best mule imitation, “He- haaw, he-haaw, he-haaw…” She was shocked by my behavior but I didn’t care; I was sick to death of their games and now we were here, in Montana, with the best of intentions and the games were already starting, both Kurt and I could feel it. Now I felt disgusted and worried. But what could I do? Absolutely nothing because these two, mother and son, had their weird ways about them that drove them to judge others so deeply that they were willing to reject and abandon them as fast as I could think one single little thought. Their ways frightened me because we had given up so much for this dream.
I walked out of the trailer and headed over to our place. I watched Kurt riding the tractor looking like he was in sheer bliss and I was glad that he missed the little show that I just endured. I wanted to feel the bliss too, to enjoy this new chapter in our lives, but all I could think about now was how I didn’t trust them. Brenda followed me, crossing Conifer trail far enough behind my footsteps to prevent me from getting back up into her face. She worked her tail to the bone that day but I never uttered one word to her. My soul had once again been invaded by their deceit and misconceptions.  

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