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, May 20, 2012

Prairie Post #5, May 21, 2012

Our friend and neighbor, Jeff, as he begins the process of falling this Conifer.

 Once Jeff makes several cuts into the base, Jeff watches to see the direction that the tree is leaning in attempt to fall the tree exactly where he wants it to land.

 All three trees have fallen and now Jeff saws off the limbs and branches.
Dead Conifer, all the way to the top. 

Local Montana boys play on the fallen trees.

A quiet Sunday morning lends this opportunity to finally catch my breath, take a few moments out of what promises to be another jammed packed day of Southwestern Montana hurry up and catch up on all of the many things we need to accomplish during the busiest time of year here. Indeed, it's a very exciting and fun- filled season as the Spring that so suffers to rear itself into our exposure barely comes to fruition while we all hustle and bustle-as our temperatures are finally fair-the sun is shining just about every day except when we're being hit by rapid passing systems of electrical storms that most definitely will knock your socks off and rain storms too. Yes, it is an incredibly beautiful time of year now for us all and we are working hard to fulfill the hopes and dreams of our winter fantasies of Spring.

On the long to-do list for our little lot of heaven is of course planning and planting our yearly sustainable organic vegetable garden. I will go into the details about our garden on the next post because I'm not quite ready to place the starts I planted in peat-pots into the soil for we were working on building a deer defense barrier around the garden which gobbled up most of Kurt's time off of work and a cold weather system came through this last week which delayed much to do with the garden. That's Montana. Don't think you can outsmart the weather here...it won't happen! It's a great lesson in patience. I'm sure though, rather, I'm very hopeful, that soon I'll be able to share with you the lovely new garden space that Kurt worked so hard on creating for me. And although I've been unable to get the green edibles I planted in the pots into the ground I have been out there, no matter the weather, designing the garden and building planting beds and furrows. Hard work but I love it.

Speaking of hard work...another item on the to do list was the removal of three huge Conifer trees (Colorado Blue Spruce) that were victim to a long drought period here in our region. Initially, I had been told by a local gal who worked for the United States Forest Service for many years that our trees were being eaten alive by the dreaded North American Bark Beetle that has rampaged our beautiful forests across the state. However, upon further inspection, we discovered that in fact, we've been losing our trees to drought. So sad. We loved these trees from the first time we drove up Conifer Trail and they were a huge selling point for us when we made the decision to buy our land. I'm no expert on trees so I can't explain to you exactly what happened here, why three of our trees died but the rest are alive and well and beautiful, but I do know that their demise is related to how they were originally planted and cared for.

Fortunately for us, we have a close friend and neighbor who lives just up the road who is a natural born Montanan and was raised around the influence of knowledgeable Montanan men who taught Jeff, our friend and neighbor, all about trees and how to fall them. I do believe that's the term they use here and elsewhere, to "fall" a tree when they cut them down. Now, please, don't get excited and upset by the notion of us cutting down our beautiful trees. Correction-trees that were once beautiful. I want you tree huggers out there to know, to believe when I tell you, that we tried many different approaches and methods to save the trees. And although our attempts did provide a bit of new growth on two of the three fallen trees the last year of drought was the last straw in trying to bring them back to life. All three of them were indeed, thoroughly dead.

Last weekend neighbor Jeff dropped by to chat for a while and as he was walking along the driveway where we have two of the Conifers that were dead, Jeff looked up and said, "Why don't we get these trees down now?" I said yes! Let's do it! Kurt, well...he wasn't too enthusiastic because he has been working in construction building a house from the ground up and he is extremely tired from the job. 

So, Kurt's reaction was bland at best but I ignored his vague and distant response to Jeff's most generous question by rubbing my hands together, jumping off the ground a little saying "Yes! Yes, yes yes...Let's do it!" Jeff looked at me and smiled. Kurt looked at me as if he wanted to kill me.

"Today? You want to drop them now? Why don't we wait? It's too late in the day now." Kurt's statement went ignored as Jeff walked across our pasture out the gate and headed for home. Less than fifteen minutes later Jeff returned with his great big mountain man's chain saw and his tools needed to complete the job. I was absolutely amazed by the level of his skill. This young man is so TALENTED. Honestly, after knowing Jeff for several years now, I'm enamored by his abilities. He can do anything. Jeff is a carpenter who builds gorgeous homes and who has actually kept Kurt and I alive and in our home during the past few years of economic crisis in our country. It has been Jeff and our neighbor Dan, another great man and skilled carpenter as well, who have made it possible for us to survive the crisis by employing Kurt and teaching him the ropes of carpentry. It wasn't easy easy for Kurt to learn a new trade but Jeff provided the knowledge and taught Kurt well. Neighbors helping neighbors. That's how we survive here in Montana. No questions asked, they simply arrive with the necessary tools to lend a hand and keep you up and balanced. That's Montana living and that's why we continue to fight to stay here.

Jeff expertly and skillfully dropped our three trees in a matter of forty-five minutes. And can you believe that not only did it require less than an hour of his time to fall the trees, but, more impressive than that, he dropped them exactly where he had planned to; away from the gates, the fences, the house, or anything else that was in the path of their fall. With orange blocks that he wedged into the base, or trunk, of each tree, Jeff directed the giants to land exactly where he wanted them to land. I was absolutely amazed. Not only was I amazed by his skill and abilities and his knowledge, but I was amazed by Jeff's sense of kindness and friendship.

As the fallen trees lay on the ground and Kurt could only see work and nothing but more work ahead of him,   Jeff held up the saw and coaxed me over to the end of one of the enormous trees. He handed me the heavy saw and said that it was time I began to learn how to use a saw on my own. What? Me? Are you serious? Yes, he was serious! He started her up and directed me to place my hands where his hands were on the handles and together we sawed through the trunk of the tree as the long blade sliced it into a beautiful round disc that fell to the ground and I squealed in delight. But that wasn't the end of my lesson. Jeff gave me some verbal instruction and expected me to plow through the trunk for another slice and while I had this monster saw in my grip Jeff coached me from the sideline. It was thrilling, exhilarating and fun! The smell of the fresh cut wood filled me with delight and reminded me once again that I'm living in an extraordinary place and that I'm blessed, every day, to experience Montana.

Two local children climbed up on the fallen trees to play fantasy games and while I watched these country boys actually play like real boys, I couldn't help but think about all the millions of children around the world who are sitting on their butts inside their houses playing video games, watching television or on the computer doing who knows what without supervision. Boys will be boys here in Montana. And girls will be girls, or rather, ranch girls or cowgirls. Yes, it's a different world all-together here and I love it. I love the lifestyle that preserves fresh air activities for kids and wholesome behavior. Climbing on a neighbor's fallen trees, being boys and getting exercise is just one example of how Montana preserves a natural way of living. Another example are the 4-H clubs around the state that teach children how to sustain themselves for the rest of their lives. Raising cows, chickens, horses, goats, etc., teaches these kids not only how to take care of and be responsible for another life, but it gives them opportunities galore. It might be considered a simple, uncomplicated, "Redneck" lifestyle in most eyes, but for us, this is life as it should be and Montana is where to find it.

I can't thank Jeff enough for falling our three dead trees and I've been racking my brain in attempt to think of some nice way to show him our appreciation. A chocolate cake, batch of cookies, a tray of fresh enchiladas...an invite for he and his wonderful family for dinner? I'm not sure, but eventually I'll think of some nice way to say thank you, for all he has done and all he continues to do to help us, with an open and accepting heart, become the Montanans that we continue to strive to be. Life here is so good, and we are living it! 

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