Oma Sue's Blog
Hi – I’m Sue Reyzlik. I recently realized my life-long dream of building a writing hut in the backyard. The writing hut serves as a creative space and home office for Oma Publishing. This blog will be intermingled with family history, varied experiences and insights on being a Grandma (Oma), creating my special backyard space, as well as, my “retirement” career as a self-publisher of children’s stories. And perhaps a little bit on the 32 years I served as Executive Director for Keep Fremont Beautiful and the wonderful people who are sharing this adventure.
This past week, Rai and I joined Sara and her family for a couple days at Mahoney State Park near Ashland. That was a nice little break from normal… Normal this past year has been staying home and not doing anything.
The pandemic curtailed our plans of a family vacation to Disneyland, in the Fall of 2020. That made us all sad because we had never planned anything so ambitious as a group! That trip was going to be monumental – it was going to be something the grandkids would remember all their lives. I was looking forward to the adventure and was extremely disappointed when COVID stomped on our tails.
But now slowly, we are emerging from our housebound state. Rai and I have visited Sara and Colby at their campsites in Fremont and other nearby locations but this was a first! An actual stay at a hotel for Rai and I… a chance to really join in the fun activities offered at this wonderful park… a mini, tiny, little staycation within an hour of home.
Sara and her family stayed in the camper. The boys went fishing and even took Rai along to hone her skills – she caught a couple of somethings… she wasn’t sure what they were. Sara, Gracyn, Rai and I went to the Observation Tower and climbed to the top. Poor Sara had to carry Gracyn – it’s always good to get those extra steps on your fitbit but those were some pretty hard steps for Sara carrying the equivalent of a few extra bags of sugar, flour, potatoes and kitty litter.
It was nice to take a rest at the top and look at the view. I got some good pictures while we caught our breath at the top… The sun setting made an interesting background for the photos - it was weird… I think the fires out west clouded the atmosphere – blocking out the sun.
As I stood looking down at the tree line, I saw a large bird walking ever so slowly toward the trees… followed by a smaller but carbon copy of the first bird – a baby whatever they were. Maybe a turkey – but the neck was so long – the adult looked way to large to be a turkey – but what do I know. I saw a big bird and a smaller bird walking into the forest… cool.
The good news – Gracyn was able to walk down the steps which made it an easier descent for her mom. We all enjoyed the view as we made our way down the observation tower steps. As we drove back to the campsite Sara commented that she should have made a Scavenger Hunt list. I told her that was OK – we could just write down all the interesting things we saw – Rai called it a “Hunt Scavenger List” – we would do it backwards. Just then Sara screamed… look there - a deer and babies. She slowed the car so we all could get a view.
A Mama Deer and two babies raised their heads and looked at us from across the grassy meadow… as if to ask – “what?” (I know, I need to work on what their response may have been) The three deer remained still for a moment and I attempted to get a picture for our Hunt Scavenger List… it was blurry at best and the Mama Deer was getting concerned at our lingering presence. She must have said something to the fawns (again - not sure what) and they hightailed it to the fence line. She waited to make sure no one was following and then joined them further up the hill.
Sara was delighted to spot the deer and more delighted to see the trio hoppity hop off into the distance… She sang something like “and there they go – bouncey bounce bounce, bouncey bounce bounce, bouncing away…” we all laughed and began mocking and repeating her goofy little song – it’s funny how some random saying will tickle all our hearts.
So, for the next couple of days, we kept an eye out for anything we thought warranted a place on the list. We saw lots of Bumblebees and wasps. The mama deer and two babies were a biggie! As was the rollie pollie skunk that scampered across the road on our return to the lodge for the night.
Mac was being a bit sarcastic as he swatted at yet another fly – he added “fly” to the list. Sam, Mac and Rai added a muskrat, a bluegill and two turtles to the list which they spied while on their fishing expedition. I wasn’t sure what that bird was that I saw entering the forest but for the sake of the “list” we called it a mama turkey and baby turkey!
Sara was the first to shout out “A gaggle of geese”. Which sort of frightened all of us in the car. Rai asked “where”. Sara responded “There – right there”… and there they were just bippity bopping along the side of the road…
Gracyn saw lots of Daddy Long Legs – those spiders, in her estimation, are disgusting. We all pretty much agreed. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a disgusting category on the Hunt Scavenger List. Maybe next time.
We did see a waterfall – although it was manmade and located in the conservatory… we counted it anyway. And there were beautiful big blue fish swimming around the also manmade pond.
Flags were present in all their glory – waving at various locations within the park and throughout the country side! Mac acted like it was a big deal to note that he saw a pine tree – we humored him and added it to the list. At lunch in the lodge, he also noted that he saw a bird feeder… OK – fine – we put that on the list too.
Footprints. We found some footprints. Humans, raccoons, deer and perhaps that mystery big bird… could it be that mama turkey and baby? We added those to the list.
Not a lot of big butterflies but some small ones were spotted and quite a few different types of dragon flies were noted as we were playing putt putt golf. I’m pretty sure I saw a bald eagle when I was sitting on the little balcony off our room. I could see the eagle gently gliding along the tree tops off into the distance. As the bird drifted closer, I saw that the wingspan was large and growing larger as he flew directly overhead… that had to be a bald eagle… bald eagle is going on the list.
Still sitting on the balcony, a quick movement on the ground caught my attention. It was a rabbit. The first rabbit I had seen in two days. It was a large rabbit – a survivor who only ventured out from cover after the danger from the eagle-eyed hunter had passed.
And finally, the last interesting “thing” to make the list happened when Sara and Gracyn were returning to the camper after having taken showers at the camp facilities. They were using Sara’s phone flashlight to guide the way and happened to catch sight of “Ricki Raccoon” as he was going through the garbage for a late-night snack. It wasn’t a long encounter. Ricki exited the garbage can almost immediately – bippity bop, and ran off into the trees – what a wonderful and yet oh so brief moment. Ricki was the last entry on our list. No frogs... not sure what happened to the frogs but no one reported seeing any frogs...
There is so much to see and do at Mahoney State Park – Rai and I both decided that we need more time at the park to do all the things we want to do. Rai still wants to zip line and ride a horse. I think that would be great – especially if I didn’t have to do it! If Sam and Mac could go with her – then that would be wonderful.
We did make it to the waterpark for one afternoon. Sara is a big kid at heart… she went down the slides and enjoyed the waves with Gracyn. I stood for a time in the waves and parked my butt at the zero-depth entry and enjoyed people watching until the boys returned and helped me up. Each taking an Oma hand and pulling me easily up to my feet – those strong guys are nice to have around.
Rai accidentally found an abandoned tube and convinced Sam to take her out into the waves. When I questioned her about the tube… she said she found it. I firmly told her not to take a tube – someone had rented the tube and she was stealing it. She was offended and held a grudge for a long time… then some people sitting right in front of us left for the day and thus abandoned several tubes – now it was OK to use one… she didn’t quite understand the logic. Next time we will rent our own tube!
After swimming, we were able to fit in a quick game of putt putt. The boys felt like we were taking too long so they played ahead. To be fair… we did take a while with each hole but it was fun to watch Missy G coax her pink golf ball along the course… counting became a thing of the past after the first hole… no one wants to keep count! Except when you almost make a hole in one… which Rai did. It was amazing… her purple golf ball sitting right on the rim of the hole… just that close. A little tap and she had that one done in two… that is an easy one to count and an easy one to remember.
Sara planned on fixing supper for us at the camper each night. The first night was bacon wrapped chicken and the second night was barbequed ribs. Eating with Chef Sara and head grill cook Colby was a delight… and smores around the campfire is always a big hit! We enjoyed playing UNO both nights after supper – at least most of us enjoyed playing UNO. Gracyn had a meltdown or ten and claimed we were being mean to her – following the rules can be hard!
Overall, it was a short but totally sweet little staycation – convenient and close to home – I would recommend the Mahoney State Park to anyone wanting an easy get away! Next time we have to visit the SAC museum and of course the Wildlife Safari… we have to make a list and I have to see a frog!
Three Months Since the Last Entry – Oh My…
For the past few months, I have been involved in organizing an event for John C. Fremont Days. The “busy-ness” of organizing this new event has kept me from writing a blog entry… which is sort of the truth… I should back up a bit and give you the prequel…
I conduct the Nye Avenue Historic Tours each year for the John C. Fremont Days Festival. This is a three or four-hour commitment on the first night of the festival. I’m not sure how I came to do this task… someone must have retired (quit) and they needed a replacement and they asked me to fill in. So, for several years now I have been doing the tours, I haven't quit, and no one has begged to replace me – so it’s my job until I can’t do it anymore!
The tours are fun – at least for me. I have a captive audience and they are forced to listen to my ramblings for a little over an hour… it scratches that itch for this old retired teacher to teach. I get to reminisce about the street that was once known as “Millionaires Row”. I share my memories and the stories I’ve heard about the famous and sometimes infamous people who lived on this historic avenue.
Often times, I will be talking about a specific house and a person on the tour will add their own memory or anecdote concerning a prior owner or their visit to the property. Those little stories add so much to the tour and it is interesting to learn a new aspect of the personalities of the home’s occupants or perhaps an insight into the reasons for the owner's financial downfall. I just love it when I learn something new!
A particular property of interest is the May Museum. The home of Theron Nye and later his son Ray Nye. The house was set for demolition in the late 60’s but as luck would have it… the lawyer representing the Louis E. May Trust lived across the street from the Nye home and he was appalled by plans to build apartment buildings on the historic property. Mr. Sidner was successful in saving the property and the stately old building became the May Museum. It currently houses the Dodge County Historical Society as well, and I for one will be forever grateful for his preservation efforts.
When we first started John C. Fremont Days, the May Museum property served as a hub, a focal point for the entire three days of the festival. In recent years, most of the activities had been moved to other locations. Since many people, on the Nye Avenue Tours, showed so much interest in the May Museum property and the history of the Nye home… it seemed like a good time to reintroduce the Museum to the festival… in a low key – low impact kind of way!
If you have read any of my blog entries, you know I like to tell a story! Wouldn’t it be fun to have people who know “something” about Fremont, share that “something” with others. Luckily there are quite a few people in Fremont who share my love of a good story! Although we did have to tell them that the stories did need to be truthful… so that discouraged a few from participating. But still – we lined up a variety of story tellers!! Hooray.
We call this new event for John C. Fremont Days – “Musings at the Museum”. I’m going to be there to share stories about my family and the life and business they built in the early days of Fremont. I’m also going to share stories of growing up in Fremont and how certain family members influenced my writing efforts. My children’s stories are based on true life events and experiences… I write what I know. Frogs, ditches, floods, birds tangled in bushes, building a raft out of Styrofoam… even the three frog characters share similarities with my grandchildren… I will share those stories.
The development of this new event hasn’t really taken up much time at all… but the rabbit hole of discovery I fell into sure turned out to be a time suck! My cousin Cindy shared some family picture albums – one small section corresponded to a story my Great Aunt Rose had told Orleatha Kellogg - which was included in her book – “Bloom on the Land – a prairie pioneer experience.”
I was pretty much amazed that all these years later (over 100 years) the text and pictures would reunite for a “story”. A story that would be shared in my Aunt Rose’s own words, at the “Musings at the Museum”. Do come see that – it’s fun!
Then my other cousin, J shared a file of photos from the early days of Greens Greenhouse – fascinating! Max Design made up a cool story board utilizing several of those early photos – you won’t want to miss that – a very interesting story!
Then my son came home for a visit… And then a family of owls moved into my yard… totally a time suck… I will have to write a blog about that… And then my brother Stacy came back to the mainland and we started going through old family slides and that was really cool! There are tons of stories in those slides for next year!
Before you know it – three months have passed and I haven’t written a blog… just one rabbit hole after another…
Anyway – just thought I should check in and let you all know that I am still around and I’ve been getting some good material for blog entries. Let me know how you are doing in the comments. And as always check out www.omapublishing.com for the latest book and products… All book sales are donated to the Gracyn Mae Smith Special Needs Trust Fund. The stories are great for telling your grandkids and purchasing the books will help a very special little girl with muscular dystrophy. Books and puzzles will be available on Saturday July 10th for purchase – see you at the museum!
I don't have a lot of pictures of the homes on the Nye Avenue Historic Tour, but I do have a few that I copied from some books in my Grandparents collection. The homes are or were located along Nye Avenue here in Fremont... The Schneider house is located on 10th and H Street... another popular street for our more prominent citizens to build their homes.