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.
People look at a picture of my writing hut and they say “Oh it’s a she shed”. I say “nope – it’s a writing hut”. Then I go on to explain that my Grandfather “Carnation Joe” Green had a little house in his backyard that he called the “Dog house”. I loved that little house – I found it fascinating and vowed to have my own little house one day.
Grandpa explained to people that he called his little house the “dog house” because when he was in trouble with Grandma Lil and in the dog house – he would actually go out to the dog house until she got over whatever had made her mad. I don’t know if that was true but Grandpa Joe always said “Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story”.
Grandpa Joe lived in a small craftsman bungalow, built in 1926 here in Fremont, just a block from the home he was born in. He lived in this tiny home with his wife and three daughters. The three girls shared a bedroom in the attic – which got pretty hot in the summer. When the girls became teenagers in the 1940’s, they took over the dog house, as a sleeping cottage, during the summer months. The windows provided good cross ventilation and a cooler sleeping spot.
After World War II, with housing shortages, a young couple lived in the little cottage until they could find a permanent home. (The man who lived in the house would later become the Fire Chief in Fremont.) The cottage had a fireplace for warmth in the winter and open windows for cooling in the summer. There was electricity in the little house but there wasn’t a bathroom or running water – I often wonder how that went for the newlyweds.
Over the years, the little cottage became a storage shed. A place to hide away unwanted furniture and household items. Eventually old lawnmowers and garden tools found their way into the cottage and the structure’s purpose changed but still it remained a backyard constant.
Grandma and Grandpa added a great room onto their little bungalow in the 1950’s. The north wall of the great room contained four floor to ceiling windows. The little cottage was the focal point of the window framed scene with trees, bushes, gardens, a stone grill and bird bath completing the composition.
On snowy winter nights, you would find my grandparents sitting in the great room with a fire in the fireplace. The lights inside turned off, the outdoor spot lights strategically placed for effect and glowing brightly. They would quietly enjoy the wide screen show before them – the natural beauty of their private winterscape.
I have many memories of the “Dog House” from holidays at my grandparents' home and staying with them during college. After they passed, I lived in my Grandparents home for a few years. I had many days and nights of gazing upon the quiet beauty of this private garden and knew that one day I would build my own dog house – a retreat for quiet contemplation.
So no – it is not a “she shed”. The seed was planted years ago, just one block away from the greenhouse where my grandfather was born. The memory of his little dog house kept safely in my heart until it could be planted and grown in my own backyard.
My little house – a space I have dreamt of having for over 60 years. A space that I sketched and resketched hundreds of times. A space that holds dear the memory of my grandparents and love of family. A space dedicated to creativity and wonder. My very own retreat – my very own writing hut. Oma Sue!