Author: Ramos, Jean


I am the kind of Grandmother who would travel 3,000 miles for a chance to babysit my ten year old granddaughter. Ali’s parents (my daughter and son-in-law) have gone to Croatia to celebrate their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

My reception at their home in Warwick, NY included a large “Welcome Banner,” handmade by Ali, along with a gift basket of sachets, toiletries, note pad and other necessities. My welcome committee also consisted of two Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs and a beagle named Hunter, better known as the Troublesome Trio. The Ridgebacks get their name from the ridge on their backs created by a strip of coarse hair growing the opposite direction from the rest of their coat. They are hard to pet, so I just pat them on the head. They were bred for hunting lions in Africa and are quite intelligent.

The Ridgebacks can open doors and cabinets and are able to reach anything left on the counter top for even a split second; a bag of Campfire Jumbo Marshmallows, for instance. The beagle is at the bottom rung in intelligence but more than makes up for it with affection and devotion. Hunter is nothing more than a big appetite wrapped up in a cute package. He may not have been the “ringleader” in the Milkbone Caper, but he consumed his share of a large box of doggie treats that were stolen from a cabinet while Grandma was downstairs tending to the two guinea pigs.

Oh yes, another part of my job description was to oversee the care and feeding of Darwina and Fiona, two guinea pigs. Well there were two when I arrived on Sunday but a few days later there were six. Please note: You can give two guinea pigs feminine names but it doesn’t necessarily mean they are both girls. So far, the only pets that haven’t caused me any type of stress are the ones in the Koi pond.

By now, you are waiting for some bluegrass content…well here it is. My granddaughter is signed up to play the cello at school. Try as I might, I can’t get her to practice at home. She absolutely hates it. On a positive note (no pun intended), her parents bought her a ukulele on a recent trip to Hawaii. I tuned it and showed Ali three easy chords and we sang some songs like, “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain,” and “O Susanna.” She learned to play those three chords and has been “practicing” every day and loving it. The motivating factor for her seems to be “instant gratification,” something that doesn’t come with learning theory and playing scales. Ali loves to sing and enjoys having an audience so my guess is she just started out on the wrong instrument. She will need to finish up the school year with the cello and then she can move on.

I didn’t bring a guitar with me and the only other acoustic instrument here, besides the ukulele, is a pink plastic Barbie guitar that is missing the high “e” string, so I am feeling a bit bereft. Having contact with my Bluegrass Family and friends through the CBA Message Board and Facebook has kept me from getting too homesick. It was also pretty fun to tune into CBA Radio on Tuesday night and listen to my friend Marcos Alvira play some fine bluegrass music and give me a “shout out” across the miles.

I had a wonderful Mother’s Day which began with Ali fixing me breakfast, bringing it upstairs and serving me in bed. I had an audience of three dogs while I ate, paws on the edge of the bed, noses sniffing my scrambled eggs, Eggo waffle and coffee made in the French press coffee pot.

My stay here is coming to a close; though it has been fun, I am tired from the change in my routine, and keeping up with an energetic ten year old and the menagerie. There is a good reason that the Good Lord intended for us to have our children when we are young. I have a new appreciation for and pray for an extra blessing on those grandparents who find themselves raising their grandchildren.

Well, duty calls, I must go now and scoop up the “S’Mores” in the back yard before somebody steps in them. Until next month, I’ll say, “so long” and “pick one for me.”

Posted:  5/26/2013

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email