A Bumpy Ride

We are back in Mount Prospect but it was not an easy journey! Kuochun and I did our best to have things go as smoothly as possible for all of us but it was not meant to be. I take airplane flights SO seriously, even though I tend to be late for other things I have never been close to being late for a flight. I was running a little behind for our Saturday evening flight but was not too worried about it since we are only about 15 minutes away from the airport. I was finishing up last-minute tasks when Kuochun asked me to come to the garage. I will preface this by saying he tries but is not handy! He was in the middle of trying to disconnect the car's battery with a pliers on a bolt (should have used a socket wrench) and wanted me to hold a flashlight over the area so he could see better. I said NOOOOO, we've got to go! He was stripping the bolt and after a few tries while I am holding the light I said I think we will need to abandon this idea, what if you just put the battery back together. This caused a delay and interruption to my train of thought I was not expecting.

I called Lyft to take us to the airport and we were doing fine on time, until we got to the terminal and I realized with horror that the girls' carry bags were not with us! At first the Lyft driver said he had another ride and had to go but then he realized we were a better money-maker for him and whisked Kuochun back to the house to grab the bags. I stayed at the terminal with the luggage and the girls. Kuochun said he was going 100 miles an hour back and forth and the driver did make really good time. However while we were checking in, Kuochun's ticket passed through but mine did not. It took about 20 minutes for management to straighten it out. My stress levels were totally rising but I kept calm by outside appearances. I know getting angry will not clear up the situation. Finally after several calls to the gate they got my ticket issued. Usually they weigh the girls separately in their bags to be sure they make the weight limit but they skipped that part. The whole time someone off to the side kept hysterically laughing and it was really distracting the ticket counter personnel. All I could say was you must see it all here! The agent nodded in agreement.

We rushed to security only to find that one stickler of an agent who had to go through the jewelry in my carry on bag piece by piece. This has never happened to me to this extent in all the years I have been bringing jewelry back home from the Gem Show. Sometimes they put the bag through without looking at it. I put everything in clear bags so it can be easily examined but she took a good 20 minutes to look at and open each bag one by one. When she was finished I had to repack the suitcase. I knew at this point that there was no way we were going to make it in time. Sure enough, by the time we got the girls back in their bags and sped to the gate, the flight was closed. Kuochun said call the pilot! Of course the answer was no. The flight took off two minutes early with our checked bag on it. We went to customer service and found that we could wait on standby for the next flight which was the red eye. This was not a problem since we are both night owls. I felt terrible for the girls who had to stay in their bags an extra five hours. We had to give them a bit more medication so they would continue to stay calm throughout the process. There was no way we could go home and then back through that security nightmare again. The girls hate being put in the bags and it's a struggle every time. They have to come out for security so we have to put them in twice. Margot went in the bag easily the first time but the second time was a real challenge. She actually tried to bite me but since she has so few teeth now I only felt one canine tooth on my hand. My poor baby!

We sent up a little prayer to Dad and it worked because somehow we were able to get on the flight and even still sit together. We moved from row 9 with a little more leg room to row 34 with no leg room though. Originally they wanted us to take the exit row but we cannot because of the pets. They were able to find two people willing to switch with us. At the last minute, the flight attendant asked me to put the bag under the seat vertically instead of on the floor horizontally. I happened to have Vivi and I never thought she would fit but miraculously she did. Kuochun did not need to move Margot. I am supposed to get a $98 refund from my upgraded tickets. Hopefully they will give it to me without a fight. The photo is of the sunrise view as we were getting close to the Chicago area. I was in the aisle seat and could not capture how amazingly beautiful it was. The orange colors were so brilliant and arranged in stripes like a Jell-o dessert.

I have not really taken a ton of flights in my lifetime - my first flight was with my grandma to Disney World at age 5, then at age 10 Dad took me on a business trip to Washington DC. At 12 we went on a family trip to California and after that I was not on a plane until my honeymoon in Las Vegas at 25. On this flight, I experienced the most turbulence ever and it was quite scary. The pilot explained at the end of the flight that there were heavy winds over the mountains which caused turbulence for everyone. After all that we were really grateful to be on solid ground and that Melinda and Frank picked us up so we did not have to walk to another terminal for a ride share. I think it worked out OK for them to pick us up in the morning rather than late at night because they took a day trip to Wisconsin and this enabled them to get an early start. I did notice that at baggage claim there were taxi signs. This will be very helpful for next time when we do not have someone to pick us up.

Since it had been a while since we had a meal, we decided to go to The Southern Kitchen in Arlington Heights for breakfast. I just kept it simple with a Belgian waffle, two scrambled eggs and sausage. Kuochun was going to get the Gumbo-laya which is his favorite dish there but it was 8:30 AM so I said how about the Ragin Cajun omelet? It had all the same flavors and same gravy but was a breakfast dish. Kuochun actually really liked it and had enough for two meals. Upon returning home I realized how tired I was, I finished up the estate sale schedule, sent it out and promptly crashed. I was glad I was able to get most of the schedule completed before we left, I was just waiting for additional information to finish it. As of the end of the day Sunday none of us were feeling great but hopefully we will all feel better Monday.

During the week I focused on polishing and pricing as much jewelry as possible. Something that set me back on Saturday was that I was planning to bring two carry on bags filled with jewelry and had them all packed up and ready to go. The rule with American Airlines has changed since our last trip - previously when traveling with pets no carry on bags were allowed and now they are. However when I packed the bags with my online store items and 2024 Gem Show items which I plan to put online this summer, I found them to be very heavy. I had to quickly switch gears and get the carry on bags down to the lighter one and that meant unexpected packing and shipping. I packed three boxes with jewelry and had two more ready with additional items to go in Mother's moving sale. Then it was a mad rush to the Phoenix post office because Scottsdale was already closed and then over to Mother's apartment to give her the keys and handicap placard. I sure wish I would have known we were not going to make the flight!

Next on the agenda is Mother's moving sale and then preparing the home for the closing. I am going to see how things go but I am willing to hold the sale as long as six days if it makes sense. If the moving sale goes through Tuesday I will not have much time to clear out unsold items but I am going to check with the realtor to see if the buyer still does not need us to leave the home broom swept and empty. Originally she said she did not need us to broom sweep and would be happy to take any items which did not sell. This is a very emotional process which came up so suddenly and I will be glad when it is behind us. I have had to let go of the feelings which go along with thinking Kuochun and I could downsize there someday. Because of the flight delay I have not been back to the house yet but I know it will not be easy to have to work there. Mother wants me to be there so I am doing it for her.

As a final note this week, I feel like the blog has gotten off track. My original intent was to make the blog jewelry and personal life related as this is the jewelry website and it has nothing to do with the estate sale business. However some readers of this blog took the opportunity to gossip about the content, spreading false rumors such as the estate sale business is closing because the focus of the blog is on jewelry and I do not care about estate sales anymore, I do not do much for the business, sit back and make a lot of money etc. I was given the advice to talk about the estate sales more and not to mention what we are spending money on, where we are going and what we are doing in our personal lives. I said that estate sales were never the focus of this blog and it will always have a personal element but agreed to give it a try.

Even with incorporating some estate sale-related topics the gossiping has not stopped so I am going to go back to the original focus of this blog which is jewelry. I think it is very sad to even have to address something like this in a forum which is supposed to be upbeat and fun. I did not get to where I am today by slacking off. I have had a tremendous work ethic my entire life and have always enjoyed working. I spend every waking hour working on one business or the other. I need both to be successful in order to keep my financial plan intact for the future. As I have mentioned before, I do not have children to take care of me, I can either take care of myself or have enough money to hire help should I need it.

Kuochun and I have no social life other than to occasionally go out to eat. I like to share our restaurant experiences in case it will help others when they are choosing places to go. While we are at a restaurant, much of the time we are talking about work. If we travel anywhere (which is infrequent) it is a business trip. In addition to my financial pressures, I have been helping Mother and Kuochun (and before that, Dad) through their serious health problems for several years which included taking Mother in with no assistance from family. Journaling about it is a bit therapeutic and hopefully also helps others who are going through the same thing as it is part of life.

A business owner never has any downtime but since I enjoy what I do I would not have it any other way. I have more than served my time in the corporate world, dealing with all the office politics and BS and hate to see it happen here since I left corporate to escape it. I am not going to apologize for being who I am, I know the truth about my contributions to the estate sale business. I started this business from zero and without me, there would be no business. I am the owner, the decision-maker, the accountant, the tax person, the payroll person, the HR department, the web developer, the advertising department and so much more. Over and over, I sacrifice my own financial gain to do my best to make sure my helpers are steadily employed. Although these past two years have been the most challenging between inflation greatly increasing costs and an influx of competition offering a lower grade service at a lower rate, thus decreasing the number of sales we have been booking I have no intention of shutting down the estate sale business and certainly would not hide any intention to do so. I have never been a game player and never will be.

Going forward, I will not be mentioning estate sales here unless the clients have a great quantity of and/or interesting jewelry to offer. To keep up with our estate sales, sign up for the newsletter (which is just one of the many estate sale tasks I work on every week) at BriesEstateSales.com.

Thank you for listening and hanging in there with me as I move back to keeping this blog a positive and focused experience!