Tucson 2024 & More

The week before last was very heavy with appointments for all of us leading up to our Tucson trip so this is a two-week combined posting. Kuochun and I took the girls for a dental exam and the results were very shocking. The doctor said Vivi's teeth were worse than Margot's and it looked like both would need to have most of their teeth pulled. We were told Schnauzers are prone to having bad teeth which is something I had never heard of having them as part of my family for the vast majority of my life. With the girls only being five years old, both Kuochun and I were very hesitant to do something so drastic. Margot has had a couple of front teeth fall out on their own recently, one on the top and the other on the bottom but she never showed signs of being in pain. I have been working with her by gently pulling up her gums every day so eventually she can get used to teeth cleaning. I noticed a lot of tartar buildup on her upper canines which prompted me to want a professional to look at her teeth. I think her teeth are in better shape than Vivi's because I was giving her Bark Bright dental chews. I tried giving them to Vivi too but sometimes she would throw them up. The remaining Bark Brights are back in Mount Prospect so neither has had them for a while. We are currently using PetLab ProBright dental powder which is easy to apply to their evening meals.

The following Saturday we brought the girls to a local vet which comes highly recommended in one of the Facebook groups and happens to be right down the street. We were able to get in as walk-ins and swiftly were given our own room once the barking commenced. Overall we were pleased with the experience and scheduled their first cleanings for February 1. I was happy to see detailed notes e-mailed to me which is not something I have experienced at a vet before. The notes said Margot's dental disease is moderate but did not mention pulling teeth. Vivi's is more severe and the notes said some teeth may need to be pulled. Kuochun is strongly against pulling teeth so we will see what happens.

The search for a hairstylist continued for me after a very poor experience last time. The stylist I see at Bloom Salon in Arlington Heights was a good friend and co-worker with a stylist who moved to the Phoenix area. She recommended that I go see her while in AZ. I love Davines products which are featured at Bloom and there is only one salon in all of Phoenix who specializes in these products and their hair colors. The drawback was it is 35 minutes away in North Scottsdale but I felt I could not go wrong with the recommendation. Things did not work out. She did not touch up any of the hair around my face, gave me huge chunky purple streaks and spent about 3 minutes cutting my hair, resulting in it being uneven and on an extreme angle going towards the front. She also had no suggestions about products I should use, simply asking me what I currently used so she could use the same. I looked OK leaving the salon and did not see the problems until later. It was really expensive and I should have done something about it but the location is not close to home and time is precious. After looking at my uncolored temples for seven weeks I thought about taking the long journey to switch to my natural salt and pepper like Mother and Rachel have done but in the end I decided against it.

Facebook groups saved the day once again! I found a great recommendation for a stylist who is only seven minutes from home in the Old Town area and works in a very cute salon suites building. She works Thursday through Sunday so I was able to set up a Sunday appointment! Because most everything was closed on a Sunday morning I was able to park right out front so it was very convenient. Her aunt owns the suite and works Monday through Wednesday and there was another stylist there who had two clients while I was there, one after the other. It was a really nice balance because it was not just one-on-one making small talk for three hours with someone I just met, but it was not a crowded salon with too much commotion. She is very talented, she fixed my hair and I was very pleased with the results. And as a huge added bonus it was substantially less than I paid before. I think I have finally found my hair person here in AZ!

Another highlight of the week was my meeting at the Heard Museum to present some of my jewelry collection for consignment in the gift shop. The head of the consignment program was delightful and accepted all of my pieces! I am waiting for him to go through and research everything, and then he will present me with a list of the items and the suggested retail pricing. I will then decide which pieces to have them offer for sale in the shop. We had not been to the gift shop since last March during Indian Market and it was so crowded it was very difficult to get to the jewelry cases. This time though I found they do have quite a bit of vintage already and it is beautifully curated. We were told that vintage does very well which I am not surprised to hear as it is not easy to find. I think my pieces will fit right in. I am hoping the venture will be profitable as opposed to just receiving what I paid back for these pieces but I trust that fair values will be assigned. He said they feel the same but at the same time they do not want to be "married" to them! Mother gave him some movie ideas and he said let him know when we would like to visit the museum and he would give us some free passes. I am looking forward to hearing their take on what the jewelry is worth.

After the meeting Mother and I had a nice lunch at the Courtyard Cafe. My quesadilla with shrimp was delicious and really hit the spot. The posole was sold out so Mother chose the sopa de lima which she enjoyed. She also selected the dreamcatcher salad which was just beautiful, I should have taken a photo of it. The ingredients (tomato, avocado, corn, dried cranberries, wheat berries and pepitas) were arranged in neat piles around the bowl over the greens. Even though it was business-related, it was nice to get out and do something fun.

The constant appointments lead us right up to the day before we left for Tucson. Check-in time was 3:00 PM on Tuesday but we were not able to leave as promptly as I hoped. Kuochun kindly rented a Nissan Pathfinder for us so we would be able to bring along everything everyone needed, including Mother's two oxygen machines. We needed to pick it up near the airport so that took extra time. It was also quite rainy that day so traffic was heavy and we did not arrive until after 6:00. However the Airbnb was not ready at 3:00, it was closer to 4:00 so if we would have been on time I would have been very unhappy if we could not have access to the home right away.

The home had its pros and cons. Pros were that overall the neighborhood was quiet, even though most everyone has dogs that stay in their backyards. Speaking of which, although the backyard is bare bones, it worked very well for the girls. The next door neighbors have a chicken coop and Vivi really enjoyed listening to them. There is a large piece of Astroturf in the yard which we were able to get Margot to use. Vivi is not so particular. This helped Kuochun out a lot as he basically only had to walk them in the morning and evening. There is a doggie door but it is built up high for larger dogs. Also, the laundry is conveniently located on the same floor and Mother was able to do her own laundry! The beds are also comfortable and the sheets very soft. The entire area is surrounded by an impressive mountain range which is absolutely beautiful. At this time of year the mountains are snow-capped even though temperatures ranged from the 50s-70s on the ground. Cons were that although the furniture looked cool in the photos, except for the bedroom floors the rest of the house has not been updated for a good 30 years. Also, the location is remote to anywhere we needed to go or anything interesting to do. I joked that every time I put an address in the GPS, it was 26 minutes away. It would not be bad if it were mostly highway driving but it was all local, stop and go traffic. It took a good chunk of time and energy out of each day. Finally, just the bare minimum was provided. There were two towels for each of us for 8 days, the garbage can was overflowing from the previous tenants and there was no basket of goodies or even any water provided. After a long day the first day, we had to go right out again and get drinking water. Since this Airbnb cost a lot, my expectations were high. The listing was called "Gem Show Special" but the location is not convenient to the shows. Lesson learned, I will avoid the east side of town in the future.

We rented a mobility scooter for Mother for the week and although it was extra work to take the pieces out of the car, overall it was well worth it. It provided Mother some freedom to move about as she pleased and I did not have to push her everywhere. Two of the three shows we attend have parking challenges so I asked Kuochun to drop us off the first day. However the attendance was even lower this year than last year so parking ourselves would have been fine. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes for Kuochun to pick us up.

I am going to give a brief summary of each show - I was not able to take photos of all the goodies yet but there are a few samples.

Show #1 - we hit the large booth with the huge variety of Native American jewelry first. I still have a lot of their inventory from previous years so I only purchased a few items for resale. Highlights were a pink conch shell lariat and a smaller scale lariat with various color stones and roses. There will also be a couple of darling stacker cuff bracelets by Sunshine Reeves with stamped hearts, stars or both. I had it in my mind to get a Ella Peters squash blossom necklace (I had passed on one last year) but the couple they had were out of my price range. I did pick up a very cute necklace with different types of turquoise and a flower in the center as well as a stunning piece of Black Jack turquoise in a beautiful setting with a chain. Mother selected a gorgeous rosy red spiny oyster shell pendant and several pairs of earrings, as well as one of the Sunshine Reeves stacker cuffs. We were not the first ones in the door so someone had cleared out all of the Kathy Sands just ahead of us and I did not see any Leo Feeney. But I do have a bunch of Leo Feeney from last year. The staff is so kind to us, especially Mother and she enjoys talking with them.

I was very excited to find the Leon Martinez booth again after two years. His wife said they had been there each year but not in their usual location. I do not know how I missed her. She is a gorgeous woman who wears the jewelry so well. When I approached the booth, a customer was looking at the naja pendant above. She seemed very serious about it and I was sorry to have seemingly missed it. All of a sudden though, she put everything back and walked away. I took the opportunity to snag it along with another one with Royston turquoise. These pieces plus some of the others I purchased have special meaning, I will explain this next time. She gave me extra money off as well which I will be able to pass along. Mother mentioned the Heard Museum show and we were stunned to find out Leon is on their waiting list! Hopefully he will be accepted because his work is amazing, such beautiful designs with quality stones and great attention to detail.

I took a glance at the amber booth but did not buy this year as I did not see anything spectacular. We avoided the man at the Mexican booth like the plague, he is such a good salesperson he gets me to spend too much money! For some of these lines, I need to sell what I already have before I buy more. Mother said he said hello to her but she took off on her scooter. I said it was OK to say hi! I did not see the Bali booth but was not planning to buy. After that, we called it a day.

Show #2 - we made a beeline for Buffalo Dancer, every year I miss out on the multi-heart necklaces and I thought this year will be the same as someone was looking at them when we arrived. However she turned out to be a vendor and said she needed to sell some stuff before buying. I thought to myself, they are not going to last! I waited until she left and then added them to my tray. This one is Royston turquoise and the other is white buffalo. I still have a bunch of this jewelry from the past two years but I really believe in it. I selected some more but did not spend as much as in the past.

This year the tie dye booth was open (last year the booth was set up but wrapped up in plastic and not open) and I was glad because I wanted to get a couple more scrunchies. I found two I liked but then saw they were selling the scrunchies in packs of 100. I decided to purchase a pack to sell at the upcoming garage sale. I think they are a rayon knit fabric and I love them! They are very cute and I will be able to offer them at the same price as the vendor - $3 each or 2 for $5.

We also stopped by a booth we both like but had never purchased from before. They had a bunch of interesting Southwest Style charms by Dan Dodson and others so I purchased an assortment as well as a couple of sterling buttons. We are going to try our hand at using a button for a clasp for a necklace or bracelet. I am going to try and sell the charms first and we will make jewelry with whatever does not sell. Mother's oxygen machine ran out so we had to leave so I took her back to the house and had Kuochun go back to the show with me because I needed to pick up my two orders. Sometimes the vendors need time to calculate the total and package everything up. We came to find the vendor with the charms only accepts cash so I needed to get it from the bank anyway.

I had wanted to see another booth with Native American jewelry and pottery on the first go-around but someone was making a pottery purchase and they were wrapping it up all over the cases. When I went back with Kuochun I was able to see what they had to offer. I am glad I did because there were some awesome pieces by two notable artists at reasonable prices. I picked up an assortment plus three beaded Hubei turquoise necklaces. Featured here is this gorgeous Royston turquoise statement cross pendant by Dean Sandoval.

That evening Kuochun wanted to get something to eat and had a taste for Portillo's. I was not thrilled because we can eat at Portillo's anytime but we were so impressed with the Tucson Portillo's. The decor was amazing - light and bright but still fit the theme and they had an awesome neon sign. Interestingly, there was an In-N-Out Burger next door with the usual never ending drive-thru line. Tucson must be a burger town just like Phoenix.

Show #3 - this is the "fanciest" of the three shows and the most strict as far as wholesale only admittance. I did not receive my updated sales tax number from the state in time to pre-register so we needed to wait in the long line for our passes. After that, we made our way to Federico. It is such a big difference to visit him on the first day as opposed to the third day, as I had to do last year due to illness. Prices seemed to be up but Federico works with me when he can. I only found one ring that I felt was worth purchasing but I selected some amazing earrings in either Sleeping Beauty turquoise or onyx, some necklace sets and some very special pieces including the one pictured above which I will explain about next time.

This show has a lot of beautiful ethnic booths but I am trying hard to keep my selections to Native American, Southwest Style and Mexican. Mother's oxygen machine ran out again just as I had started to look at the other Mexican vendor I enjoy so we had to leave. The portable machine has not been working well and we tried hard to get her a replacement before we left but the company did not get the job done. On the way back we were able to charge the battery a bit and stopped for lunch at Beyond Bread. We both loved it! I had a shrimp po'boy special and Mother had the reuben daily special and tomato basil soup. Both were amazing to look at and so delicious. Mother's sandwich looked like it should have been on a magazine cover. Arizona sure knows how to do bread. This is a Tucson-area chain so I will be sure to put this on my must-do list for next time. A great sandwich is one of my very favorite things.

Between show #2 and #3 there are no new shows so Friday to we made the trip to Tubac. We were not able to go last year so I was very excited that we had the opportunity this year. I read online that there was a pecan farm in Sahuarita on the way down, we exited the highway at the town but could not find it. Turns out it shut down in 2021. So we made a pit stop at McDonald's for some breakfast. The businesses surrounding the highway looked newly built and very clean, it was a pleasant experience. The young man working there was so sweet, the nicest employee I have ever encountered at a McDonald's. When we were leaving Mother said to him you do not need to be so nice! He said, well ma'am, that's my job!

We got back on the road and headed into Tubac. The first stop was my favorite trading post. I found two pairs of earrings, one by Navajo artists I enjoy. This is the only place I know of to find these artists' work. They had two beautiful bumblebee jasper heart pendants but the prices were a good 40% higher than I had paid for the custom-made white buffalo heart they made for me three years ago. I decided to pass. I love the Navajo pearl earrings I found there, they go great with other jewelry I have but the other pair unfortunately does not suit me. I will need to sell them. We went to the high-end Native American gallery in town. I never expected to buy anything there but they had one of the best butterfly pendants I had ever seen by Navajo artist Herman Smith. It was less money than the bumblebee hearts so I decided to go with it. I know I will get many years of good use from this pendant and will likely downsize some of my butterfly collection.

On the way to lunch we stopped by a gallery which was having a retirement sale. Mother found a darling Fred Harvey era pin for the collar on her jacket as well as a cowgirl and cowboy themed pillow for her bed. We noticed two pieces of the coveted petrified cactus in one of the display cases and asked the lady if she was willing to sell. She called her husband and he said no. This is the second time this has happened to me! I could take such great photos with those, they were even better than the ones I saw in Fountain Hills.

After that we went to lunch at Shelby's Cafe. This was my third time there and third time to order a pesto chicken sandwich. It was difficult to get Mother up there but we figured it out and left to park the car. When we got back we found that she barely got in the restaurant in time - they were closing for an hour to prepare for dinner service. There were hardly any customers in town and I was very surprised to see all the people they turned away in that hour. It was good as usual but I am ready to try a different place next time.

We were able to complete our "errands" as well - Mother picked up four of her favorite Southwest Style knit shirts at a boutique and I got more of the felted wool eyeglass holders I had been wanting. I was going to get more for the three pairs of eyeglasses Kuochun keeps in the cupholders of the car but he had an even better idea! He found they had zippered bags and one of them was the perfect size for his glasses. There is even a zipper on each side so the pair with the string attached can go in the center and the other two can go on each side. The little things make me so happy! Every day all those eyeglasses are in my way.

Sunday we decided to go back and finish off Show #3. I did end up purchasing some pieces from the Mexican vendor. They had some very unique stone jewelry to offer this time including Maligano jasper from Indonesia. I was trying to find a booth with vintage Native American jewelry Mother loves and at the last minute we found it. They had some of the most interesting pieces I have ever seen in person with sky high prices to match. I did find pieces I could work with as well as some Rose Martin pearls which are very hard to find. They had the best selection I have ever seen. While I was looking at them, some "big shots" tried to muscle me aside and grabbed a bunch. But they were grabbing the largest ones and I was looking for more budget-friendly. I think they spent about $10,000 in five minutes. The owner of the booth asked for my driver's license and that is when I discovered that it was not where I normally keep it. I have been through everything and was not able to find it. The last time I presented it was Saturday when I was registering for the show but I swore I just put it in my small bag. Looks I will need to see about getting a replacement. I am sure I am not the only one that this has happened to while out of state.

We rounded out the week by going out for an Italian dinner at Piazza Gavi in the Catalina Foothills, which is one of the nicest areas of town. Melinda, Mother and I went there two years ago and loved it. The restaurant has such a romantic, charming feel. I have never been to Italy but it seems like this is what it would be like. I went with the chicken Milanese, Mother selected a lasagna special and Kuochun opted for the seafood stew. We ordered calamari to share - this works out well because I like the rings and Kuochun likes the tentacles. He liked his but mine were some of the worst I have ever eaten. They were beyond rubbery and just plain difficult to eat. I am not one to send food back though and it seemed that our server was overextended covering too large of an area so I was not confident that it would be taken care of promptly. My chicken was good although overly salted and my spaghetti was just OK. Mother loved her lasagna which was very interesting - a layer of Italian sausage, a layer of seafood mix and a layer of Italian cold cuts. She would not normally order something like this but said it was even better the next day.

This rounds out the week - we are in Tucson until Tuesday morning so there will be a bit more to report. See you next time!