Chocolate Gala

Chocolate Gala

Cole Camp is a small, historic Missouri town on Highway 52 with strong German roots. It boasts several good restaurants and antique shops, it’s not far from the Lake of the Ozarks, and the folks there really know how to throw a party.

Last week I saw an advertisement for the annual Chocolate Gala to be held at their American Legion Hall, with proceeds to be going toward a new Community Building.  It sounded interesting (they had me at “chocolate”), but this Sunday was going to be my one day of the week to just relax at home, maybe put my feet up and read a good book. Last night, however, I saw a post on social media from Thaney Brockman–a lovely business owner of my acquaintance who lives and works in Cole Camp–stating that tickets were still available.  A quick telephone call to one friend, a text to another, and I was able to message Thaney that she could consider three of those tickets sold.

Not knowing quite what to expect ahead of time, the gals and I were blown away.  The Hall was decorated with white, silver and blue, the banquet tables were beautifully set, the background music was festive, and the folks working the event were warm and welcoming. Excited voices hummed like a busy hive of happy bees. There were display tables of door prizes and raffle items, wine tasting tables and bottles available for purchase, cream pies with mile-high meringue for auction, and even a classy drawing of the much longed-for Community Building to remind us of the purpose of the event. And, of course, there was the food. OH, MY, there was food!

With great wisdom and forethought, a long buffet table in the middle of the room held platters of thin-sliced meats and cheeses, savory appetizers, chicken salad and crackers, along with large chilled water dispensers at each end. These items presented a perfect counterpoint to the round tables before and behind, which were loaded with dozens of various sweet treats, all featuring some form of chocolate. From truffles to brownies, pretzels to green grapes, marshmallows to mint, there was chocolate galore!  It was all so good, I’m fairly sure I foundered myself.

Throughout the event, the buzz of conversation would lower occasionally as the master of ceremonies would hold up and describe a door prize or two, and announce the winning number for the drawing. Everyone present would check their ticket and then a cheerful exclamation would erupt from one corner or another, whereupon we’d all applaud our congratulations. My friend Karen won a gift certificate from a local restaurant, and then Michelle won a big basket with several goodies in it. And me?  I basked in the glow of fun, the prize of long-term friendships, the pleasure of helping out a Big Cause in a Small Town, and the sugar rush from all that chocolate. It was an incredibly good time.

If you haven’t been to Cole Camp, and would like to check it out, a good website is here:    Just be sure to take your appetite!

A Tiresome Problem

A Tiresome Problem

The photo you see here is not the problem; it’s the solution.  Nothing like starting a joke with the punchline, right?

Last weekend I drove from West Central Missouri to the Dallas area of Texas, to visit with my sister’s family and join them in celebrating the marriage of Danielle Renee Hardy and Wade Clinton Jarman.  The preparations had been meticulous, the site was perfect, the bride (my niece) was stunningly beautiful, the groom handsome and heroic.  With mountains of scrumptious food at both the rehearsal dinner and the reception, I think it’s safe to say a good time was had by all.

The problem arose during my drive toward home, when the outer layer departed the right rear tire of my old Suburban, to flop dejectedly onto the shoulder of the turnpike in Northeastern Oklahoma.  Having always been somewhat of a tomboy, I can thank my Daddy for teaching me how to change a tire before I ever left the driveway with my first car.  It’s a skill that everyone who drives should know, and believe me, living out here on the gravel roads, I’ve changed plenty of them.  The weird thing is, in almost nine years of owning the Suburban, I’ve never changed a tire on this vehicle.  Added air from the compressor at the barn? Sure.  Had a slow leak fixed at the shop in town?  Check.  But actually retrieving the spare out of the carpeted cover in the back and figuring out where to put the jack?  Umm . . . no.  And with thousands of vehicles of all sizes whizzing past on the asphalt just mere feet away, it didn’t seem like the optimal place or time to learn, even if the affected specimen was on the lee side.

You see, even though the tread layer of rubber had peeled off, the formerly 10-ply tire was still holding air!  It looked fairly ragged, and the impact had knocked the fiberglass running board loose from the wheel well, but it appeared that I might be able to coax a few more miles out of the thing.  Just as I was looking up “nearest tire shop” on the map program of my trusty iPhone, a Good Samaritan stopped to offer help.  He agreed to follow me into town “just in case”, we both activated our emergency flashers, and, using the minimum speed of 40 mph, limped on into the edge of Joplin, Missouri, to the Ozarko Tire Center on Highway 43, just south of I-44.

These guys were fantastic.  In spite of the fact that it was almost closing time on what must surely have been a busy Monday, they cheerfully agreed to check the soundness of my spare, and, finding it fit for use, promptly installed it on the truck to get me back on the road for home.  What do I owe you? I asked.  Travel safe, and have a good day! the boss replied.  Surprised, I tried to argue the point, to no avail.  Neither the store manager nor the kind young man who had done the work would accept a penny for the service they’d performed.  I was blown away by their kindness, and feel very fortunate to be able to give them a shout-out here.  I climbed back into the Suburban, snapped a quick photo from out of the window on my way out of the lot, and drove the last three hours back to the farm with a warm feeling in my heart.  And then on Thursday, the local shop put four new 10-ply tires on the truck so this problem won’t happen again on my next trip.  After all, that last set had seen me through six years and many thousands of miles.

So here’s my challenge to you: The next time you observe someone with a problem, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to help.  Maybe you can be like the guy who bothered to pull over and offer assistance, or the fellows who changed out my ruined tire for the spare.  If you’re in the Joplin area, maybe throw a little business to those Guardian Angels at the Ozarko Tire Center.

Either way, Travel Safe, and Have a Good Day!