Overlooking the Missouri River in extreme North County was the retreat that I was privileged to visit this week. The mansion is called Vouziers (Voo-zee-ay) because its founder, Joseph Desloge, served in the French Army during WW I and was decorated for bravery near Vouziers, France. He built the mansion to look like a French Chateau. By the time that I arrived, ownership had long since passed from the Desloge family. I never entered the Chateau, but instead spent my time on campus. (I did walk its grounds.) I spent two days there, attending a workshop. Most of my colleagues have already attended analogous, educational exercises. So, I had some expectations, but in the world of education, I had arrived as a member of the one percent.
To say that the staff was solicitous would be a gross understatement. If the facilities had five-stars, then the staff earned six. They would greet you, saying “Hi” to you, to the point of making me feel self-conscious, but that’s just me. Walking in one day, a guy running a leaf blower turned it off and said, “Good Morning”. If a staff member met you more than once, they would address you by your first name. One could get use to this, in less than a day.
The food, I had heard about the food, ambrosia for the gods. I’d also heard about the overeating, so I laid low before lunch, and had a most excellent salad for lunch, both days. Because, even in this safe and secure environ, life is still short and uncertain, I had dessert first. Here is a shout out to son Dan, Crème Brule, served in Chinese style soup ladles. If you consider the advantage of the smaller volume of the ladle to its relative surface area, it equates to more Brule to Crème and isn’t that what a Crème Brule is really all about. Plus in ladle servings, why not order a six-pack?
Food deserves two paragraphs. Even though I restrained my self at lunch, there was still the afternoon food. I think that this is the experimental end of their spectrum. One offering, had shrimp in gaspacho. The aperitif glass that worked well the previous day for carrot shooters, didn’t translate to the shrimp gazpacho. Each pot of coffee was numerically rated for its aroma, body and acidity. I was able to puzzle out that they served Kaldi’s coffee. I was only a day laborer. The facility is a hotel. I can only guess at breakfast and dinner.
This has been only the most ephemeral treatment of my two-day sojourn. It sets the stage, or maybe whets the appetite for more. In a future post, I shall endeavor to relate what I was taught, what I thought about the curriculum, and speak more about what the class was actually about.