The mini writing retreat is over. Elen and her family were incredibly gracious about sharing their home and time with me. We found a nice rhythm of writing, talking and writing that allowed us to be social as well as productive. Elen is one of the most thoughtful people I know. She puts a lot of time and effort into everything she does; really considers the ramifications of her thoughts and deeds before she acts upon them. I learn much from her.
Having a desk to work from was more beneficial than I remembered. I could spread my papers and research notes out around me instead of balancing some on the couch and others on the footstool. Some of my comfort may have had to do with the fact that I wasn't fighting a cat for the mouse. Electronic or not there's something about a mouse that cats feel obligated to hunt, even if it's in your hand.
Back at home, I quickly assessed the odds of setting up a desk in my office. I used to have both but gradually migrated to the living room surrounded by the zoo. I multi-task while I write. That wasn't necessary while at Elen's and I suspect that accounts for a large part of my productivity. Of course I did spend a fair amount looking out the window and watching the neighbour wash his car. Procrastination exists everywhere.
Sometimes it's important to hang out with friends, even change the scenery a little bit to gain some perspective on your work. Fortunately, the retreat was a lot calmer than landing on a branch in the middle of rapids.