Photo of me at 3 yrs on a donkey!Sandra Stowell (contact me) and Michael Pruitt

The Household

As of 2009, we have been partners for over twenty-eight years, and married (choke, gasp!) since 1996. We are prematurely aged and mentally warped by years of working with computers, so we seek solace in making art, and humanity through our cohousing community! We built a fabulous Port Townsend home at RoseWind from strawbales and stucco, put in a lovely garden with many regionally native and a few exotic plants, and had a great view of the community commons from the living room and front porch. Then we sold the house in 2007!

Since moving to Port Townsend we have certainly cut down on working (for money), car use, and frustruation. We do grow some food, primarily through a community garden where the effort is sustained by a group of volunteers who carry the load when individual members are away, or preoccupied elsewhere. Our fine straw bale house was something of a money pit, so we postponed some final construction (the front porch) until six months before we sold it. The few years we spent designing, developing, and maintaining software, working at home as "First Raven Systems" provided a little income, but not enough to complete the terraced & sheltered patio, or to finish and heat the basement.

Now we live by the skin of our teeth, and make art. So in order to get a real working art studio, we sold the dream house! We will build a new, different home only three blocks away, on the other side of RoseWind, and with it a well-lit utilitarian studio!

Before moving in to our fine solid straw bale house, we lived in a wonderful rental in uptown Port Townsend, where I jogged the area and memorized the street names. Now my hips prefer aerobic walking to jogging. This is a fine town for running, walking, and biking, although some destinations are tricky to navigate in heavy summer tourist traffic! Sadly, we no longer share a home with our old, deaf cat: Pudkhi. In fact, heresy of heresies, Michael is considering acquiring a DOG!

Symbol of Mannanin Sandra: A quick tour of my past includes my birth in Alexandria, Egypt in 1955, a year or so in Bahrain, my early childhood years in Kirkcudbright, Scotland, and Cambridge, England, and my family's immigration to the United States when I was nine. My paternal heritage includes the Isle of Mann (the Stowell family is from there, hence the wheel of Mannanin at left); my mother's family may be Flemish or Italian, although they settled in Scotland, in the Paisley, 3 or 4 generations ago. I have some information on the Sivell and Sayers families assembled. First stop in the U.S. was Indianapolis, Indiana, and after four years we moved to Tallahassee, Florida, where I stayed through my college years. Due to an slight case of arrested development, it took me about nine years, on and off, to complete my four year degree, and leave Florida's overly sunny climes for the Pacific Northwest's more civilized gray green delight.

Port Townsend bears little resemblence to Egypt (!), but its climate, vegetation, and water remind me of Scotland, and of England. It feels very much like home here. Egypt is a symbol of the exotic for me; through the oddity of my birthplace I am drawn to vivid colors, bright sunlight, and the scents of spices not native to my homelands.

I had a somewhat peripatetic childhood, and have found it a struggle to build a set of friends and a sense of community during my thirteen years in Seattle. Once we started to work together on the land, I found moving to RoseWind felt like moving home. I had a sense of familiarity and comfort from meeting other RoseWind members around town, or for planned get-togethers. There are, and will be, differences and struggles, but I certainly benefit from this effort in community. The land is beautiful, and while the construction process can be ugly, I hope that we will all build and plant wisely, and make it even more beautiful.

Michael: Born in tinsel town - that's right, Hollywood California - more years ago than I care to remember, I'm still anxious to see what I will be when I grow up. Probably a gerbil. To be honest, I decided some time ago not to grow up. So far I have been quite successful.

I was raised by my maternal grandparents and had a rather blissful and uneventful childhood in southern California. I was that rare animal, a fourth generation Californian. When I realized how unusual that was, in my early twenties, I promptly left the state with no interest in returning. I really can't take credit for the departure from California, that was the U.S. Air Force's idea. It was my idea not to go back though. The day after I enlisted in the Air Force and got to basic training my draft notice into the Army arrived at my grandparents home. They sent it back with a polite note of apology.

I largely enjoyed my time in the Air Force. It included a year tour in Greece on the island of Crete, it was great. Returning from Greece I was posted in northern Florida where I met my ex-wife. She wasn't my ex-wife then, she was my future wife at that time. Now she is my ex-wife - thank god. We had two children, one of each basic model. Both of them now live in Seattle. My son Mark is 24 years old and we are close and I see him often and am very thankful things have turned out well between us. My daughter is 22 but we are not very close, I see her occasionally and hope for improvements.

I met Sandra in 1977 or `78 and we started living together in 1979. In `81 we had had enough of the southern summers (both temperatures and humidity in the nineties) and decided to give the Northwest a try. I have a brother living in Kirkland who invited us to live in his basement for the few months it took us to find jobs (at Boeing.) I am still enthused about this area. My fascination with Boeing didn't last as long. I left there at the beginning of `94.

I am very concerned about the quality of the environment and the quality of life our children and their children can expect to live. I sometimes fear that the human race is just the biggest natural disaster to ever befall the planet. Other times I am a little more hopeful that things can change and we can learn to value and nurture the earth and all it's inhabitants. I think cohousing can be a step in the right direction. The concept of sustainable living is very important to me and I hope it will be a guiding concept at RoseWind.

This picture by Michael features a small tidepool fish

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Sandra J. Stowell, mailto: sstowell@firstraven.com,
January 2008