Link to How To Stack Cats

A photo-essay

I am devastated to announce that
Michael Ray Laurence,
my hero, my heart, the center of my life,
died on 10 July 2011 of a (heat-related) heart attack after mowing the lawn.
(I miss him and I always will.)

Remembering Michael

The following is from years back, when Michael was courting me by email (we had not yet even spoken by phone!). Here follows Michael’s self-description. I had unintentionally ‘pricked’ his masculinity by trying to be … unfeminine (in both our views, me wanting to ‘talk like friends,’ not like man and woman; and of course with him being unable to see us any other way, Michael being really offended by that). (I was trying to ‘talk’ (via email) with him as if no sexual dynamic existed. ({eye roll} Ah, how feral I was!) He wrote this to me then, intending to ‘drive me off’ from continuing to talk with him. ( It didn’t work.)

Michael: I’m 6' 1" – I am told by all that I look like I weigh 185, but am 230 due to weight-lifting – I’m 46 years old, but look like I’m 36 – my IQ is 156. That mild-mannered reporter who works for a great metropolitan newspaper, Clark Kent, looks like me – with my small, regular features and full head of brown hair. I am a father’s son with a vengeance: I’ve been a weapons enthusiast since I was “turned on” by a picture of a B-70 mounted with Skybolts when I was eight years old. I grew up in neighborhoods where fighting was a daily diversion. When my father (200+ pounds weight-trained – 6'0" – Masters Degree in Ch.E.) grabbed me in a bear hug from behind when I was a 100-pound young teenager – to teach me a lesson for picking on my younger brother – I, as I well knew I could, put a move on him and threw him down the hill behind me. He got up trying to brush the grass stains off his trousers, to my mother’s remark that “now you’ll never be able to control him.”

Ironically, I came to be the only one in the family who could enjoy my father's company, since he himself tended to pick on someone smaller, weaker, and less intelligent than himself – and I was the only one who was, and came to be, bigger, stronger, and smarter than he was. [Are your teeth on edge yet?] I keep the world’s hardest-recoiling handgun, a full-load 44 magnum derringer, at the ready in our living room; a 45 Colt auto by the bedside; I recently made a gift of a Model 29 “Dirty Harry” to my step-brother. My other step-brother has an armory of assault rifles, the internal lock-works of which I can describe sight-unseen. I could go on with this vulgar display of silver-back breast-beating, but I think you’ve got the idea by now.

Elenor: It’s not (really) a vulgar display – it’s a description of the things that are important to you and the ways you see yourself. But it is surely silver-back breast-beating and I loved the metaphor! Clearly you’re a seriously senior primate! (I’m neither shocked nor swooning! I’m interested in who you are, I’m glad to finally hear some of what makes you tick.)

(He surrendered completely. He gave up all attempts to leave me behind.)

Who Am I?

Elenor 2013

I’m a 60-year-old woman who moved to Atlanta, Georgia in March 1997, from the desert that is eastern Washington state, where I spent seven years. Before eastern WA, I lived in western WA (the most beautiful place in the world!) for six years. I’m originally a New Yorker, but not from the city – I grew up in Port Jefferson, a small town about two hours out on Long Island.

I went to college at SUNY Oswego, six-plus hours upstate from New York City, where I majored in Psychology (and, unofficially, in ambulance work). I had a version of the quintessential “well-rounded” education. I pretty much took one of everything and two of some things. Elenor and Michael RayAfter graduation, I joined the Navy and spent six years on active duty. You’ve heard: “join the Navy, see the world?” I spent all six years in Philadelphia – just four hours from home!

When I got off active duty, I moved to Gig Harbor, Washington and, among other jobs, worked as a job shopper/technical editor. I lived there till Boeing offered me a deal I couldn’t resist (be careful what you ask for!) and I moved {sigh} to the desert side of Washington. For five years I worked as a technical writer/editor and a trainer of editors for Boeing Computer Services, Richland, a subcontractor to Westinghouse Hanford Company, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Along with about 500 others, I got laid off the end of June 1995.

In an astonishing coincidence (if you believe in them, which I don’t), I met the man who is my soul mate, my other half, through the Stevie Ray Vaughan fan mailing list on the Internet (called Texas Flood). Here’s the short version of how we met:

  • Michael Ray first emailed me 5 December 1996.
  • We first spoke on the phone a few days after Xmas that year.
  • I flew to Atlanta to meet him around the 12th of January 1997, confirming what we’d already pretty much decided.
  • I flew home a week later, put my house on the market, and Michael flew out to Washington in mid-March to meet my mom and let my friends have ‘a poke and a prod’ and see if they were going to let me go off with him. (They did.)
  • We flew back to Atlanta 17 Mar 1997, and got married on 5 October 1997 (2 days after Stevie’s birthday: we tried for his birthday, but my sisters couldn’t come till two days after).
  • We cruised from LA to Vancouver for our honeymoon, and since then have gone on several more cruises. I’ve posted pictures!

I had considered setting up my technical writing and editing business in Atlanta. It’s called SnowTao Editing Services and specializes in technical and scientific document editing, production, and publishing, and in World Wide Web publishing. But Michael Ray and I prefer that I spent my days in his company, so I help out with Micro-Metrics and dabble in a variety of other things.

       Mike and El at Mont St Michel
El and Mike at Mont St Michel, 2010 “Icy Jewels” TransAtlantic cruise on the RCCI Jewel of the Seas

Now, after so many wonderful years with Michael Ray, I am going on because I have no choice. I have taken over the Micro-Metrics Company, and am refining, strengthening, re-creating, and trying to update the company so it will continue.

My Family

Michael Ray

Michael's logoMichael Ray Laurence, my beloved husband, was owner and President of the Micro-Metrics Company, which makes several quality inspection instruments including the Tooke Paint Inspection Gage. (Michael was also CEO and CIO and CFO and heavy-lifter and fine quality maker and and and … in fact, we called him the “ epitome of Micro-Metrics manhood,” while I only qualified, back then, as a member of the Micro-Metrics Sissy Bridgade!) The gage was invented by his father, W. Ray Tooke and is used world-wide. Michael Ray was a native Atlantan (one of the six native Atlantans still here, we joked!) – having lived here for all but 5 years of his life. He used to say, only half-kidding, that he lived in “Yankee-occupied Georgia.”

Michael and Jean
My mom Jean, the astrologer, writer, and singing teacher, moved to Los Angeles to be near Meredith, Mark, and Keith when I left Washington. Despite the earthquakes she has already lived through, she really loves it. She’s been writing poetry and short stories; won 1st Prize one year and 2nd prize the second year in a Shakespeare sonnet competition (!); and she’s sold a lot of articles to various magazines. She’s also the family genealogist, a columnist for Chapman Family Association Quarterly, and teaches writing and computer use at the South California Genealogy Society.

Abby and family in ParisMy older sister, Abigail, lives in NYC with her husband Wint and their son Alex. She graduated from law school at Fordham (May 2001) and works for some big-old law firm in NYC. Wint was a freelance violinist whose c.v. includes his Bachelor of Music degree with honors from the University of Southern California, and is now a novelist;   His first book is Panama Fever: Digging Down Gold Mountain. Abby runs the publishing house, Jonkro Books. Alex is an actor/performer.

Mere and Bosko
My younger sister, Meredith, lives in Los Angeles with her husband Mark and Keith. They have a Schnoodle (Schnauzer-Poodle mix) called Bosko. Mere plays viola with the Los Angeles Philharmonic: She got her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Juilliard in NYC. A few years ago, she qualified as a white-water rafting guide in Arizona.  She  also makes stained glass windows (an interesting hobby for a violist!).

Mark and Keith

Mark is a freelance percussionist and movie-soundtrack artist (he played on both Shrek and Jurassic Park III, for example!) and he plays with local orchestras, such as the Santa Barbara Opera.

Daddy and my sons
My dad, who was a high-school English teacher and director of both a professional orchestra (Brookhaven Town Symphony) and a choir (North Shore Choral Society), died in 1983. He was a fanatic golfer and his hobby of violin and stringed-instrument repair kept him in the basement workshop for days on end. I’ve posted a couple of his essays and a sermon.

A “rogue’s gallery” of pictures is presented for your delectation (or something).

Favourite Quotes

  • “Those who beat their swords in plowshares, will plow for those who don't.”
  • “If you’re not in danger, do not fight.” (Sun Wu)
  • “It’s obvious when you see it!” (Ross Ronish and Elenor Snow)
  • “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” (Philip K. Dick)
  • Gun Control is the theory that a woman found dead in an alley, raped and strangled with her panty hose, is somehow morally superior to a woman explaining to police how her attacker got that fatal bullet wound.
  • “The philosophy of gun control: Teenagers are roaring through town at 90 MPH, where the speed limit is 25. Your solution is to lower the speed limit to 20.” (Sam Cohen)

Michael 2006

Michael on a cruise

Elenor 2006

Elenor on a cruise

Serenade of the Seas

Serenade of the Seas

Our house

Our house