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EncJud-Lestschinsky_karte-jued-auswanderung-1915-1939dancing rabbis crown Heights
Dancing rabbis,

I like staying connected to UCLA because my geography friends there are so smart.
 Professor John Agnew’s talk was about the Geography of the election, and it was a bit scary because one (unlikely) scenario according to models and statistics could actually have Donald Trump win.  I asked if he becomes the candidate, might there be a rebound that record numbers of voters from all persuasions might turn out to vote to make sure he doesn’t get elected; and he thought it depends on ‘white women’ as a demographic voting bloc.  According to polls, 70% of women give Trump an unfavorable rating. (I personally feel viscerally repelled.) No one is perfect, but I feel much more favorable to other candidates in both parties.

Melanie Renfrew, Tom Gillespie UCLA Geography 5-17-15I haven’t quite decided about my RTW itinerary, as by looking at maps, I realized there are other places I’ve long wanted to see.  Glen MacDonald (just elected Fellow of countless top academies)  said Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia, are definitely worth a visit; and my ‘kinsman’ Tom Gillespie (who won a UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award this year) gave me other ideas. (My great-grandparents were Gillespies.)  Antarctica from space NASAA roomful of geographers has a wellspring of travel conquests:  I have 2 friends who have been to Antarctica (+ another who tried, but the seas were too rough).

Pearson Prentice Hall Global Wind Belts

2 passion flowers, Huntington parking lot, April 2012, mprenfrew

Star Alliance 2016
United is part of the Star Alliance; for planning my summer trip, I have route maps of Swiss, Turkish, and Thai Airways as bookmarks on my toolbar, looking for alternative stops that may have saver awards on the way around the world. This is the link I use to explore options, clicking ‘One Way’ and ‘My dates are flexible’:

The itinerary I wrote about last week disappeared as I was on the 30-hour/4-day grading marathon, so I am looking at going East again.  I have enough ‘miles’ for 3 international award seats, not quite enough to go to the southern hemisphere & all the way around, so am considering buying a short hop:  I’d like to go to Israel, and flights from London are $300. From Tel Aviv, some of the award seat routing on to Asia is so interesting, many going North first on LOT Polish Airlines because of Jewish heritage, or back West to Zurich, one has an overnight in Paris, many through Istanbul, Thessaloniki  and Athens, & all of these connect to flights that go on to Kathmandu, Colombo, Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai, etc.

When I saw one routing connects through Milan, my heart leapt! Then I can get a piece of pizza!

Melanie Renfrew, Vatican Museum Hall of Maps, 1-15If I go to Shanghai, I can climb Huangshan.
huangshan-mountains avatar mtns are based on

“10 Reasons Why New Zealand in Winter Rocks,”

map lax-new zealand

Facing West

Facing West

I come and go from the Science Complex with heavy backpack & side bags the shortest way from my car, from the Southeast, pour my energy into teaching, & go back to my car praying I’ll make it safely home.

I lost my SSA mailbox key so haven’t checked it much for the unimportant fliers & ads, and thus don’t see the full-time staff & faculty colleagues the way I used to when I taught in the NEA Bldg. (Northeast Academic).

At the Employee Appreciation Lunches, I always feel jealous (but also happy & hooting for) the staff who get cheers, loud applause & even a standing ovation. They deserve it.

When my name & other professors who get our 5-10-15-20-25 – year pins go up, there is only of scatter of polite, obligatory clapping.


would be if someone gave me credit for at least trying to help NBCLA understand which way air is blowing in Los Angeles.

It’s not my fault if they’re confused.

Compass - West is on left, East is on right, and it spells WE across if you read from left ot right.  In China, Israel, Arabic world, it spells EW.

Dr. Melanie Patton Renfrew, Santa Monica Bay, Nov. 2012I am getting an award.  I had to ask what it was for? ‘We have you on the list as having served here 20 years.’

Shhh, don’t tell: it’s technically only been 19 1/2; but if you add up extra courses I used to teach for summer income and to pay off my house, then it would be >.

Melanie hosting shower, April 2011I’ll pick up my fixed Asus later so can catch up on photos. (The loaner Surface Pro lacks a card slot.) At Millard Canyon, people asked for this recipe: the basic way to start a generous treat (generous to ourselves for the luxury of it), is to
1. combine brown sugar & butter,
2. add real vanilla (mine’s from Mexico),
and this time I also added real almond flavor (I got the idea from Norwegians),
plus squeezed a real lemon from my tree. (It felt very risky to try all 3, but I got the idea in Scotland when bakers said they combined vanilla & lemon in a cake, and it tasted transcendent.) Chef Marie, the LAHC Culinary baker, says lemons ‘brighten’ it.
I think at Millard, these 5 combined were what people were riddled by (but it also may have been the cornbread mix I used with whole wheat flour as a base).
For me, it was private magic to dare combining new flavors and hear happy responses.

Cranapple muffin cake, 2-10-12, Melanie's kitchen3. For ‘Cake chews’/cookie bars, add flour, a little soda or baking powder, extra eggs (to make them less crumbly), and I usually add ‘conglomerate’ cereal, possibly coconut, chopped apples or other fruit. (The Millard ones had corn flakes.)
variations on a dump cake, july 4, 2014Oatmeal, raisins or chocolate chips are predictable additions; and if you add surprise things (even a little cayenne sometimes), people are drawn into the mystery of it all.

For our ladies’ tea recently, I made 75 scones with lemon, coconut, Bisquick, corn muffin mix, whole wheat flour, and some with homemade berry jam. (Leftovers the next day were dry because I didn’t use a lot of butter: I didn’t have applesauce to make them more moist.)

Good cereal additions with vanilla are corn flakes, oatmeal & coconut;
and crispy rice, wheat flakes, etc. are also good as long as you use real vanilla.

I usually bake in a 300°-some F oven and watch them; & I do use an oven thermometer as mine overheats.

Have fun. I used to live in a house where we had people over every Friday night. I had choir practice every weekday so couldn’t share in dinner-making, so my job with friend Ginny was to bake cookies ahead. I also used to bring them to potlucks, class parties; and it’s fun to bring pans of goodies in my backpack on hikes because then I can snack on the dough. Just like ‘Chopped.’

(I used to bake birthday cakes all the time; and now if I host a shower, the purchased ones taste artificial.)
H.B.E. tangerine cake, Melanie Renfrew 5-25-14

This one was tangerine with homemade berry sauce:

“Happy Birthday Everyone!”

(vampire drizzle quite unintentional)

gel heel inserts, Dr. Scholl's
Most people think I have so much energy.
(I wear 2 each + 2 full insert layers inside already-cushiony athletic shoes.)

BraveheartI avoid violence in movies, especially if it shows the human body marred, as it feels like it’s happening to me.  (Or to animals! Comic or fake CGI violence is somehow detached so I can ignore.)  I’d never seen Braveheart, and was thinking I might like the scenery, as Roku lets you see the little scenes to skip, so I can mute & fast-forward over battles & ‘evil.’  

It felt inspired, in an “Every man dies: not every man really lives” kind of way.  The theme was what his father in the dream told the boy Wallace: “Your heart is free: have the courage to follow it.”

I felt perplexed I didn’t recognize more of the scenery, so looked it up:  besides the opening & flyovers, most was filmed in Ireland.

earth rotateAbout going Round The World (RTW): actor & pilot John Travolta told David Letterman he liked going RTW, who earnestly asked if he could go with him, or to Australia/NZ. It made me feel good. It’s tiring, but so interesting, and helps infuse a global view.

(Earth rotates from West to East, but I’m actually going the other way this trip.)


I really love the marine layer as a relief from bright sun.  

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Always an adventure…