Friday, May 19, 2017

Transplant tale: Miracle unfolds with donor's gift, crack hospital, grateful couple

Bruce William Keller and Christene Cosgriffe Meyers, with Yorkies Nick and Nora, put their beloved Montana on hold for this year, as they awaited a donor for his liver transplant.  "The call" came days ago and the surgery was successful.
They might make Montana by fall. 

SUCCESSFUL LIVER TRANSPLANT COMES AFTER 18-MONTH WAIT; JOURNEY OF RECOVERY BEGINS 


Keller broke records at Scripps, leaving
the ICU in a single day and the hospital
in three days after intricate surgery.
Transplant complete, long follow-up begins:
 Keller and Cookie are still Scripps regulars.









(This begins a two-part report on the journey to and through  liver transplantation. Please join us next week for the second segment, as our successful story unfolds.)

STORY AND PHOTOS
By CHRISTENE MEYERS

A WEEK AGO, we savored our traditional Friday Date Night -- a drive along the coast, then appetizers at La Jolla Shores here in sunny southern California.  Sauvignon blanc for me; non-alcoholic beverage for Keller. We toasted and wished for the transplant: "May it be soon." We clinked glasses. A discreet kiss.
Three top transplantation surgeons assisted in the surgery.  At left, a pleased
 Dr. Randolph Schaffer follows up with Keller days after the operation. 
It was a lovely date night -- we always dress up -- and we strolled the beach for sunset, then returned home for "Jeopardy." The ritual unfolded in normal fashion -- supper for the Yorkies, a walk for the four of us, chats with neighbors then "Hawaii Five-O." (Cookie watched the original Jack Lord 1970s classic with her beloved gran, and the newer version is part of the Friday rites.) 
NICK AND NORA, Keller and Cookie were tucking in, yielding to the arms of Morpheus, when "The Call" came.
Scripps Green Hospital is among the nation's finest.  Its staff of doctors
represents the nation's finest medical schools, including Columbia, Baylor,
Harvard, Duke, Johns Hopkins, University of California San Francisco, etc.
A member of Scripps Green Hospital's crack transplant team advised that a potential donor had been found.  
He promised to call again in an hour to set an arrival time, if the donor liver looked favorable. This first call was to alert us to stand by.
Cookie and Keller travel internationally several times
a year, here at the Pyramids in Egypt. That will resume!
LONG-AGO, in college, he contracted the  Hepatitis C virus, perhaps during treatment for a sports injury. Although dormant for years, it had badly damaged Keller's liver. While miracle drug, Harvoni, leveled the virus, alas, the damage remained.
We knew we were climbing up the
liver transplant list at Scripps, where 19 months ago, we began the circuitous journey of tests, evaluations, scans, probes, blood work, MRIs, conferences and dozens of visits, all part of a meticulous plan toward eventually receiving transplantation and regaining a normal, healthy life. That he would have a competent, healthy care-giver was of prime importance. I, too, was vetted and passed my tests!
Cookie and Keller
love to dance and
will soon be back.
  IN LESS THAN two hours from that first call, we were at Scripps -- admitted at midnight through a locked front door by a security officer who whisked us to the "prep room."
  We knew we were not the only ones called.  More than a single potential recipient's family is alerted to be sure that a proper match is made and the generous gift not wasted.  All are "prepped" while the best match is determined.  Many factors play into the decision, including blood type and size. (A petite Asian woman, for instance, would not be a good match with a linebacker.)   Many recipients endure multiple preps -- four and five are not uncommon. One family was prepped 13 times. 
Keller's last birthday was a cause for
celebration in Vancouver. This next
birthday may find us in Montana and he
 plans to walk his only daughter, Kristen,
 down the aisle in September of 2018.
Sunset over La Jolla Shores is a Friday tradition for Cookie
and Keller.  This photo was taken the evening we got "the call."
BY NOW it was 1 p.m. The prepping was done. We'd completed many forms. Labs were taken, medical directives filed. We met with surgeon Dr. Jonathan Fisher, and one of the pair of anesthesiologists. Both told us what to expect. We were prepared to rock and roll.  Once we'd wrapped our heads around the fact that we needed the transplant, we were ready. Without a transplant, liver disease patients usually don't live past five years.
Date night became transplant night, as
Cookie and Keller stepped into the unknown.
"We should know by 2 p.m.," surgeon Michelle Ganyo assured us.  She rushed in an hour later, waving her cell phone, and hollered "It's a go." We were elated. A quick kiss -- not good-bye -- but "see you soon." Misty eyes.
The surgical team was assembled. Keller was quickly dispatched to dreamland and the arms of Morpheus which eluded us six hours earlier.
For Cookie, a lonely night in the waiting room began.


NEXT UP:  The  passing this week of Cookie's favorite James Bond, Roger Moore, prompts a reminiscence of a whirlwind five-day trip to London in 1977 for the premiere of "The Spy Who Loved Me" in London's
Roger Moore: remembered from a 1977 interview as
witty, handsome, self-deprecating and utterly charming.
Odeon Square.  The date was 7-7-77 and  Cookie was one of five film reviewers invited by United Artists' Cubby Broccoli to privately interview Moore. She was also among three dozen U.S. travel writers invited to receptions for Queen Elizabeth II's silver jubilee, during which she met the Queen Mum and Princess Anne (but not the Queen, although she had practiced her curtsy to perfection!) Remember to laugh, learn and live, and catch us weekends for a fresh look at travel, nature, the arts and health. We'll update you on the transplant progress next time!




 







Friday, May 12, 2017

Magical 'Music Man' at Welk Resort and new company Roustabouts satisfy theatrical cravings

Energy, enthusiasm, strong voices and high-stepping choreography make "The Music Man" a delight at Welk Resort Theatre.

 CLASSIC MUSICAL AND AMBITIOUS NEW TROUPE PUT WIND IN SAN DIEGO'S THEATRICAL SAILS




David Humphrey's swindling Professor Harold Hill sees the light, charms
the town in a joyful production of "The Music Man" at Welk Resort Theatre.
STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER
and courtesy Ken Jacques

WHEN PROFESSOR Harold Hill steps out of the train, promising to give Iowa a try with his roving flim-flam operation, we know we're in for a treat.
He'll romance Marian the Librarian, breathe life into the stodgy town of River City and give young grieving Winthrop hope.  The whole town comes alive -- and so do we, the happy audience smitten by the spell this classic of American musical theater weaves.
Cookie and Keller, center, met the spirit of Lawrence
Welk in the museum outside Welk Resort Theatre.
Their fellow musical theater fans are Melody and Larry
Cogsdill, left, and Chuck and Cathy Colclasure.
Welk Resort Theater, north of San Diego, does Meredith Wilson's legacy proud.  Its version of the 1962 Tony Award winner is larger than life, befitting its charismatic leading man.
I GREW UP with Broadway musicals and have long loved the tale of the swindler reborn with the love of a good woman (with the voice of an angel.) The two leads are masterfully played by David S. Humphrey as Harold Hill and Charlene K. Wilkinson as Marian.  While he's going straight, she's discovering the joys of love and romance. It's a pleasure to watch their chemistry develop.
Robin LaValley as the Mayor Shinn's wife, Eulalee, is a comedic hoot, backed by the other lively Pick-a-Little gossips.  Bobby Chiu's Winthrop is endearing as he emerges from his cocoon of sorrow, and the Barbershoppers are a harmonic delight.
Direction and choreography by Ray Limon is old-fashioned musical theater at its best -- full of energy with the ability to place us in the heart of the story.
WE SIX JUNKIES of musical theater loved it.
box.office@welkresorts.com
*****************************************
Ruff Yeager created a determined, egotistical and believable
professor in his Anton Myrvold, in a world premiere.
Four talented actors did honor to the world premiere of
a new company in San Diego. Roustabouts opened its
season at Horton Plaza's Lyceum and moves to Diversionary.
Joel Miller is Gray Foxberry and Roxane 
Carrasco is Sunita Myrvold. 
Kate Rose Reynolds is Britt Carlsson
in Roustabouts premiere production.
Two more works are planned this first season.

BRAVO, ROUSTABOUTS, WE LOOK FORWARD TO MORE!


IT IS ALWAYS a pleasure to add a new theater to our engaging and diverse list of troupes. San Diego's balmy weather produces more than avocados and surfers. The theatrical offerings are impressive.
The Roustabouts ' recent debut is an enticing promise of brilliant collaborations with more to come.  
A beautifully rendered opening production, "Margin of Error," was directed by veteran San Diego actor Rosina Reynolds.
The work is a fast paced drama that explores issues of morality, science, loyalty and politics in the academic world. Beautiful language by Will Cooper, a Roustabout founder, with nuanced direction by the versatile Reynolds make it clear that Roustabouts will be a major contender in San Diego's burgeoning theatrical repertoire.
Extraordinary violinist and storyteller Yale Strom promises more klezmer treats
at the upcoming Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival, celebrating its 24th season.

THE TROUPE'S second show will be the new comedy “Withering Heights” (yes a spoof on Emily Bronte's "Wuthering Heights.") "The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe" follows, originated by Lily Tomlin and written by her partner and collaborator Jane Wagner.
Keep an eye on Roustabouts for quality and daring. The company promises brave new work and reimagined classics. theroustabouts.org

UP NEXT: The talent and pleasures of the annual Lipinsky Family Jewish Arts Festival are upon us. Check out the array of performances, from Yale Strom's freewheeling Klezmer Summit, to Yiddish vocals and pop tunes, theater, readings, art and more. We've written about this festival for several years and its 24th season of treats is coming up in June.  Check it out at the Lyceum and elsewhere then mark your dance cards for spectacular, enlightening work. Remember to explore, learn and live and check us out Fridays when we post for the weekend.  sdrep.org/jewish_festival.php

Friday, May 5, 2017

Lanzarote's architectural genius Manrique lives on in brilliant work

Cesar Manrique's beautiful concert hall was created in a volcanic cave. 
The native son's vision transformed his beloved island of Lanzarote in Spain's Canary Islands.

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
Lanzarote's unique volcanic architecture inspired Cesar Manrique.
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER
  One of the longest volcanic tunnels in the world, the Cueva de Los Verdes 
has been  protecting locals on Lanzarote for centuries.  It opened to the public
in 1964 and may be toured.  At picture's far right, Cookie aims her camera.


THE BRILLIANCE of a single man is responsible for the unique artistic look of the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.
Cesar Manrique was born nearly 100 years ago, in 1919, served in the Spanish Civil War, and took a trip to New York in the early 1960s that changed his life.
Searching for "the real meaning of things," he found New York a place to indulge his artistic flights of fancy. He returned to Spain after a couple fertile years, lured to the U.S. by his cousin, Manuel Manrique, a New York psychoanalyst and writer.  New York's artists, journalists, writers, and bohemians made an impact. So did the crowds, which he compared to rats and detested.
 "Man was not created for this artificiality," he wrote. "We have an imperative need to return to the soil, to feel it, smell it."
A TRUE visionary and by far Lanzarote's most famous citizen, Manrique was a painter, architect, interior designer, gardener, sculptor, activist and environmentalist. His imprint on his beloved birthplace is universally acknowledged.  Our guide became teary-eyed describing his 1992 death -- ironically in an auto accident (he eschewed the increasing number of cars on his island).  He was 73. His home is now a fascinating foundation in his name, and may be toured by the public.  
LIKE EVERYTHING Manrique created, it makes brilliant use of the natural world. Built in 1968 on top of a trail from a 1730 volcanic eruption, the home incorporates volcanic bubbles into a unique living space.
Cesar Manrique -- visionary, Renaissance man --
who transformed Lanzarote into the Canary
Islands most unique and interesting of the group.
Cesar Manrique's home, above, is nestled near huge
  aloe vera fields and incorporates Lanzarote's  volcanoes.
The exterior is inspired by traditional Lanzarote architecture and the home incorporates the elements Manrique deemed essential for a well rounded life: conservation and study, artistic activity and cultural reflection. He also believed in respecting the natural environment and integrating it as artfully as possible into living space. His imagination was fueled and his vision shaped during his U.S. stay by both the artists he met and the crowds and congestion he avoided.
'WHEN I returned from New York, I came with the intention of turning my native island into one of the more beautiful places in the planet, due to the endless possibilities that Lanzarote had to offer," he wrote.
Bruce Keller relaxes on a 
Lanzarote volcanic rock chair. 
This vision came true. It is impossible to imagine today's Lanzarote without Manrique. We paid homage to this brilliant man one full day's tour of his beautiful island.
The Lagomar Bar, Restaurant and Museum is a popular
place to watch Lanzarote's ocean, birdlife and sunsets. 

 In the ancient capital of Villa de Teguise, we strolled charming churches
 and
 impressive monuments, then headed to spectacular island views from the Lagomar Museum and Bar. We explored another prime vantage point -- Peñas del Chach -- and visited an aloe vera plantation.  At Jameos del Agua with its unique volcanic tunnel and caverns, we sat in on the end of a string trio's sound test in an inspiring underground concert hall designed by Manrique.
It was a stunning experience and we hoped that the island's own maestro was listening.
viator.com/tours/Lanzarote
Cookie makes use of the aloe's healing juice, 
applying small cubes to her hands and face.

Welk Resort Theatre in northeast San Diego County, opens "The Music
Man" tonight, for a long run through July 23. -- photo by Ken Jacques
UP NEXT
: "The Music Man" is one of America's classic musicals and a favorite of Cookie's and Keller's.  Cookie was a young girl when she first saw the captivating story of a con man posing as a band leader. It swept her away -- along with Marian the Librarian, whom Harold Hill romances and finds himself changed. We attend the opening of this classic at Welk Resort Theatre. Join us, remembering to explore, learn and live. And catch us each weekend for a novel approach to the arts and nature-driven travel.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Northbound grey whales delight during day on the water

Dolphins are almost always a companion to the San Diego Whale Watch boats. Here, they followed us for a half hour.

COW, CALF PAIR FROLIC  UP THE CALIFORNIA COAST, THRILLING SD WHALE WATCHERS

The thrill of seeing a cow and calf was a highlight of our trip this week.

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

WE CAUGHT the southbound grey whales a few months ago -- thrilled to witness their migration to give birth and fatten up their calves before heading back to their home turn in the colder Alaskan waters.
Satisfied customers leave the boat after a fun outing.
This week, we caught the northbound migration, and it was thrilling to see a cow and her young .
Each year, more than 20,000 gray whales make an impressive 10,000 mile round-trip journey from Alaskan waters to the lagoons of Baja California, where the females give birth to their calves. We lucky San Diegans may watch the journey close-up, so this time of year, look for us on the water -- on the several delightful operations out of San Diego.  Sailor Keller has even piloted our own craft. But it's more fun for him to let someone else do the driving so he can take photos and enjoy the sea life.


WE CAN CATCH
 the grey whales twice -- coming and going -- because after spending time in warm Baja California waters so their young can grow strong, they make the journey north again later in spring. This remarkable trip represents the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis and for this Montana girl and my San Diego born partner, it is an extraordinary spectacle.
SD Whale Watch posts its daily sightings for visitors.
This year, we've been out a half-dozen times, exploring the 70 miles of coastline in the migration path.  We've seen whales every time -- now nearly 30 outings in the near decade I've been a grateful part-timer. San Diego Whale Watch offers a stellar whale watching experience here in Southern California. The cordial and experienced crew know exactly how to track down and share the bounty of whales and dolphins off our beautiful coast.
The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay casts a pretty reflection among the boats
as we set off from San Diego Whale Watch landing.
This week, we treated my visiting Montana brother to a trip on the Ohana, the Whale Watch's smaller boat while the larger Privateer is having work. San Diego Whale Watch offers whale watching year round, while the competition closes its schedule down after the bulk of the whales have come and gone. But as our naturalist Dani said, "There are always whales out there. We just have to find them."
We were lucky this week -- sighting a grey whale cow and calf heading back north. The boat is respectful of the mother's maternal instincts to protect her baby, so a safe distance of a minimum 100 yards was kept as we viewed.
The little snack bar makes a mean cuppa, and we had a spectacular day. As an incentive, if you don’t see a whale or a dolphin on your trip, you can join San Diego Whale Watch free on another tour. We've never had to collect that perk!

*  *  *  *  * *--------- *  *  *  *  ----- * * * * --------- *  *  *  *  *  * * ------ *  * * *  * ----- * * * * * *  

Brilliant acting by a versatile quartet of gentlemen and fine direction
by David Ellenstein make "Travels with My Aunt" a theater lover's must.

'TRAVELS WITH MY AUNT': FINE PRODUCTION PROVOKES, TOUCHES THE HEART, TICKLES THE FUNNY BONE



A QUARTET of capable actors dons four jaunty bowler hats to take us on a lively and often touching journey in NorthCoast Repertory Theatre's "Travels with My Aunt."
Four talented actors perform 20-plus roles in North Coast
Repertory Theatre's production  of "Travels with my Aunt,"
extended through May 14. It features, from left, Benjamin Cole,
David McBean, James Saba, Richard Baird
. Photo by Aaron Rumley
Under the gifted direction of the theater's artistic director David Ellenstein, an engaging story unfolds. We travel the world with Aunt Augusta as she lures her stodgy nephew out of his staid ways and onto a path peopled with wonderful characters.

   THE FOUR actors are a delight -- changing roles, mannerisms and accents to interpret more than a dozen characters of both genders -- from a larger than life Caribbean man servant to a London cabbie, an aging lothario and long ago would-be lover.
THE JOURNEY is a global one -- from Turkey to South America.  The experience is an example of the hypnotic quality of fine theater, for the best productions take us out of ourselves, up up and away.  So it is with "Travels....."
Ellenstein's deft touches and adroit sensibilities bring the nimble actors' characters to life in delightful and sometimes surprising fashion. Without a single costume change, the four transform into more than 20 characters. We revel in rich language and perfectly delivered dialects as we explore each complex relationship -- auntie and nephew and a parade of eccentrics they encounter.
We sat with many Aunt Augustas at our matinee --  enhancing our viewing of a precisely rendered production.
Northcoast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, north of San Diego,
offers a pleasant afternoon  or evening of top quality theater.

  

THERE ARE NO costume changes and no fancy set. Instead, artfully rendered photos stage right and left suggest changes of season, city and venue.
The success of any production relies on a collaboration of actors, director and production crew.
 "Travels with My Aunt" is pure pleasure, a light-hearted romp which playwright Graham Greene would surely acknowledge with a tip of his bowler.

Cesar Manrique was a major force in Lanzarote's development.

UP NEXT:   The island of Lanzarote is a delight largely because of the efforts and vision of Cesar Manrique, who shaped  innovative planning regulations on this most unique of the Canary Islands. When Manrique recognized its tourist potential and lobbied to encourage eco-friendly tourism and artfully designed buildings, he changed the island's course: no high rise hotels and beautiful small hotels in keeping with the use of traditional colors and imaginative design. Read about this inspired -- and inspiring -- man, next at whereiscookie. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a novel approach to the arts and nature driven travel.

Friday, April 21, 2017

A jewel is Julian, California: Lovely dog-friendly country get-away gives small town welcome

The countryside around Julian, California, offers fine hiking, fun places to stay, bird watching -- and a peaceful get-away. 
 

Lilacs bloom and welcome to verdant
  countryside and Julian hospitality.
ART, MUSIC,  FUN PLACES TO STAY, SHOPPING, BIRDS, FLOWERS, APPLE PIE AND A FINE ITALIAN RESTAURANT  


STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER

Spring flowers lead the way to a lovely late April and a pleasant May.




A VISIT TO Julian, California, is a journey back in time to a more innocent, leisurely day.
People still say "hello" and strangers with a map might find themselves guided to their destination -- "why it's just up the street and around the corner. I'll take you. I'm going that way."
Lake Cuyamaca Lodge is lovingly run by a husband-wife team
who take pleasure in providing scenery, comfort and individual attention.
My California squeeze and fellow traveler was born in San Diego and spent childhood time in Julian with his family, thus his fond memories.
Whispering Pines offers hospitality, privacy, attentive service
and a tranquil, rejuvenating retreat from the world's cares.
After a decade of visiting in spring and autumn, I'm gathering my own memories, too.
Bruce Keller and Christene (Cookie) Meyers, kick back
 at Romano's in Julian, a family-run enterprise with fine fare.

If you stop by Lake Cuyamaca
Restaurant for a meal, you may
 be lucky to catch David Dobler.
WE VISIT the bed and breakfasts and air bnb offerings, and there are plenty from which to choose here in this little mountain town about 90 minutes from the city.  San Diegans come for a weekend respite of peace and quiet in a natural setting. This spring, we admired a glorious patch of yellow and purples -- the first of the iris, the last of the daffodils, lupin and lilacs. Julian is also famous for its apples and the hills and valleys were a cloud of ivory and pink.
It's a splendid sight for this Montana kid, missing spring under the comforting cloak of the Big Sky. You feel your blood pressure dropping on the pretty drive northeast from San Diego.
WE STAYED this time in a charming cottage in Whispering Pines Retreat. We heard bird song -- finches, jays and red-winged blackbirds as I wrote -- enjoying a "cuppa" in a quaintly furnished cabin, while fixing supper and relishing the solitude. The Yorkies snoozed at my feet and all was right with the world -- for a few precious Julian hours.
The once historic gold mining town segued to a welcoming mountain village famous for apple pies, wine, ice cream, hiking and biking trails. We always dine one night at a great family run Italian bistro called Romano's. Julian is also famous for its festivals and holiday decorations and it always feels like a holiday at Romano's.
 THE APPLE CAPITAL of the world offers a get-away both soothing and exciting. There's plenty to do besides the famous fall apple fest. Think history.  The town was founded just
after the Civil War, and is nestled among oak and pine forests as old as Robert E. Lee. Surrounding the town are the
The view from Lake Cuyamaca Lodge is stellar and peaceful.
 Cuyamaca Range and the south slope of Volcan Mountain. We followed the road to Lake Cuyamaca for a night, for a delightful stay at Lake Cuyamaca Lodge and a fine meal with live music at nearby Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant. The place is famous for home cooking -- tasty American meals served in a rustic room with lake views. A tackle shop adjoins and it's your last chance for the famous Julian apple pie. Live music may be on tap on weekends. Check to see if the gifted David Dobler is playing.
JULIAN'S EAGLE  and High Peak Gold Mine lets you step back in time into a real gold mine dug out of a mountain with picks and your own pan. In many ways, the gold  mine
Julian has an annual October Apple Festival,
celebrating the fruit that keeps people coming back.
 is a metaphor for Julian itself -- a throw-back to the late 1800s.  Remove the autos and modern dress and imagine your great-grandparents strolling the streets of Julian.    Dogs are welcome, too, for us an essential.

Julian makes tourists welcome and
summer finds life centered around
the outdoors.
The whole township of Julian is a Designated Historical District. Its image as an early California frontier town with pioneer store fronts, historic sites and guided tours of the mines explains its continuing modern appeal.
We also heartily recommend Pheasant Hill Cabin and Julian Lodge, both popular and often booked. Tourism is Julian's largest industry. Enjoy yourselves. We always do.


A grey whale cow and her young calf are observed off the
waters of San Diego in a thrilling day on the ocean.
UP NEXT:    Nothing compares to the thrill for this pair of whale watching photographers and writers as observing a mother grey whale and her months-old baby, heading back from the Baja to Alaska for the season.  We delighted in a long look at these wondrous creatures this week with San Diego Whale Watch and its savvy naturalist and boat captain. We'll share the magic in the next whereiscookie. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each Friday for a novel approach to the arts and nature driven travel.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Holy Week in Jerusalem: Pilgrims flock to renovated tomb of Jesus

Believer or not, it's easy to be moved by the religious history of the splendid city of Jerusalem. Here, Cookie pauses
enroute to the Church of the Holy Seprelcre to see the now complete and laborious restoration of the tomb of Jesus.


ANCIENT SACRED SITE GETS MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR FACELIFT TO USHER IN HOLY DAYS

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER
and courtesy Associated Press

JUST IN TIME for Passover and Easter, a crack Greek restoration team unveiled an elaborate, high-tech renovation of the Jerusalem shrine housing the tomb where tradition says Jesus was   buried and rose.
Restoration complete, the church's famous tomb shines with new luster.
Above left, the church may be approached through a colorful covered bazaar. 







The archaeologists, known for restoration work on historic Egyptian and Turkish sites, were laying the groundwork for the repairs on our last visit. The project has been on the boards since 1959. The shrine needed urgent attention after years of
exposure to moisture, humidity and candle smoke.
We spent two spring days in the city, known for its shrines, mosques and temples and the relics of a trio of major religions: Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
THE TOMB IS known as the Edicule, and rests within the Old City of Jerusalem in the Church of the Holy Seplulchre
Cookie lights a candle near the tomb, honoring her departed.
Above, the tomb shortly before our last visit.
What struck us was that until recently, the tomb was so dingy and blackened. When next we visit, we are excited to witness the results of the painstaking transformation. The original ivory sheen of the marble has emerged -- the tomb is no longer dark and dingy but looks much as it did centuries ago.
21ST CENTURY techniques -- including radar and thermography -- were used to examine the tomb's supporting structure tomb and ground beneath. The experts, from the National Technical University of Athens, stripped the stone slabs from the shrine’s façade and patched internal masonry, injecting it with grout for reinforcement. Each stone was wiped clean of candle soot and pigeon droppings, then put back in place. Titanium bolts were added for reinforcement, and the shrine's frescos and painted dome were given a facelift. 
Above and below left, painstaking removal of grime restored each stone slab.
 Additional work is necessary to better stabilize the ground. The Greek conservators will be part of that effort, too, after it is approved by those who inhabit and use the church. It is still an active shrine -- and home to 50 monks, who insist that it be kept open for pilgrims.  Since the fourth Century AD, the church has been a cemetery. Romans had built a temple there to honor Aphrodite and for centuries it was also a quarry.
Jesus' tomb in Jerusalem is being renovated

NOW GONE IS THE unsightly iron cage built around the shrine by British authorities in 1947 to shore up the walls. Gone are layers of soot from decades of pilgrims' candles. Vastly improved is the stability of the old shrine, which hadn’t been restored in more than 200 years.

“If this repair hadn’t happened now, there could have been a collapse,” Bonnie Burnham of the World Monuments Fund said this week. “This is a complete transformation of the monument.”
A PRIVATE DONATION provided an initial $1.4 million for the $4 million restoration. That gift came from the widow of Atlantic Records founder. Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas each chipped in 150,000 euros -- totaling $320,000. Church donations and other private gifts raised the rest.
The limestone and marble Church of the Holy Sepulcher is among the world’s oldest churches — a 12th-century building on 4th-century remains. Three main Christian denominations jealously guard separate sections of the church, but put aside longstanding religious rivalries to approve the restoration. In 2015, Israeli police briefly shut down the building after Israel’s Antiquities Authority deemed it unsafe. Repairs finally began in earnest in June 2016.

UP NEXT: Julian, California, in the spring is a gorgeous bounty of blooms and fragrance. Come with us to visit this charming mountain town not far from San Diego. From homemade apple pie to art,  ice cream to friendly inns and B&Bs, Julian is a quaint, appealing town. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us Fridays when we post for the weekend.  

Right, daffodils are protected in Julian, California, where it is illegal to pick them. The town is famous for apples as well.