Dec 232012

As soon as we turned the calendar to December, signs of the Christmas season began to emerge around Tartu.  First the two biggest department stores changed their window displays and decked out the building facades with Christmas lights and large bows.  Soon lights of all types began to appear on the streets.  Then as I hurried home in the evenings across the Raekoja Plats in the steadily cold temperatures below freezing, I noticed men working on platform lifts high above the square putting long strings of lights up.  A couple of days later a large tree appeared in the middle of the square.  So it went with new additions seen on a daily basis.  Everything is in place now and the Christmas festivities have begun!  And it is very cold!!  Even the locals are remarking how cold it is.  I won’t even mention what the two Floridians think!!  Today it was 10o Farenheit ( around -11o C). If you have noticed, I have added a weather widget on the blog in the right hand panel.  This widget is a sign among others that my very computer savvy daughter Liisi has arrived from Washington DC to spend Christmas with us.  Liisi took a two-week vacation to spend Christmas with us here in Tartu.  It is so nice to have her here.

Square  decorations are now complete.

Square decorations are now complete.

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Dec 132012

I realize that I have not written about my experiences at Tartu University (TÜ) and its Hospital (TÜ Kliinikum). Besides Dr. Everaus, I had contacts already with a cell biologist whom I had met when he was a visiting scientist at NIH toward the end of the Soviet era.  Several years later I visited Tartu University on a Research Council travel award and at that time worked for three weeks with a developmental biologist who was then doing research with the late  Prof. Jüri Kärner.  At that time Prof. Kärner was the Dean of the University of Tartu. His term as Dean ran from the end of the 1980’s when I first met him and extended into the early 1990’s after Estonia regained its independence.   Dr. Kärner was a quiet man who had trained in developmental biology with Prof. SuloToivonen  at the University of Helsinki, Finland.
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Dec 092012

In the beginning part of November somebody commented that the autumn leaves were staying on the trees longer than usual this year.  I recently learned that Estonian folk wisdom (vanarahva tarkus) says that if the trees are bare in October, the winter will be mild.  If leaves remain on the trees to the end of October, a long winter will follow. So far, we have already had two snow storms, the heavier of the two just recently. It is also very cold. Emajõgi essentially has iced over in large stretches upriver from us.

The University Botanical Gardens early December.

At the end of November we had our first really heavy snowfall.  We ended up having 6 to 9 inches of snow.  Since then, the temperature has stayed pretty much at 0 degrees centigrade and at night it drops to -5 or -6.  If it is not windy, it is not bad to be outside.  When it is windy and a wind chill factor to be reckoned with, I have to say, I would rather be inside.  It began to snow at night and blizzard conditions were present when people began going to work.  Cars and busses were having a hard time getting around, so I decided to work at home.
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