The life of two scientists, creating a small home, in big mountains

Category: Life Page 2 of 22

Family | Dogs | Thoughts

The Days in May and Happy House Anniversary!

I cannot believe how quickly the last six weeks flew by. Our little ranch was buzzing with activities during the whole month of May. Slav’s mom visited us for a couple weeks, then Slav took a business trip to Netherland. He unfortunately got sick during the trip, and a few days after he was back home, my symptoms started. We both had to work intensely during the sick days, which really slowed down the recovery. By the time we were fully (90%) back on our feet, it was already mid-June.

Sickness and deadlines aside, this May has been amazingly beautiful. Colorado got record-breaking amount of rain, and the garden really flourished. We took the opportunity and overseeded lawn grass. The result was so satisfying.

Remember the magnolia tree I planted last Fall, right before the first snow storm? it bloomed the most beautiful flower ever:

The unusual cool and wet spring delayed the blooming time of many early spring flowers. We had hellebore flowers side by side with irises, which never happened before.

My birthday was at the end of May. My mother-in-law gifted me a beautiful lily to add to my collection. And it bloomed immediately after I planted it into the lily garden.

We also welcomed several new friends to the garden. A weeping Alaska cedar, two weeping redbud trees, and a wisteria which I had been wanting for a long time. All of them were planted around the hot tub to add privacy.

And there are peonies. Oh the peonies. This is only the third Spring since the bareroot plants were in the ground. They stayed small during the first two years and did not produce any flowers. But they must be establishing good roots because this Spring, every single plant proudly presented several buds to me. I cut off most of the buds to conserve energy for these young plants. But I let a couple bud from each plant to bloom just to see what I’ve gotten. These flowers were so beautiful and fragrant. Some of them are as big as my palm! I think I am a little addicted.

By mid-June the herb garden has fully come back. I got some comfrey cuttings online and only one out of three cuttings survived. But in just one season, this surviving comfrey has established herself and produced many flowers. Comfrey is a nitrogen fixer and it is easy to soak its leaves in plain water to make comfrey tea as fertilizer. I have been making the comfrey tea every week and give it to my tomatoes.

Speaking of tomatoes, the veggie garden has been an absolute joy this spring. Before leaving town for his business trip, Slav helped me to top all the veggie beds with a layer of fresh compost, and fenced off the whole veggie garden with cattle panels.

With the garden prepared and protected (from Charlie actually, who ate lots of garden produce last summer), I planted my seedlings. I have raised about 100 seedlings mostly tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, pumpkings, and flowers. And everything went into the ground during the last week of May.

Very soon we started harvesting from the veggie garden, which included garlic scapes from the garlic heads I planted last Fall, and lettuces and radishes I directly sowed into the veggie garden in early May. With the recent rain, we are able to harvest fresh lettuce every day for salads. What a treat!

Garlic scape might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was one of my favorite vegetables growing up. Just like strawberries, they were only available during the last a two weeks of May, which was around my birthday. So growing up, stir-fry garlic scapes and strawberry were my birthday treats. This Spring has been so cool that my garlic scapes grew in slowly. I was able to enjoy them for almost four weeks long and at their freshest.

June is now a month that holds special place in my heart. We bought and moved into our little ranch in June of 2017. Although the house was outdated and badly needed a facelift, it was our first pad and a peaceful nest for us and the dogs. Since then, we have been slowly renovating the house, room by room, in the way that hopefully represents us. The once carpeted, dark, and moldy house is now bright, open, and clean. I am so proud of what we have created, which is not only a house, but also a home. Watching Roxie, Charlie, and the previous Charlie being relaxed and comfortable in our home makes me so proud.


Suddenly we are in late June. Yesterday, we had our first 80 degree day. The summer is upon us and I cannot wait to see the veggie garden flourish. We need some heat for that!

I am sure that we will be harvesting garlic (usually in July), tomatoes (August), and melons (September), then the leaves will start turning colors before we know it. Colorado summer is so short, and we need to make the best of it! I hope you are enjoy your summer too!

Welcoming the New Season

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you are well rested after the holiday break. Slav and I went to Poland and spent Christmas with his family. While we were there, we travelled around by train and visited the Malbork Castle, the largest castle in the world. We enjoyed every minute of it.

In late 2022 I took a long break from the blog. It was a much needed rest after the kitchen renovation. But we did not stop renovating. Since the inside of the house was mostly updated (the kitchen was the last room renovated), we turned our attention to the backyard, and completed several landscaping projects before the winter hit. These projects largely changed how we utilize our backyard in the future. I cannot wait to show you these projects here on the blog.

I certainly did not document 2022 as much as before. It has been a weird year to remember. Hopes were high for returning to normal at the beginning, and we kinda did at the end, just not the live we had before. The first big impact to our lives in 2022 was Charlie’s passing. It was just the beginning of February, the second day after Chinese New Year, Charlie went to the vet and never came back. We were all heartbroken for weeks, including Roxie who became very inactive and was visibly depressed.

We knew the only way out was through. So while giving lots of attention to Roxie, we threw ourselves into work and renovation projects. The kitchen renovation started in March and kept our minds occupied for months. In early July, as soon as we wrapped up the kitchen reno and put the first floor furniture back to place, we knew it was time to bring a new dog to our pack. It did not take long before we welcomed Banana peels, a hound/Labrador mix from Soul Dog Rescue to our home. We renamed him Charlie to remember our old friend, and the new Charlie has kept all of us active, busy, and happier since.

Besides losing and adopting pets, we’ve seen more from the circle of life in 2022. In Spring, our best friends welcomed their first baby to the world, a sweet little girl. Slav became a Godfather and attended the baptism. Since then, we facetimed with her often, and had such a joy watching her grow. Unfortunately there was loses as well. Just before Thanksgiving, Slav lost a good friend, who was about our age. This accident shook us. We spent so many nights talking about him, his life, and reflecting on ours. We felt so grateful to have each other, and nothing like losing someone you love makes you reevaluated your own life choices.

2022 was an extra challenging year at work. The good part is that we both made big strides at our respective workplaces. We both took on management roles and became more involved in decision making and strategic planning. But at the same time, new responsibilities resulted in more fragmented time schedules, more stress and anxiety, and urgent demand for new skills. These was more pay and more excitment at work, but also more trial and error which definitely flared up my inner imposter syndrome. We did our best, barely kept up, and communicated as much as we could (not enough!) with each other.

We had a busy year at home. The first half of the year was devoted to the biggest house project to date – the kitchen gut-renovation. It was definitely the most complex project to us, but we managed to produce a splendid result without much chaos. We then finished several big projects in the backyard, which included some labor-intensive hardscaping and planting the last bare spot in our yard. It was however, very satisfying to finally put our touch on every square feet of our property. It felt like such a splendid ending on this multi-year project.

I’m proud of us for the year we’ve worked through. But I also believe that we could do better in the new season. 2023 will be our year of evolving. We will establish a new work-life balance, develop new social circles, and improve our relationship with each other as the circumstance changes around us. We will be married for 10 years this summer. And for a large part, we rely on each other as collaborators – supporting each other’s career, co-managing the dogs, and partnering in house tasks and renovations. Now, we have created a life and a home filled with the people and the things we love. 2023 should be the time we start enjoying it as hard as we were working on it. Maybe 2023 will be the year we become friends again, just like when we first met, to explore the great outdoors we moved here for together and to make new memories. Maybe 2023 can be the year for new hobbies and experiences, in which we spend more time on what is fulfilling, but not out of necessity.

2023 also marks six years on this blog. Always and forever, thank you for being a part of our lives. Sharing our stories has been a joyful journey and an important outlet for me. I hope it brings you happiness and comfort in watching our growth as well. I want to wish you a happy, healthy, and hopeful 2023. We will be here, and I hope you will too.

Suddenly, the Tiger Year

Suddenly, we entered another lunar new year. And suddenly, we lost our beloved black lab, Charlie to old age.

Losing Charlie has changed our life significantly. We have been caring for Charlie during the last year and half, including daily medication, frequent vet visits, and a couple major surgeries. Now suddenly, our responsibility as pet owners was reduced to the bare minimal, just providing Roxie some dry food and water. It almost feels like we have no one to care for.

It has only been a few days since Charlie’s passing. His paw prints are still visible on the snow in the backyard, and his medication are still in the fridge next to the ketchup bottle. We are trying to get used to the life without Charlie, with all the difficult first times – the first dinner without him drooling next to our feet, the first morning without him greeting us on top of the stairs, and the first weekend without his loud snores and warm cuddles. I have the urge to adopt another dog immediately, just to fill the void left by Charlie. But we also know that we should wait, at least for a few months, until the kitchen renovation is finished.

Yes, we have made plans to renovate the kitchen in Spring. We have come up with a floor plan, purchased the cabinets, researched the appliances, and even booked a contractor. I was eager to share all the details with you in January – I even wrote a couple posts for the blog. But then Charlie passed on the 2nd day of Chinese new year, and suddenly 2022 became unexciting and loathsome. Understandably, it was hard to finish these drafts I wrote just a few days ago, which were filled with excitement and hope for the new year. However, I will come back soon with the new floor plan for the kitchen. It is gonna be a great space, I promise. 

At the end of this post, I want to share a song from “Guardian”, a thriller I enjoyed a few years back. The show is about trust and sacrifice among people from different worlds, and the lyrics of the song is in Mandarin. I think it says something like this:


Yesterday in the past, memory plays like reality

回想起一篇篇, 在这模糊了双眼

Looking back the time with you, through my tearing eyes


Letting the hustle and bustle continue, carrying me forward

妄想着路尽头, 你能回头看着我

Dreaming in vain that you will be there waiting, when I reach at the end of my path

还是会想起, 那时的场景

Thinking over and over, the seasons we’ve shared

原谅我只是想, 这世界还会有个人, 能为你哭泣

Not letting it go, for still someone crying for your absence


Parting is inevitable, so let go I love you


Right now, I just care a little too much.

Sorry I still care a little too much.

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