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Friday, 19 June 2020

Book III ~ Final Chapter ~ New Home

15-Jan-2020 – 7-Jul-2020

And now, after over a year that I've been back in Munich, I finally get to move into my own place, my New Home in…

It took some time to get it on the road. I had planned for a long time since to eventually move into the apartment inherited from my late grandparents after my travels ended, but my father and I ran into some troubles with our tenants, who adamantly refused to vacate the place despite us giving them a generous heads-up and also trying to help them find a new place. In the end, worst came to worst, they stopped paying their rent, we had to sue, and eventually, over half a year later than initially planned, they left the place, and I could finally start moving in.

Now, unlike the Fox Den, which was located on the ground floor, this my new place is located on the second floor of the urban cliffs…

…which is actually quite nice and suits me nicely, what with me originally being a cliff-dwelling grey fox and all. Hence, I call my New Home the Fox Loft.

Anyway, now that it has taken this long, let me waste no further time and tell you about…

The Place

This has not only been my grandparents place, but also the place where I spent half of my childhood at. As such, I already have many memories associated with my new home. And yet, I am now a different person than I was back then. As such, I realize that I will have to re-furnish the place to suit my needs. Still, I make an effort to figure out a solution where I can keep most of the furniture as it is, and in the end manage to come up with a master plan that involves me only having to throw out 2 1/9 pieces of furniture (the 1/9 being a couch extension segment).

The two pieces of furniture that I regrettably can't keep are the coffee table, for which I have absolutely no use since it's both too low and too narrow to serve as a game table (even if the length is adequate)…

…as well as the really, really beautiful corner bench, which unfortunately stands right where I planned my working corner and won't find another use in my New Home.

You'd think that it would be easy to find buyers for such perfectly functional pieces of furniture – especially considering that new corner benches cost three-to-four digit sums, and new tables even go as high as five-digits. However, despite me and my father posting adds, like, all over the place, and in the internet too, as I write this, I have had no luck even when offering them for free. At this rate, I fear that beautiful as they may be, they will be ending up on the junkyard. Makes me wish this world was more like a game where I could simply sell them to a vendor at 50%, or maybe even just 20% the original price.

Anyway, as for the "inheritance" left by our tenants… clearly the worst part is that they have been smoking in this apartment, and the entire place smells horribly deleterious. As such, I start taking action early, in the weeks preceding the move by always going over to open the windows when the weather allows it, and aggressively tackle the issue with a combination of scented candles, air fresheners…

…as well as wiping down all the surfaces of the house with vinegar. If my grandparents could smell what these people did to the apartment which they specifically bought with my future in mind (they rented it for most of their lives, and when the landlord changed while they were already retired invested their lives' savings to buy it), they'd be spinning in their graves.

However, even that brings only limited results, so in the end I am forced to bring out the heavy guns, in the shape of a Wunderbaum ("Miracle Tree"), a weapons-grade air freshener that at least manages to mask the smell.

Another legacy by our dear tenants is the washing machine siphon. Now, I don't know what exactly happened here, but when my father and I inspect the apartment, we find the washing machine completely broken, the siphon missing, and a very makeshift-ey construction involving a hose and the bathtub to get rid of excess water. Eventually, we manage to get the siphon somewhat fixed up and end up having to order a new washing machine, since the old one was broken to a point where repairing it would have cost more than getting a new one.

After these initial preparations, the actual move can finally begin. Fortunately, it's not far at all. In fact, the Fox Loft is barely two or three blocks away from the Fox Den, and as a child, I used to walk the distance on a daily basis on my routine circuit from my home to elementary school in the morning, to my grandparents' after school, and back home in the evening.

The first stage of the move begins with me moving a backpack-full of little stuff over to the Fox Loft, including some of the brochures on Ceal for which I still have not found any buyers.

And as I move to stow them, I notice that my selected storage space sadly is not in prime condition, and as such end up performing some impromptu drawer rapair with what I have at hand. Ideally, I would have liked to use hammer and nail, but as it is, I have to settle for pushing the tacks back in with my handy multitool.

The second movement includes the boardgames. As it turns out, I've amassed quite a few of them…

…and without them, the living room of the Fox Den feels strangely empty.

We are barely able to stow them all inside the car…

…and lugging them all up into the 2nd floor proves to be quite the workout. Thankfully, I have my father to help me with this.

As he returns home to get some well-deserved rest after this exertion, I proceed to sort the games into what would thus come to be known as the game cupboard, taking up pretty much half of the available space within.

A few days later – I am as of yet still living in the fox den – I have my first pizza in the Fox Loft. I turns out just a bit crisp as I yet have to properly familiarize myself with the new oven, but it's nonetheless tasty.

The reason for this is that today is the day that a very important piece of infrastructure is installed, which was not present at the time of my grandparents: An internet connection! Come to think of it, it's kinda incredible how essential the internet has become, considering it's only the same age as myself. The installation of this crucial piece of infrastructure, by the way, was the final piece missing for my move, delaying it further. Thanks to the Green Shnolz, it took a wait of almost 6 weeks to get an appointment, and when I finally got one, it was along the liens of "sometime between 12:00 and 16:00 on a workday, causing me to have to make special arrangements with my job, but more about that later. Bottom line is that after a long wait, the internet now works, and the place is more or less ready to be moved into!

Another essential thing to be completed before I actually move in is the kitchen. For one, I definitely need a freezer – what with me having to store over half a dozen frozen pizzas for my friends during at peak capacity and all – but the main reason is that during all my travels I realized that I really, really like having a dishwasher, and I do remember my late grandmother telling me about how the plumbing below the dish was dishwasher-ready for when I was going to move in some day. As such, I get in touch with a kitchen manufacturer recommended by my father, and have him have at the kitchen.

With success! It takes pretty much all afternoon, but afterwards, the kitchen is pretty much ready to go!

…well, apart from the actual dishwasher, that is. As fate would have it, the dishwasher that I ordered is currently unavailable, once again due to the Green Shnolz causing production delays. Eventually, I'm going to fit it in there, but for the moment, I have to live with a lovely little hole and wash my dishes by hand.

Oh well. After my time at the Woodstock Royal Mail Hotel (see Book I ~ Chapter 17 ~ Wild & Woody) or Pension Mutti (see Book II ~ Chapter 9 ~ Amicable Appi-Kogen), the few dishes that I produce won't scare me for a few more weeks. But seriously, there are just some items of kitchenware that were not made to be cleaned by hand, such as strainers.

Anyway, at least the freezer is there. Naturally, in accordance to a long-standing tradition initially started by Robert's university workgroup naming their new color printer Rainbow Dash, this new freezer also gets a pony name, namely Strawberry Scoops.

That holds true for my new washing machine too, which gets named Lavender Bloom.

It may sound silly, but I like to think that the more complex devices I share my life with sort of have their own personalities. Following the principles of the Tool Possession Phenomenon, I figure at best it'll work out in my favour, and at worst I'll sound just a little bit silly, and nonetheless bring color to the world in doing so. Either way I win. =^,^=

Another important essential part is a TV. Not because I actually watch TV, but for hooking it up to my Laptop Liete to watch anime as well as for my consoles. To this day I haven't actually gotten around to hooking it up to the TV wall jack, nor do I foresee myself feeling the necessity to do so anywhere in the future. Oh, and by the way, of course I make sure to get a Japanese brand, such as to increase the amount of Japanesity in my life. This one is a Toshiba (actually Toushiba 東芝 "Eastern Lawn").

Soon enough, I manage to have it up and running, and hooked up to the Fox Loft Net, passing the YouTube test. Who even needs cable these days?

As for its permanent home… turns out it sits just a little bit low on the niche I intended for it. Fortunately, however, that's not a problem that can't be solved with a bit of creativity.

And to make it even better, while rummaging around I should actually find a free HDMI cable hidden beneath the game cupboard. I suppose the least tenants must have put and forgotten it there. That's a nice gift for once. And it's not even a plain old HDMI cable, but actually a reasonably colourful one too!

And then, it arrives…
30-May-2020. The day of.
Today, I formally move to my new home.
From the Fox Den, to the Fox Loft.
Naturally, this involves getting quite a few of essentials over all in one go. As such, my father and I have prepared a generous amount of moving boxes, which turn out to be disappointingly passive and stationary – even those packed with mobiles instead of stationary.

I spend five hours in the morning getting it all packed. Foxes in boxes, clothes in knapsacks, posters in parcels and so much more goes into labelled packages, ready to be moved.

Oh, and of course I'm taking my travel maps with me too. Those are a part of who I am after all.

In the end, it turns out quite a good bit more than the two backpacks that sufficed while I was travelling around the world. I suppose I really do have a lot of stuff.

And that's not even all of it! However, it is enough to completely fill up my father's car, to the point where I no longer fit into the passenger seat.

But it's enough, and just like that, I leave behind another empty room, like I've done so often during my journey. But this time, the room I leave was the one I grew up in, so it feels kinda different. It's a good feeling, though, that my old home is still going to be within walking distance of my new home though.

Whereas carrying all the boxes to the car was already tough, lugging them all the way up to the second floor is outright harrowing. Fortunately, I have my father to help me with some of it, and so before long, the Fox Loft fills out with plenty of boxes to be unpacked.

Naturally, no such move could complete without at least one of the boxes breaking. It is my great fortune that the breakdown of my move should occur featuring the box holding the FREAKIGN GAME CONSOLES!!!

Oh well. Now, the actual luck here is that:
  1. That box only contained legacy consoles that I don't actively use anyway
  2. My squishy body mitigated the damage to the fragile consoles by strategically placing itself between them and the hard, unforgiving stone steps
Moving on, I proceed to set up the bedroom, with its treacherous "Wrecking Ball" lamp hanging at "exactly that height"…

…while my father spends some time doing network configuration for the Fox Loft Net. He is, after all, a professional network engineer at one of Munich's three universities.

Meanwhile, I make good progress with the bedroom – aka the Kitsune Room – ensuring I have a nice place to sleep after a tough day of moving, finally making good use of one of the wand hangings I brought all the way from Japan as souvenirs. In fact, looking at it, it almost seems like it was meant to be right there, at this point at this wall in this room. The room simply wouldn't be complete without it. I wonder if the foxes arranged that for me?

My father and I also do an extensive shopping trip afterwards, filling up the Fox Loft with essentials, and while he retires for some well-deserved rest thereafter, I proceed to hook up the Switch, just to make sure the final essential piece of infrastructure in my new home is up and running as intended.

And after a busy and eventful day, my father and I inaugurate my new home by cooking up Fleischpflanzerln, just like my father's mother used to do so many years ago on this very stove, with me learning the recipe in the process. I could not think of a more fitting meal to celebrate this occasion.

The next day, I follow up on that by observing the Japanese tradition of intro neighbourly introduction. In Japan, it is customary to introduce oneself to one's new neighbours upon moving in, carrying little gifts, and while I never did that in Japan on account of me only staying for a week or two at best, I figure since I'm staying here for good, I might as well get off to a good start with the people sharing this building with me. As such, I bake up an extra-large batch of cookies, and then proceed to ring the doorbells of each of the six families sharing the same house number as me, briefly introducing myself and giving them a bag of cookies each. One family – the only ones living above me in the space that I still remember as the attic from my childhood days – seems to be out, but I manage to meet all of the other ones. One of them – the Selamets – I still remember from my childhood. They are indeed the only ones left from the "old guard", all the other ones being newcomers that moved in over the years. It's kinda strange, to think of it. I just moved in here, and yet somehow I've been living here longer than most of my neighbours.

In the following days, I should gradually proceed with unpacking, starting with my home's humble Inari Shrine, now featuring more foxes, as well as a pair of Kokeshi dolls that my mother's biological mother – who died long before I was born – brought home from her Japan journey.

And after that, things slowly but surely start getting foxy, such as when I try to hang up the sheers, and end up having to improvise on account of them not being made for the sort of purpose I have in mind.

Another thing I do is make sure to properly communicate the nature of this place by means of my front door. The door sign, I made myself, while the doormat took a bit of searching to find.

Eventually, I also get around to put up the Wall of Ceal again, and wheras before they were arranged more or less randomly, this time I put some thought into arranging them in a certain logic. Can you guess what it is?

It takes quite some time to get them all up on the wall in the proper places, and that's with this being the one soft wall in the Fox Loft too! I have no idea why, but unlike the walls in the fox den, where you could easily push a tack into the plaster, here most of the walls are so hard that I almost need a hammer. This one, for some strange reason, seems to be the exception.

A week later, it's time for my first laundry. Lavender Bloom does her duty admirably, but due to wretched weather, I have to dry it in my bedroom, which by now has earned the name "Fushimi Room" after the door hanging from Fushimi Inari Taisha. One of these days, radian will be out and I'll get to dry it on the balcony. And one of these days I'll even get my own drier to get my clothes all nice and warm and fluffy.

It's also time for the third load of boxes – this one containing books and clothes – and even after that one I still have, like, an entire cupboard of books I need to transfer. I actually never realize I had done this much reading in my life.

Also, I still have one chair to transfer from here to there, and since the car is once again full to the point of bursting, I end up rolling this one over myself. I'm sure that amused a good amount of people. =^,^=

Anyway, by now the Fox Loft is reasonably furnished. You've already seen some glimpses of the work in progress, and it's definitely not finished yet, but… It's definitely something now. It's definitely a new home for me. Welcome, to the Fox Loft!

One thing I realize as I try to stow my belongings is that there's one element that's kinda essential for my way of life that is completely absent from my new home yet: Bookshelves! I guess my grandparents were not much for reading. Or rather, they were reading newspapers and magazines, none of which they bothered keeping. As such, I have to take action and outfit this place with some book-cubicles to store all my literary belongings. Annoyingly, however, some of these book-cubicles turn out to be of rather poor quality, or how else would you explain that I actually managed to break a freaking metal screw during assembly? Oh well. Screw it. At least the end result looks nice. =^,^=

In addition to the actual apartment, the Fox Loft also features a bit of underground property, such as a small basement compartment that used to serve as my grandfather's own private workshop, and which I sort of use as extended storage…

…as well as an actually usable bicycle storage room that I can park my trusty bike Jycily in between rides. Now, while the Fox Den also had such a room, that one had the problems of being kinda inaccessible, and also crowded with dozens of forgotten old bikes. This one, now, is just one flight down from the front door and also features only a reasonable number of bikes.

And with that, my move to the Fox Loft is… well, maybe not complete-complete, but at the very least complete-ish-er. Now I can proceed to enjoying the benefits of my elevated vantage point, such as observing the construction efforts at the driveway at the other side of the road (which incidentally take about ten times as long as they would have in Japan, with long periods of inactivity between any acts of actual work being done).

Anyway, so much about my own new place in my own old home. Now, let me tell you about…

The Job

You may recall how I found work at a software company called Netfira between Book I and Book II, and how I kept that job all the way through Japan, Brazil and South Africa. It was a job I quite enjoyed, working as a software developer and general 特務支援課 ("Tokumushienka" = Special Support Section), taking care of whatever technical things that needed to get done. Among others, I had lots of phun with exciting new technologies such as Docker and Octopus.

Well, all good things must come to an end, and I really miss the relaxed "three days a week, of which two are telecommuting" schedule. But alas, it could not be helped. My contract ran out, and though I expressed interest in renewing it, they did not. To this day, I don't know why, though it may be related to them cutting cost and me being notably bad at marketing anything – myself included – so I was probably deemed not essential enough. Oh well, at least we all parted with a smile, even though a good number of colleagues were genuinely surprised that I was leaving. At least I got to attend one last Netfira XMas Party.

My contract ends together with the year 2019, and on my last day in the office, I am the only person there. I have already said my farewells, and now I leave one last message as thanks for a wonderful time at Netfira. I'll miss you guys!

But the end of one tale is always the beginning of a new one. Naturally, I have been looking for other job opportunities somewhat frantically, and once again, it was not one of the applications that I wrote, but rather a rather PP-consuming move of me going and talking to people at events that netted me my next job.

This one happens at a startup-pitch event on one of the local universities that my father informed me about. A number of interesting companies present their projects, and among them is one where I end up thinking "hey wait, isn't that, like, exactly what I was doing at my old company?" So I approach them, and introduce myself as a Legendary. Naturally, they don't believe me (understandably, I would be sceptical myself), but after I apparently managed to impress them with my insight into subject matter, they deem to give me a challenge: Using Java (a programming language with which I am as of yet not familiar), I am to create a server-client based text-adventure RPG within the space of a week. That makes this without doubt the most extensive recruitment test I have ever taken, and at first I am apprehensive. But then Dragon goes and says "What better way to prove yourself a Legendary than this?" and Fox goes "Sounds Crazy! Let's do it! =^,^= ", and I figure that even if they don't take me, I'll still have learned one more programming language and be able to use the result as a demo project.

And that's what I did in my XMas vacations! Program a little, infinite, server-client based dungeon-crawler text-adventure RPG by the name of The Chronicles of Ceal ~ Deeper Delving. It may not be perfect, but it still leaves my potential employers reasonably speechless. Having thus proven my status as a Legendary, the job is pretty much mine for the taking, if I want it.

There is a couple of drawbacks, though. For one, they expect me to work full-time, which will leave me dreadfully lacking in project time, and for another, they expect me to work on-premise on all of the days, which is probably another one or two hours a day that I lose. Also, with this being a startup, the pay is not all that high. But on the other side, this is still a small increase in revenue for me, and I can feel they need me, and that just pretty much is all I need to know. On top of that, I really hate the process of looking for a job and going through all the interview processes, and I have always been more of a "one bird in one's fangs is better than two in the bush"-kind-of-fox.

And thus, I begin my new job in the middle of January, in an office that is considerably bigger than the Netfira office. The company I'm working for now is called Cesonia, and they produce data-driven collaboration solutions. I for my part end up working on the exchange of requirement documents, which is really not all that different from my work in Netfira, where I was working on the exchange of sales documents.

The office is located in the startup incubator of the Hochschule München ("Munich High School" = "Munich University", not to be confused with the Ludwig-Maximilians University, and the Munich University of Technology, both of which are located in Munich too), which is quite an interesting (if kinda shabby) place to be. For one, it has freaking race cars standing around in the lobby…

…and it has a view on the local fire fighters' central, which regularly serve to distracts us with their drills.

With me in the office all day full-time, we do have some issues to work around, primarily my photosensitivity. I am still sort of traumatized by valicious humans telling me to "suck it up" all my life, but now that the situation actually reaches the point of all that excessive light giving me migraine attacks, forcing me to retire from work early, making them lose valuable work hours for which they pay me, people are finally starting to listen. In this case, we end up switching my assigned seat several times, and eventually even construct a little fox den that provides me with sufficient darkness while allowing the others in the office to bask in the light all they want.

Also, something unprecedented happens! The company actually sends me to a conference for the sole purpose of furthering my skills, on paid work time! I'm sure there's people out there for whom that is perfectly normal, but for me, this is a first, and I appreciate it very much. The conference in question, by the way, is the Code Days in Munich, and although I don't exactly learn any directly applicable knowledge there, at the very least I get a good overview on what's on the market, and jot down a good number of links and keywords that are going to help me follow up on certain solutions and technologies, should the need arise. One thing that sticks, however, is the Horror-Story driven test design, mostly because it was funny, further reinforcing the notion that fun is still the best way to learn.

The Code Days take place in the beginning of February – not even a month after I join Cesonia – and they should, in fact, be the last conference for a while, thanks to the Green Shnolz occurring. Our company is not the first one to seal the premises, but on the 12th of March, the point is reached where the risks of working on-premise are deemed to outweigh the benefits. Good news for me, since that means I get to work from home from now, programming the day away from my very own nice and dark Fox Loft! That is at the very least a small consolation considering that this shocking turn of events also managed to kill my long-prepared plans for my Japan reunion, among all the other chaos it caused.

Sometime during April, Cesonia makes its Zen-move out of the startup incubator and into its own office – that is, moving by not moving, since due to the Green Shnolz everyone should still be working from home for quite some time to come. It is not until late June that I actually get to visit the office, which due to an acute lack of attendance is still a bit of a work in progress, though much less so than the Renegades Community Centre (see Book I ~ Chapter 11 ~ Christmas in Christchurch).

As for my conclusion after working here for the first half year or so… It's a lot of work, and I miss the two days a week that I was able to put into Ceal sorely, so I wasn't able to make that much progress yet, but… The work itself is good, the people are nice, and I really feel like I am needed there and my work is appreciated. That is maybe most important of all, and the primary reason why I've been ignoring all these other job offers I've been getting ever since. And now, it's time for a short…

Interlude: Munich & More

Naturally, I also get around Munich a bit on my bike – other than the major Project Petal tours, that is. For one, at the end of February, I should visit one of my friends named Siggi down in Unterhaching, on the far side of the Isar. That, too, was just before the Green Shnolz struck.

Along the way, I cycle past my old university – the MHMK ("Macromedia Hochschule für Medien und Kommunikation" = Macromedia University for Media and Communication), which strikes me as a lot more demolished than when I last saw it.

I also come across a rustic old shop called a "Lichtpauserei" ("Diazocopy Shop"), which pretty much is an old version of a copy shop that my father is still familiar with. Back in his days as an architect, that's where they brought their huge, analogue technical plans to be copied. Today all of this is done digitally.

And then there's this festively decorated tree. Seeing as how much of an effort it must have been to hang up all these baubles, I can't blame them for not taking them off yet. And after all, with no leaves yet, it sure makes the tree look a little less bare.

On my way back, meanwhile, I cross through the Perlacher Forst…

…and cross the Isar by means of the Großhesseloher Brücke, one of the last few Isar bridges I have not crossed yet… at least not in this millennia. I dimly recall having been here before, though that must have been in elementary school. It sure made an impression on me, though, for me being able to remember it after all this time. And I have to say, the view from up here really is quite amazing. Incidentally, this is the second bridge at this position, which was finished in 1985 – just two years before I was born.

Another ride – taking part on the 1st of May, a local holiday – should take me out to the Amper, another of the two big rivers in my vicinity. From where I live in Munich, the Amper is actually slightly closer, but only by about 800m or so, so you could probably say I'm living right on the ridge between Isar and Amper. But even though I have already cycled across the Isar numerous times, I have not actually crossed the Amper by bike yet, which is something I intend to catch up on now. Unlike my ride to Siggi, which was entirely within the area of the CCC (see Book III ~ Chapter 13 ~ Corona and the Century Circadian Circuit), this is approximately three quarters on the outside, and thus extends my "territory" further westwards.

Most of the way there is actually pretty straightforward, taking me through towns and across fields…

…and before long I arrive at the Amper, which is about one size-category smaller than the Isar, but still big enough to pose a considerable obstacle to non-swimmers.

The Amper is a pretty beautiful river, though, with lots of greenery surrounding it & ampersand occasionally appearing on its banks.

My next plan is to follow the course of the Amper downstream until I reach Dachau. Along the way, I come across several old hydroelectric power plants, as well as few windmills on the distant horizon, bearing witness to a green future that could have started so much earlier. One of the hydroelectric power plants was even built as early as the 19th century! And then somehow… all that budding progressiveness got ransacked in the 20th century, probably not lastly by certain wars and their aftermath.

Arriving in Dachau, I spot a bold grey squirrel gnawing away at an innocent little tree in the middle of town…

…and then, I start hearing music, as if from a festival, which is considerably odd since this is still in the middle of the lockdown caused by the Green Shnolz. Following the sound of music, I find the very rare stationary marching band of people and spectators celebrating the 1st of May, while yet still faithfully upholding the restrictions. They have taken up position on a parking lot with generous space between all participants and spectators, and play up a heartening tune of Bavarian folk music. The Song, by the way, is called "Mein Heimatland" ("My Home Country").

Following that little and unexpected musical interlude, I start making my way back to Munich, crossing fields covered not only with rapeseed…

…but also an unexpectedly large number of deer, considering that the time is slowly approaching noon.

And that's it for some of my smaller rides around Munich. Now, let us continue with…

The Food

With me now working from home on all the days, I don't really do breakfast anymore, so let's proceed straight to lunch, which mostly consists of what I can now say without doubt is a genuine German specialty, namely tasty frozen pizza, now served on my late grandmother's old but perfectly functional pizza plates! Of all the places I've been to, the only other place that had similarly tasty frozen pizza was Brazil.

It's not all frozen pizza though. Having eaten my fill of tasty German frozen pizza by now, I have taken to alternating it with healthy Müsli. My favourite there is a mix between fruit and honey-nut Müsli, together with either berry or peach-maracuya-yoghurt.

And as usual, dinner is the one meal of the day into which I put most of the effort. My family's trademark dish is still good-old Gamm-Ligeral, which comes in many different forms, such as with Spätzle, Pasta, different kinds of meat and various sauces…

…though with a refreshing twist! Thanks to the Green Shnolz causing me to buy Spätzle Flour on one occasion, I ended up learning how to make my own Spätzle using a Spätzlereibe (actually, I first tried to make them without the Spätzlereibe, which works, but that nifty manual tool speeds up the process by approximately 827%). From now on, I'm always making my own Spätzle! Sort of makes me wish I had learned how to do it before leaving on my global journey. I could have shared this with so many people. But oh well…

Something relatively recent to my menu are Berner sausages and Käsekreiner. The first are little sausages wrapped in bacon, while the latter are sausages filled with cheese. I don't eat them all-too-often since that's kinda a lot of meat for my taste, but every once in a while, and with a bit of Sauerkraut to go, they make me smile.

I also revive another age-old tradition by cooking up a supply of goulash for both me and my father to enjoy. I still remember how it has been my late grandmother, cooking goulash on this very stove and then supplying a generous amount of portions to me and my father. They always last us for weeks. Preparing it takes about two hours or so, but the end result is easily enough for a dozen hungry foxes. Served with some pasta, the taste is absolutely divine.

I also don't neglect my Japanese roots, and even though I have not been able to go to the local Japan store lately – what with the Green Shnolz and all – I still have some Soba, Shouyu and Furikake, which is all I need in order to make some tasty Tsukemen.

However, the most cosmopolitan dish… uhh… "happens"… when I don't feel like meat one evening, and so fox goes all "Hey! Let's try something fun!" The end result is a surprisingly wholesome meal that combines ingredients from a total of four different countries and continents that I've visited. I suppose it doesn't get any more cosmopolitan than this. The ingredients are Udon from Japan, tomato puree from Italy, cheese from Germany, Farofa from Brazil, and Kaitaia Fire from New Zealand. I believe I shall call it 国際うどん("Kokusai Udon" = International Udon).

And of course, there are also these days when I don't really feel like cooking, and just whip myself up a humble microwave dinner, such as Currywurst.

So much for the food. Now let me tell you a bit about…

The Flair

The year actually began with a nice note in the form of the Shinnenkai (新年会 "New Year Meet") of the DJG ("Deutsch-Japanische Gesellschaft" = "German-Japanese Society"), that I have become a proud member of. Ever since, the Green Shnolz has somewhat negatively impacted our regular meetings, but the Shinnenkai was definitely an event to be remembered, featuring a Japanese choir, several song and music performances, as well as the most amazing drum solo I've ever seen. The video only barely manages to capture the sheer epicness of this event.

Somehow related to this, and yet different, is this cute little fox statue that I find in a garden in the neighbourhood, only a few minutes from the Fox Loft, but hidden in a backroad that I rarely pass through. In fact, I only did pass through there because I wanted to add that road to my "territory", and look what I found! In Japan, this would not be quite as noteworthy, but here in Germany, this is a rare find indeed. Go exploration! =^,^=

This year should also mark a momentous day for my dear father: The completion of his 60th year on earth. To celebrate the occasion, I conspire with his friends to lure him out onto the balcony, and although the big party got cancelled due to the Green Shnolz, we still manage to hold a heartwarming little celebration with adequate distance between all participants.

As time marches on, the Green Shnolz slightly loosens its grasp on the land, and products which were temporarily out of stock almost everywhere start popping up in stores again, including flour and yeast. Finally I can make my legendary tri-Tail pizza again! =^,^=

Also, toilet paper is in stock again! In fact, due to people having hoarded so much toilet paper that they ended up building cat obstacle courses with it, now demand for toilet paper is at an all-time low and stores are selling it dirt cheap.

Finally, on the day when I transfer my bike from the Fox Den to the Fox Loft, I also note that there's an apparently abandoned bike standing around, which is on the best way to becoming one with the shrubbery.

But now, let's get to the actual reason why I finally decided to move out, which would be…

Interlude: Feline Fancy

I don't know anymore exactly how long it was since I've been wanting a cat, but I think it dates back until my early childhood. Maybe I used to want to have a dog instead at some point, but the bottom line is that I always wanted to have a four-pawed companion, but never was allowed to. My grandparents never wanted to have "dirty" pets in their apartment, and regrettably, circumstances at the fox den did also not allow for one.

The yearning only got stronger after I actually spent some time in the presence of felines, and realized just how much I really wanted to have a cat at my side.

I tolerated the absence of a cat ever since, knowing that I would eventually move into my own place, with my own rules, where no one could deny me a cat. Now that that time has finally arrived, I move quickly to make my house cat-worthy, starting with food and water bowls…

…litter box…

…a scratch tree & hideout combination…

…as well as a bed next to mine (which I am fully aware the cat will probably rarely use).

I'm sure I'm forgetting something, and maybe I'll need a better scratch tree, but that's okay. Having a cat is a learning experience, and I am mentally prepared for damages. And the odds of the cat doing more damage than certain Brazilian and South African air plane companies are low (oooh, come to think of it, I really hope that the Green Shnolz drives them into bankruptcy).

And speaking of a learning experience… I really will have to think of something to make the CTB (Cat Transport Box) fit on Jycily, my trusty bike.

Now, all that's left is actually getting a cat… which due to certain complications turns out to be considerably more difficult than anticipated. In fact, I had planned to already introduce my new cat right here and now, but alas, circumstances were against it. And so, I can only imagine all the amazing places that my future cat might end up hanging around on.

One of these reasons is, again, the Green Shnolz. Due to many people staying at home nowadays, the local animal shelters are actually all out of cats, imagine that! I figure that will change once the situation relaxes a bit, but for now, we're all out of felines, and I for my part am determined to give a warm home to a sheltie.

But anyway, that's enough for now. Time to proceed with…

The Retrospective

And now, to compare the Fox Loft to the Fox Den. Was it worth moving? Is it an improvement? We will see.

For starters, I now have my own place all to myself. No one to clean up after, and when I leave the kitchen neat and tidy, it stays neat and tidy. Okay, so a cat is probably going to change that, but that's okay. The food is great too, my father and grandmother taught me well. Sure, I am going to miss some of my father's dishes, but by now, what I come up with can also hold its ground to the point that I have no complaints. The bedding situation is a bit of a setback though, because while I do have a bigger bed now, I am still missing my comfy fox den. Maybe I can do something about that some time down the line though. It's my own place after all. The atmosphere is nice and quiet, but as of yet still lacking a cat. That is going to improve before the end of the year (dammit!) though. The facilities are as of yet a bit lacking, since my dishwasher has not arrived yet, and I first have to get rid of the corner bench before I can fit in a drier, but that, too, is hopefully going to get resolved sometime in the second semester of 2020. The location is actually a slight improvement. Stations and acceptable supermarkets are bot still about the same distance away, but I now do have got a discount supermarket by the name of Norma right on my doorstep, as well as a small bakery, so that's a slight net gain. As for the extras, with friends, a bike, games, internet and a kitchen, I have absolutely nothing to complain here. As for the price-value ratio… I still have to await the yearly bills before I can be sure, but I think it amounts to about the same as I was paying my father, maybe a bit more. Even so, compared to everything my new home has to offer, it could cost as much as 50% extra and the PVR would still get a full ★★★★★.

So all in all, yes, I'm happy that I finally made this move. Maybe not without some lingering regrets, but hey, it's kinda hard to feel homesick when your old home is, like, 5 minutes down the street on foot.

And with that, let us now look forward to…

The Road Ahead

So, what now?

My travels have finally concluded… or have they?

Already, I am planning my next (albeit shorter) trip, and after travelling all over the world, I now feel it's finally time to make a more localized trip. Gears are already in motion, but with the Green Shnolz still up and around, I don't want to make any predictions just yet. Let's just say, I'll get around to it when I get around to it.

Apart from that, I still have Project Petal ongoing, and of course I'll also write an epilogue to Book III. So that's what you can look forward to next, here on the Travelling Fox Blog. Until then, stay healthy, and be of great cheer! =^,^=