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So, that was January! Life for the Lees has become somewhat insane and it is not likely to change much for most of this year. Things are progressing well re the sale of our beloved Plain Soaring and we have a final settlement date of 28th February. We will then have two further months to be able to stay at Plain Soaring before we will move into rental accommodation in Dalby. Although we vowed never to build a house again, we have decided to do so as there was too much that we didn’t like with the available properties on the market in Dalby. We have purchased a 1 acre block of land on the western edge of town and things are proceeding with the design and all the other areas that go with building a house! It is stressful but we have an excellent builder and designer to work with and we are confident about the end result.

Meanwhile our daughter, Sonja, gave birth to a lovely little girl called Hannah Simone Sonja Dunlop. She was only 5lbs 6oz when she was born but she is putting on weight at a healthy rate and both mother and daughter are doing well. Maren is looking forward to living in town as she will be much closer to our daughter and grandchild. Our lives will be much simpler once we are established and my workload will be a lot less than what I have known for the last 18 years!

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As I type, the New Year has begun. Maren and I enjoyed our last Christmas at Plain Soaring, being a total of six for Christmas dinner. It was a very hot day so we indulged ourselves with air conditioning! The hot and humid weather has continued since Christmas and we look forward to the arrival of some drier air. The weather in the Dalby area is usually pretty dry and it is unusual to have such humid conditions for so long.

Things are proceeding with the sale of Plain Soaring. At present the purchaser is seeking the financial approval of his bank manager; once that has been agreed, it will be full steam ahead! We have identified the plot of land on which to build our last house. It is a 1 acre block on the western edge of Dalby and we have already signed a contract for the agreed price and paid a deposit. The first big step is to identify the builder we want to work with and ascertain his availability as far as the commencement of the build is concerned. Maren and I are in agreement that it should be a one level house and smaller than our present one. We will also be looking to make it usable for wheelchairs, not that we expect to be in that situation but at least we would be covered should it eventuate for either of us. In the meantime, we are busy keeping Plain Soaring up to scratch for the new owners. It’s a strange feeling in many ways, given that we have lived here happily for more than eighteen years, but we know that season is now over and it is time to simplify our lives and reduce the overall workload.

Sonja is doing very well and looking healthy. It is now around four weeks to go until the due date and the combination of heat and humidity is challenging for her. She and David have made all the preparations for the addition to the family so we can only wait and see what gender the child will be and what his/her name will be!

Maren continues to be challenged with her health, with some days being harder than others. We have decided to play it safe and pull the plug on the planned European holiday of a tour of both Romania and Bulgaria, postponing it until next year when Maren will be better able to enjoy it. Instead we have booked a holiday on the Greek island of Rhodes, when maximum relaxation will be the order of the day!

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Now into December, the first days of summer and Christmas rushing towards us at great speed-as many have asked, where did the year go to? Life has become extremely busy for Maren and myself as we have decided to put Plain Soaring on the market and there is an awful lot to be done to get the property up to speed after more than eighteen years of living here! We have decided that we are both definitely hoarders! We have given a local estate agency exclusive rights but the property will be advertised nationwide. We feel that the most likely chance is with an aviator looking for a certain lifestyle rather than a farmer as the amount of cultivable land is relatively small. Assuming a successful sale, we plan to buy a house in Dalby which will bring us closer to Sonja and our new grandchild, as well as to our church and the community.

The preparation work has not been helped by Maren’s state of health as she has a compressed vertebra and must be very careful in how she moves her body. It’s been an interesting year healthwise for both of us but we look to the future with confidence. 

We have just returned from a memorable fishing trip out of Port Douglas in northern Queensland. Maren was to have indulged in some light tackle fishing to get bait for the black marlin but it would have been too much of a risk to her spine, so the fishing was all mine. It’s been a lifetime dream of mine to catch a large black marlin and that dream finally became a reality. I caught two black marlin, one being 200lbs and the other being 650lbs. I also caught a beautiful sailfish, a fish that I have long admired but never caught. All these fish were released having been brought to the boat.

Maren and I wish everybody who reads my blogs a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year.


 


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After a worryingly dry year up to the end of September, we finally received some good rain-a total of 119mm for the month of October. There were quite a number of rain events but some were heavy enough to result in running water and gave us a nice top up on our dam water. Unsurprisingly October was a relatively cool month compared to September which was pretty hot. 

On the gliding front, the Australian gliding movement had a bad five week period within the last two months when four lives were lost in three accidents. I knew the instructor well who was involved in the accident that occurred at the local club. His widow and daughters arranged a social event to celebrate the life of our friend and fellow pilot. There was a large turnout which was a good indication of the respect that he had been held in.

On the personal gliding front, I made the decision to retire from gliding after more than 54 years of involvement in a sport that has meant so much to me. This is not a decision that I took lightly but the reality was that I had not flown my glider since January last year, mainly because of technical issues. Furthermore, both I and subsequently Maren have had health issues which, in Maren’s case, is still ongoing. I feel that the season of gliding in my life is now over and that God is moving us onto a different way of life-we just need to establish the where and when before we look at selling our beloved Plain Soaring!

Finally, our daughter Sonja is progressing well in her pregnancy with everything normal so far. She is due towards the end of January.

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Now into the second month of Spring. It was a very hot start to the season and remained extremely dry. In early September I travelled up to Mount Isa in North-West Queensland for a ten day period to be mentored by the Senior Pastor of Christian Outreach Centre there. It was very hot and dry up there as well but the trip was well worth it and I gained a lot.

I then went on a fishing trip with my son in law out of Townsville. We went out about 150 km from the coast on a 50 foot boat and spent three nights/four days fishing. The main objective was to catch a Black Marlin; although that didn’t happen, we caught a lot of fish and a good range of different species. We were particularly blessed with the weather throughout the whole trip and it was all a great experience. I brought around 20 kg of fish home with me so we should be good for eating fish for some months! I have decided to give the Black Marlin one more chance before year end and that will be that. Maren and I will fly up to Cairns around mid-November and we will go out for another three night/four day trip. Maren does enjoy doing some fishing, although it will be with lighter tackle and going for reef fish.

While David and I were away on our fishing expedition, Maren and Sonja went to a church conference about an hour’s drive from home. I am told that it was excellent!

As I was just about to leave Townsville, it started to rain on the Darling Downs and continued as I travelled home. Although the amount wasn’t great, it is so welcome as we got no rain at all in September and virtually none in August.