Friday, April 18, 2014

Life in Georgia

Joseph Herrin (04-18-2014)

My Daughter Kristin on My Catrike
(Click on any image to view larger)

I am spending considerable time studying and meditating upon this current series titled FOUNDATIONS. Because of the amount of research and study involved, my posts have been less frequent than normal. In the interim, I thought I would post an update on life here in Georgia.

After spending four months on Jekyll Island, I returned to the rural area of South Central Georgia where Yahweh has directed me to abide for some time. I truly love this area. It is remote, quiet, peaceful, and yet is not too far that I cannot use my bike or trike to travel into town to the post office, grocery store, or Walmart. It is a 14 mile trek (each way) to the post office in Montezuma, Georgia where I have a mailbox. It is the same distance to Perry which is a relatively larger town, and located right along I-75. Perry has three large grocery stores (Kroger, Publix, and Walmart), as well as a hardware store and many restaurants. It has a population somewhat in excess of 10,000, whereas Montezuma has an official population between 3,000 - 4,000. The town I am nearest to is Marshallville, which is smaller still. Marshallville is 4 miles away, and has only one traffic light, a small Red and White grocery store, and a post office that keeps limited hours.

Georgia is often described as consisting of two populations. There is Atlanta, and there is the rest of the state.

There are areas of North and West Georgia that are mountainous. However, the area where I am located is very flat. This is ideal for bike/trike riding, so although I love the mountains, I appreciate the ease of transportation that the level ground affords.

As I mentioned, this is a rural area. From where I have my bus/motorhome parked I am unable to see any neighbors. I cannot even see the road which is about 1/4 mile away and hidden by trees. It is an unpaved road with three ways leading out, depending on whether I want to go to Montezuma, Marshallville, or Perry. No matter what direction I take, I have 3-4 miles of dirt roads before I reach the pavement. I actually enjoy this, and my trike with its oversized wheels and balloon tires handles the unpaved road very well.

Catrike with Trailer

Because of the distances I have to travel to town I found it expedient to add an electric motor to my recumbent trike. I did quite a bit of research, and settled on a motor of Chinese manufacture that was relatively new and had positive reviews. It was a quarter of the price of some American made units, such as the Eccospeed motor that can run about $3,000, a price that does not include the battery. The motor is different than the hub motor that I have on my bike that is built into the wheel. The Bafang 8FUN motor I purchased is described as a mid-drive, and it operates by turning the chain, rather than directly turning the wheel. There are advantages to this, chief among them being that this type of motor takes advantage of the bike or trike’s gearing.

Hub motors are single speed, so the rider must either choose one with a low gear that offers high torque for acceleration and hill climbing, or a higher gear to provide a faster cruising speed. With a mid-drive electric motor, the rider can have excellent low speed torque by shifting into a low gear, and also achieve a higher cruising speed.

My Bafang BBS02 (8FUN) Motor Mounted on End of Boom

I have been using this motor for about a month now, and have logged approximately 300 miles on it. It has some features that my bike’s hub motor did not. The Bafang motor came with a crank that the pedals attach to. The crank has a cadence sensor built into it that measures how fast the rider is turning the pedals. The motor can be set to match the speed of the rider, and has five different power settings that can add a little pedal assist, or a lot of pedal assist. I generally keep the motor on setting 2, as anything above that adds so much assist that I find I am doing nothing more than spinning the pedals without any resistance. I do want to get some exercise, after all.

The motor also came with a nice computer and display that shows the motor’s power setting, amount of battery charge left, speed, distance traveled, and time elapsed. If a person wants to let the motor do all the work, there is also a thumb throttle that can operate the motor, overriding the pedal assist feature. The picture below shows the trike’s controls from the rider’s perspective.

I have been very impressed with the performance of this mid-drive motor. The quality of the parts, the cable connectors, the computer and display, all appear to be good quality, and as I tell people who often ask me about the trike when they see me out on it, it goes right by all of the gas stations without needing to fill up. One additional benefit is that I was able to use the LiFePO4 (Lithium Iron Phosphate) battery that I had purchased for my bike. The battery is a $600 dollar item which is a considerable initial layout, but it is rated at 5 years and 1500 recharges. On a monthly breakdown, this is $10/month, which is far less than I would spend for gas, oil, insurance, tag, title, and other expenses associated with driving a car.

For local transport, it has much to recommend it. It is as much fun as riding in an open car. You get to enjoy all the sights and sounds of nature. Since you are traveling at a slower rate of speed (I have reached 35 mph downhill, but I normally cruise at 20 mph, and closer to 12 mph on the dirt roads), you can take time to stop and smell the roses. I have often noticed pecans along the road, or public medians and have stopped to fill up my baskets, or seen blackberries along the side of the road and stopped to enjoy a few handfuls. In the past week and a half I have ridden to a local strawberry patch and have picked over 30 pounds of strawberries and brought them back home where I have cut them up and placed them in quart storage bags to keep in my freezer. They are great in smoothies, or with oatmeal.

We have had a rainy winter and early spring, so there have been many days when I could not get down the dirt roads on my trike. It is raining at this moment as the rain has set in for about a 30 hour stretch where we are forecast to get 2-3 inches of precipitation. We received 2 inches of rain just a week ago, and there have been only a couple days since I returned to this area on February 1st that the driveway leading out to the road has not had puddles of water standing on it. This has caused everything to be nice and green, and the grass is growing prodigiously. I had to start mowing the grass about 5-6 weeks ago. Last week we actually had a couple days that the temperature rose into the low 80s.

I try to take Champ on runs every day that I can get out on the trike. We started about 3 weeks ago when the roads dried out sufficiently, but so far we have only been able to manage about 3-4 days a week. It usually takes 2 days for the roads to dry out sufficiently after a good rain. I am grateful, however, that we do not have a drought here in Georgia. This is a farming and dairy area, and the rain is very much appreciated. The peach trees are leafing out now, and should be all abloom in a week or so with peach season beginning sometime in late May.

On another topic, I had some problems with my glasses while I was on Jekyll Island. A screw had come out and when I took them to the Walmart Vision Center in Brunswick, they could not repair them, and they had no similar frames. My prescription had changed, and I noticed that things were not as clear as they had been, so I decided to wear an older pair and get new glasses made after I returned to my present location. I had my appointment yesterday and should be receiving my new glasses in a week. I appreciate Yahweh’s faithfulness to meet every need, and am very grateful for those saints who freely give materially to this minister. When I consider that it has now been more than six years since Yahweh directed me to leave the Macon Rescue Mission and return to the full-time ministry of writing and teaching, and as I observe how every need has been supplied, I am truly in awe of what He has done. The sons and daughters of Yahweh who read these posts have truly fulfilled the words of the apostle Paul.

Galatians 6:6-7
And let the one who is taught the word share all good things with him who teaches.

On a related note to that of having an eye exam and ordering new glasses, I had a tooth crack down the middle about a week ago. The way it happened was rather remarkable. I had been experiencing a toothache for a few days where the left side of my face felt inflamed. I could not tell precisely what tooth was causing the problem as pains of this type frequently radiate out from the source. I have on occasion had some of my top teeth ache when the problem was with a lower tooth.

I prayed about the matter and asked Yahweh to show me what tooth it was so that I could get it pulled if need be. Many of the readers of this blog know that I was born with Osteogenesis Imperfecta, which is commonly called Brittle Bone Disease. I broke my first bone at the age of seven, and by the age of 14 had broken about a dozen bones. I have broken a few more as an adult, including a badly damaged fibula when I was struck by a 91 year old woman a few years back when I was riding on a motorcycle in town. That resulted in 2 titanium plates being installed in my lower left leg, and more than 20 screws.

One of the associated conditions of Osteogenesis Imperfecta that I did not know about until about ten years ago is called Dentinogenesis Imperfecta. As you might deduce from the name, this is a condition that causes the teeth to be brittle. It usually manifests around the age of 40, which is about the time I broke my first tooth (I will observe my 53rd birthday on May 7th). Since then I have had about a dozen teeth fracture, and have had them pulled. There is nothing more to be done, unless a person opts to have dental implants that cost about $5,000 per tooth. Consequently, I have opted for a partial denture which works well and is far less expensive. (Even if I had the money I would not likely consider dental implants. I am quite satisfied with dentures.)

I share this so that you might understand why I considered having the tooth pulled when it began to ache. If a tooth is drilled and a filling put in it, it weakens the tooth, and when combined with Dentinogenesis Imperfecta, it is not likely to hold up very long before it cracks. I asked the Father to show me which tooth was the problem so that I would not waste money by having the wrong tooth pulled. I believe it was the next day that I was chewing on a piece of tough bread and I felt one of my teeth crack. It was one of the two I suspected of being the cause of my present pain, so I took that as an answer from the Father. I know definitely now which tooth I need to get pulled, which I hope to get taken care of in the upcoming week.

This time of year is particularly difficult for me physically as I have suffered with pollen allergies since I was a child. At times it has been debilitating to the point that all I could do was to lie down and put a wet cloth over my face. The symptoms of hay fever have added to my difficulties of late in writing, as it is difficult to focus when one’s sinuses are running constantly, accompanied by sneezing and itchy eyes.

I was sharing with a sister in Christ yesterday that with my bodily troubles of late, I have been reminded of the following words of the apostle Paul.

II Corinthians 4:16
Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

An update would not be complete without mentioning Champ.

Champ Enjoying a Sunny Day

Champ’s cheek has healed up fine from where a neighbor’s Pit Bull got hold of him a couple months back. There is no sign that he was ever attacked. Champ is a tough dog, and I suspect he is half Pit Bull himself (the other half being some type of Hound). The neighbor’s dog doesn’t come around anymore, but I put Champ in his kennel at night and when I have to go into town, just to be safe.

A few weeks ago we had a weather front move through. There was plenty of rain, and the temperature dropped afterwards, but there was no mention in the forecast about high winds. I even checked the local Macon station and they had no notice of high winds. Nevertheless, after the rain ended the wind picked up abruptly. It must have been blowing about 40 MPH with higher gusts approaching 60 MPH. At some point the wind picked up Champ’s kennel and tossed it into a crumpled heap. I had to completely disassemble it the next day and reconstruct it. I now have it anchored to the ground with chain and some sturdy tie-downs.

Champ’s Kennel

Champ was NOT in the kennel when it was tossed by the wind. He doesn’t enjoy bad weather, so I normally bring him inside my bus when it is storming outside. He is lying under my feet right now, snoring away as I type. He had been outside most of today, but since it has been raining steady for about 15 hours now, although he does have shelter outside, I thought he would like to come inside for a while.

Champ is a good dog. He makes me laugh a lot as I observe his antics out in the yard. He enjoys life as only a dog can do. Dogs know how to have a great time. They have no worries, but take each moment as it comes. When life is good, they show their appreciation of it. I don’t know the dogs in the following photo, but their expressions are a picture of undiminished joy.

That is what Champ looks like when I take him on runs.

PostScript: There was wind again after the rain passed through last night and as occurred a couple weeks ago, another large oak tree fell across the drive leading back to the property. (I am blessed to not have to cut it up and remove it. That is someone else's bailiwick.)

I walked down to see it this morning, and Champ went with me to check it out.

You can see how nice and green everything is here from the abundant rain. The ground, however, is so soft that these mature trees are falling over easily.

Note that I added a link in the comments to Lectric Cycles, the company that I purchased my trike's electric motor from. The company's owner, LeGrand Crewse, an appropriate name if ever there was one (The Grand Cruise), has been very pleasant to deal with, and responsive to my queries.

Heart4God Website:    

Parables Blog:    

Mailing Address:
Joseph Herrin
P.O. Box 804
Montezuma, GA 31063