Watching Over Us

Today was a day when we could really tell that Someone is watching over us!

This morning, my husband had an appointment to get a CT scan.  For this, we had to go to a small city that is an hour’s drive away.  The hospital is at the edge of town, though, so we didn’t have any extra driving beyond that.

He had to be there for 11:30, but with the winds the way they were, we decided to head out early, just in case.  Our route took us though another town where we stopped to fill the gas tank, then we continued on.

Through this.


When we tell people we live in the middle of nowhere, sometimes they think we are exaggerating.

The actual temperature today was quite mild – we warmed up to about -9C at home, and even warmer (-6C) in the city we went to.  The wind chills made it feel in the -26C range, making it potentially dangerous to be out in it for two long.

There isn’t a lot of snow, yet at times the road was almost completely obliterated, except for what I could see right in front of me.  I could always tell I was in the correct lane, for example.  The wind made it more of a challenge to stay on the road than the visibility did.

But the drive went well and even with our stop for gas, we got there early.  My husband got registered into their system and sent to the appropriate area of the hospital to wait for his test.

Unfortunately, an emergency came up and all the scheduled appointments got delayed.  He got in about 45 minutes late.  I could see he was really struggling, and by the time he was called in, his shirt was wet and his face beaded with sweat from the pain. pain.scale

I saw an “improved pain scale” being shared on Facebook lately.  I liked it, but decided to make up one of my own.  It’s annoying to be asked to rate your pain on a scale of 1-10, when pain is so relative and subjective – something his previous doctor admitted was a problem.  Most pain scales I see are just smiley to sad faces, which doesn’t work.

So I came up with this version.

I’d say my husband lives in the 8-9 zone.  Seven, on a good day.  When my husband was asked to rate himself on the pain scale, my husband answered relative to how much pain he was in before, and put himself at a 5.

With the delay, I knew we would need to get some food before we headed home.  Seeing his obvious (to me, anyhow) discomfort, I did a quick search for a rare treat while he was being scanned; McDonald’s.  Yes.  It’s a treat.  It falls under the “comfort food” area.  Thankfully, there was one nearby.

When he was done, that’s where we headed.  It turned out to be inside a Walmart.  We would have preferred a drive through, but oh, well.

I tried to find a disabled parking spot for us.  This place has probably 18 of them, and they were all full!  As I was driving around to find I spot that was at least close, I ended up having a vehicle riding my bumper, enough to interfere with my ability to try and turn into any spots I found.

So I figured I’d just get away from the tailgater and go around.

Just as I accelerated, it started.

A sort of smacking/clapping noise from the engine.  Something was loose in there!

We quickly parked, shut off the engine and popped the hood, but I couldn’t see anything unusual.  Leaving it, we went inside to eat.  Once back in the van, I started it and…

… the noise was still there.

Leaving it running, I popped the hood again.  This time, I could see something at the belt smacking a hose.  Shutting off the engine, I could see a strip with a frayed end.


I took a picture of it, then we went back into the Walmart and their garage.  Showing the picture to the guy behind the counter, he said it looked like the fan belt, and that they couldn’t do that kind of work.  There was, however, a Canadian Tire across the road, and they could do it.

Just in case, I phoned up my cousin for his advice.

One option we had was to simply cut the loose piece, then drive home and hope the rest of the belt didn’t snap along the way.

Not an option we preferred!

The other option was to drive it across the street and, hopefully, get it fixed right away.

We took option number two.

He also mentioned that he had looked at the belt when he worked on our van, and it had looked fine. 😦

At this point, we had two things going for us.  One was that it happened while we were still in town.  If we had started to drive home, rather than stopping to eat, it would have happened while we were on the highway.  Instead, it happened right near a garage.

The other thing we had going for us was funds.  We had nothing in the budget for this, but the money we got from the moving company to pay for replacing our electric pole was there.  We could use that, and replace what we used at the end of the month.  If we hadn’t got that money when we did, we would have been hooped.  Big time.

So, off to Canadian Tire we went!

Once inside, I showed the picture to the guy and talked about getting it fixed.  Unfortunately, he only had two mechanics in that day; lots of people have been calling in sick lately.  However, he had a customer to call with info about a part.  Depending on what the customer decided, they might be able to fit us in, instead of working on that person’s car.

In the end, the decision was made for the customer.  The part needed couldn’t be delivered until tomorrow morning.

Which meant they could work on our van, instead!

That was the third thing going for us.

Once in, the first thing they needed to do was a diagnostic (about $70), to make sure the belt was the only thing that needed replacing.  Depending on what caused it to break, the serpentine belt might also be at risk.

It turned out to only be the belt.

It took maybe half an hour (labour rate posted: $112 an hour) to get fixed!  Altogether, it cost quite a bit less than we were afraid it would.

The guy talked to us afterward, saying that there was a leak in there; either oil or power steering fluid.  I told him it was the power steering, but that several people have looked at it already, and couldn’t find where it was leaking.  He told us we would have to find it, because it was getting right on the belt, which corrodes it.  It’ll happen again.  Which we knew.  I’ve got to get the van saftied, anyhow, so I’m hoping the leak will finally be found.  He said that one way it could be found is if someone puts a dye into the fluid.  They would then be able to spot the leak using a blacklight.


Since we were there anyhow, and the fix cost less than we thought it might, we took advantage of the situation.  I needed a new headline bulb, so we got a pair of bulbs, slightly brighter than what we already had.  I didn’t want to go to the brightest, as I have no desire to blind oncoming traffic while driving at night.  I’ve had that happen to me too often, and I would never want to inflict that on anyone else.

We also picked up a new gas cap.  Just a couple of days ago, my onboard computer started showing “check gas cap” warning.  That was another thing on my list of items to replace.  I’m guessing the seal on the cap finally degraded too much.  The cold certainly isn’t helping.  If changing it doesn’t fix the problem, it’ll be another thing on the list of stuff to get it to pass safety inspection.

I just have to figure out how to remove the old gas cap, which has a tether.  The new one doesn’t.

Changing the bulbs will wait a day or two, when it warms up a bit more.

That done, we drove the hour home.

All together, we ended up being gone 6 hours, when we expected to be gone maybe 3 hours.

I made sure to drive right up to the house to drop off my husband, and he went straight to lying down. 😦

What a day.

Then, this evening, I heard a knock at the door.

Which was very disorienting.  We never get casual knocks at the door out here!

It was the electrician.  He had intended to come out this weekend to check how frozen the ground is, but never made it.  He made it today, stopping on his way home from the city.  He’d tested his drill out, and the ground is just too solid.

We’ll have to wait until things start to thaw out, then contact him again to get it done.

Which is actually kind of good, since we would not have been able to replace what we used of the funds for another two weeks.

Yet another thing that worked out in our favour.

Yes, Someone is indeed watching out for us!

The Re-Farmer


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