I do not know how to fix fences. I can’t fix the fence around our backyard if it were to fall down. I certainly can’t fix any of the (way too many) fences at our farm. I have been going to my husband’s family farm since before we were married. Normal people would have learned how to at least help mend a fence in a time period of over 40 years. I do not even touch the fences. I can sometimes do a good job of opening gates.
Before opening a gate, I ask and make certain that I have the right key or combination for the lock. I am very leery of anything that has to do with a fence. When we had been married about five years or so, my mother-in-law asked me to go to the nearest “big” town to buy some items important for fence making. My husband was going to need it that afternoon when he started mending fences. We were just visiting for the weekend, so I needed to hurry and get the items.
She told me to get several boxes of steeples. I had no idea what they were or what they did. I teach the children in my classes at school to ask questions…to make sure that they have all of the instructions. I wasn’t a teacher then and only a newspaper person. Evidently, some newspaper people just make up their own minds, believe everything that they are told, and find out the real answers later. I was just twenty something. I didn’t know.
Thinking that I knew pretty much everything, I walked into the farm supply store and asked for four boxes of steeples. All of the men (no women working in farm stores at that time) stared at me and laughed. “We don’t have steeples! Go over to First Baptist. They will get you a steeple!” I gave the smarty pants guy one of those looks like I later used on my future students. He just stared back and told me once and for all that they did NOT have anything called steeples.
I proceeded to tell him what I needed them for and just how quickly I needed them and reminded him how many I needed. How dare him cause me silly trouble like this. “Oh…I see…you have the wrong word. You need some STAPLES!” I was most unhappy with my mother-in-law. I bought the crazy staples and ran out the door.
Just embarrassed. I dislike mistakes. When I got back to the farm, I asked what I was supposed to buy. They all said “STEEPLES”. I asked my husband’s aunts, uncles, cousins and they all said “STEEPLES”. Local talking, I guess. Colloquialism…sort of like a local dialect. That is when I started asking “Are you sure that is the right word?”…I should have known better. My mother was from Tennessee and had all sorts of different ways to say things…like “half past kissing time and time to kiss again”…she meant it was dinnertime. Nevertheless, my fence making days ended before they started. I can make pecan pie instead. And that is pecan with the letter “a” pronounced “ah”! Texas talk!