Comments from the canyons: Misuse of words a pet peeve

Playing with words has been a favorite game of mine since I began to be able to hold a pencil.

Both Mother and Grandmother wanted me to learn something each day and also wanted to find something that would keep me occupied so they could get their work done. They taught me the alphabet as soon as I could begin to distinguish one letter from another.

Mother would hand me a magazine or newspaper, give me a pencil, and tell me to underline letters as she called them out. She’d mark off a paragraph for me to work on and would then begin calling out letters. I’d look for every “c” I could find and underline it. She would then check my work to see how many I had missed.

Later, she and Grandmother began to teach me to spell simple words and would then have me underline them as I had done the letters. They knew how to keep me busy and to stretch my attention span. When I began to get restless, they would think of something for me to do outside and would then go with me to see that I was safe. Their tricks to keep me occupied have stood me in good stead through the years, because I still play with words and still go outside to enjoy nature when I need to relax.

They also taught me to work hard to use words correctly. That lesson surely has been lasting because I still become a bit agitated when words are used incorrectly. Certain words get my attention for a while, and then I find other words to take their places.

The words of the moment are healthy and healthful. Rarely do we hear “healthful” used, but we certainly hear “healthy” misused frequently. For instance, we are told to eat healthy food. Now, just what does that mean? Well, it means that we find food that is free from disease, impurities, or even bruises. Just think about that for a moment. When have you seen any food that you might even think would be healthy?

Look at the produce in most stores and note the signs of spoilage and other weaknesses. Think about the meat we see in the markets and think about the health of many of the animals sold to packing plants. At least, we think we can make most of our food harmless by washing it or cooking it, but are we not fooling ourselves just a bit.

We can become healthy by trying to eat healthful foods. In other words, we need to think of healthful foods as those we are told will help us to improve our health. Fresh vegetables, fresh meats, fresh fruits are considered to be healthful foods so long as they are prepared and served correctly. Actually, I try to avoid thinking much about the food I consume because I know much of it is not healthy, but I can continue to hope that some of it is healthful and will not make me ill. Just listen to how those two words are used, but don’t get too excited about finding any healthy food.

Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 575-461-1952.

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