Poor grades and family road trips

La Cañadans are quite unused to getting poor grades — being the over-achievers that we are — so it was unsettling to learn this week that our city was handed a "D" in tobacco-control efforts by the American Lung Association.

It seems preposterous to me that in July our little municipality topped the Los Angeles County life-expectancy list due to many factors, including "a weekly farmers market, walkable streets and effective public education," according to our news article on the subject, only to learn six months later that we might be teetering on the edge of a lung-cancer abyss because there are no laws in place here requiring smoke-free multiple-housing units and outdoor dining areas.

Does this new information mean that unless City Hall comes up with such bans, we're going to have time deducted from the 87.8-year lifespan some of us were counting on after reading the July report created by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health?

I doubt it. Believe me when I tell you I'm no fan of breathing in second-hand fumes. I had enough of that when I was a little kid and my dad chain-smoked. But that was a generation ago and today I only occasionally come across individuals lighting up within our city's boundaries. If we want something to worry about, I think we should be more concerned about the road dust and truck exhaust coming off the 210 than about whether or not people are smoking in their condos. (And how many multiple-housing units are there in this town, anyway?)


Speaking of generational differences, I invited my brother Larry to go with me on my vacation to our place in Sedona last week because my husband couldn't join me and I desired a traveling companion. Specifically, I was looking for someone who was willing to pump gas for me in exchange for a free room.

Although I'm not sure he enjoys being reminded of it, Larry is several years older than I. He was born before World War II started, our two sisters arrived 15 months apart in the '40s and I finally made the scene in the '50s. In our adult years Larry and I have had a friendly enough relationship, but not a particularly close one, I guess because we've both had plenty of other things going on in our lives and he lives many miles away from La Cañada.

It may as well also be pointed out here that he's a Trojan while I'm a Bruin. That's a chasm as deep as they come, I'm afraid.

Anyway, Larry was willing to give our road trip a try and I am pleased to say it was a success. I was slightly nervous at first, worried we'd have difficulty finding common ground for a whole week's worth of conversation, but it turns out that our family has included plenty of characters who provided us with excellent fodder. Larry was able to fill me in on life with Mom and Dad before I was old enough to be aware of my surroundings and I gave him the scoop on the household happenings that took place after he left for college and life beyond.

All in all, it was an excellent vacation and we returned having decided that next time we're taking with us our surviving sister, Sharon, who has lived in Chicago for more than 30 years. She's sure to know plenty of family scuttlebutt. We might, in fact, need two weeks to savor that particular get-together.

CAROL CORMACI is managing editor of the Valley Sun. She can be reached at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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