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Day By Day: The news is not all bad!

It's no news that the news has been mostly bad of late. But I can't remember a time when so much of it impacted me and mine so directly.

The unemployment figures released last Friday had me running home at lunch to take all the sharp objects out of the kitchen before Kevin got home. Things seem secure around the Star-Observer but maybe that's what they thought at the Chicago Tribune before things got ugly there.

I don't even want to think what the summer job situation will be like when the kids go looking, let alone what things will be like when they finish college in a few years. The empty nest could get crowded again.

I can't quite get used to the idea that tax dollars from my modest income will be used to bail out the likes of AIG and other financial fatcats. It's something I don't like to think about, kind of like what I weigh and what to send my mother-in-law for Christmas.

It's times like this that I'm not the type to fire up easily. I leave that to Kevin who, no doubt, has cut down our heating costs with all the steam he blows off every night as Katie Couric lays out the day's dismal reports.

Gas prices, of course, are the bright spot -- the bright spot that is despite the fact that we're still paying more than a $1.50 a gallon. I'm just paranoid enough to believe that the decrease is part of a vast conspiracy to get me into Target or some such place to holiday shop with all the money I'm "saving" at the gas pump.

And yesterday I heard that OPEC is likely to cut supplies to get those prices up there where they belong. I picture those oil guys sitting around their well-appointed palaces in the desert speculating just what 20 degrees feels like.

And there was some discouraging health news this week. Apparently there's a certain bad heart attack that kills women more than men. It seems the symptoms women experience aren't the same as for men -- that chest and arm pain, etc. No, for women, it's more about indigestion and fatigue and it seems rather than heading into the emergency room, we hit the Maalox and brew a stronger pot of coffee.

I mean, it's not like indigestion and fatigue aren't a regular part of the day for almost every woman I know. If I'm not feeling sick about those French fries at lunch, I'm exhausted because of the lack of sleep I got trying to get the tree decorated and the boxes put away before the dinner party I scheduled back when it seemed like a fun idea. Heart attack? Who knew?

And then there is the news that Oprah has gotten fat again. Another big news flash. Here I thought it was just that her staff was buying her clothes too small. I never bought that she was a size 8. She's dedicating a whole show to coming to terms with her lifelong battle. Hasn't she already covered that issue and haven't several other people gotten very rich talking about it like her personal chef, personal trainer, personal Dr. Oz? I even thing Suzie Orman got in on the deal.

I admire Oprah's openness but here's how I live with my body image. I avoid mirrors and plate glass windows and don't look at any pictures of myself. The picture with this column was taken in 1990 and it will NEVER change. I think it is as good as it is ever going to get.

But there appears to be a silver lining in all this bad news. I think all this negative energy seems to be making everyone a little more aware of what they do and don't have. At a fundraiser last week for Youth Action Hudson, formerly Community Action, I saw people from all segments of our community all happily talking with one another and, most importantly for Youth Action Hudson, supporting the group's mission. They gave generously.

I'm hearing the same thing from the Salvation Army bell ringers. People are giving, and not just coins, but fives and tens. And look for the story in this week's paper about the 15-year-old who spearheaded the effort to get more than 300 hand-knitted hats, mittens and scarves to kids who need them. And once again people are stepping up to sponsor families in need through Operation HELP.

Hudson has always been a generous community, and this year will likely be the same if not better. And maybe it is because of all the bad news that we're willing to dig a little deeper.

So there's some good news with the bad, and I can live with that.

Meg Heaton

Meg Heaton has been a reporter with the Hudson Star Observer since 1990. She has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and Native American Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

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