Archive | January, 2008

Walking the walk

January 31, 2008

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Kathy Schneeman of Mendota Heights and St. Joseph in West St. Paul has a back yard any outdoors enthusiast would envy. The wooded ravine that begins almost right outside her back door is a travel corridor for many animals, including deer and wild turkeys, which she sees regularly.

Within the last few months, she has been sharing the view with a friend of hers at St. Joe’s — Deb Magnuson. Deb recently was diagnosed with breast cancer and Kathy decided to invite her to come over and walk with her as she endured the rigors of chemotherapy.

“During the chemo part, when she was sick, it was fall and early winter,” Kathy explained. “There were some beautiful days and so we would make arrangements ahead of time to get out and do a power walk together, to get her outside and moving. Or, sometimes, I would just stop at her house on the way home from the grocery store.”

The walks served a therapeutic purpose for both of the women. Once the snow fell, the walks turned into cross country ski trips. Kathy is happy to report that Deb is doing “wonderful. Her hair is growing back and she’s got a lot of energy.”

Kathy regrets that she will not be able to go on as many walks and ski trips as she used to. Recently, she was hired as the new archdiocesan Respect Life coordinator for the Office of Marriage, Family and Life and will start her new full-time job on Monday (Feb. 4). She is excited about this new opportunity and is eager to get busy.

A story on her and her new job will appear in the Feb. 7 edition of The Catholic Spirit. Personally, I think she is a great fit for this job. She has lots of energy and passion for the pro-life cause and the seven children she has with her husband, Eric, is a great pro-life witness.

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Guess who’s coming to dinner?

January 22, 2008

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It was payback time at my house last night (Jan. 21). At 5:30 p.m., the doorbell rang and in came Archbishop Roger Schwietz, the archbishop of Anchorage, AK.

He was in town to preside at the wedding of his niece and we arranged for him to stop in for dinner while he was here. I was thrilled and so was my wife, Julie. Both of us had been treated like royalty by Archbishop Schwietz when we visited Anchorage in July. I was on assignment for The Catholic Spirit to feature the life of Archbishop Schwietz, who grew up in St. Paul and attended Cretin High School (now Cretin-Derham Hall).

We wanted to give him something truly Minnesotan, so I made grilled venison steaks. I marinated some of the steaks in a special teriyaki sauce made by Allegro and they were delicious. Grilled venison steaks are one of our family’s top wild game meals and we wanted to give Archbishop Schwietz nothing but the best.

It was a delightful evening, both in terms of food and fellowship. Our family truly enjoyed the visit and I told Archbishop Schwietz that I hoped that he would return for another wild game dinner next year. He, in turn, said he hopes our whole family can come up to Anchorage someday. I said I’d love to, but there’s this little matter of coming up with six airfares to Anchorage.

The archbishop has had one interesting change in his life since my visit to Anchorage. He recently was named Apostolic Administrator for the Diocese of Juneau, which borders the Archdiocese of Anchorage. He replaces Bishop Michael Warfel, who was named bishop of the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings in Montana. The plan is to find a permanent replacement to serve in Juneau, but Archbishop Schwietz said he’s not sure when that will happen.

Until then, he will be very busy in his dual pastoral roles. Unfortunately, that will leave him a lot less time to enjoy hunting and fishing, which he likes to do whenever he can.

My wife and I agreed that we should be praying for Archbishop Schwietz. I urge other Catholics to do the same.

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Deer stand in the city?

January 11, 2008

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I couldn’t believe my eyes. There, on West Broadway Avenue in Robbinsdale, stood what looked like a deer stand.

In fact, some folks even call it that. But, this label was not used by the woman perched in the wooden structure, Kathy Freed of St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park. Truth is, she’s not a hunter at all. She’s a pro-life sidewalk counselor who stands in the structure so that people who visit the abortion clinic next door can see her over the high fence installed in an attempt to shield clinic visitors from people like Freed.

“They [clinic employees] call it a deer stand,” she said. “I call it my little treehouse.”

So goes the cat-and-mouse game played between the clinic and abortion protesters like Freed. I was able to witness firsthand Freed’s commitment to saving the lives of unborn children when I stopped by earlier this week to photograph her and talk about the volunteer work she does as a sidewalk counselor.

I have a feeling I’ll think about her next November when it comes time to climb into a tree stand for the firearms deer season. For all those who will be out there doing the same thing as me that day, I have this suggestion:

Pray for people like Freed as they continue to peacefully try and save unborn children and put an end to abortion. And, pray that we can end abortion in this country and around the world.

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How do fish measure up?

January 4, 2008

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I recently returned to an ice-fishing trip on Upper Red Lake. The details of my experience will be featured in my upcoming monthly outdoors column. For now, I’d like to sound off on a hot topic on Upper Red and other lakes that have slot limits.

It has to do with fish measuring and how the DNR measures fish and handles violations of the slot limit. I have talked to anglers and resort owners on Upper Red Lake on a number of occasions about this topic. I also talked to someone from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) about this topic. He works in Bemidji and says Upper Red Lake is under his jurisdiction.

It seems anglers have gotten upset since Upper Red reopened to walleye fishing in 2006. The reason is that there have been reports of people who thought they had measured fish correctly in their boats, then had their fish measured by the DNR after getting back to shore and discovering that one or more were longer than 17 inches, which puts them in the protected slot of 17-26 inches.

Along with these reports comes tales of DNR enforcement officers measuring and remeasuring fish, pinching the tail until it just nudges past the 17-inch mark, then giving the angler a citation with an accompanying hefty fine.

I have two responses to this issue. First, I think anglers should get smart about measuring their fish. The best advice I got was from someone at West Wind Resort on Upper Red Lake. He recommended buying a special measuring trough that has a ruler embossed on the bottom. You place the fish in the trough, push its nose against the flat end, flatten the fish out, squeeze the tail and measure where the tip is. If it’s under 17, keep it. If it’s exactly on the 17 mark or longer, throw it back.

Some even recommend using the 16 3/4 mark or even 16 1/2 as a guide. That’s fine, but I’m confident enough in my measuring (I’ve had lots of practice) that I stretch my length limit to 16 7/8. It’s rare that I’ve had a fish this length but, when I do, I remeasure the fish so I can be sure it’s under 17. I may even flip my fish over and measure it from the other side.

Second, I think the DNR should work harder to help educate people on how to correctly measure fish. Some of the people I have talked to seemed surprised at how meticulously enforcement officers measure fish. I’m also not sure if people realize how important it is to flatten the fish and pinch the tail. This is something the DNR should be helping people learn. After all, it takes everyone working together to keep the resource healthy. That’s part of what stewardship is all about.

In my conversation with the DNR guy from Bemidji, I brought this up. He offered what I thought was an interesting perspective. He was well aware of the stories coming from Upper Red about overzealous enforcement officers handing out lots of tickets for very slight violations of the slot limit. But, his take on it was this: Those who got tickets probably acted like jerks to the officers and got a ticket more because of that than because of the violation itself. His advice is to act calmly and politely to an officer and avoid getting into a heated confrontation.

In all the times I’ve been to Upper Red, I’ve only been checked by the DNR once. It happened last summer while I was on the water with the winner of The Catholic Spirit kids fishing essay contest, Maddie Weathers of Hastings. The officer came to the boat, asked if we had caught any walleyes, then looked in the live well when we said yes. Even though we had one fish that measured 16 3/4, he did not measure any of our fish. He simply said, “OK, have a nice day” and continued on. So, I can’t say I’ve personally had a bad experience with the DNR.

If anyone has had a personal encounter with a DNR enforcement officer, good or bad, I’d like to hear about it.

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