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Hidden talents

A yachtswoman, CHMR celebrity interviewer and Labrador chicken-keeper

Campus and Community

By Mandy Cook

In a year that has seen us limiting our contact with the outside world, it’s more appealing than ever to learn how our colleagues entertain themselves while not on the clock.

Read on to learn about Memorial employees and their off-hour passions, from the accomplished sailor who spent the entire summer on her craft to a radio DJ who’s racked up an impressive music celebrity interview list (Sloan’s Chris Murphy included!) to the proud new owner of chickens Flyza Minnelli, Hennifer Lopez, Hennrietta, Attila the Hen, Amelia Egghart, Vera Wing, Chickera and Yolko Ono.

Kim Crosbie

Kim Crosbie developed her sea legs 15 years ago, when she first caught the sailing bug on a whim from her husband, Steve.

The manager of operations and strategic projects at the Harris Centre says she loves the challenge of the sport: learning new skills and staying calm through unexpected events and weather.

Most of her sailing has been around Conception, Trinity and Bonavista Bays, short runs depending on her vacation time available.

She enjoys racing locally and has competed in the bi-annual Halifax-St. Pierre race, St. Pierre-St. John’s race and St. John’s harbour races.

She has chartered sailboats in the British Virgin Islands and Anitgua for winter vacation getaways with family and friends.

Ms. Crosbie and her husband’s work from home setup this summer.
Photo: Submitted

One of the most challenging voyages was a sailboat delivery from Bermuda to Maine, which sparked an interest in longer distance journeys and solo sailing.

“It took us just over five days non-stop, doing four-hour rotations . . . I loved the 2-6 a.m. rotation. It was, and still is, my favourite watch when doing these type of passages.”

Ms. Crosbie, who originally hails from Bay Roberts, N.L., says the appeal of that time slot is more than just seeing a sunrise. She says you get “all of night and day combined in those four hours,” with the quiet, solitude and focus on the boat as your only company.

Sunrise on the way to Great Harbour Deep.
Photo: Submitted

“Then that slow awakening as dawn comes on. Sometimes, it’s grey and dismal, other times it’s a sunrise in all its glory. It doesn’t make a difference. The night has ended and a new day has started.”

As for her favourite destination, Ms. Crosbie is quick to answer: To sea.

“That is my favourite destination,” she said.

“Every time we leave the wharf, it’s not just about new adventures, new experiences. It is the calming that comes with leaving land and everything behind. Your focus changes.”

This summer, due to the pandemic, working from home took on a whole new meaning.

When they purchased a 42-foot boat last year, NOMAD, the larger size vessel allowed Ms. Crosbie and her husband to spend their summer months living aboard near full time at her berth in the Long Pond marina and driving into work each day.

Ms. Crosbie’s route from the Avalon Peninsula to Great Harbour Deep.
Photo: Submitted

This summer, as long as she had internet and cell connection, Ms. Crosbie knew she could work from anywhere – which turned out to be off Newfoundland’s coast and all the way to the resettled community of Great Harbour Deep on the east coast of the Great Northern Peninsula.

“It was a push, and a lot of work to make it. Besides work schedules, we had friends that also sailed along with us, weather windows to work around and the odd boat issue, of course. But, we got to experience some amazing communities and people along the way that we never would have gotten to otherwise.”

Steve Sharpe

When you are a campus radio DJ, you never know what interesting opportunities will come your way.

Sometimes, it’s a chance to interview Canadian music legend, Kim “I Am a Wild Party” Mitchell.

Steve Sharpe, or, Hulk Caesar, at 5 p.m. NST/3:30 p.m. EST on CHMR, 93.5FM in St. John’s, www.chmr.ca or the Radio Player Canada app anywhere.
Photo: Submitted

Grenfell Campus multimedia specialist Steve Sharpe has been a CHMR radio host for the past year. His most recent show, The Hulk Caesar Show (Mr. Sharpe is the titular Hulk Caesar), features in-depth interviews with musicians, with an emphasis on Canadian talent.

The format developed after the station’s program manager approached him about the Kim Mitchell opportunity.

He grabbed it.

He says he had such a great time doing the interview, he began reaching out to other artists on their websites or social media, asking if they would like to be a guest on his show.

“I never imagined that I would get as many amazing guests as I have,” said Mr. Sharpe, who grew up on the Avalon Peninsula. “I guess everyone being stuck at home for COVID-19 helped. Everyone has been so nice and supportive; I have even had guests recommend doing my show to their contemporaries, which is a great compliment.”

Steve Sharpe tried to interview director and musician John Carpenter, but his manager wasn’t, ahem, amenable.
Photo: Submitted

While he says Juno Award winners Sam Roberts and Joel Plaskett were great interviews, Mr. Sharpe says Hannah Georgas was “so extremely nice” and that Amy Millan from Stars and Broken Social Scene “was a riot to speak with.”

When pressed for a favourite interview, he is reluctant, saying everyone has been extremely nice and generous with their time.

But he does have a favourite moment.

It came when he interviewed Derry Grehan from the legendary Canadian rock band, Honeymoon Suite.

“I asked him about one of my favourite songs, their theme song to the Hollywood film, Lethal Weapon,” Mr. Sharpe recalled.

“I could tell that no one had asked him about it for a long time, and he got really into answering the question. It turned out to be one of his favourite tracks, as well. I try to do my homework before speaking with artists, and it makes me feel great if I think they enjoyed the line of questioning.”

“I would love to have Memorial president Dr. Timmons on to talk about music.” — Steve Sharpe

With a wide-ranging interest in all genres of music, it’s not surprising that Mr. Sharpe connects with so many of his interview subjects. He cites rock, indie rock, instrumental, movie and television soundtracks and cover tunes as just some of the styles of music he enjoys.

However, he says he hopes to eventually branch off into other interview subjects, such as a computer security expert or possibly a politician. He also says Memorial’s new president is on his wish list.

“I would love to have Memorial president Dr. Timmons on to talk about music.”

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo

Growing up in Guelph, Ont., Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo says there was a strong agricultural and grow-your-own tradition. So, as a long-time backyard gardener, adding chickens to her food-growing was a longstanding wish.

Dr. Ashlee Cunsolo with one of her brood.
Photo: Submitted

“I find them such quirky and interesting creatures, and they provide not only joy and learning, but also a bit of food self-sufficiency,” said Dr. Cunsolo, who is interim dean of the School of Arctic and Sub-Arctic Studies, Labrador Institute, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

“Animals add a special energy to the garden, and chickens in particular provide delight, wonderful manure, and of course, eggs.”

Do they ever.

Dr. Cunsolo says her eight hens lay between 5-7 eggs a day, which means she and her family have plenty of eggs for themselves and lots to share – one of her favourite things about having chickens.

“My Italian grandmother and extended family instilled in me a deep love of sharing food and of bringing people together around food,” she shared. “Seeing how excited people are to receive fresh eggs – many who have never had fresh eggs before – and try them is a very special thing for me.”

According to Dr. Cunsolo, backyard chickens are becoming increasingly common in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (and throughout Labrador, as well). Municipal bylaws allow for 99 chickens per property in the town.

Residents there can get their chicks locally, as Shelley Cleary, the agriculture development officer for the provincial government in Labrador, breeds and supplies chicks – plus invaluable advice – to order throughout the region.

There is a lot to learn if you are just starting out, but Dr. Cunsolo says it’s been a pleasure to do so.

A family portrait
Photo: Submitted

“It’s been great for our boys and their friends, who have learned so much through the process, watching them grow from three-day old chicks to full-grown, egg-producing hens . . . We did a lot of family research projects on how to build their chicken brooder, what they needed for their indoor and outdoor coop, when they start laying.”

Now that the family is up to speed and has a mature flock, they have settled into a “joyful rhythm.”

At the start of each day, they let the chickens into their outdoor coop and feed and water them.

Next up is gathering the eggs and distributing treats among the eight ladies. As an added bonus, Dr. Cunsolo plays classical music (Yo-Yo Ma is a real favourite) or an audio book such as Barack Obama’s A Promised Land while she cleans the coop.

When night falls, they get tucked in to the indoor coop for a good night’s sleep.

Fresh eggs are plentiful at Dr. Cunsolo’s house in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Photo: Submitted

One of the things she loves most, though, is developing a relationship and an agreement with her chickens, she says. They’ve built an agreement based on an “ethics of care.”

 “I take care of them, provide them with food and water, keep them safe and treat them with respect, and they produce the most amazing and delicious eggs daily to nourish us . . . They produce something for others, without a thought for themselves,” said Dr. Cunsolo.

“That’s a very special thing to add to the world, and a really amazing way of being – we can all learn from the giving of chickens.”

For more information about local chicken-keeping, please visit here.

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