Gifts from John-Mark

It’s John-Mark’s 42nd birthday today.

I refuse to wonder what would have been, and  I am grateful for the time I had with him.

Here is a photo I found on his phone, I think he took it from a hotel room traveling somewhere. I gave him that shirt, possibly as one of his 38th or 39th supplemental birthday gifts.

He loved it.

We were good gift givers, and for Xmas and birthdays would have a series of gifts to open.  An exceptional shopper, but a terribly lazy gift-wrapper, he would always surprise me with beautiful clothes or moto gear wrapped in a shopping bag. On my birthday he would buy me jewelry that contained a star – our race team symbol that came to represent me, two stars representing the both of us. (The jewelry was at least wrapped by the store attendant).

A few days before his accident, he bought me a Mother’s Day gift (from our dogs) that I found upon coming home after his death. It was a necklace with two stars, one little, one big – the two of us.  Wrapped in a small paper bag.  His last gift to me.

It’s random photo time again

Day to day, the images pile up on my iPhone. I mostly look at them at some later point in time and delete them, shaking my head at why I ever thought whatever it was would make a good photo. Walking through the narrow streets of Barcelona and passing a bright and colorful bakery display always makes me pause, something about the symmetry and order and variety of the displays makes them forever interesting to me.  And apparently to my mom, who also likes the food pictures.

So without further ado, I present the next installation of random images, the theme this time being bakery displays. I know I’ll have at least one interested reader, so I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.

Giant meringues - this image doesn't do justice to the actual size of these.

Plates of food made of candy. Doesn't a candy steak sound delish?

Coal for kiddies shoes at Xmas. Personally, I would dole out real coal but that's just me.

Chocolate pastries...nom nom.

My personal favorite, candy poop served in little toilets and bedpans.

Supermoto adventure in Italy

I just spent a week in Chivasso, Italy doing a little riding (actually I am still here but going back to Spain tomorrow).  Originally, I was going to ride various bikes: some at the track, maybe a couple off road, but then there was some talk of a supermoto team wanting a girl to ride this year, and I had available to me a Yamaha 450 so I decided I wanted to give it a try. I mean, I had two whole days to learn to ride supermoto before the guy came to see what I could do. Plenty of time.

The bike was stock, with supermoto wheels and a roadrace brake. The first day at the track was my second ride on a supermoto ever, and it was so much fun I didn’t even care if the team wanted me or not.

On the first day, I was the only person on the track until the afternoon, when some karts and cars showed up. Trackdays are run a little differently out here. Spectators or pit crew stand whereever they want, run across the track or walk all over it. At one point, three people stood at the transition of a fast chicane, with only some cones between them and my oncoming bike. I kept thinking… what would they do if I blew this chicane and just barreled straight into them like bowling pins?

The second day at the track I figured out body positioning a little better. I was still the only person on the track until the afternoon.

It was so cold my hands would freeze after 4 laps and I had to stop and stick them on the pipe to defrost them. But the guy came out for an hour to see what I could do. Of course, I pushed it and tucked the front on the fourth lap out, but he said I should go talk to the shop to let me give one of their bikes a try. I would definitly need to learn how to use the rear brake first….

I couldn’t practice the next day because it snowed. So on the weekend we drove 3 hours to a track in San Remo, on the coast where it’s much warmer. Of course when we arrived, the track proprietor had rented the whole weekend to a group of people who rented all their karts. This is after we called that morning to make sure the track was available to us. So I ended up riding in a (rare) parking lot to practice using the rear brake.  A group of kids gathered to watch upon hearing the engine noise and I’m surprised I didn’t crash trying to impress them.

We stayed at a friends place that was something like a bed and breakfast on the side of a mountain. It is a farm, though positioned on such a steep hillside the name farm calls to mind something entirely different. The proprietor is a sharp girl in her early 30s who inherited a wheat farm from her grandparents and built a small inn and a restaurant. She prepared the entire meal, from growing the food to cooking it, and her boyfriend served us. Her boyfriend races supermoto and sportbikes, (from whence the friend status comes) and the restaurant was decorated with farming tools and racing trophies. We were the first guests to stay there, as it opens in a week.

We had an amazing dinner. All the food and wine was grown in hothouses on the property. We started with an aperetivo  of white wine…

With olives from the trees outside the door and an oversized loaf of bread made with wheat flour grown on site…

And chopped stinging nettles(yes, those weeds that when you grab them sting the shit out of your hands) fried in olive oil…

First course was spaghetti with mussels, clams, calamari and big shrimp. And a salad of celery, tomatoes, walnuts, and some other stuff I don’t remember because I didn’t take a picture.

Second was…some kind of fish I don’t remember and potatoes and rosemary (broth grown there of course).

Dessert was an apple cake, which we were sent off with more of in the morning.

Homemade lemon grappa to finish it all off (in a Carrefour bottle).

In the morning, we just drove the three hours right back to Torino and straight to the track. It was Sunday, so there was quite a crowd of minibikes, supermotos and karts. Snow was on the side of the track but it was just warm enough to get the tires to grip.

Later in the day, a guy let me try his 2010 Honda 450, all set up for supermoto with aftermarket triple clamp and offset, supermoto brakes and a shortened swingarm. It was great, so easy to turn and slide with the lowered front, it was even easy to crash, which I did, right in front of him. Oh I’m ready to start racing again all right…