Saturday, July 9, 2022

A dozen random things about my aunt Kathy

1. When I was a kid, her nickname for my little sister Edina was "My Pal."

2. She was a huge lover of animals and her house was always full of dogs, cats, and at one point, birds. The first animals I remember were the dog trio of Bingo, Domino, and Hopscotch.

3. Once when she was living in Brussels, Belgium, young and partying, she decided to stow away on a boat bound for America, and they had to dock in Cherbourg to offload her and send her off to call home from the hoosegow.

4. She was a great audience and if you were at a comedy show, a lit event, a performance of a family song, a drag show you put on for your fortieth birthday, you could always hear her laugh over the rest.

5. She always insisted on paying the bill when she went out to eat with you. The only way you could get her to let you pay is if you were stealthy and pretended to go to the bathroom in the middle of the meal and pulled the server aside and slipped them your credit card.

6. This from my kid diary, June 3, 1985 (spelling errors intact): "We awoke around seven to get ready to leave and we left around 8. We were listening to one of my Beatles tapes and it was great. But, this wierd guy in a truck did something to Kathy that provoked her to shoot him the finger. This truck started following us at 85 miles per hour, easy. Really close. We sped up. It still followed. We finaly slowed to let him pass and the guy actually tried to bump at us as he passed! Well, we took down the licence number and tried to report him, but we weren’t successful. But, we didn’t get killed, so it’s alright."

7. She's the reason most of my life is what it is today. She sent me the CD of Rufus Wainwright's Poses, which led me to the Rufus Wainwright message board, which led me to hearing about an art show by an artist named Stephen O'Donnell, which led me to see the art show on a visit to Portland, which led me to write the artist a fan email, which led to an online friendship, which led me to visit Portland again to meet him, which also led me to meet Kathy's friend Steve Arndt, which led me to meet Tom Spanbauer and to learn about Dangerous Writing, all of which led me to move to Portland, marry Stephen, study writing under Tom, work for Powell's, dot, dot, dot. At our wedding we told a hopefully more truncated version of this story, and Stephen summed it up with: "No Kathy, no party."

8. Another moment from a kid diary, September 1, 1985: "Last night, we went over to Kathy & Mike’s to see them for dinner. Fred cooked beans and rice. After dinner, Edina and I had a great talk with Kathy. All about life and morals and philosophies, and friends, juicy things like that. A really spicy conversation."

9. She had a great eye. In the last years, she got really into art, doing lots of lovely sketches and paintings. Earlier in her life, she made her own darkroom and took and developed really great pictures.

10. When she broke her hip and was in the hospital for surgery, and I offered to go get her some supplies like pillow, brush, iPod, she asked me to sneak her in some weed.

11. She was endlessly generous, supporting so many people in so many ways. Friends, family, houseless folks, many different organizations. She was for years the sponsor of the Burnt Tongue reading series and the Portland Writers Picnic.

12. She really rocked that pink hair.


  1. This is wonderful Gigi. Thanks so much for posting it. I knew some of this, but learned a great deal more. I particularly loved the long and winding road that led you to Portland, marriage, etc.

  2. LoVeAllways Pinkalicious

  3. ❤️❤️❤️

  4. So wonderful to read these reminiscences, Gigi! The highway story is classic Kathleen!!!

  5. Thank you for posting this and Happy Birthday, Kat! I loved her so much and she was and always will be such a huge spark in my life. Love to you all.

  6. Love this, Gi. Perfect.