Friday, January 06, 2012

I'm probably going to hell via the karma of pedantry

"I'm probably going to hell via the karma of pedantry, or at least end up 'tarred & feathered' {wink}." - Howard Ish

Howard was kinda like that crazy uncle we all know of.  I would be hard pressed to find or hear tell of someone that could match him. Eccentric is not enough to describe him, besides I think you need to be rich to be eccentric, poor folks like Howard are bat shit crazy!

A few years ago he moved to a house built for and by other fae boys. His father passed away and left Howard enough to get a car and house. Shortly after the sale of the house closed Howard got very sick.  I took him to his doctor in Kingston, whom immediately called the hospital.  He was in there in a flash, albeit he insisted on stopping to mail some bookkeeping stuff  and post cards.  He was insistent. Here I was with a guy the doctor said had to be in emergency asap and he wants to mail a postcard. Everything had stamps on them.  The irony was one of the post cards was sent to me.  I didn't know that at the time.

Jules, bless him, looked after many things for Howard after he got his house. The Patron Saint of Fae ones in need you are Jules.  Howard was in hospital for a week and Jules asked me if I would like to go down and visit and help Howard pack up his ChatchKas.  He has so many!

Jules and I drove down and this is the result of our visit...  Check out the video, Howard loved it.  After leaving Howard that night, we drove back to MacDonald's Corners.  It was after ten that evening and found we had no wine.  I had beer at the Land, alas Jules wanted wine.  Out of the blue, (Jules is going to kill me for this story) Jules said, "you know, I bet Howard still has some wine."  He was saying it shyly, not wanting to completely admit we were so desperate as to check Howard's place for wine.  "It's Kelly's," I added, "it's fortified."

"what the heck, lets go, I said to Jules. Now I had let him off the hook, It was me that said okay!  We got in the car and headed to Howie's Chatchkas palace.  Once inside, we found the Kelly's, a whole unopened bottle. (How lucky was that!)   I grabbed a cider from the fridge. It was like being in high school.  We laughed at ourselves, all the while clutching the bottle of Kelly's.  Back at Jules we sat outside and savoured the sweet Kelly's wine.  (I added water to mine, but Jules was tough, he drank it straight up).

I often picked Howard up in Perth or his house to bring him to the Land. He was always charming. Harmless really!  I would always give him a hug, pick up his bags, tent, sleeping bag and throw it in the truck. Then as I was doing it I would hear, "I can do that Ricky."  Almost always I would respond, "So can I, see Howard its in the truck." It was a game in a way. Howard was having a tough time of it. He couldn't move much faster than a turtle on the Lanark road.

At the Land, Howard would usually be the first one up after me, arriving at the Erection (Summer Kitchen folks, when you build something you are erecting!) about 6:30.  He would come in and see me. One look at me would tell him if I had my coffee and was ready for his renown waggishness!  He would get the old flower vase for water to drink out of. Fill it with ice cubes then after he settled at the end of the table, silently gathering the playing cards, positioning the salt bowl, he would start playing solitaire.  Not a word spoken between us.  Snap went the cards.  Snap, snap.  Chomp chomp went the ice.  He couldn't resist making his presence known. Finally, coffee brewed, we would move outside to the fire pit, me with my coffee and Howard with his fancy flame throwing lighter and pipe.

We would chat about lots of things.  He would entertain me.  I was a good listener, he liked that, he wanted to be liked, he tried so hard.  He made me laugh so many times. Irony was his forte. It could be about the news, or some happening at the gathering.  I have not met his equal in that department.  His quick turn of phrase was always on the mark, often irreverent, mostly  irreverent.

After moving to the country Howard often had appointments in Ottawa, He would stay at Pinkie and Roy's. He would have a a few glasses of wine, (Okay he had many). Pinkie would help Howard out and the next day Howard was still there.  It was funny, that weird Uncle thing again.  Howard would be off, back to his home.  

Howard of course had to survive in a redneck village. That did not deter him. I would often find him hitch hiking into Lanark,wearing a fur stole and Purple overcoat. I can only guess the reactions he received, yet he was able to get rides. Howard wore his life on his sleeves. He was out there and it worked.

Howard loved being a Canadian. He loved being a subject of Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth the Second. He was for a time a member of the Monarchist League of Canada. He took it seriously, trying to be more Canadian than the rest of us. He would always vote, and he voted in the US elections as well.  He hated George W Bush and Stephen Harper. He loved Bernie Sanders, the only socialist Senator in the US and a Vermontian.  He loved Vermont.

When he lived in Gananoque, he would hitch hike to Perth.  I or someone else would pick him up in Perth.  I always marvelled at how he managed to get rides. He looked kinda rough to me. He would hold up a sign that said "Harmless".  It worked.   Often at the end of the gathering, Chiplandia would load up all the beer cans and take Howard to the outskirts of Perth after cashing in the cans, handing Howard the money when he dropped him off.  Howard was struggling so it helped a little.

I will miss Howard, especially on those early mornings on the Land.  It was home to Howard.  It was his community. Howard was an important part of that community.  Below is a video of Howard singing "Run around Hugh" during one of our 'Know Talent Shows'.


Howard had many friends at the Land, aka AmberFox. Don was one of them who would stop and pick up Howard these last couple of years, run him home to get his meds, feed the cat and get another lighter because he lost the last Flame Thrower. This passed summer we heard from Howard's mother.  She had not heard from him in four or five days.  We checked the hospitals, all his friends and nothing. Don drove an hour down to Howard's and broke in through the Kitchen window. No Howard.  He was eventually found in hospital.  We were all concerned.  He was okay in the end and we rejoiced in that.

Howard, I will miss you. You lived it to the end.

3 comments:

Carl said...

Found this wonderful album with pictures of Howie:
https://picasaweb.google.com/howiesue

Ricky Barnes said...

thanks Carl. I will be doing a video of Howard for Victoria Day Weekend. These will help a lot. hugs xo

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