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
My friend Howard passed away yesterday, he was 50...

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.


Eric said...

this is beautiful, Ricky!!!

Ricky Barnes said...

Thank you Eric.

Brian Duffy said...

Thank you Ricky, this was nice to read and its Howard to a T. I will miss him! Big Hugs Howie may you have fun at the Radical Faerie Gatherings in the Sky. Your Fae Brother Peaches. ox

sassy said...

After reading your post about Howard, I find myself missing a man I have never even met.

Condolences to his family, to you and, to his other friends

Love the Howie Sue video, what fun.

Anonymous said...

With tears welling, You have explained Howie-Sue better than I could ever imagine my doing. Howard seemed almost immortal on many occasions. Although his health was never good I somehow didn't think this would be the year for him to go. We'll all miss him dearly.


Ryan Jackson said...

Thanks Ricky!

This was a super-great article about Howard. He was very much the crazy uncle who we all laughed with and enjoyed all his quirks and shenanigans. Howard will definitely be missed. Now I'm the only person from Vermont at the gatherings. He was a wonderful and special person and your article really was a wonderful memory of him! Thanks!!


Ricky Barnes said...

Thanks Sassy. I'm happy to expose another to Howard.

zoom said...

I never had the pleasure of meeting Howard, but my brother Techwood told me a few stories over the years. He sounds like someone I would have enjoyed knowing.

Your tribute to him is lovely. It made me cry. I think you should submit it to the Ottawa Citizen's Life Story column. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/life/life-story/Life+Story+Your+tales+remembrance/2911039/story.html

jonjim1952 said...

Thanks Ricky. You shared quite a lot with these few paragraphs. Yes, the "loveable crazy uncle" is a nice shortcut description to such a full-on character.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ricky, Thanks for creating this. I knew Howard for 43 years. I don't have the time nor the phone numbers to call everyone under the sun who knew Howard. So thank goodness for facebook! God and the devil knows Howard had a lot of friends. He talked extensively with me about two weeks or so ago for about two hours on the phone. He cared deeply for so many friends yet feared he had been too sarcastic but couldn't help but be the wicked, sweet, brilliant wit he was. I miss him so already.

Colin (my brother) says Howard is probably having to choose whether he is getting a red or a white suit at this time, but I know Howard, he would want the blue suit, with the gold braiding, and the wings and the red pitch fork as well. And why not? If you are getting your just desserts all at once, why not have everything you ever wanted? Love and sunshine, Sybil sybilb46@yahoo.com (of course I am not 46, but I look good for my age!) a Howard comment)

Anonymous said...

Hi Rick,

I want to thank you for your beautiful post about Howard. I knew Howard when we were teenagers. He lived in Portland, Oregon for a brief time, and we met in high school. I was conducting an interview for a finance class. He told me his name was Bennett T. Kettle, age 16 and two months. (which was accurate since the interview took place in October). I asked him if he had a million dollars what he would do with it, and he replied in a fake British accent that he would put it into British pound sterling to help the mother economy. Even then he wanted to be a subject of the crown. I fell in love with him almost immediately which is why I can quote this verbatim (I listened to the tape for months) He didn't know he was gay, and was furious at some boys when I told him that they had called him a fairy. He figured it out much quicker than I did though. He loved Vermont and all things that had to do with Vermont, and so, I did too even though I had never been there. He introduced me to Robert Frost poetry, which I still love. He graduated as a junior and left high school and the state. He moved back to Vermont and sent me post cards, and I vowed that I would follow him. 7 years later, I finally did. It was while I was in Vermont that I found out that he was gay and had moved to San Francisco. I went to San Francisco and met him again. We guy watched in a park together. I have always feel that we were connected even though we didn't stay in touch. I felt that I could feel his energy in the world if I reached for it which I have done periodically throughout my life. I don't think anyone forgets their first love. A few months ago, I reached out for that energy, and it was gone. I got on line and found his obituary. I have been missing him ever since, but hadn't looked further until today.

Thank you for being his friend. Thank you for sharing these memories and pictures of him. They mean a great deal to me.

Laura Jabin