Dr. D. Richard Clews, my Dad

Tonight, for no reason, and not something I have ever done before, he died well before the Internet age, I Googled my Dad. He died in 1984. I discovered some his books are still referenced in an obscure library or so - - not that we knew - he was well-published but never boasted except to say to me once, after your 30th article, who's counting, and who cares? When he mentioned an article he had written for Time Magazine, we went a little crazy, 'Where is it?' 'Why didn't you tell us?', and he simply shrugged, saying he'd written articles for Time before.

It could have been that he simply kept his professional life separate from his family life.

Tonight, on the eve of my mother's passing (whenever it is, a week, a month, a year), I also found an old obituary on his death. It wasn't until after he died reading all the obituaries sent to us from friends and colleagues of his that we realized he was considered a world authority in his field. We knew little of this side of him.

I am unable to paste in the obituary due to the lettering and spacing of the original, so I took a screen capture. I'm posting it in my blog, so that I can find it again.

Obituary in The Association of Exploration Geochemists, Newsletter #48, June 1984

Still damn proud of him.

testing a super easy way of embedding an MP3 player in Blogger with html5

A Palmistry, a Psalm: see previous post.
Background music by Aymeric, from their album on Jamendo, 'Sometimes,' cut 03.

just testing a super easy way of embedding a player in Blogger with html5, thanks
Amanda Kennedy!

A Palmistry of Signs

What do you think? I plan to write it into my painting. Once there, the words can't be changed.

A Palmistry, a Psalm

The hand is a poem. A fragmenting poem in my hand. Fingers blow in the wind like bulrushes. That gnarled branch overhanging the water, a twisted wrist. I wear a carpal bone like a pendulum, the rattle of Coatlique.

Our hands, neuronal cells pulsing nerves probing the world, soft, sensitive. In the signs in the lines on our palms a seer's language. Our journey mapped in grooves of curvature of skin over muscle and bone. Born here; die there. One, or two, or five central relationships. You will /or will not have children. This will be a difficult time; easier there. My, you are a sensualist.

They cut off the hands of thieves. Only I never stole. When was my hand severed? As a child? In the nightmare it is staked in the window, a sign for the henchmen of dictators, thieves of the freedom of souls. Herod's soldiers grabbing the first born; Nazi boots kicking down the doors of the Jews. Marked houses. Signs of those sacrificed on the altars of cruelties of power.

In my hand, you will find I've lived a clean life. Does this echo the ethical universe? Ethos is what enables order, harmony, beauty. This swollen and sore hand is emblazoned with 'the mark.'

I touch you, lying on the soft grasses of the riverbank, glide delicate fingers over your features, reading you, your body of braille. And massage you, warm oiled dance of fingertips and palm whorls penetrating knots, torments, memories. Even as my wrist flicks, and breaks.

My hand drifting downstream, decked in an Ophelia of lace and rings. Hold it; hold me.


I made a recording of the prose/poem, if you like to listen while you read.

(Background music by Aymeric, from their album on Jamendo, 'Sometimes,' cut 03.)


Some notes on writing process.

(Is this a defense of my style, or a rough explanation of my aesthetic?)

While I like to offer depth and complexity, for the record, I don't do 'stream of consciousness' - I've been working on this for a while, the images, the feelings, the meanings - even if it only took 20 or 30 minutes to write. Nothing comes out of a vacuum, and the semiotic undercurrent in our subconscious minds has not got the metaphoric order of a poem (or prose poem). I like to radiate out to divergent images, spark their neuronal connections, get the whole mind thinking, sometimes puzzled, sometimes recognizing. My poetry hopefully gives the reader a bit of a ride into an imaginative world, a ride that also offers exercise of those faculties of imagination, and the extraordinary ability we have to find meaning in divergent things. And be inspiring, of course. Emotionally, we are a very complex and nuanced species, and our emotional reactions and apperceptions cohere our lives. I like to tell it as it is, in all its paradoxes, ambiguities, irresolvable inconsistencies, its terrors and beauties - this is life, how we live.

A Palmistry (in process)

Finally working on a new painting.

A hand, yes. My current 'hand crisis' is what I think I was doing, but then the disembodied quality of the hand made me think of a nightmare long ago, of the strangenesses of our lives, which are like intersecting arcs.

These paintings are becoming a style, I guess. I work from the imagination. When I sit down I have no idea what will emerge. It's scary! Let it be messy. Yikes! Don't over-work and the way to do this is to be fast. Shivers! Just dive in. Though there is a sort of representation of my hand because it's very much a focus now. So is a psychic I saw around the time of the nightmare - a Wiccan witch from Northern Ireland who really was the real deal - who read palms.

Because of the the complex cluster of images that this painting is drawing about itself, I decided to call it, A Palmistry.

Palmistry is a way of reading the life of the person whose palm it is.

The dream, dated June 2, 1980, was quite long, and went on to become much more scary than the beginning, the part about the hand (which is all I'll relate):
There was a darkness outside, pushing in. 'S' was here, and entertaining as always, but aware of the ominousness. He went to the bathroom and when he came out he said that there was a hand on the windowsill with a note beside it (he told me what it said but I can't remember now). I shucked it off, asked if it was an effigy and he said no, it was a real hand. I knew it was a child's hand and had been deliberately severed. I could not go and look at it directly but could only think what poor child in this dear world had been sacrificed. I thought it the work of a demonic cult, and that, like marks on houses, of the first-born to be killed by Pontious Pilate in the Roman era, or the Jews during Nazi Germany, this was a mark that was a warning. I could not consider it a symbol, for it was a real hand from a real child. I saw it clearly in my mind's eye throughout the dream. I could not step into that room, however, and see the hand in flesh and blood as a sign in the window. I could not have borne it - a child of maybe 4 - unbearable. Perhaps it was my own hand.
....The sign of the hand - I was already becoming disoriented and couldn't perceive the situation clearly. I tried to calm 'S' as best I could in my state - my senses were being scattered and broken up....The blackness all around us was growing. The atmospheric temperature was dead still, enclosing, pressing against my home. I tried to stand. All I could see were sections of the visual world - a plane of darkly embroidered fabric in the air, and nothing else. Or a distortion of furniture. Memory told me where to stand for my senses were turning the world into a 3-dimensional Cubist picture that did not have coherence. The world of time and space and the way the senses order it was shot to hell. I could barely negotiate my way around and could not think with any clarity....It was like seeing the world through a crystal prism, darkly....Other dimensions could enter.
My intention had been to write some of the text of the original dream onto the canvas, but... I'll see. It is most strange that with my SLAC wrist and the recommended removal of the scaphoid bone and the fusing of the other bones in the hand with bone taken from elsewhere in the body that I find this old dream re-surfacing.

Can my painting move beyond my immediate concerns to connect with the strangeness of hands, all hands? Look, those red dredges of oil pastel running from her neck and down are not blood, but were meant to represent a red striped top. Lol.

"A Palmistry (in process)", 2012, Brenda Clews,18" x 24", charcoal, oils, oil pastels, oil sticks on triple-primed cotton canvas sheet.

 on the easel

 earlier stage
Comments (1)

Abdominal Strengthening Yoga

This morning my right knee was a little out, so I decided not to do a yoga set that required sitting in semi-lotus (though semi-lotus is my absolute favourite way to sit, hands down, anywhere, anytime).

A very nice kriya, or yoga set, that works the abdominal muscles. Sleek, simple, effective. It is a fairly rigorous set, though, so unless you are in good shape, do it half time (each exercise exactly half) - 1 minute, instead of two - and make sure to rest a minute between exercises. Also, go at your own pace. It is okay to stop a moment to give those 'unworked' abdominals a rest, and then continue for the remainder of the time.

I find either the timer or the stop watch on my iPhone is a terrific way to time the exercises. That's nowadays - watching the second hand on a clock worked real well when I first began teaching yoga.

Yogi Bhajan's yoga is very structured. It is important to do all of the exercises, and for the time specified (or all for half the time or a third, just be consistent). In all the years I have done Kundalini Yoga, I have never had a 'bad Kundalini' experience, nor have I heard about this happening from any of the other Kundalini Yoga instructors that I know. Yogi Bhajan's kriyas are balanced and will help to energize you without causing the sorts of problems we have all heard about Kundalini rising in those who are unprepared for it.

Abdominal Strengthening Yoga

because I should include this when I post yoga sets

Note: Scans of these yoga kriyas and meditations have been uploaded to an unlisted album in Picasa and cannot be found by public search engines, but only if you have the link (which is available from this blog). I have begun this album so that I can easily access yoga sets and meditations I am working on. Also, all of the yoga sets in this album were given to me when I attended yoga classes and to everyone attending those sessions (or from freely downloadable on-line sources)  - they are not scanned from books, which hold copyright. 

If you find these sets and meditations intriguing and try them and like them, I urge you to find a Kundalini Yoga class in your area to properly learn how to do them, as well as how to tune in, the Bhandas, or body locks, the different types of breath work, and so very much more.

Passing the Cemetery in a Train 28 Years Later

throw yellow roses
on your coffin, long, smooth, polished sheen
              maple, insignia
of the country we have come to

throw yellow roses
on your coffin

you, dead inside
you, body


throw long-stemmed
roses, fresh, soft perfect petals, sun bright

on your coffin

as it slides
into the fires

             as if death
             were a passion

of the flame

In memory of my father,
Dr. D. Richard Clews, 1922-1984

Written in Toronto, May 25, 2012

single yellow rose
image thanks to Corrie Barklimore on Flickr

Understanding deep-rooted conflicts in other countries

One of the best ways to understand the deep-rooted conflicts in another country that has descended into near or full civil war is to talk to someone from that country. This morning I had a long talk with the cashier at my local drug store, who has been in Canada since 1989, and has not been back to Syria since 1991, but whose three brothers and their families still live in Syria.

News reports focus on the fighting, the atrocities, the declarations by each warring faction. She described, rather, a situation that has been building for a decade, and it certainly helped me to better understand what Syria is dealing with now. She and her three sisters left Syria in the late-80s since they are Christian and their parents deemed Canada safer. The remaining family lives in the north, away from the areas of worst conflict. She is extremely worried for her brothers - the airports have been closed, and the phone lines have been cut so she hasn't spoken to any of her family there in the past few days.

She describes the problem in Syria as a long term infiltration of terrorists who have been building support and smuggling in what are now arsenals of weapons undercover. In her view, those terrorists come from Muslim countries, or are backed by them. The situation is more complex though. Is it simply Muslim and Christian at war? No, she says. Muslims and Christians have lived peacefully in Syria for many years. It's not that, it's power. Kofi Anannan's pull-out from a peace-keeping mission attests to how hopelessly complex the situation is, and how impossible reconciliation is presently, and, more accusingly, what a mess the UN Security Council is.

I read a lot of news. Maybe 5-10 on-line newspapers a day. Yet I often find with areas of conflagration in other parts of the world that are alien to me, like Syria presently, that articles focus on the immediate atrocity, battle, tragedy, without enough background. Articles that attempt to explain background tend to be biased and very long winded.

Talking to someone whose roots are deeply embedded in a country, in this case a Syrian, is the best way to understand the history that's led to the current crisis, and to get a sense of the oppositions that have broken out into war not just through their eyes, but in their worried, scared, or angry emotional responses.

Wrung Wrist

I saw a surgeon this morning. What he recommends, and he explained it very well, is to surgically remove the scaphoid bone in my left wrist, and to take some bone from elsewhere in my body to fuse the other four bones there so they, uh, don't fall into the chasm. The gap would fill with scar tissue. This operation would not give me more mobility than I have now in that hand, but the pain would be gone. Basically, the fracture in the scaphoid bone was not detected and did not heal properly, and has not only pushed all the other bones out of alignment but with two torn tendons and a huge reduction in cartilage, things are grinding painfully against each other. SLAC wrist is what he called it. I did this drawing some weeks ago - it's of the palm side of the wrist - and just pencilled in the scaphoid bone. Likely, I will get it done. Two months in a cast; three months of physiotherapy. Why am I sharing? Because I'm going kind of crazy at the moment.

other notes: I am right-handed, and the 'wrist damaged beyond repair' (the Rehabilitation Doctor's assessment, another specialist I saw a month ago) is my left wrist. Don't worry - doesn't affect my painting hand!

On this wrist, really I have done no meditation - self-healing is a lot of work I thought I'd let the doctors handle it. Look where it's landed me. ::laughs:: The surgeon is at a large downtown teaching hospital and was teaching two Interns during the appointment, which always makes me feel that I'm getting good medical care. He also edits a medical journal, so I'm going to see if I can track down any of his articles. He's an Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto, and Head of the Hand Department there. He is in his 50s, or perhaps 60s, so well experienced - he said he'd done hundreds of these operations. He seemed quite brilliant, actually. Hopefully all a good sign for letting someone slice into your wrist. :)

The wrung wrist has been on-going. The doctor estimated that this has been escalating since 2006 - he was really speaking to the Interns - and he's right but how'd he know that? Doctors have some magical knowledge sometimes, and afterall, I think. :)

We shall rise out of the ashes of our bones and live yet again!

Still, I work on this little drawing. Charcoal on primed canvas sheet, 18" x 22". I am considering writing a text into it, the lines perhaps radiating out like sunbeams from the centre of the left-hand side. The last lines would be written across the bottom. And then I was thinking of drawing roses in charcoal between the figures and lightly colouring them pink, but ....

What do you think? I suppose it seems somewhat interesting, but you'd need to see it finished to comment. I understand. This is also a place for me to formulate ideas. The text is a very old one of mine - turned into prose poetry here - the result of a number of years of intense academic work on a multi-disciplinary thesis on light that I didn't complete due to my father's death and having to take over his businesses, and then starting a family, you know how it is.

The text:

Dazzling darkness. The black light of the midnight sun. Ambiguity, contradiction, dynamic fusion of opposites. That particular blend of bright darkness, of illuminated shadows, of the effluviated traces of consciousness irradiating the unconscious. Light defined not by its opposite but with its opposite. Where the extremes of the spectrum meet. The single and plural moment of the continuum in its static flux. Intermeshed. Distinct. A flowing gold in the blackness. Edges and surfaces and depths. A sounding of light. Identity in combination.

Visionary light.

Conscious life in the universe exists to bring the universe to consciousness of itself. Collapse this post


Green Energy Yoga

Since earlier this month, when I woke with a sore back, I have done a spinal flex yoga set every single morning without fail. My back is, of course, much better. It has also helped to boost my energy.

Today I felt like moving on to a more rigorous set. But I have a badly injured left wrist. This occurred last November, and it took me a long time to seek medical help. When I did, the news was not good. An untreated broken bone that didn't heal properly and pushed all the other bones out of alignment, two utterly torn tendons, multiple tears in the ligaments, an inflamed major nerve, edema in the bone marrow, and so on. If I go by the dire results of the MRI, what my family doctor says, and then what the specialist rehabilitation doctor said, my poor wrist is irreversibly damaged. My doctor actually recommended I apply for ODSP since the range of work I can now do is severely limited. Next week I have an appointment with a surgeon. I have, as you can imagine, been quite depressed by the spectre of what an injury like this can do.

I mention this not to garner sympathy but to offer some background to the 'warehouse of worry' I often lie awake with and which sometimes sends me spinning into hours of tears and deep anxiety during the day.

Yoga can't fix anything, but it can give an hour or two of respite from the stresses we all and in our own ways deal with in our lives. Perhaps that hour or so can spread out to other parts of a life and help to make it all easier. Let's not make mega claims, though. Yoga is do-able exercise that is quiet, contained and easy, and any type of exercise is good.

Spinal Flex is my favourite set, and I intend to keep doing it a few mornings a week. My second favourite Kundalini Yoga set is the Opportunity and Green Energy Set. It is a fairly advanced set, yes, but the ending of it, with the gratitude and generosity, and the green energy (yes, it so fits with my Green Fire project), wow. Think the energy of Nature, heart, healing. The Opportunity and Green Energy Set exercises your body in unique ways, and opens you to an emotional generosity. It is a prosperity set, and so I paired it with a wild little meditation I found tucked away in my numerous xeroxed binders (a whole shelf load of papers) of kriyas and meditations. It is called, Meditation For Prosperity, Fulfillment and Success.

Because I can't use my left wrist in any supportive way, I had to come up with another way to do the 2nd exercise in the kriya, the 'body drops.' I could have skipped that exercise, or tried it in a one-handed bandito style. But my small milking stool (the one I put a fan on when I do yoga) with a couch cushion on it is exactly the right height for my elbow. The Rehab doctor said carrying groceries in a bag hanging from my left elbow was fine, so, ergo, lifting myself from my elbow is also fine. My wrist rested throughout the exercise. I had a little trouble holding my left toe with my left hand in the 5th exercise, the 'Kundalini Lotus,' but managed by using the two fingers furthest from the injured area in the lightest way I could. I had to be careful during the 10th exercises, 'Cosmic Connections,' and hold my left wrist very lightly in position. I managed carefully to do the whole yoga set, and honestly, my wrist is hurting far more with the slow typing of this entry, which I have to take frequent stops from, than it did during the yoga.

The basic rule with yoga is if it hurts, stop. Never push yourself if it hurts. Listen to your body. Pain is there for a reason, and respect the limits it places on your capabilities. Tomorrow you can always push a tiny bit more and thus begin to increase what you are physically capable of.

Other than making minor adjustments to some of the exercises to ease any potential stress on my wrist, I found the set invigorating, and by the end of the workout, simply delightful - truly uplifting and joyful.

And the best? Having done this set 12 hours ago, I'm still feeling the wonderful vibes.

Opportunity and Green Energy Set

Meditation For Prosperity, Fulfillment and Success

Because I think I should always add this when I post yoga sets.

Note: Scans of these yoga kriyas and meditations have been uploaded to an unlisted album in Picasa and cannot be found by public search engines, but only if you have the link (which is available from this blog). I have begun this album so that I can easily access yoga sets and meditations I am working on.

If you find these sets and meditations intriguing and try them and like them, I urge you to find a Kundalini yoga class in your area to properly learn how to do them, as well as how to tune in, the Bhandas, or body locks, the different types of breath work, and so very much more.
Jun 2024
Apr 2024
Aug 2023
Oct 2022
May 2022
Oct 2021
Sep 2021
Jul 2021
May 2021
Jan 2021
Oct 2020
Aug 2020
Jul 2020
Jun 2020
May 2020
Dec 2019
Sep 2019
Aug 2019
Jul 2019
May 2019
Apr 2019
Feb 2019
Jan 2019
Nov 2018
Sep 2018
Aug 2018
Jul 2018
May 2018
Apr 2018
Mar 2018
Feb 2018
Jan 2018
Dec 2017
Nov 2017
Oct 2017
Sep 2017
Aug 2017
Jul 2017
Jun 2017
May 2017
Apr 2017
Mar 2017
Feb 2017
Jan 2017
Dec 2016
Nov 2016
Oct 2016
Sep 2016
Aug 2016
Jul 2016
Jun 2016
May 2016
Apr 2016
Mar 2016
Feb 2016
Jan 2016
Dec 2015
Nov 2015
Oct 2015
Sep 2015
Aug 2015
Jul 2015
Jun 2015
May 2015
Apr 2015
Mar 2015
Feb 2015
Jan 2015
Dec 2014
Nov 2014
Oct 2014
Sep 2014
Aug 2014
Jul 2014
Jun 2014
May 2014
Apr 2014
Mar 2014
Feb 2014
Jan 2014
Dec 2013
Nov 2013
Oct 2013
Sep 2013
Aug 2013
Jul 2013
Jun 2013
May 2013
Apr 2013
Mar 2013
Feb 2013
Jan 2013
Dec 2012
Nov 2012
Oct 2012
Sep 2012
Aug 2012
Jul 2012
Jun 2012
May 2012
Apr 2012
Mar 2012
Feb 2012
Jan 2012
Dec 2011
Nov 2011
Oct 2011
Sep 2011
Aug 2011
Jul 2011
Jun 2011
May 2011
Apr 2011
Mar 2011
Feb 2011
Jan 2011
Dec 2010
Nov 2010
Oct 2010
Sep 2010
Aug 2010
Jul 2010
Jun 2010
May 2010
Apr 2010
Mar 2010
Feb 2010
Jan 2010
Dec 2009
Nov 2009
Oct 2009
Sep 2009
Aug 2009
Jul 2009
Jun 2009
May 2009
Apr 2009
Mar 2009
Feb 2009
Jan 2009
Dec 2008
Nov 2008
Oct 2008
Sep 2008
Aug 2008
Jul 2008
Jun 2008
May 2008
Apr 2008
Mar 2008
Feb 2008
Jan 2008
Dec 2007
Nov 2007
Oct 2007
Sep 2007
Aug 2007
Jul 2007
Jun 2007
May 2007
Apr 2007
Mar 2007
Feb 2007
Jan 2007
Dec 2006
Nov 2006
Oct 2006
Sep 2006
Aug 2006
Jul 2006
Jun 2006
May 2006
Apr 2006
Mar 2006
Feb 2006
Jan 2006
Dec 2005
Nov 2005
Oct 2005
Sep 2005
Aug 2005
Jul 2005
Jun 2005
May 2005
Apr 2005
Mar 2005
Feb 2005
Jan 2005
Sep 2004
Jun 2004
May 2004
Oct 2003
RSS Feed