The enigma of the Lost Peacock

When migration instincts fail

I had awoken to a horrific sound.

Peacock.wavCall of Peacock. 20.80 sec.

It took me a few minutes to discern what { or who? } could emit such a disturbance. It was loud and it was nigh!

A few years earlier my neighbor owned a cockatoo which he took outside {with clipped wings no doubt} and allowed it to perch in the oak tree in the back lane. It screeched without restraint until the bird was finally taken indoors by it’s reviled owner.  But alas this was not the sound of any species remotely related to the cockatoo.

This, my friends was a peacock. A female peacock at that, as it had no superfluous plumage. It had a beautiful iridescent head, neck and and breast and was adorned with an ebullient sapphire blue, tiara. Its wings were very precisely like its cousin, the pheasant with a spattering of orange fringing the wing tips.

There  it was standing on my fence, just outside my bedroom window! and I was clever enough to grab my camera.

Through my bedroom window I saw the buxom varmint, and it seemed to be contemplating the potentiality of taking up residence in my garden! It looked as much in its element as out.

It screeched its plaintive ruckus for some time. It sounded worried.  It seemed to me, that  it was calling to its mate or compadre, or its sister or to any kindred, feathered spirit that was near. Although it is said that peacocks cannot fly, it sailed its way to my neighbors roof, then to mine, then to another and another, until the sound of its cries  had grown faint and phantasmal.

Before I went to work I called the Zoo. It was indeed an escapee. A jail-bird trying to make a better life for itself outside the confines of the park. They {the Zoo-keeper} seemed not be too distressed by my call, I think the peacocks of the Assiniboine Zoo  frequently bolt in the spring when something in the wind coerces them to become drifters. The last remnant of instinct inviting them to embrace liberty.

I recently churned out another screen print. For some strange reason birds and elephants seem to keep appearing in my drawings and prints and apparently they are a recurring theme in my imagination as well.

This regal bird found a pretty spot to roost n’est pas? It’s next perch could be at your house. Who knows.

“resplendent enigma”, ~ Silk Screen by Karin Aldinger ~ April 18, 2011


How to get inspired for a silk screen

Matriarch Promenade

Whether Asian (Elephas maximus indicus) or African (Loxodona africana) or forest elephant (loxodonta cyclotis)~ the presence of elephants on this earth fortifies. Long may they breathe and perambulate.

As I forged another silk screen last week, I realized I hadn’t stumbled upon my imagery for the print arbitrarily. I stopped to ponder how elephants had repeatedly been impacting my life. As I began committing my passion for elephants to writing, I determined that my  admiration for elephants had in fact been going on for decades!

When I was 9 years old, my parents, sister Erika and I went on a summer vacation in the ol’ Meteor. Our destination was the Rocky Mountains. We made a pit-stop in Calgary to look up my Papa’s school friend. As one of our sightseeing excursions, Mr. and Mrs. Weishaar recommended an afternoon foray to the Calgary Zoo. I was comci’ com ca about the idea, however when Mr. Weishaar explained there were giraffes to be ogled my interest was piqued.

As it turned out, the Zoo was indeed fantastic! however what made it truly remarkable was something no one had bargained for. A famous visitor had arrived at the Zoo! To my amazement the peregrine elephant from the T.V show Daktari was fortuitously featured as the star attraction. I got caught up in the frenzy for I must confess, I had been a huge fan of Daktari for at least 3 years.

(I’m not positive but Dr. Marshall Tracy might well be standing beside the aforementioned elephant in the picture above)

To my amazement my sister and I were generously offered an elephant ride by Mr. Weishaar (may I emphasis the ride did not come at a pittance, even in those days). As I looked into my parents insisting eyes, I can only describe my feelings as “farouche”.

My sister immediately refused the offer, as she was nearly 3 years older than I was, and it would have been utterly mortifying to her to sit on an elephant at age 13. Well that left me to stand in queue by my lonesome.  I couldn’t muster the bravado owing to the fact that my shyness was like a wet debilitating blanket. What I needed was a big heaping dose of  persuasion – however this was not what was being offered. In the end I feebly declined and my parents and the Weishaar’s could not hide that they were seriously disappointed in me.

I attempted to linger. Skulking for that last glimpse of what could have been. I espied the celebrity elephant flaunting her trunk to and fro as she dawdled off with screeching children on her on  glutus maximus. The grown-ups could not have known that “my dreams”  were those dashed that day.

I agonized over my mutton-head refusal for the weeks that followed. I kept envisioning myself mounted, on that elephant, waving to the envious crowd below, with the belief that I would have looked like a verifiable deity astride that elephant. I scarcely survived my disappointment for the rest of the vacation. I had my indecision and disabling shyness to blame for the shattered scheme.

My obsession for elephants did not end here.

When my daughters were 2 and 5 years old,  I made certain they too become acquainted with an eminent  Elephantidae family – namely the Babar family. We watched the t.v. show  assiduously (all three of us when possible) when ever scheduled on CBC. We indulged ourselves the dream elephant living in harmony with people. We derived obsequious enjoyment from the animated series.

“That evening after dinner Babar tells the Old Lady’s friends about his life in the great forest”

I moved to The Republic of Maldives in 1999 with my husband and our two children. While there I read a great deal. One of the most enjoyable reads at that time was “The White Bone” by Barbara Gowdy. Gowdy describes the complex culture of elephants, seen through their eyes, mind and perspective. The elephants are given a unique narrative voice throughout their lurid journey which could more aptly be characterized as an exile.

After reading this novel with cosmic fervor, it seemed only natural that my life journey would draw me towards the Asian elephants of Sri Lanka since my proximity to them was merely a stone’s throw from Maldives. The day I finished the book I knew that I would always stay irrevocably connected to elephants.

By Barbara Gowdy

As fate would have it, in 2000 I found myself  gazing incredulously at the elephants in the Elephant Orphanage in Pinnewalle, Sri Lanka. I seriously thought I’d reached my very own, exclusive nirvana. We observed each elephant’s personal history with deference, for here at the orphanage they had at last each reached a safe refuge from either torment, abuse or neglect.

While in Sri Lanka we went on an elephant safari in Habarana. It was dare I say, tons of fun. This time my entire family shared the adventure of an elephant ride. The elephant negotiated a river, a dense tropical forest and jungle-like terrain  (as seen in the photo below). It was my childhood dream, come true at last!

I felt once and for all domiciled in the beautiful “kingdom” of Sri Lanka. The jewel of India could have easily become my safe haven in much the same way as it had for the elephants there.

My travels have endowed me with many elephant artifacts. They are cogent sentinels throughout my home and they seem to emanate prudence and balance.

Elephants evince power and determination, represent perseverance and epitomize  arduous labor. More profoundly they symbolize dignity. Theyhave a very long life span and their wisdom and understanding of mortality continues to mystify humans. Many years ago I watching a true story of Echo the African bush elephant on BBC . I felt a deep compassion for the matriarchal society in a land so vast and beautiful yet savagely harsh. A heartbreaking and heart-strengthening story to be sure. I first watched Echo being born in 1973 and a few months ago I happened to watch the final segment of Echo’s Life on BBC. If you ever have the opportunity to view any of the broadcasts please do so. It is oftentimes a sorrowful story but in the end culminates into a truly magnificent chronicle.

Buddhists believe the elephant symbolizes strength. Indeed they exhibit the noble gentleness and calm majesty of one who is on the path of enlightenment.

Ergo the vignette of the bird atop an elephant in my silkscreen, I envisage their stroll to be a parade though their parallel dominions, each protecting their contiguous latitudes. The silk screen of a bird perched atop elephant elucidate a peerless relationship between flight and stability. The bird who has the gift of flight and is the paradigm of freedom, while the elephant represents durability and stability and is the acumen of permanence. The bird is a hegira master juxtaposed atop the elephant, who is bound to endure the perils proffered by nature.

Despite their opposing idiosyncrasies, a  significant bond exists between bird and elephant. Here their wisdom fuses and they manifest an unlikely paradox.

“Elephant ride”, Silk Screen ~  Karin Aldinger ~ April 4, 2011

Impressions of Spring

Spring is escorted in by the fervent Robin.

Her gallant efforts to build her nest and then the endowment of the remarkable eggs!

“Robin’s pride” – silk screen/ Karin Aldinger. March 21, 2011

Slow Spring

by Katharine Tynan

O year, grow slowly. Exquisite, holy,
The days go on
With almonds showing the pink stars blowing
And birds in the dawn.

Grow slowly, year, like a child that is dear,
Or a lamb that is mild,
By little steps, and by little skips,
Like a lamb or a child.

My road is paved in yarn intentions

Wool slaves unite!

We knitters live in a mare’s nest. It’s safe to say knitters know the following scenario by wrote: “Knitters are wool gluttons and project-aholics.” Enticed by yarn and armed with ambition, the determination to perpetually hunt for patterns and wool is a fundamental trait we must bear.  Then a few mistakes, like miscounted stitches, or dropped stitches, are discovered and the wheels of progress come grinding to a halt. All of a sudden the knitting project gets pitched into a bag, or a basket. As usual life gets in between – we move on.

Then the call starts again. A fresh skein of wool impetuously beckons and charms you. You glance guiltily over at the socks or hat you’ve been working on but the luster has faded.  You’ve been seized by another knitting project. You make a flimsy promise to finish the socks or the scarf or the sweater however out of sight is out of mind.

You give yourself a short lecture on the detriments of procrastination and living the life of denial. But it’s old and you know how to skirt the issue by becoming subsumed in the new skein of wool.

Here are some updates. I  feel as though I am defeating the beast of abeyance. Take a gander at the inroads I’m making on the knitting/printing front.

I’m trying to adopt a “no regrets-no apologies philosophy”. Somethings gotta give.

1. Silk Sleeves – finished knitting these last week. The last act will be to sew up the seams. The finishing segment requires extra patience and should not be hurried.

2. Socks – I had been attending a knitting class to learn how to knit socks. What I hadn’t paid attention to was that the Wednesday night  Sock Class would conflict with Lent. Holden Evening Service is a Lenten Service I try to attend so the socks, or rather the sock class is now a no-show for me. You are supposed to give something up for Lent – perhaps the sock class is what I have to give up. To clarify I am not giving up knitting. No sirree bub. On the list are chocolate, wine and swearing. I’m no saint when it comes to giving up these ghosts. When a birthday lands in the middle of Lent you fall hard off the wagon. Currently I’m kicking up my heels, the heel and foot of the sock are temporarily postponed. Please stand by.

3. Capelet for baby – just couldn’t resist starting yet another ! knitting project. Taken from: Onemoreskein 30 Quick Projects to knit by Leigh Radford. I am in the mood to knit for babies again. Spring to me means babies! and fetching outfits.

4. Silk Screening – Here’s an illustration for a silk screen I’m working on at Martha Street Studio. This week the 4th and last colour will be screened on. Below is the rendering for the print. I’m really buzzed to be printing again!

Glints of Prints

Laconic Effigies

I recently came across some prints i made when i was in Art School. Although the photo’s are quite amateur, they still offer a reasonable delineation of the originals. These prints assert the allure and fascination i experienced working in the print room. The ebony ink aptly captures these laconic effigies. These images are from a previous thought process but retain a timelessness.

Art School

“In the kitchen at 877”  A Lithograph by Karin Aldinger – March 1985










“Thalia – A Muse’s Reverie” by Karin Aldinger

March 1985 – Etching / Monoprint

“Surfacing Umbra”  A Lithograph by Karin Aldinger – September 1984









“Not too far the distance …. ” An Etching by Karin Aldinger – 1985