With the evolution of Squid Art well established that began with the holiday cards, the trend continued with my new cats, Mango & Bubbles being incorporated into the holiday scenes. In carrying on with the tradition set in the original "Squidmas" cards, my current cats are always put in an international location -- someplace I'd visited during that year. When Peaches joined the family we of course made room for her in the cards.
Bubbles and Mango made their debut in the Christmas 2001 holiday card.
Squid is also lovingly commemorated in a stamp, which is planned to be a continuing series.
Bubbles is my shy little tabby. She chatters back when you say her name and she comes running over if you say, "bug!" to see what tiny insect is there for her to devour.
Mango shares the same birthday as Squid, which is a strange coincidence. He's just such an Abyssinian - 'nuff said!
Peaches joined our household in mid-2002, so there was plenty of time to plan her debut in the annual Christmas card. She was welcomed pretty readily by Mango as a new member of the family. Bubbles had more issues about HER territory being invaded once again. But since Mango liked Peaches almost immediately, Bubbles went along rather soon.
After making a couple of trips to Italy within a year I had fun photos in lots of picturesque spots. I thought a wintery scene at Pisa would make a festive card and provided plenty of room to fit in the three cats.
For Christmas 2003 a departure was taken from the traditional international settings.
This card was inspired by the bizarre contorted position Bubbles is in. She actually slept very comfortably like that for hours on a chair one day when I took this photograph - which is titled "Twisty Bubble".
Her passed-out drunk look created a center piece to use with this giant martini glass image. This evolved into the idea that this card would be not only suited for a Christmas greeting, but New Years as well.
Bubbles is depicted as the party gal who has celebrated a bit too much, Mango looks ready for the new year.
Peaches embodies the holiday spirit wearing her Santa hat in the tiny winter scene.
In spring of 2004 I enjoyed a trip to Switzerland, France and Monte Carlo.
The whole idea came from deciding to spend my birthday in Paris. Unfortunately, the Aadvantage miles I wanted to use to get a free round-trip, had black out dates in May, so I ended up being back home by the time it was my birthday.
I did an unofficial celebration in Paris. The trip was a lot of fun. I only wish Bubbles, Mango & Peaches could have been there to enjoy it - - especially the yummie food and wines (that would be Peaches).
I decided the best Christmas card for that year would be all of us in front of Paris' best landmark, the Eiffel Tower.
Since 2005 was my India trip and the only picture I thought could work well for a Christmas card backdrop was the Taj Mahal, I chose to not do the "international" theme.
Who even knows what a cat done up as a stegosaurus has to do with the holidays, but the idea seemed fun and it turned out festive enough...
If any of my cats could be compared least to a dinosaur, it's definitely Bubbles, who is quite shy and not remotely a "Stega-Bubbles" monster!
In August of 2006 I visited my cousins in Holland. My other cousins from Australia and South Africa met up there too - so we had a wonderful family reunion of all of us from the same generation on that side of the family.
The background image of this card was taken one afternoon as we strolled through Amsterdam on the way back to the train station.
The lovely Dutch houses are so pefectly lit in the afternoon sunlight.
The challenge was how to add myself and the cats into the picture.
Luckily I had a good image of a boat which fit perfectly into the scene. I ended up needing two boats, since there was no way all of us and the Christmas goodies would have fit into one.
In 2010 I went to East Africa with 5 friends and traveled through the game reserves in southern Kenya and northen Tanzania.
We got incredible photos of lions, leopards, elephants, rhinos, giraffes and most of the popular species of African wildlife -- even some seldom seen animals like a caracal and serval.
The last day in Masai Mara, where it was our last chance to see cheetah (our next stop was Lake Nakuru, which has hundreds of thousands of falmingoes, but zero cheetahs) we went in search of one.
As luck would have it we found out about one that was resting on a termite mound just a short drive from our lodge. We hightailed it over there and spend the better part of an hour admiring this gorgeous cat.
As soon as I took this picture I had the idea for the Squidmas card!
In 2012 I went all over South Africa to the national parks and game reserves: Kruger Park, Mjejane Game Reserve, Pilanesburg National Park & Madikwe Game Reserve.
All were wonderful places with incredible game sightings -- like over 30 rhinos in one day at Pilanesburg. Also some more rare animals such as wild dog and brown hyenas.
I thought this baby zebra was especially cute and the dusty clay-like earth is so light it almost looks like snow! It worked well for this year's card.
In November of 2009 I visited my cousins in South Africa.
I flew to Johannesburg and then drove with them to the Kruger Park game reserve, where they own homes just outside the park on private reserves on the southern end near Crocodile Bridge and midway up the west border near Phalaborwha.
Every day we saw lots of wildlife and birds, since it was nearly summer. In between the game reserve visits we crossed the border into Mozambique, stopping for lunch in Maputo at the famous Costa Del Sol restaurant overlooking the Indian Ocean.
Following lunch we drove up to Xai-Xai, which has beautiful isoated beaches and stayed at the beach house there for a few days before going back to South Africa for more days in the Kruger.
This picture was taken on a morning walk on the beach before anybody else was there. Mango & Bubbles would have liked it too, I'm sure!
Sadly, Peaches passed away in March. She is missed in this holiday card.
Having visited northern Tanzania on several occaisions I was always curious about the national parks and game reserves in the south.
Since my cousin in South Africa planned a huge birthday celebration, I decided that was a perfect opportunity to add a safari to southern Tanzania and Zanzibar.
The trip was great - especially since there are far fewer tourists in that part of the country. There were days when we wouldn't see another vehicle for hours. It was a great feeling to have the whole place to yourself.
The picture for the Squidmas card was picked out of quite a few possibilities. I loved the scrawny little tree that was just begging to have ornaments added to it. Plus I hadn't done a card featuring a giraffe.
I visited Africa twice in 2013. In February I went to the southern part of the Serengeti for the birth of the wildebeest which happens at the end of their migration cycle. In addition to the Serengeti & Ndutu areas, I went to other parks in the north: Tarangire, Lake Manyara & Ngorongoro Crater. Then flew to the south and stayed at Katavi & Ruaha before finishing the trip in Zanzibar.
I went to South Africa in June to spend a few days at the Black Rhino Game Reserve in Pilanesburg National Park and also spent some time visiting my cousins and friends there. Then I joined a group of photographers for an extensive trip all over Namibia. This very friendly Cheetah, was at a wildlife sanctuary we stayed at for a few days.