As a vegan for the past 19 years, and an animal lover, it’s ironic how much chicken soup is in Diane Nicholson’s soul.
The local photographer and writer may not eat meat, or dairy, but she has had a number of her short stories published in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, which is part of a huge multi-media publishing house based out of Connecticut in the U.S., known for its inspirational and various themed books circulated around the world.
“Lynn Johnston (creator of For Better or For Worse) once said to me that Chicken Soup For the Soul wasn’t exactly a good title for a vegan to be in either,” laughed Nicholson, who raises horses and operates her Twin Hearts Photo Productions studio in Armstrong.
With eight stories already featured in other Chicken Soup books, Nicholson has two more to add to her growing list. Both were just published in the just released edition, Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Cat Did What?, which features stories from people in all walks of life who have found new meaning and joy in their lives by adopting and fostering cats.
In her one story, Good Vibrations, which features an introductory quote by Mark Twain, Nicholson writes the true story about Orion, a large orange and white tom cat she heard wailing in her barn one day.
After discovering the cat had two large abscesses on his leg, she nursed him by placing a poultice on his leg until he was healthy.
“Orion became the newest member of our family,” Nicholson writes.
Nicholson’s love for animals goes back to her days growing up in Oregon, where she was born. Even when her family moved to New York City, she always found ways to be near both her warm and cold-blooded friends.
“(I) could be found picking up worms in puddles and placing them in a safe area,” she said.
After spending a year in Berkeley, Calif., Nicholson moved to Vancouver, where she scored her dream job.
“I used to work at the Children’s Zoo in Stanley Park,” she said. “I have raised everything from owls and hawks to a seal pup and fawns, and of course, including the critters that everyone loves to hate like starlings and sea gulls.”
Nicholson continues to tend animals and recently released a sparrow she had raised for two months since it was nine days old.
Since moving to Armstrong with her husband, Harry, Nicholson has started a photographic practice, saying she learned the art by using her first Brownie camera at the age of six and honing her skills through the decades as technology in the industry advanced.
A long-time member of the Professional Photographers of Canada, Nicholson has won numerous awards for her work, many showing animals in both their natural state and with their human companions, as pets.
“Animals and their personalities –all animals including those we like to call food– are my inspiration. They inspire me daily with their humour, their patience and their love. And I don’t think a whole lot of the way we repay them, except for those select few that make it into loving homes,” she said.
Besides writing about and photographing her animal friends, Nicholson and Harry, who has just recovered from cancer, have embarked on a new past time, travelling the countryside by motorcycle.
Those travails will soon be published in her next story, The Thrill of the Ride, which will appear in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Finding Your Inner Strength, to be released in October.
“It’s about how Harry and I got back into life after his cancer, by getting back into motorcycle riding,” she said, adding, “We’re having a ball. I’ve had my license since I was 17 but we took time out to raise kids. Once they left, we got new bikes (Nicholson has a Honda Shadow Aero 750) and I’ve put on 11,000 kilometres this season so far.”
Nicholson will be riding into Vernon to sell and sign copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Cat Did What?, as well as Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Wonders of Winter, which also features one of her stories about a cat, at Pet Planet in the Vernon Square Plaza, Sept. 28 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
She will also be selling some of her poster prints, with part proceeds going to the new dog rescue group, Saving Grace.