OCD House wren sparking joy

There is an unmistakable tone to the voice of someone who is about to share what I’ve come to call a “Sad Animal Story”. It’s regretful, a little hushed, and has a certain inexorable quality to it, as if it cannot be helped.

“No. Nope. Stop. That’s an SAS, isn’t it?” I’ll warn my husband, as he forgets who he’s talking to and attempts to begin one. I can spot an SAS at twenty paces, often on the first, plaintive, drawn-out syllable.

Last week found us sitting on our patio, enjoying the unfolding of spring all around us. Mark had been hanging more bird feeders and the yard was filled with the cacaphony of redwing blackbirds, goldfinches, magpies and doves. Added to the mix was the buzzing of very pissed-off house wrens, insectivores who were clearly disgusted by the seed-grubbing species fighting for…


At the tender age of 59, I’m a volunteer for a presidential campaign for the first time in my life. It’s changed how I view just about everything about the election.

I’m like an awful lot of women in this country. Not just other Democratic women, but like disaffected, demoralized (literally) Republican women, appalled Independents, and every strata in between.

I don’t have to depend on the media to tell me that all kinds of pissed-off women are coming for Donald Trump with the modern-day equivalent of pitchforks and torches. I know them. I’ve met them. I’m one of them…


Looking for a new New Year’s ritual? Try visiting a cemetery.

When I lived in California, on or around New Year’s Day, I often found myself hunched over a large piece of foam core, with a glue stick, a stack of magazines and a pair of scissors, creating a Vision Board. To it I would paste photos of that year’s dreamed-of vacation destination, a new piece of furniture, a gloriously impossible art studio and a gloriously impossible body. Spiritual goals were represented by dreamy photos of a sunrise or sunset (cue beach views, palm-tree silhouettes, and Oprah-esque exhortations written in wet sand.)

Then I would hang it up in my home…


A local deer hangin’ with Zorra the dog, watching golfers tee off in Genoa, Nevada.

The town I live in, just over the mountain from Lake Tahoe, is famous for three things: being the oldest “settlement” in Nevada, the Genoa Bar — a sort of alcoholic Disneyland — and deer. Yes, I know your town probably has deer, too, and they eat your roses. But the deer in Genoa, Nevada, are ungulates of a different color. Though that color is a sort of mousey taupe this time of year, don’t let the drab exterior fool you. The Genoa Deer are cloven-hoofed rock stars, and they know it.

Our tiny old-timey frontier town snuggles between two…


The Nevada State Fossil, ichthyosaurus

I lived on California’s Monterey Bay for nearly 40 years, within walking distance to the beach for half of it. When my husband first proposed a move east of the Sierra, I rejected it out of hand. Because…ocean.

Nevada doesn’t have one. At least, not right now. But Nevada had plenty of ocean once upon a time. Our state is chockablock with crazy fossils of critters that thrived here when the state’s flat, dusty, far-as-the-eye-can-see playas (a term introduced to the popular parlance by Burning Man) were the floors of vast inland seas. The official Nevada state fossil (yes, this…


Spot the real babies.

I had to fly this week, after a long hiatus. And something about it felt…weird.

On my return from Chicago, I had a layover at LAX (You Can’t Get There from Here is the Reno-Tahoe tagline.) And I finally put my finger on it.

I’d voluntarily gotten into yet another line to purchase a healthy lunch at Urth Cafe. I’d eaten dehydrated beet chips and my organic turkey half-sando, like a good girl. I had permitted GT’s Kombucha to administer Ginger-Ade.

Then, fishing in my bag for lipstick, I discovered the fun-size candy bars that had been given to me…


Proceed with caution, tea lovers

Would it surprise you to learn that green tea is not actually supposed to taste like paint stripper? That it’s not supposed to give you an instant ulcer as acid bores through your stomach lining? Most places that serve tea, even joints that use nice-quality loose tea, (I’m looking at you, Coffeebar Menlo Park, though you’re far from alone in this) ruin it all by making these two mistakes.

Mistake Number One: Using that one-temp-fits-all Satan’s-breath espresso steamer to boil up water for tea. …


Mountains and the space between mountains: Nevada is the beginning of the Great Basin

You’ve probably seen a “Keep Austin Weird” t-shirt or bumper sticker — the catchphrase was even appropriated by my former hometown, Santa Cruz, California. While I applaud that noble sentiment, my new home state of Nevada needs no such assistance. It is just a bone-deep, take-no-prisoners, freaking weird place, 365 days a year.

It’s not just the desert, though deserts have always attracted weirdos, people who need a lot of wide-open space in which to ply their weird trades, such as prospecting for gold or building giant sculptures and setting fire to them. …


On a sunny March afternoon last year, I took my 20-year-old niece Francesca for a little Nordic ski outing south of Lake Tahoe. Fran had never before put on a pair of skis, cross-country or otherwise, but she took to it like a duck to (frozen) water.

The Eastern Sierra, from the Carson Valley; Heavenly Valley ski resort is at the upper right.

“How often do you do this?” she asked me. We live a mere 30 minutes from Hope Valley, one of the prettiest spots in the Sierra, so you’d expect we’d pop up there frequently from the Carson Valley, if only to Instagram enviable pictures of our new, post-Cali lifestyle.

“Oh, about once every…


Imagine that it’s 1931 and you’re an American woman married to a cheating bastard. (Go ahead, I’ll wait. This may be easier for some of you than others.) Let’s say you want to leave Mr. Screwmore. But this is the 1930s. And that means, in almost every state in the union, that unless he “gives” you a divorce, you’re stuck.

Nevada to the rescue.

In 1931, in the jaws of the Great Depression and with the glory days of the gold and silver booms behind it, Nevada’s all-male legislature passed two laws that dramatically changed the fortunes of the Silver…

Peggy Wynne Borgman

Free-range author and artist from Northern Nevada

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