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CHAMPAIGN — Ever heard of Grandma perching in a child’s car seat? If you want a humorous take on that, you’ll want to hear Lori Borgman next week at the Champaign Public Library.

The popular Indianapolis-based syndicated humor columnist will be at the library at 2 p.m. Sunday to talk about that and other excerpts from her seventh book, “What Happens at Grandma’s Stays at Grandma’s.” She’ll have copies of the October release for sale.

“It’s far reaching. It’s not just about being a grandma, it’s how things have changed ... right under our noses,” Borgman said.

“I do the history of car seats in a nutshell. That is very fun,” she said. “Our grands have incredibly expensive car seats. The one our granddaughter has, I think she can take to college. It would hold someone up to 62 inches and 120 pounds. I’ve sat in it. It’s one of those transitional car seats.

“Our grown kids have asked how we were transported, and I say, ‘Our parents let us roll around on the floor of the back seat because they thought it would build character.’ They look at each other like: ‘That explains a lot.’”

Borgman’s column has run in the Sunday News-Gazette for several years.

She will also appear locally at 7 p.m. Monday at the parish center at Holy Cross Church (405 W. Clark St., C). There is no charge, but organizers ask attendees to consider a free-will offering.

That presentation, “Happy Holi-daze,” is “a humorous but thoughtful look at what we do to ourselves at the holidays and how to get to the true grit of the season,” she said.

Born and raised in Nebraska, Borgman said her writing is not just about Midwestern values.

“My column is very popular in upstate New York,” she said. “I hope it transcends culture. I hope to be a fly on the wall and tap into those universal experiences.”

She and her fellow journalist husband are the parents of three children in their 30s and 11 grandchildren. She draws inspiration from them for her writing, which is heavy on self-deprecation.

A recent column addressed struggling to find her car in a sea of black cars in a parking lot.

“You wouldn’t believe the responses,” she said. “I’m an optimist. I would hope good values transcend the nation.”

Writing a column for 27 years (“column years are more like dog years; it’s more like 189”) after hanging up her camera as a newspaper photographer, Borgman admits that scanning the headlines for material “can lead to a 24-hour depression.”

She is simply searching for humor.

“Put it on the endangered species list. I can write what I think is the fluffiest column and it will tick someone off,” she said. “I persist.”

On other topics:

— She dismisses the excuse of writer’s block, repeating a recent humorous riff on that topic.

“I have never gone to the dentist and heard the receptionist say: ‘The dentist can’t see you now. He has dentist’s block.’ It’s just work. You just sit there until you find an idea you can salvage and work on.”

— Retirement is not on her horizon.

“I can’t imagine not working. I jokingly say I’m going to write as long as Andy Rooney — until my eyebrows grow together.”

At 65, she’s doing a happy dance over the recent receipt of her Medicare card.

“It just came last month,” she said. “I’ve been self-insuring for three years.”



Mary Schenk is a reporter covering police, courts and breaking news at The News-Gazette. Her email is mschenk@news-gazette.com, and you can follow her on Twitter (@schenk).