Don't send birthday presents: Here's a somewhat unusual holiday story: Katie Brockman, who turned 11 on Saturday, told her mother she doesn't want any birthday presents this year. Instead, anyone who is so inclined may contribute items such as non-perishable food, shoes, blankets and clothing to First United Methodist Church, 200 W. Oak St., Lodi. The church will then distribute the items to low-income Lodi residents.
Window display spreads Christmas cheer: At Reo's Appliance Center on 7 W. Oak St., a window display reading "Happy Birthday, Jesus" is attracting people into the shop to remark about how much they enjoy seeing it.
Owner Brad Nathan painted the message on the window in red and white letters shortly after Thanksgiving. Craig Nathan, Brad's brother, said messages such as "Merry Christmas" and "Jesus is the reason for the season" have been painted on the store's windows in previous years, and they just wanted to use a message they hadn't used before this year.
"One woman came in from the post office and said she just had to tell us how much she liked it," Craig Nathan said.
Reo's Appliance Center has been in Lodi since 1956. It sells appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators and garbage disposals.
The time Dolly Parton almost came to Lodi: This week, a News-Sentinel photographer announced to newsroom staff that we missed Dolly Parton's recent performance in Lodi. He said he saw her name on the marquee outside of Hutchins Street Square and a large tour bus was also parked outside.
Worried we missed the country singer, we called Deanie Bridewell, the center's arts and events manager, who was just as confused as we were. While she put the phone on hold to check with the rest of the event staff, suddenly the photographer remembered: It wasn't Dolly Parton's name he saw, but Patsy Cline's.
It was advertising Sunday's Patsy Cline Christmas tribute by Joni Morris and the After Midnight Band.
Does anyone live in our office? Did you know that 125 N. Church St. is a residence? It isn't, but apparently Warrior Custom Golf in Irvine thinks so. The Church Street address is the home of the Lodi News-Sentinel, and take our word for it: No one lives here.
But the golf business, advertising a new line of putters, addressed a postcard to "Resident" at the News-Sentinel address. Not only that, but Warrior Custom Golf seems to know something about the person who allegedly lives at the News-Sentinel office.
"Our records indicate that you're an amateur golfer who is willing to provide us with a performance evaluation on next year's technology before it's released to the general public."
Bet you didn't know that.
Only one: Former Sacramento-area Assemblywoman Barbara Alby is now running for a seat on the California Board of Equalization. On her Web site, Alby proudly states: "She is mother of five, grandmother of four and spouse of one."
We realize that the number of children and grandchildren are pertinent. Perhaps it's also important to know she doesn't have more than one spouse.
A night out on the town: At the Dec. 2 Lodi City Council meeting, Linda Hansen, the wife of outgoing Mayor Larry Hansen, walked to the microphone during public comment.
"I would just like to say happy anniversary to Mr. Mayor," she said. "I've been married to this man for 21 years today."
After admitting that he was nervous about what his wife would say, he thanked her. "I promised her a really good time tonight. What could be better than this?"
At the next meeting on Dec. 22, Hansen announced another big family development.
"I have a brand new granddaughter, and last night I found out I remembered how to change a diaper," Hansen said.
Do you know where your grandchildren are? A caller last week told one of our reporters that a new scam is going around. She received a call saying her grandson was on his way to attend a wedding in British Columbia, Canada and was involved in a car accident. Someone sounding like her grandson then got on the line and was crying and saying, "Grandma, I really need your help."
In order to help him, she was supposed to send a moneygram of $5,000 to CVS/Pharmacy. She was also told not to contact the boy's mother.
After he returned home, her husband called the boy's mom and asked in a casual way where her son was. She confirmed that he was in school and was not anywhere near Canada.
Maybe we all need to be aware of major trips our family members are taking. We don't want anyone falling for this one.
Local connection to Boeing 787 dreamliner: History was made Tuesday as Mike Carriker and Randy Neville took flight from Everett's Paine Field, next to Boeing's factory, and tested the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in Washington state.
For Jill Grauman, who graduated from Lodi High in 1983 and is married to Neville, it was a day she will remember forever. She was able to tour the plane before it took off. She said it was mostly filled with instrumentation and in-flight data machines, and wasn't set up for passenger flight.
The couple has been married for five years and lived in Sammamish, Wash. for the last four years.
She said she wasn't worried about her husband flying the experimental aircraft.
"I had a real peace about it," said.