Originally created 08/24/04

Odds and Ends

BOISE, Idaho -- Somewhere between the junk food aisle and the automotive department, Pat Byrd and Bill Hughes fell in love.

So it was only natural that they should marry where the magic happened - Wal-Mart.

"It never dawned on me to have it anyplace else," said the 55-year-old bride.

Neither bride nor groom work at the discount store. Still, they spend more time there than many employees do, wandering the aisles and visiting friends for up to six hours a day, nearly every day since the store opened two years ago.

"I talk to people and walk around for exercise, and we always buy a soda or a sandwich or something," 51-year-old Hughes said. "If we're not here, the store people worry about us. They're our family."

Both Pat Byrd and Bill Hughes are disabled. They met nine years ago, when Bill was a patient at a North Idaho hospital and so was Pat's sister.

"He became a good friend, and when my sister died, we kept him in the family," she said. "He doesn't drive, and any time he went to Wal-Mart, I'd take him."

They celebrated their blooming love with a ceremony Friday in Wal-Mart's garden center. The store manager was a groomsman, and a fabric department employee was matron of honor.

A garden center employee, Chuck Foruria, walked alongside Pat as she rode her motorized shopping cart down the makeshift aisle, her oxygen tank in the basket.

"Who gives this woman in marriage?" asked Stacey Garza of the Free Will Church.

"Her friends and family at Wal-Mart," Foruria replied.

* * * *

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Allyssa and Grant Kuseske joke that they've won the baby lottery. The winning numbers must have been 2-2.

On Thursday, Allyssa Kuseske gave birth to their second set of twins in a year.

"We are kind of on the accelerated plan," Allyssa laughed as she cradled her new son Caleb on Saturday.

Doctors at United Hospital in St. Paul say they've never seen two sets of twins from the same parents in a year's time. The likelihood of having two sets of twins over the course of a woman's childbearing years is less than 2 percent, doctors say.

The couple said the first set was born with a little help from medical science, while the latest pair was an "oops."

Identical twins Caleb and Daniel arrived Thursday one minute apart, weighing 5 pounds 4 ounces and 5 pounds 11 ounces, respectively.

Their big brother and sister, Samuel and Olivia, turn 1 on Aug. 30.

Mom and Dad have already begun preparations, like trading in the pickup for an SUV. They've also been tracking down cribs, high chairs and a stroller to tote the four tots. They figure they'll be changing 36 diapers a day.

"Invest in Huggies," Allyssa said.

* * * *

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. -- Not even loud rock 'n' roll music could discourage a 350-pound bear that repeatedly raided plums and watermelons from a couple's garden.

Eldon and Gerry Nihues hung a radio from the plum tree, tuned it into a rock station and turned it up loud in hopes of scaring off the bear, which helped itself to about 50 watermelons, including 11 in one night.

"It was this crazy rock stuff that was playing, but it didn't bother him," Gerry Nihues said. "He'd eat the plums right out from under where the thing was playing."

The state Division of Wildlife set out a trap, and the bear walked into it Wednesday night. Wildlife officers tranquilized the bear, tagged it and released it in a remote area.

Eight bears have been relocated from the area in the past three weeks, Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said. More encounters are expected as bears try to fatten up before hibernating for the winter.

* * * *

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- Hurricane Isabel may have left a happy legacy.

Martha Jefferson Hospital is reporting record numbers of births for June and July, and Isabel can take the credit.

"The math works," said Ann Nickels, Martha Jefferson's spokeswoman.

Isabel slammed into Virginia Sept. 18, 2003.

There were 168 births in June, and 163 in July - about 20 more than usual for each month.

When Isabel struck, Martha Jefferson nurses said they knew they'd be facing a storm of their own nine months later.

"Historically, when we have power outages or snowstorms, we'll see a burst of babies," nurse Kim Smith said. "With Isabel, the power was out for a long time."

While many of the new mothers acknowledged they were having hurricane babies, nurses said Isabel wasn't a big topic of conversation.

"The mothers just want to get the babies out," said nurse manager Mary Ann Lucia. "They don't talk about how they got the babies in."


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