Part of the magic of love is when it brings two families together through marriage.  We are now involved in the wedding festivites in which our son, Joshua is marrying the love of his live, Sarah.  Tonight, both of our families came together as we became better acquainted with each other.  In this setting I gave the following synopsis of Joshua’s life.


It was a cold day in Idaho… -47 degrees Fahrenheit. The hospital was small and ill-equipped for a preemie with under developed lungs. That small town nursery was the first but not the last thing Joshua revolutionized. Life Flight was grounded because of the extreme cold. So out of necessity, Madison Memorial Hospital had to improvise a newborn ICU. From that precarious beginning, Joshua’s zest for life is leaving an increasingly wide wake of enthusiasm.

He’s always been a fast learner… sometimes too fast. When he observed how his mother nursed a younger sibling, he mimicked the action with his older sister’s doll.

His first year of school didn’t even qualify as a good review for what he already knew. So similar to what he did to Madison Memorial Hospital, out of necessity, Joshua revolutionized how the Haroldsen Children were formally educated, and Haroldsen home schooling began.

Part of that homeschooling included basic music lessons. But Joshua set the beginner books aside when he heard a neighbor playing Beethoven. He went next door and borrowed the sheet music and started playing Fur Elise, memorizing it within days. As a 10 year old, Joshua was the ward primary pianist. He also began playing the prelude music on the organ before Sacrament Meeting began.

He was also doing well in business by this time. The Mower Man, was a thriving lawn mowing business with crew of three siblings all equipped with lawn care equipment pulled by bike trailers. Ten year old Joshua also taught piano and held a recital for the proud parents of his six students.

In his spare time Joshua got hold of his mommy’s video camera. The product of his imaginative filmmaking has left his family wondering if he is crazy or genius.

As he grew and matured, Joshua has continued to plow a wide wake with whatever he does. When he out grew the Mower Man business, he formed a company centered around his most current interest. His Computer Genie business was a great success back when today’s Geek Squad were still in diapers.

Along with these successful enterprises, Joshua has worked for many other business, gaining experience and helping him formulate what kind of career he wants to pursue next.

At the age of sixteen, Joshua started College with two scholarships to University of Northern Colorado. In the middle of his college education, Joshua spent a wonderful two years as a missionary. For all the good he accomplished there, he might be known by some in that country as the "Good Tsunami" that hit Thailand.

Since returning home just over a year ago, Joshua has put as much thought and care into choosing a marriage partner as he has in everything else in his life. As I watched this process, I have no question that he has found the love of his life. Based on my own experience with another certain "Red Head", in the area of spunkiness and having a zest for life, I’m guessing that Joshua has met his match.




            I don’t travel often.  It’s one of my future dreams to go on long trips where I can see the world and learn about other places and cultures, first hand.  I had just a taste of it when I was a teenager and my dad took me half way around the world where we spent a month traversing the continent and country of Australia.  Since that time, I have always thought that someday I’d do a lot more of that of that sort of thing.  But, for a common guy like me, a family man, the limited time and means requires that some dreams have to wait in line behind more pressing responsibilities.  So since that May in 1977, my traveling away from home has mostly been on business.

            Like I said, travel doesn’t happen often for me.  Corporate wants to keep me in the processing plant as much as possible, minding the day to day details of our business.  But every year or two, I am sent on a pilgrimage back to corporate headquarters, along with all the other processing managers, for recalibration in our company’s way of doing business.  This isn’t a blog about those meetings I just returned from.  It’s about my thoughts and impressions while traveling to and from my corporate meetings.

Since I love “people watching”, airports are cool places to hang out.  As I sat in the terminal, at my gate, waiting for the call to board, my people watching skills quickly sharpened. 

The amalgamation of language and looks, customs and culture, features and facial expressions, complexion and countenance, hats and hairdos, habits and habitats, soon began to describe to my eyes how diverse the population in airports really are.  As I sat, with book in lap, pretending to read, those around me portrayed little pieces of their lives for me.

A cute couple sat across, facing me.  It appeared many years of living together had given them a similar manner and dress.  Even their physic was now blended to the point that they looked almost like brother and sister rather than husband and wife.  They were slumped onto each others shoulders as they peacefully slept. 

I loved watching the children, of all ages, who were traveling with their parents. Whether they were four years old or fourteen, they seemed to reveal more of their family life then their parents would want. 

A lady quickly stepped into our row of chairs and scanned the floor along the adjoining wall.  She turned back to her husband and said, “There’s one here.”  I knew they wanted the rare power outlet next to my seat.  I offered to give up the seat to them.  It was a chance to change positions for more people watching anyway.  Soon three children were huddled on the floor in front of my old chair watching a movie on a portable DVD player.

An Asian couple was my new subject.  Each time the PA system sounded, they both looked skyward like God had just spoken from the heavens.  Between themselves, their language was something oriental.  I wondered if they understood the English which bombarded them.  I wondered the purpose of their travel.  Now days, most traveled on vacation or business.  They didn’t seem to fit either category.

As I sat there pondering the many mini human dramas before me, I had a glimpse of yesteryear.  In my mind’s eye, I could see my widowed 2 great’s grandma, Inger, traveling with her small family into everything unfamiliar.  In June of 1876 they sailed from Kragero, Norway for Denmark.  They then crossed the North Sea to Hull, England and crossed England by train, and then boarded the Steamer, “Idaho” for crossing the Atlantic Ocean.  For most of this trip, language was a barrier.  No one in the family spoke English.  This made things even more terrifying for the small Norwegian family who were huddled in a cattle car, on display like a freak show slowly crossing England.  My great grandpa, Christian, was just a boy.  He told of how they were gawked at them and jeered.  Some of the Englishmen spit on them and poked and prodded them.  Since they couldn’t understand their English yet, they didn’t understand the meaning of the unruly catcalls which were thrown down at them.  From this experience, Christian hated the English for the rest of his life.            

            Over the PA, boarding my flight was announced.  I watched this Asian couple looking around at the sudden shuffle of people.  As I passed by them, I hoped their American experience didn’t feel like my Norwegian family’s experience in England.  

While boarding the plane, I passed through 1st class which had already boarded.  In the corner of my eye, I caught glimpse of an important looking business man leaning over his laptop computer.  As I glanced back, I noticed instead of business, he was really playing the same computer game I had seen my teenaged son playing at home.  I moved back to coach, found my seat, stowed my bag in the overhead, and slid into my seat. 

Then my mind caught a glimpse of Inger and her little family on her voyage.  Several levels below main deck, as a tall woman, likely she couldn’t even stand up straight on the steerage deck.  I realized that by comparison, I was traveling 1st class.  Inger was very sea sick for her voyage. 

Soon after we reached cruising altitude, the flight attendants moved through the cabin passing out snacks and offering drinks.  I thought of the sea biscuits which Inger received as part of her rations.  These were mostly saved for their rail travel across the American continent to the West.  They made this crossing during the 100 year celebration of American independence.  I wonder what they saw on July 4th, 1876?

As we landed in Atlanta, Georgia, a little over three hours after leaving Salt Lake City, Utah, our pilot joked that we were early but that we had to pay full fare anyway. 

My next mental glimpse was of Inger, with her little family, standing at the side of the new railroad line.  Some one was supposed to meet her there to bring her the final 20 miles to town.  But this was July 24th.  A territory holiday celebrating the first arrival of the religious pioneers twenty-nine years earlier had distracted her wagon taxi.  She sat on the side of that rail line that day and cried.

As I sat in my taxi, traveling to my fancy hotel room, anticipating the extravagance lavished on us over worked managers for a few days every year or two, I was somber… thinking of Inger, and what she went though so life could be so good for her children… for me. 

I don’t mind putting off seeing the world a few more years while my Beautiful Wife and I strive to give our children the best start in life possible.  I wonder… in a generation or two will one of them will look back at us, thinking that we had made a sacrifice for their benefit.  Did Inger think that what she did was some noble sacrifice?  I’ll bet she felt just like me.  We are not doing anything special.  We’re just doing what we think is best for our family.  But, I love Inger for what she did for me.


A Gamble

A Gamble

            I have never put any money into a slot machine nor done any of the other gaming that is commonly associated with Las Vegas.  I’ve never bet on a race or other sports event.  I have not purchased a lottery ticket nor even joined in the office betting pool that they do around the Super Bowel.  But I have done my share of gambling. 

            I know that depending on who you talk to, even getting up in the morning and walking outside to meet the new day is a gamble.  But my past gambling has included bigger risks.  I think most farmers and ranchers should enroll in Gamblers Anonymous.  It’s quite a thrill to look at the futures markets in commodities and try to determine how to buy corn and other feed ingredients, along with investing the high dollars in equipment, livestock, and real estate required to produces a perishable food product, knowing that the actual value of that product will have nothing to do with the expense incurred in producing it.  In the end, the selling value all comes down to supply and demand at the moment of the sale.   If the same dollars I’ve lost in such an endeavor were wasted on the crap tables in Las Vegas, anyone, except the casino management, would say I had a gambling problem. 

            This month there are several things which have got me thinking about another big gamble taken in life. 

First, is the research and writing I’m doing on my family history novel.  I am doing a little walking in my 2-greats Grandma, Inger’s shoes.  Inger was raised in a well-to-do family in Norway during the mid 1800’s.  The caste system of the European wealthy was alive and well in that day, so when Inger fell in love with a common sailor, her choice was between the love of her life and her family.  She couldn’t have both.  Perhaps Inger knew all along that the choice she made would result in a life of hardship and struggle.  But I can’t help but think that the young men and women of their day were as eternally optimistic as our youth today.  So I’m sure Christoffer and Inger’s dreams of the future included a nice home, plenty of food and other necessities, and at least some leisure time to enjoy it all.  At least some of Inger’s dreams were quenched when Christoffer was killed in a work accident and she was thrown into severe poverty.  In remembering those hard years of survival when she washed laundry for others, she lamented later in her life, “If I had only had a washboard!” 

Besides loosing her husband, Inger lost one of her daughters while living in Norway.  It wasn’t too many more years before she managed to move with her remaining three daughters and one son to new opportunities in America. 

I have also been anticipating my son’s wedding at the end of this month.  It appears to me that the love of his life is almost as spunky as my Beautiful Wife.  (She even has the red hair.)  She is a great gal and I think that his gamble on love is a safe bet. 

And that takes me to the biggest gamble I have ever made in life.  Twenty-five years ago this month, my beautiful wife and I were married.  (The truth be told, she’s the one who REALLY took the gamble.) 

She is everything that I am not.  Spunky, impulsive, high spirited, adventurous, and magnetic are a few words that begin to paint her portrait.  She gave up much of her world to become part of mine.  She moved from the warm sunny climate of Southern California to live in the cold artic climate of Southeastern Idaho.  She has spent most of our married life living in the rural setting of farm life instead of the convinces of city life where she would prefer.  All of her personal dreams have been put on hold for these entire twenty five years while she does a magnificent job doing her part in fulfilling our joint dreams of raising a large wonderful family.

Yes, with all my gambling losses, this is one time when I won the mega lottery.  Instead of a lump sum payment, I’ve opted for the benefits to last a lifetime. 

So on this Friday the 13th, symbol of bad luck, I am thinking of the risk we take when our otherwise good judgment is overshadowed by the intoxicating influence of love.  We take a gamble when we devote our lives to someone else.  But for me, marrying my Beautiful Wife 25 years ago turned out to be a very good bet.        




            I am taking a few days off from work right now.  It’s a use ‘em or loose ‘em sort of thing.  So I am not really going on vacation, sight seeing, or other wise spending my forced “take them now” vacation days wisely.  To do what I would want to do with my vacation time, it would take money.  But it has given me a little more leisure time to relax and ponder the realities which make up my life.  Yesterday, I got a glimpse into my “Beautiful Wife’s” realities.  She took the 100 mile drive to Gary’s doctor appointment with him, and I got to pinch hit for her as a school teacher. 

For the most part, my three children (who are homeschooled) were nice to me and did everything they should.  Most of that would have happened whether I was there or not.  They are very well trained by their “Beautiful Teacher/Momma.”  But my youngest, (I call her “Baby Bug”) is first grade age (doing second grade work) and does need lot’s of one on one for her math and reading.   In the process of teaching Baby Bug, I learned a little more about my Beautiful Wife’s daily life. 

I am not over worked right now, and since it was a vacation day from work, I even slept in a little longer, and didn’t do much when I did get up.  But after my Beautiful Wife left, and I found my self teaching 2nd grade math and reading, lazy drowses set in and I had to fight to stay awake in the slow paced tutoring.  It left me wondering, how does my Beautiful Wife routinely work all night, and then come home and run the house for a large family, teach homeschool, and pursue her own dreams like she does.  I know that she has just decided she needs to “do it all.”  Because if she doesn’t, the part she misses out on are her own dreams. 

My Beautiful Wife stayed up in Provo and Gary came home to trade places with me.  The Vacation Part of my vacation day was taking my Beautiful Wife around the city she wants to live in, looking at neighborhoods and houses, furniture and electronics, and the other things that would make this particular dream a reality for her. 

Thanks to a Christmas present, which we were slow to cash in; dinner and a movie capped our night, compliments of our daughter Jessica and her husband Bryan.  All in all, it was a very nice day with my Beautiful Wife, spent dreaming of our future. 

Twenty-five years ago, our dreams together were centered on a life together and having a family together.  Those dreams are wonderful realities.  So there is room to expand our dreams.  But today reality sets in as I look at next week’s family calendar, and I see 5 of our children with orthodontic appointments all on the same day.  I guess some dreams (involving money) are still a few years away.