Thursday, August 2, 2012

Love Crazy Bako

Bakersfield, California. It’s not the number one destination to visit or relocate, but for thousands of people, its home. I haven’t lived here all my life, nor a decade. I’ve lived in the great San Joaquin valley merely three years and counting. 

My husband, hired for a government position, had one week to move from Omaha the last week in November. Although the winter is definitely worth living here, the summer makes me wish I were back in Omaha.

I sit here writing this as the 101 degrees fries my brown and yellow lawn as well as my garden. The leaves on my fruit trees are beginning to wither and the tomatoes in the garden are waiting impatiently for more water. Although this heat fluctuates about ten degrees each day, I’m more than glad that I’m not pregnant or have a manual labor job.

I gladly (well, sometimes not so much) stay at home with my kids (2 and 4) before they start school. L, my 4 year old daughter, has one more year of staying at home with mommy before heading off to kindergarten. “What about preschool?” I ask my school district “Can you test her and see if she’s ready for kindergarten?” “What the heck am I suppose to do with her?!” Apparently, there is no public preschool here in Bakersfield. There’s head start for low-income families and private/church preschools ($2,000/year). I was in shock when I saw the price. How can I afford that on an one income paycheck?! Plus, if I were to get a job, I’d have to buy another car, gas, insurance, DAY CARE, etc. for my diapered 2 year old. What boy is potty trained by age 2? You have superman/woman skills if you’re little boy is potty trained by 2.

When I first moved here, I couldn’t stand it. Hubby was gone for his job one week out of every month. The nearest park was a mile away and our neighbors ran inside if we opened our front door. Seriously. Nevertheless, after going through being homesick and depression, I met some neighbors and a couple friends that helped me make it through my journey of three + years here. Plus, a supportive husband always helps too!

Since we’ve been out here, not only our bills tripled, but also the gas prices. All because California’s cars are required to have special smog-reducing engines that have gas additives in our gas-which is why gas is more expensive here. Stupid additives. You would think the San Joaquin Valley would have fresh, clean air year round. Right? Wrong. We have the worst smog filled valley in the world (I haven’t researched this, but I think its true). My solution: build a tunnel through the mountains to the coast. Let the coast air in and blow the smog away. The state decided not to do this because it would cost trillions of dollars. Hmm… California is already more than broke and let’s have those San Joaquin Valley residents suffer for living in the valley. No wonder our healthcare costs increase every year. 

Like I said, I hated driving cross country with a three month old and one year old. We got to stop at Painted Desert, the Grand Canyon (not for too long), and my grandparents house for a day- thank God! It’s hard for little ones to sit for so long. And when we actually got to Bakersfield that first night, our in-laws drove their motorhome down to see us. They live five hours north of Bakersfield, so it was nice seeing someone we knew! 

It took time to figure out Bakersfield when I had free time (apparently that’s most of the day) and the only car. The NW is suburbs primarily, the SW is suburbs and nicer shopping, the NE is redneck country, and the SE is no habla Ingles. Downtown Bakersfield is a nice little area with a few antique stores, shopping, and restaurants. I haven’t been to many stores or restaurants down there since I hate taking the kids where they can’t touch anything. As for the restaurants, Tina Marie’s is decent breakfast/lunch and Mariscos Mexican (near Art Museum) is really good (the kids love their grilled fish)!

Here in Bakersfield, I’ve come to love the winters the most. NO SNOW! There is a frost, but nothing ice hard like Omaha had every year. We can actually have a winter garden (which is awesome) and a summer garden. I tend to stay indoors in the blistering summer and do the majority of outdoor work in the spring season. My oldest half-brother’s mom told me (since she lives north in the valley) there are only two seasons in the valley: spring and summer. How very true.

I also love the fact that we can have fruit trees. We planted peach, orange, lemon, avocado, pomegranate, pear, olive, and lime. The pear tree, olive tree, and grapes grew all by themselves. Fresh pears are growing and will be ready soon. The grapes are growing wild and are slowly ripening daily. As for the olive tree, I’m hoping it’s not a fruitless variety (after doing some research, there are several olive varieties that are fruitless).  Other than that, the other trees have been slow growers, and we have to look at a cinder block fence on two of the three backyard fences. I’m trying to do some research on what grows well here. I want to create a luscious, easy-growing, edible landscape that we can afford on one income.

I know you’re wondering if we’ve been to Disneyland yet. The answer is: who the heck can afford going there?!  I want to go to CarsLand so bad, but I need to get a job! Hubby and I would like to go on a cruise, visit Hawaii or Alaska, or even go on a honeymoon, but while on one income, we’re lucky if we can pay our bills each month. He’s been trying to get another job elsewhere, even though I’ve come to love Bako other than the smog.

We found the almost-perfect house, close to decent shopping, in a good school district, and close to a new park! Plus, they have their swimming lessons two miles away-I’m going to start walking there as soon as the road and railway construction is completed. Where else could I find all this? I feel lucky and blessed to have found such a great home. Like the town slogan says “A great *cough* place to *cough* live.” (They don’t actually have the *coughs*)

P.S.  We’ve met some very nice neighbors. Most of them homeschool their children and live on one income as well. 

Hubby makes just enough to pay the bills, so when extra bills come in (like the dog’s teeth cleaning) it sets us back a bit. I would love to be able to have an additional income and stay at home with the kids (as they go into school), but it seems impossible. I have a photography business with absolutely no customers and I bake/decorate cakes (illegal to sell food from home). I also love to bake from scratch/ trying to clear my home of preservatives. 

I enjoy doing many things. I’m not exceptionally good at one thing, so I’ll just have to keep experimenting until I can find something that sticks. I love reading, gardening, baking, photographing, having a clean home, traveling, and a black comma in my banking accounts (which is very rare).