Hatton House Diaries

One day, we decided to buy a 125 year old Victorian House in Des Moines, Iowa…….

River Bend, It’s Not Funny Anymore October 2, 2012

When I first moved to River Bend, I thought it was funny, the reaction some people had when I told them where I was moving. “Oh, you’re moving THERE? Do you think it’s safe?” I gave them the same eye roll I give people when they talk about “rush hour traffic” in Des Moines. Oh, you charming people, who have to strive so hard to find something wrong with our idyllic world in Central Iowa. Granted, I grew up in the part of the northeast that is also pretty utopian (at least until you check the price tag). Montclair, New Jersey had racial and economic diversity, but it had a wonderful community spirit in the 70s and 80s that taught me that there is great strength in a diverse community that works together.

It was that diversity that I found lacking in other places I’ve lived in Central Iowa. When I first moved to Ames, and then spent 15 years in Des Moines North Side suburbs, it was “nice” in the anti-septic way I suppose works for some people. People would pull into their attached garages after work and rarely even say hello to each other. In 15 months of living in River Bend, I’ve made more neighborhood friends than I made in 15 years on the north side. I love that about River Bend: it’s real. People talk to each other, care about each other, care about making the neighborhood a better place. On the north side, my daughter was told she couldn’t play with one neighborhood girl because we support the gay marriage of one of her aunts. In River Bend, my children will grow up knowing that regardless of race, economics, or marital preference or status, they will have plenty of children to make friends with.

When I learned from a friend that Big Tomato Pizza refused to deliver to her just a few blocks from my house, it wasn’t funny anymore. I never thought River Bend was unsafe, even before I moved my family here. But now that we’ve lived here for 16 months, I’m offended. I’m a night owl, and I’m often up way past midnight. This summer, I would run after dark several times a week, by myself, with headphones. That’s how safe I feel in my neighborhood. I could go to the gym, but I’d rather wait for it to cool down after sunset, and run on the often totally deserted streets of River Bend, on our well lit streets, looking at the beautiful hundred year old homes in various degrees of revitalization.

Do I believe my neighborhood was different in the past? I know the very house I live in used to be home to drug users and dealers, just the same as a Civil War hero used to live here and host parties where Louis Armstrong played. I also know that since Officer Yanira Scarlett started working as out neighborhood liaison about 4 years ago, crime is down 30%, to the point that we are now statistically safer than many suburban neighborhood to the west of us. Neighborhoods change, and while I find the history of this place to be fascinating, it shouldn’t be used to discriminate against the people who are here today. Yes, we are a diverse community, racially, economically, spiritually, and in almost any –ly you can think of, and it is that diversity that makes us stronger. To continue to not deliver to River Bend is to disgrace the hard work that has taken place here over the past decade by residents, community activists, and the Des Moines Police Department. I’m not claiming to live in a perfect world, but if it’s a neighborhood where I have been safe running at night, isn’t it safe enough for a pizza delivery guy?

Thank you to ABC5 for reporting on this story tonight, 10/2/12, at 10 PM. I hope we can turn this slight on our neighborhood into a chance for Big Tomato Pizza and the rest of Des Moines to take another look at River Bend. We think you’ll like what you see.

Update: Here’s the link to the channel 5 story: http://www.myabc5.com/story/19711436/denied-pizza-delivery#.UGuhBBYawjA.twitter


New Writing Partner, Thanks to the Animal Rescue League July 24, 2012

Filed under: Family Stuff,Things We Love About Des Moines — hattonhousedsm @ 4:37 am

We decided it was time to bring a new friend into the house. We had taken in a cat that couldn’t be cared for by his previous family, and when he ran away, the kids were heartbroken, and we were missing our mouser/birder. (Sometime this year we’ll get the roof work done, but until then, the attic is one giant birdhouse.) While looking for our lost cat at the Animal Rescue League, we peeked at the cats up for adoption, and saw Pumpernickel. He was hanging on the side of his cage, seeming desperate to come home with us, and his determination paid off. We haven’t set him loose on the attic, but he does seem to be a great cat for my writing. Sleeps with me, but not on the keyboard….we’re off to a great start. Welcome, Pumpernickel. Thanks for picking us.


If you’re in Des Moines, the ARL has too many kittens and cats right now. Please consider going to see if anyone is hanging on the side of a cage, waiting to go home with you.



Historic Hatton House at the Natural Living Expo (Code Name: Simply for Giggles) March 29, 2012

Filed under: Everything Else,Things We Love About Des Moines — hattonhousedsm @ 2:55 pm

In my past life, I once owned a store called Simply for Giggles, and co-ran an Expo about making healthier choices in our daily lives. You can meet me and all those past lives at the Natural Living Expo, March 31st and April 1st. I will be at the Simply for Giggles booth, selling our remaining inventory and talking about our future plans for the Hatton House!

The Expo is a great place to find out about the many really cool companies in Des Moines that can help you live your life with less toxic stuff and more healthy stuff! Hope to see you there!!


Things We Love: Start Up Weekend #SWDSM March 4, 2012

I’ve been thinking that eventually, we should have a section of this blog that features the things we love about Des Moines. When I moved to Iowa from New Jersey in 1992, it took me a while to settle in and see how great this city really is. Granted, it’s much improved in the past 20 years, but the reality is that I can’t imagine myself living anywhere else, and this section of the blog will start to point out why. From the great restaurants, galleries, events, and sports, Des Moines offers so much to do on any given day. And once you pick something, you’ll find minimal traffic, free or cheap parking, affordability, and really nice people.

But there’s something else that makes Des Moines amazing: there is almost zero barrier for entry into whatever you can dream up. I could tell you about the amazing experiences I’ve had over the past couple decades involved with several different boards and events around the city, but there’s no time for that. Right now, Start Up Weekend Des Moines has a group of entrepreneurs staying up late and cooking up app ideas: how to use what’s in your fridge to make delicious (My Kitchen Genie); to virtually slashing the tires of someone that doesn’t know that you learned how to drive in New Jersey, and should therefore get out of her way (RoadRageous). There’s a group working on an app for people sports-knowledge challenged, but their theme song says that girls don’t know about sports, and they don’t say anything about soccer, so I’ll post a link to my soccer blog instead. Just kidding….you can find Cram 5 Sports, but it’s at your peril.

A city that’s startup friendly is going to be an incubator for all sorts of cool things like Dwolla.com, StartUp City DSM, and well, you know…cool 1887 historic homes that get renovated into spaces where you can learn about local food, local art, or just have a welcoming place to stay. Just the first of many reasons you should come check out Des Moines.