Friday Funny: Who’s The Boss?

Happy weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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Happy National Kids and Pets Day!

Today’s the day to celebrate growing up with pets. Share your photos! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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Friday Funny: Leave Me Alone!

Hang in there, it’s Friday! Until next time, Good day, and good dog! Dog Blog

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Silver Screen to Mainstream: The Original Influencers

This post is in partnership with the Chicago History Museum.

Those of you who follow me on Instagram may have joined me last Friday as my mom, daughter, and I visited the most incredible exhibition at the Chicago History Museum entitled Silver Screen to Mainstream. When I first heard about it, I was intrigued by its tagline – “the original influencers” – and when I saw it in person and learned more about the history of the clothing on display, the tagline really made sense. Today I thought I’d share with you some pieces of the wonderful afternoon we spent at the exhibition. And I hope those of you in the Chicago area (and beyond!) will take the time to go check it out. It’s captivating.

Jessica Roussin, Digital Marketing Coordinator for Chicago History Museum (that’s her above!), gave us a little tour when we first arrived, and explained more behind the pieces in the exhibit. Over thirty garments from the 1930′s and 40′s are on display, by designers such as Chanel, Vionnet, Valentina, Paul du Pont, Howard Greer, and Adrian, and you guys, they are stunning. She also explained more about the history behind it, which was just fascinating to me.

If you’ve been reading here for a while, you likely know that I have a background in fashion (I majored in theatre in college and spent much of my senior year studying costume design, and later ran an eco-friendly womenswear label for close to 15 years), and the history of fashion in America during the 20th century has always had a place in my heart. I didn’t know a great deal about this particular era though, and walking through the exhibit was such a rich lesson in how, as America headed out of the Great Depression, celebrity culture emerged and began to affect mainstream style. Long before blogs and social media existed, Hollywood movie stars were true influencers, and for the first time in history, designers began creating garments for the everyday woman based on what these stars wore in their films and beyond.

While Silver Screen to Mainstream showcases fashions from Paris, New York, Chicago, and Hollywood, it was (understandably) the section featuring dresses that were all worn by Chicago women that most resonated with me. An evening dress made of silk and ostrich feathers, which was a copy of a design made by Jenkins Gowns for a performance by opera singer Helen Jepson, was custom made for the woman who ultimately donated it to the museum (Mrs. Otto Madlener) by Stanley Korshak Chicago, a high end women’s apparel store here in Chicago. The dress is absolutely jaw dropping in person. My daughter couldn’t take her eyes off it. It was so cool to be able to explain to her how old it was (she’s 5, so anything more than 10 years old is ancient in her eyes), the story behind it, and how it was created during a time when our country was truly reinventing itself after a decade of difficult times. (The exhibit also had a “cinema” that explained more about fashion of this era; my daughter watched the video five times.)

In addition to the plethora of glamorous dresses on display, the exhibition also has a section of casual dresses handmade by women who weren’t designers or famous on any level from patterns ordered from catalogs. One of the dresses is even on display inside out, to showcase the detail that was put into sewing it. Even these house dresses are simply gorgeous, and it was so cool to learn more about the time when sewing patterns first became commonplace.

It was also a treat to get to see the shoes, evening bags, and jewelry worn at the time, and the ways in which Hollywood had influence over accessories as well as clothing. I was specifically drawn to the dress clips on display, which were very on trend at the time. They were convertible, and could be worn on necklines, on shoes, or as brooches. My daughter was intrigued by the pocketbooks, which were quite fancy, and made from materials like suede, metal, and even plastic.

I took so much from this exhibition (as did my mom and daughter!), but I was especially intrigued by how, despite serious hardships and adversity as a result of the Great Depression, people in the 1930′s and 40′s used fashion to retain a sense of normalcy – or to at least appear to be together, even if the rest of their lives were not. Going to the movies was an escape from reality that provided a sense of optimism, and women were inspired by the fashion of the stars, so they took a little of the movies with them and made that fashion their own. Some were able to purchase designer replicas of what the actresses wore, and others (most, I’m guessing) purchased inexpensive patterns and created Hollywood inspired garments from them. Whatever the means, in a time of uncertainty, the fashion of the cinema was moving far beyond the silver screen and providing the mainstream with an exciting, new American style.

If you live in the Chicago area, or are planning a trip to Chicago, I highly recommend stopping by the Chicago History Museum and checking out Silver Screen to Mainstream (which runs through January 21, 2020) in person. It tells a fascinating story, and the hard work by Collection Manager Jessica Pushor and Guest Curator Virginia Heaven is evident. Then stay and explore the rest of the museum, which is full of fun for the entire family. Essley was obsessed with the lifestyle Chicago style hotdog. I was obsessed with the gorgeous event room (seen directly above).

For more information on Silver Screen to Mainstream, visit Chicago History Museum’s website.


Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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What’s Your Favorite Dog-Friendly Store? #Giveaway

What’s your favorite dog-friendly store? Now that Barli is done with his therapy dog training class, I’m working to get him out and into stores as much as possible to work on his skills…

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10 Plants to Remove from Your Dog’s Yard

I have to admit that I love sago palms. I love the look of them and the tropical feel they give a yard. But we don’t have a sago palm — and we’ll never have a sago palm —…

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The Mallard species complex

drake black duck

So if you thought the gray wolf species complex is controversial, it mirrored in another charismatic, widespread species.

I used to be quite into domestic ducks. My preferred variants were all domesticated Eurasian mallards, and I regularly encountered wild mallards at the various parks I would frequent in Morgantown, West Virginia.

I have no problem considering Pekins, Cayugas, Khaki Campbell’s, and Rouens just domestic variants of mallard. Most domestic mallard varieties cannot fly, and many lack proper brooding instincts and could never really exist in the wild. However, domestic duck genes do get into the wild mallard population every so often. So in this way, domestic ducks are to mallards what domestic dogs are to gray wolves.

But the analogy gets even more interesting.  There are endemic mallards in North America that are often regarded as distinct species, and most experts would regard them as distinct species. However, they could easily be thought of as regional variants of what is really a mallard complex.

The most common endemic North American mallard is the black duck. The black duck is a large mallard that behaves almost exactly like the more common form. However, the drakes never develop the green heads or chestnut breasts. They never get that ornate gray penciling on their plumage. They are heavily mottled, rather dark large mallards.

Most authorities regard this creature as a distinct species, but a good case can be made that American black ducks are a regional form of mallard. They live over Northeastern and Midwestern states. They breed extensively in Eastern Canada and the Northern Great Lakes.

One hypothesis is that these ducks are descended from an early radiation of the ancestral mallard that adapted to living in bodies of water surrounded by extensive forests. Because there was so much predation in those areas, the ducks had a strong selection pressure never to evolve the ornate plumage of the more typical mallard.

These ducks evolved into a distinct population from Northeastern Mexico to Florida, which is called the mottled duck. The mottled duck is usually considered a distinct species as well.

And in deeper into Mexico, there is the Mexican duck, which is probably derived from black duck population.

One weird thing, though, is that mallards and black ducks really do not recognize much of a species barrier. Indeed, the genetic difference between black ducks and mallards appears to be decreasing.

Maybe a better reading of black duck taxonomy is that black ducks just represent a form of mallard that adapted to living in high predator density forests, and now that the forests have been opened, the more open country forms of mallard in which the drakes have ostentatious plumage have invaded their range.

And they have started to hybridize significantly.

Most waterfowl experts would disagree with me on this question, but the truth is the molecular work on mallards and their relatives is far behind canids. And yes, we do know that lots of Anas ducks hybridize. Hybridization itself is not a very good species indicator within these species, but if it is as significant as it is between black ducks and mallards, then we have to reconsider our classification.

I would love to see full genome comparisons of the various ducks in the genus Anas. We need to get a better idea of when all these various ducks diverged from a common ancestor and get a full handle on how much hybridization has happened.

Gadwalls are also somewhere in this mess. They might be an early offshoot of mallards that adapted to truly open environments, but I would not be surprised if their hybridization was at a level comparable to that of black ducks and mallards.

So we need more molecular work on these ducks. Their evolutionary history has quite strong parallels in the gray wolf complex, including their wide distribution, lots of hybridization between populations, and domestic form that casts a few genes into the wild population every once in a while.

The only way to resolve these issues is to have comparisons of full genomes. My guess is that we will someday, but until now, we’re still basing species on mtDNA samples and very limited genetic markers.



Natural History

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Win a copy of “Crochet Dog Sweaters”

Do you crochet? Years ago as a teenager, I loved crocheting afghans and scarves, although I admit those skills are long forgotten. Recently I received a copy of Crochet Dog Sweaters by Linda Memmel…

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Oinky pig courser


Streamer likes to fetch and then zoom around with the oinky pig.

His feathering is coming in nicely too.

Natural History

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