Friday, November 30, 2012

Making soup

I was listening this morning to "Desert Island Discs" as I was making soup. Here it is at its pre-blended stage. The castaway was Edmund de Waal, the potter and the writer of "The Hare With Amber Eyes" (very interesting indeed). I've seen pictures of the pots he makes and while they're beautiful, they're all pure white and - to me - look a tiny bit ... I hesitate to say boring... but if I were he, I probably couldn't resist the temptation to paint some nice flowers on some of them. (Cf Ikea cushion.) I would have thought that making lots of white pots for the rest of one's life wouldn't provide huge intellectual stimulation but he waxed very enthusiastic about the whole thing and since he's superbright, there's obviously more to it than I understand.

Meanwhile, as I say, I was making soup (yes, sublime to ridiculous; I know) and thinking about how I feel about that. Every week or so I make an enormous pot of soup and eat some every day. The whole family used to eat it but now the children have departed and Mr Life, rebelling after years of consuming vegetarian soup, gets himself tins of meaty varieties instead. This is not so bad now that the council collects the tins for recycling, but it still doesn't seem right to me. Into my soup I put broccoli stalks and cauliflower leaves as well as lentils and courgettes and carrots and onions and leeks and it's economical and healthy. I put the peelings on the compost heap and nothing gets discarded. Of course, I expect that at this time of year some of the vegetables come from overseas so that it's not so morally superior as I think; and I can't really claim ever to have walked past a field in which Scottish lentils waved gently in the breeze; but my soup connects me with my roots, my mother and my granny and generations of broth-boiling ancestors.

Later - completely irrelevantly to the above - Mr Life and I were in the car. "Do you think that van driver's a sailor?" he asked. I couldn't think what he was talking about.

But then I paid more attention. Yes, probably.

Long time bloggy friends may remember that last year, Daughter 2 gave us little gifts for the days of Advent. So we've done the same for her this year. Was this simply to provide me with subjects for December blog posts? Of course not.
And now it's 10 to midnight and I'd better post this before the hour strikes, we all turn into pumpkins and my NaBloWhatever efforts all go to naught. Which would never do.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A tableless post

Well, I'm astonished. Not a single one of you owned up to possessing the world's most common cushion. Distressingly, various commenters have seen and rejected it. Surely I can't be the only person who fell for its convincing air of Granny-made-this-ness?  I suppose it's possible that the reason there are such piles of them in the Edinburgh Ikea is that no one has ever bought one but me.

Today has been slightly rubbish, though cheered by all your comments. We're still in the process of purging the paperwork and archives so that it doesn't all need to go back into the pristine (though sadly not quite as pristine as it was last week) study. The piles of things awaiting attention are diminishing from where we put them in what had been my mum's bedroom, so we decided to grit our teeth and get rid of some of the furniture that she'd brought down from her own house to furnish her bedroom here. We took some to the British Heart Foundation shop; but her favourite pink reclining chair and another pink velvet bedroom chair had to go to the tip because they predated the days of fireproof covering labelling so charities can't take them. I cannot tell you how terrible it felt, heaving up her chairs and dropping them into a skip. So sorry, Mum.

We cheered ourselves up on a further charity shop visit (where we got rid of some books and vinyl records, hurray for us) by having a walk in Inverleith Park. As you can see, it was a lovely sunny day but it was also rather chilly. The pond was partly iced up. I'm so glad I'm not a bird. My feet are cold enough without having to waddle around in icy water.

These were being fed bread by children. I don't think one is really supposed to feed bread to birds any more because it's not good for them - another innocent pleasure gone, alas. When we were little, we were allowed to feed animals in the Zoo, which seems amazing now. In our garden we had this green plant which we called King's Vegetable - it was sort of cabbagey but tall like a sprout plant. There was some family story that a relative had been a royal gardener and had crossed something with something - my brother, who reads this blog, will no doubt have the correct story. I think my father grew it every year from cuttings when we lived in our first house and he was going through a gardening phase. My mother used to put it in soup. Anyway, herbivorous animals at the Zoo loved it and we used to have a great time feeding elephants and monkeys and so on.

This is from the other side of the pond, looking towards the city. The right hand lump is the Castle and the one slightly to the left of the middle is Arthur's Seat. I like skylines with hills and spires and domes rather than skyscrapers but it's a matter of taste, I suppose. Like cushions.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

More tables

Thank you for your non-matching-table comments. Just to show how far we are from being matching in reality, never mind in aspiration, I offer you a selection of other tables from our house.

1. Above, the table that Mr Life's grandad, who was a woodwork teacher, made for Mr Life's parents when they got married in 1947. It's a good solid piece but unfortunately doesn't have folding-out leaves so it takes up quite a lot of room. The chairs came with it though I don't think he made them. They're showing their age. It's better not to lean back too confidently on them.

2. The table that Mr Life's mum brought back from Egypt or Palestine, where she was running canteens just after the war. You see that big black thing just to the left of it? Mr Life would be surprised to hear that you'd spotted it. It's the subject of marital... well, difference of opinion. He persuaded me that it would be ok to buy this speaker (or whatever it is) for the tv because it would be unnoticeable tucked in there. Hahaha.

3. The table that came via Mr Life's parents from his mum's Aunt Agnes, whose husband was the postmaster in Kenmore (a village on Loch Tay). We don't know how it got from somewhere Eastern to Kenmore.

4. The nest of tables that my aunt and uncle gave us as a wedding present, made by a chap called Suffering Moses (who knows why?) in Pakistan, where they worked.

5. Another table made by Mr Life's grandad by the simple device of getting a flat bit of wood, prettying it up a bit and screwing some legs on it.

6. By this time you may be asking yourself if we've ever bought a table in our lives apart from one from a junkyard for £4. Well, not this one, which came from a friend of my grandparents. She offered it to them in the late 1970s but they didn't want it so we took it.

7. It occurs to me that we also have our kitchen table, which is a Utility model bought by my parents when they got married in 1946, but I didn't take a picture of that and possibly your interest in our elderly free tables is waning. However, in case anyone's still reading this, how about taking part in my little survey about the Ikea cushion?

Yes, this one.

I really like it but Ikea have been selling it for ages now. Every time we go to Ikea, there are heaps and heaps of them so I assume that heaps and heaps of people buy them, but I've never seen one in any friend's house. So - who has one? Hands up?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The coffee table and the boy

Grandson has a cold and cough but still beams away. Here he is, playing once more with his polished stones. We used to collect them on holiday and polish them ourselves, though I have to admit to having bought some as well to add to the colour mix. They've sat in a bowl for years. I would have been most intrigued when our children were little to know that they were destined to become Grandson toys.

When we were first married we lived in a very small house but a couple of years later, in 1976, we moved to a larger Edwardian terrace and needed more furniture (but had no money). We got this coffee table from Sam Burns's Junkyard. It cost £4. Mr Life stripped and varnished it and we felt it would do for a year or two. But it's wonderfully sturdy and served as a play/snack table - and a boat when turned upside down - for all our children and their friends.

Every now and then I visit friends' houses and see nice matching furniture and think - hmm, possibly ours is not the most stylish ever. Perhaps we should get some new stuff.

But it's lovely to see the next generation enjoying our old table and it's unbashable so - I think we'll keep it. (I wonder who owned it before us and how it ended up at Sam Burns's. And I wonder who'll own it after we're gone.)

This afternoon Grandson, Son-in-Law 1 and I went to the museum.

It's hard to take good photos of a constantly moving subject!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Floating in my head...

I was pondering about blog topics. This is the fifth last day of NaBloThingie and the most exciting things I've done today are to make cheese scones for morning visitors (num num, as Grandson would say) and to go to the furniture store to enquire plaintively when the bed we ordered will actually arrive. (Next week, the chap claimed. It actually arrived last week but they sent it to the wrong people, who had also ordered a bed so received it enthusiastically and slept on it and are keeping it.) Anyway, I was thinking about of things with which I was very familiar as a child, but about which we probably didn't tell our children. And this is one of them: the book "Simple Heraldry" by Ian Moncrieffe of Easter Moncrieffe and Don Pottinger.

It belonged to my dad and I acquired it when we gave most of my parents' books to charity earlier in the year. So it wasn't in the house when our children were growing up.

I suppose it's rather an odd book for a child to read but I suspect many children of my generation just read what was around. Life wasn't so full of distractions in those days and a book was a book. It's actually quite informative and entertaining, with comical pictures of knights and ladies and explanations about differencing and quartering and devices.

Another book I remember well is "1066 and All That" by W C Sellar and R J Yeatman. I don't know what happened to that copy but again, I solemnly read it and will remember forever that some kings were Good Kings and others (mainly King John, as I recollect) were Bad Kings.

Then there were Grimm's and Hans Anderson's fairy tales, which we had in matching volumes and so they merge together in my mind. Some of them were very nasty, with plot devices involving violence and death liable to traumatise the unwary reader. Though I was a rather timid and oversensitive child, I don't feel that they upset me as much as I would (now) expect. On the other hand, maybe they're the reason for my nervousness... .

And there are other things that remain vivid to me but would mean nothing to the offspring, such as the liberty bodices with rubber buttons that went over our vests in winter; the smocks we wore over our uniforms in the first two years of school (a choice of blue, green or pink - mine was pink); ice forming on the inside of bedroom windows overnight on cold nights -  and the beauty of the patterns formed on the glass; Jimmy the van man who came round with vegetables; the horrible mottled brown tiles on my grandparents' dining room fireplace and the much nicer grey/pink ones in their sitting room; the caterpillars on our gooseberry bushes; the pen nibs that we dipped into the inkwells in our desks and tapped against the side of the well to remove the excess ink - and the scratchiness of writing with a slightly split nib.

There are so many things like that - taken for granted at the time and of no real importance but now so redolent to me of my childhood. So many things... and I could easily write another blog post about a few others... .

And you?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Tale of two chairs

Grandson sat on this little chair today to have a snack, as he has on occasions before. Years and years ago (when dinosaurs roamed the hills and plains of Scotland and woolly mammoths trumpeted at night and I was just a little girl) this chair sat with other identical chairs in the Sunday School room at our church. I and my contemporaries sat in them. When our children were small, the church replaced these chairs with stackable ones and sold the old ones off, this example to me. Our children then sat on it when they were little. (The other day, Son-in-Law 1, who is a slender person, sat in it. He fitted. I don't think I'll try. I might fit in but I'd be embarrassed if the fire brigade had to be summoned to extract me.)

This chair, on the other hand, used to belong to my maternal grandparents. I was given it when my granny died and my grandpa moved in with my parents in 1980. It sat in Granny's sitting room, which was only ever used if they had visitors. I have no idea where they got it. Maybe they bought it new from a shop when they got married in 1921. I'm fond of it. Grandson likes peeping through the bars and giggling.

(I apologise for his lack of trousers in these photos. We'd just got him up from his nap and hadn't yet completed his ensemble. He's wearing manly tights with his vest poppered underneath. You can get away with that when you're one.)

What's that sound, you ask? Well, it might be the sound of the bottom of a barrel being scraped. Only five more days of NaBloWhateveritscalled. I really must do something to report on. I did make macaroni cheese and shortbread yesterday but that doth not a blog post make. Not like chairs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Not waving but...

I don't want to boast - or, yes, I do - I worked out how to do this all by myself. Well... to be strictly accurate, I tried a slight variation on what Mr Life suggested that I do last night, but hey, that didn't work and this DID. [Bows.]

But you will admit: you wouldn't have thought that a sausage would flash before the eyes of a drowning man. (What would, I wonder?)

If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you need to read the previous post. Though only if you want to.

What are you reading these days? I'm re-reading Michael Frayn's wonderful autobiography - more a biography of his father - "My Father's Fortune" - really well-written and extremely interesting to compare with his equally terrific novel "Spies". I love seeing the inner workings of books; and some of the background of "Spies" clearly comes from his own boyhood. I'm also reading Jessica Mitford's collected letters, "Decca". I read lots of diaries and collections of letters and have read various collections of the Mitfords' correspondence. They were an extraordinary lot; and they wrote very entertainingly (including Debo the Duchess of Devonshire, who's still alive). But I'm not sure I'd want to be one of them. It would be a bit emotionally exhausting.

I don't usually have two books on the go but one belongs to a friend so I can't read it in the bath.

Now I really must get back to sorting out Stuff. I have a huge pile of it to my left. Groan.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I don't have much to say today. Look, partially-filled Billy bookcases. We haven't really been getting on with the Study Stuff Reorganisation, partly because of the Beaming Tornado who comes to the house Tuesday to Thursday and partly because of - I can't quite think. Tomorrow, however... .

These are week-old alstroemerias, which are still very pretty but probably about to start dropping their petals. I'd never seen alstroemerias till we went on holiday to Holland fifteen or so years ago and they were for sale in the flower markets. I thought, oh, traditional Dutch flowers; and then they started to appear in Britain the next year.

And these are the very same gerberas of which - I've just checked - I posted a photo on November 9. They're a bit paler now than they were, but still quite decorative - amazing. Gerberas usually collapse quite quickly, but I assume that cutting their stalks so short has kept the flowers fresh.

There you are - a handy hint. You don't often get these from me.

I'm only inflicting these profundities on the unfortunate world because I'm doing the NaPostingEveryDayInNovember whatsit. And nothing much happens; sorry. At least, nothing has happened today because I've spent most of the day working on the church magazine. Once it's edited I put in pictures from a CD of copyright-free images, which is quite fun but sometimes mildly challenging. I type in a word and the CD offers me a choice of pictures. One of the articles was about discussions of plans for the future of various local churches and I couldn't quite think what word would sum this up. I tried "thinking" and up came a picture of someone drowning, with only their hands sticking up from the water and a thought bubble above which consisted of a picture of a sausage. (I would show you the image but I don't know how to put it on my blog.)

Call me eccentric but that's not what would come to my mind if illustrating the concept of "thinking".

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dear Mum, Dad, Nanny and Gramps

Granny says she's too busy to blog today so I thought I'd do a quick guest post to show you the sort of things I do at her house. For example, today I began by sorting out the keys in the hall.
Then I climbed the stairs - I can go down now as well as up... .
I got Granny to switch the gaaaahs on and off and on and off. 
I looked at the scrapbook that Granny made for Mum when she was my age. I said the words for things such as pussies and dogs and babies and cars. I did think the pictures of cars looked very old-fashioned. (Actually, this photo was from yesterday - spot the different trousers - but I did it today as well.)
I played and played. Here I am with the lovely train that Thimbleanna brought me.
I went through towards the other room. I was still clutching the key fobs that I took from the key bowl.
Here I am walking. Fast!
I said "'Allo!!!!" to Sirius in my usual ringing tones. He was somewhat alarmed.
I then had a brief snack, still keeping a close eye on my key fobs.
That was just a selection of my morning activities.
(And Granny thinks she's busy.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fifty years ago

This picture has nothing to do with anything. It's my plant table in the sitting room and behind it you see proof that I've swept up some more of the fallen leaves. Nothing particular has happened today but a comment about my piano teacher being like Miss Jean Brodie (she's NOT - she's lovely) made my mind spin back fifty years... .

Fifty years ago I was in my first senior year at an Edinburgh girls’ school - not unlike Marcia Blaine’s, as featured in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Our headmistress, Miss J, was tall and thin. She had masses of grey hair swept into a bun and she glared down her hooked nose at any girl who happened to wander in range. She was renowned for her snobbery. Once she stopped my friend Christine in the corridor – it was a hot day and Christine had the sleeves of her school shirt rolled up. “You look,” hissed Miss J, “like a washerwoman!

Another time – when we were moving to a new building - another friend, Mary, came in from the street where a van was being loaded. Miss J was standing inside, arms folded, supervising operations. Mary said timidly, “Miss J, a gentleman outside wants to talk to you.”

 Miss J sniffed. “Do you mean a gentleman?” she enquired frostily, “or a workman?”

We weren’t allowed to use the word “teacher”: Miss J insisted that we say “mistresses” or “masters” – though in fact there was only one master - surprisingly (in an all-girls school) the biology teacher. And we weren’t divided into “classes” – we had to use the word “forms”.

Almost all the mistresses were unmarried and unbelievably ancient – or so we thought. Now I realise that since they retired at 60, even the oldest must have been younger than I am now.

 A particularly memorable lady, Miss C, taught us history. She was known to us as “Granny C” though she was unmarried and we never imagined that she might have had any romantic life. She had a mat of suspiciously black (for one so ancient) hair. We thought it was a wig but maybe it just looked wig-like because it was bundled into a hairnet.

Miss C was always cold. She wore a thick tweed suit in all seasons and would come into the form room, ask someone to shut the windows and then settle herself facing the radiator, a rug over her knees. She would then proceed to teach us by dictating notes as she massaged lotion into her hands. We were extremely well-behaved. Years later, a teacher myself at a comprehensive school and trying to cope with classes of up to thirty-nine (very) lively pupils, I would fleetingly remember Miss C sitting in peace, rubbing her hands and murmuring meditatively, “Nelson won at Trafalgar because he had – remember, girls? – long range guns firing broadsides.”





Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Coffee with Granny

This is the coffee shop right underneath my piano teacher's flat. Usually I get there too early for my lesson so I go and have a coffee and read the paper thoughtfully provided by the coffee shop.

My mother used to take my granny into town for coffee every Tuesday but there are various things that would astonish Granny if she could come to this (or indeed any) coffee shop with me. (And how lovely that would be. She died in 1980 and I still miss her.)

1. The coffee - all the different concoctions that are available now. I like cappuccino and this coffee shop serves it with a little foam heart on the top.

2. The comestibles - there are scones, tray bakes and so on which are all about three times the size they were in my granny's day. I don't actually eat any of them because it would make me three times the size of my granny, which would be undesirable.

3. The chairs and tables - they're shabby chic and don't necessarily match each other. I imagine she would think this odd in a café.

4. The walls have been stripped back to the stone in some places. (I imagine she'd think that building works were in progress. I don't really care for it myself.)

5. The newspapers - never provided in the past but a jolly good thing, in my opinion.

I wonder what cafés will be like in another 32 years. When I'm 94... .

Monday, November 19, 2012

The sea, the sea

This is Auntie Daughter 2 and Grandson by the sea yesterday in Joppa, the eastern suburb of Edinburgh where we go to church. What's he looking at?

This! The tractor that goes along the beach every morning removing any rubbish and smoothing the sand. Grandson is a great fan of vehicles. I think he must be a boy.

This is the same sea, but west of Edinburgh, ie up river (it's a tidal estuary) at South Queensferry, where I went today to visit a friend. You can see the famous Forth Bridge.


This is the main street, built before the days of cars.

The bridge is very much a presence in the town. Even where the shoreline has buildings along it, you catch glimpses in gaps between them. My friend's house is higher up the hill and her kitchen window looks straight out on it. I'm not sure whether it was thought beautiful in its early days but somehow we're so used to it that it's thought of as an attractive rather than blotlike.

At the bus stop on the way home, a chap asked me what the fare was to Edinburgh. I didn't know because, as an over-60, I get free bus fares now. I detected a slight foreign accent so I thought I should be friendly to offset the uselessness of my fare knowledge. "Where are you from?" I asked.

He frowned slightly. "Here, for 25 years," he said. (It seemed strange to me that his bus knowledge was nevertheless so insufficient, but I let it pass.) "I have another home in Warsaw," he added. "I commute."

"That's a long commute," I said.

"I have another in New York. That's even further," he said. And the bus arrived and we got on. He went upstairs and I sat downstairs.

South Queensferry, Warsaw and New York. I bet that's unique. I had a lot of questions in my mind but we'll never know the answers now.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Who, me?

Act 1: the living room, adjoining the kitchen, which has a cat flap leading out to the front of the house.
Time: 8 o'clock last night.
Cast: Mr Life, Isabelle, Daughter 2, Cassie Cat, Sirius Cat, Mouse
[Daughter 2, Mr Life and Isabelle are sitting on the sofa in a row, covered with a blanket, watching television. Sirius is lounging in his cat bed beside the radiator. Cassie is still out, though she knows she’s supposed to come in at nightfall.
Suddenly there is the sound of the catflap opening and closing. Brief pause, then the sound is repeated.]
Isabelle: That’s funny. Was that Cassie coming in and then going out again?
 [She goes into the kitchen to investigate.]
Act 2: the kitchen
Cassie [outside] [thinks]: Oops. Think I got it wrong there. But maybe she won’t notice the mouse lying on the mat just inside the catflap. Or even if she does, she won’t know it had anything to do with me.
 Mouse [thinks]: I’m just going to lie here on the mat in the dead position and maybe she won’t notice me.
 Isabelle [who Does Not Do Dead Things]: There’s a mouse and it’s dead!
[Mr Life, who knows his duty when it comes to dead things, heaves himself up from the sofa and comes through, nobly followed by Daughter 2. Isabelle retreats to the living room.]
Mr Life: It’s not dead. It looks fine. I’ll just put it in this… [fetches box] box.
 Mouse [thinks]: Oh, all right.
[Mr Life comes through and demonstrates the mouse’s fineness to Isabelle.]
Sirius [thinks]: That looks like an interesting mouse.  Yawn. [He goes back to sleep]
Isabelle [relieved]: Well, Cassie’s probably lurking outside the catflap at the front, so put it out of the back door.
Act 3: the back garden
Cassie [thinks]: Got away with that one. I've cunningly come round the back so they'll never guess I had anything to do with it. Well done, me. Now, I’ll just go and scratch pathetically on the living room window. Oh, here he is coming to open the back door for me. That's handy. I’ll just saunter in. Nonchalantly, you know. What's that in his hand? Oh, it's - .
[The mouse and Cassie pass each other in the doorway and exchange startled glances.]

Cassie: [hums casually]: Hmm, hmm, hmmty hmm hmm. 
Mouse [scampers into flowerbed] [thinks]: In my next life, I’m going to be a cat.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Let there be gaaaah

Daughter 2 came home last night for the weekend. It's lovely to see her but tomorrow, alas... . Today Mr Life, Daughters 1 and 2, Grandson and I went to the Hopetoun House Christmas Fair. That's Hopetoun House above, a very stately home near Edinburgh. The fair is an upmarket sort of event, with lots of well-spoken ladies selling hand-knitting and jewellery and paintings and toys and chutneys and chocolate and so on. We usually take my mother, though last year we didn't go because she was recovering from her operation. It felt strange to be there without her.

Grandson particularly enjoyed seeing the teddies and the Christmas decorations. He was also enthusiastic about Hopetoun's huge crystal chandeliers. As I've said before, he has for some reason invented the word "gaaaah" for "light". Whenever he enters a room he points at the light and says "Gaaaah!" with great satisfaction. We switch on the gaaaah and then switch it off again and he smiles approvingly.

"Yes, that's the light," we say, hoping to discourage him from gaaaahing, and in a tolerant tone of voice he says "Dight" and then, slowly and clearly, as if trying to make a foreigner understand, "Gaaaaah."

The Hopetoun chandeliers - sorry, gaaaahs - were very sparkly but we weren't able to switch them on and off for him. He took this disappointment stoically.

Friday, November 16, 2012


I've just checked my stats (the alternative activities were dusting and piano practice) and saw that noticeably fewer people than usual read my blog today. Surely I'm not boring you with my news of our study? Instead, then, I offer you an Edinburgh view today, to demonstrate that the whole of the UK was not, as forecast by the BBC weather chaps, dull and foggy.

In the afternoon I went to the supermarket. I don't know about you but I can't quite get my head round cabbages masquerading as flowers. I realise that it's just my prejudice and they're really quite pretty but I somehow couldn't buy them.

A chap was pondering over the flower stand and eventually decided to buy a bouquet like this one. I felt like saying to him: are you sure that lilies and cabbages add up to a romantic gesture? And do you really think that purple and orange (ok, salmon) go well together?

But I didn't. Taste varies. He was maybe buying them for himself but if not, I hope the recipient liked them.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Tidy and untidy

The main events of today? Well, Grandson played very busily with (among other things) his stones. Do you think he's going to be a geologist? A jeweller? A miner? Or maybe just a chap who likes sorting things. Good husband material, then.

Leaves fell off the cherry tree. They do make the garden look messy.

Grandson watched them fall. He also made little hand prints on the windows. I keep thinking I might clean these off but then he makes more and I think, well, maybe next week.

Son-in-Law 1 and Mr Life went to Ikea and got Billy bookcases and then assembled them in the study. Look how pristine they are. Do you think we could just keep them empty? Minimalism, you know.

At least it'll be a while before Grandson can reach up to the glass doors and press his little hands against them. And they're too high for feline nose prints too.