Thanks for catching that closing bracket. I'm working on an offline system so I have to manually transcribe vs. cut-n-paste... Your assumption is correct, $Var1 is a reference. I was trying to just read the ThingName without knowing (or caring) what type it was. I used animal, veg and mineral as a stand in for a long list of specifics that I don't have access to, alas. I would rather use an XPath statement with valueof but I always get the "Can't call method "valueof" without a package or object reference..." error.