Now Deidre has been claiming her royal right to the timeshare throne:

Lounging in the sun

Lounging in the sun

Oh, are you taking my picture again?

Oh, are you taking my picture again?

Alright, I'll look beautiful for you.

Alright, I’ll look beautiful for you.

How many more of these are you going to take?

How many more of these are you going to take?

…a few more.  Then I left her alone.

…which had absolutely nothing to do with my camera batteries dying.  Nope.  Not at all.

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The Kitteh Throne

24/11/2012

Those of you who have cats and papasans (bowl chairs) may know that they are the Kitteh Throne Of Choice.  All three of mine have at one time or another claimed the papasan as their territory, and currently it’s Miss Maggie Magnificat.

Princess Maggie in her royal throne

She’s so beautiful ❤

I love that face!

So if you’re looking for a comfy piece of furniture that the kittehs will enjoy just as much (if not moreso) than you do, get yourself a papasan!  Plus, they’re good for snuggling together in.  You know you love a cat curled up in your lap.  Don’t deny it. 😉

 

 

Tummeh Tuesday

20/11/2012

This is Yuan at this very moment:

Tummeh!

He’s so cute.

Love that fang

Don’t you wish we could be that comfortable however we fling ourselves down on the bed?

Thankful Thursday

05/07/2012

I am grateful this storage bin is right in front of this fan.

 

Because it’s hoooooooooot.

I’m thankful for linoleum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is part of a blog hop!  Check out the start here: Cokie the Cat  A very beautiful tribute that happened at BlogPaws.

So Yuan scared the snot out of me the other day.  He was sitting in the strawberry pot on the balcony (the strawberries have not sprouted at all, so really, it’s a pot of dirt and trellis at this point), staring intently at something over the ledge.  I went out to distract him, because I didn’t want him making a crazy flying leap off the balcony in a moment of blind hunter instinct.  Well, he didn’t leap – he snatched.

A bird.

In flight.

Mid-air.

He then proceeded to carry it in his mouth to the door, like, “OK, I have dinner, let me bring it in now.”

Luckily I close the screen door behind me because I don’t want bugs to get in.  But meanwhile, I’m being a silly human screaming as much as the bird is, “OH MY GOD!  YUAN, LET IT GO!” …like he’s going to let it go just because I’m screaming and flailing around like a crazy woman.  He luckily a moment later turned away from the door to fuss with the bird who was struggling to get free, and I ran inside, fetched a cup of water, and threw said water on Yuan to get him to let go of the bird.  He did, and it flew off the side of the balcony (with Yuan in pursuit, but it got away and Yuan watched it go).  So I’m pretty sure the bird is OK.  But it scared the bejeezus out of me.  If I had indoor/outdoor cats, if I let them roam the neighborhood, etc., I might expect that type of thing to happen every now and again.  But I have indoor kitties who are allowed on my second floor apartment’s balcony… I don’t expect there to be a whole lot of hunting other than toys and the occasional bug!

Since he was just being a cat and trying to bring me a present (when kitties bring home prey to you, they are bringing you a present – sharing it with you), once I had calmed my silly human self down I gave him treats.  That way he got his “hunter noms” and a “thanks for taking care of your family”.  Not that I want to encourage him to snatch more birds out of the air (we had a talk about that, but again, he was just doing What Cats Do), but he was being natural.  Can’t punish him for that.  And I felt bad about dousing him, but I REALLY didn’t want the bird to be hurt.  I do think it was OK – it flew off – just scared out of its mind.  Yuan wasn’t biting on it hard, just holding it.

So that was my Yuan taking me out of my comfort zone (he’s my teacher man!) once again moment.  I’ve been living with cats since I was 11, but they’ve all been indoor cats.  So the whole “find a dead something on your porch” thing is alien to me.  The closest I came to that was Butterscotch (my first cat – who I got when I was 11) would hunt the occasional mouse that got in the house.  He would then leave the dead mouse in front of my bedroom door.  Such a sweet boy bringing me a present and hunting mice!  But luckily for my mice-made-me-literally-sit-on-the-table-and-scream girlie self, my parents usually found it before I did and got rid of the carcass.  Butter was probably very frustrated by this, like, “Why are you throwing away HER PRESENT?!”  Us humans are very confusing.

The only other experience that somewhat resonates with this is the time Deidre ate my betta fish after living with him for a year and a half.  I came home from work to find his tail on the ground, and all the rest of him gone.  I did initially get mad, but afterward I felt bad for it because again – she was just being a cat.

But this is why, though I would like to have fish again, I’m not going to get any until I can get a big tank that can’t be knocked over nor the lid popped off.  I can just see it now – one lone betta fish in a giant tank. 😉  He’ll be king of the world!

So lately I’ve been feeding Maggie and Yuan closer and closer together whenever all three of them are getting cat food (Deidre so far is not interested in expanding her territory to the kitchen as of late, which is where the other two eat).  But the other day, as I go in there to feed them, Maggie and Yuan meet at the corner of the kitchen, and *almost* sniffed noses.  They both kind of hesitantly made moves like they were going to do it, but they were both a little unsure about it, so they didn’t *quite* get there.  They were just an inch or so apart, face to face, no growls, no hisses.  So I moved their bowls pretty much next to each other to see if they’d go for it.

They totally did. 🙂

Makin’ their human proud!

 

As I’m sure most of you know, a good chunk of the state of Colorado is on fire right now.  People are having to evacuate themselves and their pets all over the place.  While Denver, where I live, is not being threatened by the fires, way too many residential areas are.  Hundreds of homes have been destroyed.  When I was in college, our college town had a close call with a wildfire (though not as close as that same town had this year, where more than 200 homes were destroyed), and that made me realize the importance of being prepared.  At the time, I didn’t even have a proper carrier for my cat, nor did my roommate for her cat.  I thought at the time, “Deidre doesn’t even like being in a carrier (I had borrowed one before).”  Now, I make sure to have a carrier for each of my three kitties.

Deidre is MUCH HAPPIER with a bag-type carrier than a crate.

Even if your kitties don’t like being in a carrier, it’s important to have one for emergencies.  If ever there was a tornado or a wildfire that DID threaten my neighborhood and I had to evacuate, I would feel better knowing I could keep track of my kitties without worrying about them running off and/or getting hurt.  Especially since I don’t own a car!  But there are things you can do to make the carrier experience better for your less-than-thrilled feline friends.

Deidre, for one, HATED the crate-type carriers.  She would cry in them, and even got sick once or twice.  This is why in college we got into the habit of letting her ride in the back window of the car (I have a theory that she maybe gets motion sickness like I do: if I can look out a window, I’m generally fine).  Even though she never threatened the driver’s feet or caused a ruckus in the car and was happier doing this, it wouldn’t have been safe if we had gotten into an accident.  We of course were college kids, and like all underdeveloped-brain young adults, thought we were invincible, and didn’t think about that.  Thank God nothing happened!

She now has a bag-type carrier, pictured above.  She actually doesn’t seem to mind it at all!  She doesn’t cry in it; she sits calmly and goes along for the ride.  The first time I put her in it, I was shocked it made such a difference.  So if your kitty hates their current carrier, try switching styles!

Please note the plethora of Yuan hair

Another tactic to help your kitties become accustomed to their carriers is to leave them out all the time as cat hangout spots.  To the right is Yuan’s crate, with the lid off (it’s underneath).  This is the same crate that was the one Deidre hated, and it was actually the crate we brought my first cat, Butterscotch, to Colorado from New Jersey in back in 1990.  It’s seen it’s fair share of cats!  I’ve got it lined with a pillow and blanket my grandmother made for my kitties a few years ago (you can tell Yuan approves of them by the amount of hair present).  It’s a regularly used bed now.  If I have to take him somewhere, it’s familiar and has his calm, sleeping-shedding smells all over it (yes, I do wash the pillow and blanket periodically).

So I don’t lose any parts to the carrier if I need them in a flash, I’ve got the lid underneath, with the door and the nuts and bolts to put it together stashed underneath (see below pic).  Still quickly accessible in a hurry, but a cozy and beloved bed in the meantime.  Win-win!

It assembles pretty quickly

Finally, there’s Maggie’s crate.  Oh, my Maggie Magnificat.  What a trial we used to go through to get her in a carrier.  She used to think carriers were the portals to hell, based on how she acted.  She would scream, hiss, growl, scratch, bite, and – her pièce de résistance – pee and poop on me, in order to try and avoid the terror that was the carrier.  I tried both the crate that is now Yuan’s and the bag that is now Deidre’s.  I would put treats inside.  Tuna.  Sardines!  She wasn’t having any of it.  She would hide.  She would attach herself to the carpet under the papasan like she had been super glued there.  Once, my mother (who was giving me a ride to the vet) held the crate-that-is-now-Yuan’s at an angle so gravity might help us get her inside, and I, bleeding and covered in pee, unceremoniously pushed her in by her butt.  Poor Maggie.  Poor me!

And just when I thought my only hope was one of those cat strollers (which would be handy on the bus, but another large thing to store in the apartment, and not cheap), I found The Most Perfect Maggie Crate Ever:

*enter angels singing from on high here*

It may be a little hard to tell in that photo as I have the front door taken off and sitting on top, but it has a second door *on the top*.  Miraculous!  I literally put Maggie down – in the crate.  If she pees, it goes in the crate instead of on my pants (she’s gotten better about that, but it still happens).  I don’t have to fight to get her in there like it’s an epic battle.  I literally just plunk her in – it takes about a minute, as opposed to 30 (really – I’d have to start fighting her 30 minutes before we had to leave for the vet to get her in and not miss our appointment).

BUT – most amazing thing of all – I left it out, like I do Yuan’s, with the door off (as pictured), so that she wouldn’t feel “trapped” if it swung shut, in the hopes she might check it out on her own.  For months she wouldn’t go near it.  But now that she’s being all brave explorer kitty, she… SLEEPS IN IT.

Willingly.

Of her own accord.

And when there’s a stranger in the apartment that she doesn’t want to deal with – she chills out in her crate.  When the vacuum is on, she takes cover in her crate.  It’s become a safe space!

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

It too has a cat mat/blanket/bed in it that has her scent all over it, which helps.  But considering every indication from Maggie over the years has been that she’s claustrophobic, I am over the moon that she actually feels safe in her crate.  It’s no longer the portal to hell – it’s Someplace The Vacuum Can’t Reach!  ^_^

Some people ask me why I have a carrier for each cat – they often ask if I take all three to the vet at the same time.  Even if they were all perfectly happy with the same carrier, I would still be sure to have three.  You never know when an emergency might happen, and it’s important to be able to take care of your fuzzy family!  Be sure that your carrier is big enough for your cat (you don’t want them too cramped in there, and they do have weight limits as well), and something you can manage to heft with your kitty inside (there are some with wheels, much like suitcases, for those that can’t lift certain weights).  And get one for each cat!

The fires being all over the news has reminded me that I still haven’t accomplished one of those “been meaning to” tasks: creating a to-go emergency kit with food, water, first aid, and the like.  I’ll be working on that this week and will write about what to add for your kitties soon.  Stay safe!

My song to Maggie this morning:

 

Pretty woman, lying on the floor

Pretty woman, I’d like to know you more

Pretty woman

You are a cute cat, this much is true

No other tortie’s as cute as youuuuuuu

Pretty woman!

 

…yes, I make up songs for my cats.  That’s how I roll. 😉

 

Litter boxes.  They can make or break a multi-cat household.  If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’ve struggled with inappropriate elimination from the kitties, and have tried several stratagems to remedy the situation.  Learn from my experience!

Type of Litter

The type of litter can make the difference on if your kitty uses the box or not.  When it was just Deidre and I, I tried experimenting with this a bit.  Thankfully, Deidre has always been very patient with me on the litter box front, and endured this silly human trial without ever going outside the box.  I had decided to try the “natural” litters on the market, after reading about how clay was mined.  First, we tried Feline Pine Scoop.  I, the human, loved it.  It smelled good, it covered up the icky smells well, and it was super lightweight (since I don’t drive, not having to heft a 40-pound bag on the bus was a definite perk in my book).  Deidre, however, wasn’t having it.  The reason it was so lightweight was because it had the consistency of hamster shavings (it is my understanding that the non-scoop Feline Pine does not have this problem, but I wanted a scoopable litter).  Poor Deids would perch three out of four paws on the edge of the box, only having the fourth in due to the laws of physics, and wouldn’t cover her stuff up when she was done (she ALWAYS covers her stuff when she’s done, but more on that later), because she just didn’t want to touch it.  So, cat veto.

Then I tried Swheat Scoop, which is made out of, of course, wheat.  Deidre liked this one just fine; in fact, I think she preferred it.  But it got the human veto because it made my apartment smell like a zoo (you know when you walk by an animal enclosure in the zoo and it’s that mix of hay on the floor and poop?  That was what it smelled like to me).  Next up was World’s Best Cat Litter, which is made out of corn.  To be honest, I can’t even remember which one of us vetoed that one, but after that I gave up and went back to Tidy Cats, which was what we had been using before.

Then along came Maggie.  In the beginning, poor Maggie was so stressed out by her alpha-cat sister, she’d go outside the box as an anxiety response.  So eventually I heard about, and tried, Cat Attract, which has attractant in it to lure the kitties to do their deeds in the box.  Viola!  Maggie would go in the box (but not cover her stuff up).  Deidre was fine with Cat Attract as well, and dutifully covered her business as she always had with the Tidy Cats.  I did for a short time (a few months) get Miss Maggie the Senior version of Cat Attract, because I had read it was often preferred by both overweight and declawed cats, and she is both (no, I did not declaw her; she came to me that way).  She actually did prefer it, and would cover her stuff when she was done – the ONLY litter she has ever done that with.  So it must have felt better on her paws.  I tried to endure it for that reason, but eventually I couldn’t take it anymore.  That stuff kicked up more dust than you can shake a stick at.  Cleaning the box would leave the whole room overtaken by a dust cloud.  Even opening the window before I started to try and air it out, I’d have to walk out every couple of minutes to breathe.  Just sitting there, it was great; cleaning it was awful.  So reluctantly, I gave it the human veto, and we went back to regular Cat Attract.  I’d rather deal with occasionally having to go in with the scoop and cover a particularly stinky specimen after Maggie than choke to death on silicone dust (the Senior variety is the “crystal” kind of litter; regular Cat Attract is clay).  I imagine an automated box might solve the cleaning problem with the dusty litter, but that’s another story.

Type of Box

I learned really quickly that, either due to her suspected claustrophobia or her fear of being ambushed, that Maggie would not go in the box if it was not open for her to see all around her.  I did not have a lidded box to begin with, but I did have one of those “privacy” screens, cat sized, like humans use to divide rooms or provide a private dressing area.  If the screen was in the way of her seeing out, she avoided the box.  So, the screen went.

Deidre likes to bat litter out of the box onto the carpet and roll around in it like a chicken in dust.  So that means I got the kind of boxes with additional raised sides that snap on and off in an attempt to curb her litter-depositing habit – that, and a litter mat under each box.  I learned really quickly that the type of litter mat made a difference: the kind with lots of nooks and crannies for the litter to disappear in?  Fabulous.  The kind that is a smooth surface but ridged?  Maggie likes to poop on that better than in the box.  Don’t ask me why, but she made a habit of using the mat as her pooping place and the box as her peeing place when I had a smooth mat underneath.  I threw that one out before too long, and replaced it with another nooks-and-crannies one, and the problem stopped.  Perhaps it’s because Maggie is the only one of the three kitties who does what a friend of mine calls “scooties” – she drags her butt on the carpet after she poops like it’s her personal toilet paper.  Usually, nothing shows up on the carpet, but every once in a while… yeah.  So maybe she liked the mat like many humans like quilted toilet paper.

After Yuan had joined us, and I had thrown out both old boxes and bought new ones (he came to me with a giardia infection; it was a b**ch and a half to get rid of, and even though I had been disinfecting the boxes, I decided to not chance it after round three of antibiotics and just tossed the old boxes altogether).  As I was contemplating where I could put a third box in my little one bedroom apartment (really, you should have one box per cat plus an extra, but in such a small space, I figure they can deal with each having their own box without the spare), my aunt offered me her old automatic litter box.  She had had two cats; one of them passed away, and was the only one that had used the automated box – her surviving cat wouldn’t touch it.  Not having to scoop every day?  Score!  So I tried it.

If you have never witnessed an automated box, this was the kind that has a little rake attached to it, and after five minutes or so after your cat has left the box (there’s a motion sensor), it pulls the rake across and deposits the specimens in a disposable container.

It was noisy as hell.  Maggie went in it once when it was new, and she hadn’t seen the rake in action yet; after she witnessed it disposing of her business all by itself with a flourish, she wouldn’t go in it again.  Deidre never even made the attempt, and this is the girl who gamely dealt with the hamster shavings-esque litter.  Yuan however, was cool with it.  Okay, as long as one of them used it, I was happy.  So, I put it in Yuan Territory.

Problem: Yuan is fairly notorious for making a stink now and again that makes me want to pick up my guitar for a rousing rendition of “Smelly Cat” by Phoebe on Friends.  Five minutes is not adequate time for the litter to absorb what it needs to absorb to cover that odor, and raking it out from beneath the litter and into a little box, covered or not, made the situation such that I wanted to stick a hazardous waste decal on the wall above the box.  I tried lining the little box with litter, but that was still under the raked specimens, not on top, so it didn’t do much good.  Likewise baking soda.  Add to this the fact that you have to keep the litter really shallow in order to not stall the rake, and there just wasn’t much smell control at all.  After several months, I gave up on the auto-box and bought another high-sided box to match the girls’ boxes.

Number of Boxes

As I’ve already said, the “rule” is, one box per cat plus a spare.  In my small space, I went with one box per cat without a spare.  For a really long time, they each had their own box, nobody shared, and everyone was happy.  As is ever the case though, territories are shifting again and now they are sharing.  Well, Yuan is using every box in the house.  Deidre is using two, I think, and Maggie is using one (unless she’s using the one that used to be just Yuan’s in stealth mode and I just haven’t caught her yet, which may be the case as she is hanging out in that room a lot as of late).  I understand not wanting to have litter boxes everywhere, but which would you rather have: a litter box in your living room or pee on your carpet?

When Accidents Happen

At varying times, depending on the territory shift and how well they were getting along (two steps forward, one step back), there have been accidents to varying degrees.  It hasn’t been litter box aversion since I got the Cat Attract so much as it’s been aggressor-cat-was-in-between-them-and-the-litter-box, and whoever had the accident didn’t want to cross their path.  At first, Maggie was the one having accidents.  When Maggie goes someplace inappropriate, it’s usually in the open.  For instance, for a while there, she was going just inside my front door.  THAT was a great smell to greet you as soon as you walked in.  When Deidre does it, it’s hidden away in a corner, under some furniture… someplace you won’t find it until and unless the smell is really strong.  Which she does her best to mask by covering it up with whatever’s available.  You got that right: she’s so good about covering up her business, even if she’s not in a litter box, she’ll drag something over to cover it up when she’s done.  At one point, this was my not-worn-too-often shoes that I kept stashed under a chair (yes, I had to throw some out when I discovered it).  At another, it was magazines that were stacked nearby.  You get the idea.

I have used many cleaners trying to deal with these areas, and here’s what I found:

Enzyme-based cleaners, my favorite being Nature’s Miracle (there’s specifically a cat urine version) work the best to get the smell out and deter them from re-using the area.  When Maggie was going in front of the front door, I tried all sorts of cleaners and remedies, and she’d always go right back to the same spot until I got the enzyme cleaner.  It’s kind of expensive and you’ll use a lot of it per spot, but it’s totally worth it.

Baking soda covers the smell pretty well but somehow would attract Maggie to pee on top of it when I’d leave it down for a while to soak up smells so I could vacuum it later.  I’d go back with the vacuum only to find yellow, caked-on baking soda.  I don’t recommend this (unless it doesn’t attract your kitty the way it does Maggie).

Using a steam cleaner is wonderful, especially if you get a pet-specific cleaning solution in there.  Holy cow you do not want to know what that dirty water smells like after you’ve cleaned a particularly soiled spot, but it’s better that than in your carpet!

And finally, buy yourself a black light!  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smelled something but couldn’t find the source until I whipped out the black light and found the glowing spot.  If you have litter box issues, black lights are worth their weight in gold.

Until I had the Kitteh Territorial Disputes like I’ve had with these three, I never knew how easy I had it when it came to the litter box.  I had kitties that would use the box even when it was dirty; would tolerate me experimenting with different litter; would share a box with other cats; would use a box with a lid and even inside an under-sink cabinet at my parents’ house.  When you’re used to that kind of tolerance on the cats’ part, it’s easy to become frustrated when things start to go awry.  Litter box issues are one of the main things that lead to cats being left at shelters, from what I’ve read.  But all is not lost!  Try these tips, change things around, give cats vertical space if it’s a territory issue, and don’t give up hope.  Litter box problems can be solved.  It may take some time, but it can happen.  Experiment to find what works – and don’t be afraid to leave a litter box smack in the middle of your living room (seriously, I’ve done it more than once).  Once they are using it there, you can gradually move it to a less-exhibitionist area.  Good luck!

Man Cat Monday

28/05/2012

Yuan enjoying the balcony garden

Every garden needs a kitteh!

Zen cat is zen

Shifts and Changes

15/05/2012

Just a quick post – so sorry that hasn’t been very frequent as of late – to say WOW my kitties amaze me. 🙂

Both Maggie and Deidre, in addition to Yuan, have started to enjoy balcony time.  I caught Deidre’s first foray onto the balcony on video, even… I was vlogging every day in April (that’s a thing – VEDA – vlog every day in April) and so had my iPod (yep, that’s what I was vlogging with!) on hand when she ventured forth.  We’ve lived in this apartment for 4 1/2 YEARS and this was the first time she’s ever been out on the balcony.  Now she very much likes it.  Here’s the video, if you’re interested:

Yuan had his 4th birthday, when he told me that he’d like a special planter box as part of my balcony garden of good kitty plants to play in.  He kept trying to lie down in the still-dirt pots, when it finally got through that he needed a little piece of nature to be free in.  So, I designated a big pot just for kitties that I will plant (now I should be able to actually plant it, since we’re past Mother’s Day, which is the usual Colorado last frost date for gardeners) with cat grass, catnip, and marigolds (which I found out are safe for kitties).  He has already taken to lying in the dirt in it and it’s his new favorite bed.  I got that on video during the vlogs, too:

Also, the kitties have been dancing (and sleeping, and eating) ever closer to each other without fights.  Not only have there been less potty accidents (they were getting pretty prevalent for a while, there), but, for instance, Maggie has joined Deidre on the bed, Yuan has joined Deidre on the bed, and Deidre has joined Yuan on the bed (that’s the real amazement – that she made the move to join him!), whether I’m on the bed or not.  I’ve also caught two of them at a time under the bed (normally I store a bunch of stuff under my bed, but since I’ve been cleaning the carpet in sections and moving furniture around, it’s been empty under there – so no walls between them of stuff), and one on top of a chair and one underneath it.  They’ve shifted territories more times than I can count just in the past couple of months, with both of the girls expanding their territory once again and Yuan taking it very much in stride.  They’ve even switched litter boxes!  Deidre has reclaimed her cubby on the floor-to-ceiling scratcher too – yay!  I also caught Yuan and Deidre giving each other blink-kisses a while back – amazing!  I’m still expecting Maggie to chase him around at any moment… she has already reached the “I don’t take his crap” stage… just waiting for the playful chasing stage…

Maggie had a little scare that prompted a vet visit at the beginning of April, but she’s OK and was proscribed a canned-only diet for a while (and possibly doing it permanently).  She seems to be doing really well on it, and has more energy.  This, of course, makes the other two ask constantly why Maggie gets canned noms more often than they do…

Yuan, always the purveyor of fine headbonks, seems to be really communicating with me more when he does it now.  Our sessions seem to be fewer in frequency but greater in love-sharing.  His purr just melts my heart.  To fully appreciate his art of headbonking, I have been trained to take off my glasses and get into it.  Sometimes we’ll just bonk heads and stay there for a while, and I feel like our hearts are touching.  He’s my sweet teacher-man.

And finally, Yuan really appreciates the new furniture arrangement so far.  I’ve got a stool and the brown scratcher beneath the shelves on the wall now, and he loves the new jungle-gym-esque multi-level action going on.  Also, I’ve got the green scratcher in a corner with two Ruth Thompson prints above it on either side, of The Druid and The Priestess.  He LOVES those prints.  He talks to them and rubs his paws (no claws) on them all the time.  He’s a high priest, that Yuan.

Well, that’s about it for now.  There was pretty much daily footage of the kitties through April on those vlogs if you care to go take a peek at them, but of course also lots of my human self yammering on and whatnot as well. 😉  Thanks for reading!