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Up and down

I desperate need to make a post and work my way through everything that's happened this past week and prior weekend. It was crazy, with highs and major lows and I know that if I can't push through and get it out, I'll just get stuck and not post anymore. This post talks about Oakley's last moments and you can just skip it if you want... it's basically for me at this point.

The weekend Oakley got sick was one of the busiest weekends I've had in a long, long time. And apart from being increasingly worried about Oakley, it was actually a very good one.

Saturday morning I dropped Anna off at Aikido and then ran to both Costco and our local grocery for supplies. In particular I got some glucosamine and aspirin for Oakley, as his hips seemed to be bothering him and that's what the vet recommended. After aikido we rushed home to get changed and drive to the North end of town to meet her new friend Anna and her parents for a family friendly afternoon pub quiz. We had a great time and out team won.

Sunday morning Oakley was still very wobbly, but he got himself up and ate a little.
We started off slowly as well but then decided to go to Anna's favorite thrift store so that she could spend her Halloween money (we offered by buy her candy from her by the ounce -- just to get it out of the house -- and she wanted some new winter clothes). We raced home again (a theme of the weekend), sucked down some soup, and left for the TAGTeam meeting. It was good, a different and mostly younger crowd this time, but Anna made two new friends -- sisters, 8 and 10 years old. Again, very positive, which was in contrast to the rest of the day.

Unfortunately, I left my phone at home accidentally, and it was only when we returned that we discovered that Oakley's left eye had filled with blood and that he was blind on that side -- and then the worrying really started. We hadn't even given him any pills yet (one aspirin that he ate about half of) but there was clearly something way more wrong than just sore hips. He could barely walk, wasn't eating or drinking, and seemed in great pain (it's hard to tell, as he was always such a stoic fellow). He'd been plagued for several years with fatty tissue growths (common among Danes) and one of these also seemed to be filling up with blood. Our biggest concern was that he was barely capable of walking and getting him into the back of our SUV was going to be a significant issue (110 pounds of sore, cranky animal who we don't want to injure further). We called the vet as soon as they opened Monday morning and they recommended a home vet visit and gave us some numbers to call.

The vet arrive early that afternoon. I'd take the afternoon off to be there as well. She checked him over, took blood, and working together we got him up to pee.She said she'd have results for us tomorrow but that they probably wouldn't be conclusive and we'd need to decide what we wanted to do in terms of what would probably be a massively stressful (for him) and expensive (for us) series of further tests. She would have news for us in the morning. For us it wasn't the money (we'd just close our eyes and hand the hospital a credit card) so much as about his stress level and quality of life. At 10 and a half, he was already a very old dog as large dog lifespans are calculated. Even without this mysterious problem, we only anticipated another year -- maybe -- that he'd be with us and he was already less able to do the things he loved to do.

The call came the next day at 9am and Bryn and I both spoke with her. The news was extremely bad. He was obviously bleeding out internally and his platelet count, which should have been in the 150K range was at 5K. Without immediate critical care (and potentially with it) he would be gone within a day or so. We discussed and eliminated two of the possibilities that would be easily treatable -- rat poison or Lyme disease, but neither of those were feasible (we have no poison in the house and he's been out of tick territory for years -- shit, he's barely been out of the house/yard since early summer).

The vet was blunt -- considering euthanasia was not inappropriate and that we shouldn't feel guilty... and that it was a better alternative than leaving him alone with his illness. So we arranged for her to come back at 2pm in the afternoon and I left work so that we could all spend the day with him.

It was a hard day, but a good one. He managed to get onto his feet when the sun came out and we took him for a tiny and very slow walk -- just to the corner and back -- and I could tell he really loved it. He was sniffing the fall air and looking at everything and marking his territory about every two feet. On the way back though he made a poop and it was... well, it was black with blood and stuff and just clearly wrong. It really brought home that this was as serious as we'd feared.

We got his bed set up in the living room. Anna donated a heart-shaped pillow that she'd made herself and he had his blanket. It was hard for him to rest because every time he laid his dead down, his breathing would become very labored. The pillow helped him prop his head up. He ate a couple of treats but wouldn't take food, water, or even beef broth. We took turns cuddling with him on the floor all day long. Even Tippy curled up next to him and gave him kisses. We also took turns crying in the other room. Still he had nothing but attention all day and I know he loved it. I got the strong feeling that he knew that he was dying.

Anna opened the front sheers so he could see out the picture window and enjoy what little light we had. And we noticed that one of our spindly and uncared for rosebushes had bloomed a white rose (we didn't know we had a white rose bush actually and had never seen a white bloom before).

He was also dying on Hecate's Night -- November the 16th. I wouldn't have realized except that I ran across mention of it on a blog along with some very useful links. So before the vet came we lit candles, burned incense, and I used a slightly modified version of the Orphic invocation to ask her to take our giant black hound dog under her care.

The vet arrived, oblivious to a certain dark presence, and we all got settled. Anna had opted to stay in the room holding Tippy. I was at Oakley's head and Bryn by his heart and we stroked him and fed him chocolate (cause hey, why not) which he ate with great enjoyment despite his illness. The first injection was a strong sedative and during the 10 minutes it took effect we stroked him and talked to him. I kept whispering "good dog" into his ear. At one point he responded with a little flick of his tongue but then he was deep asleep. The next injection went quickly and we could see his breathing slow. At the final moment, I could feel the spirit lift up and away, through the top of his great head and through my hands and I'll always be grateful that I could be there with him.

We don't often get to see death in that way -- a raw state change that happens as you watch. Frequently it's hidden away. I know that if would have taken Oakley to the vet we could have chosen not to be in the room (and note that the option to be with him at the end actually costs more for some reason) but in my opinion that wouldn't have been fair or right. Being at home was better for him and better for all of us in any case. And I feel like it was our duty and honor to be with him during his final moments.

For a 110 pound dog, backyard burial isn't exactly an option, so we decided to have him cremated. We could have had the vet remove the body as well, but wanted to take one last drive to the humane society. In part because it was our last duty to him and in part, to be frank, because anything involving the home vet is pretty darned expensive and she didn't take credit cards. I tucked his tongue back into his mouth and we wrapped Oak's big body up in a sheet covered with yellow flowers that Anna donated for the purpose and cut the white rose to wrap up with him. The vet got her stretcher and we loaded him in the back of the VUE for his last car ride.

The humane society people were really kind. They had us drive around the back of the building through a security gate and had a wheeled stretcher to help unload him. Anna gave him a last pat and hug too.

None of us had eaten all day and on the drive home it suddenly occurred to use that maybe that would be a good idea, so we ordered takeout sushi (I consider miso and sushi medicinal under conditions of extreme stress). It was hard coming home and seeing the place on the living room floor where our dog died.

It's also been hard since, as we miss him and try to figure out what to do with his things. It was also stunning to realize that it cost us, all told, nearly $800 to have him examined, euthanized, and cremated. But I don't regret that he spent his last days at home with us and not hurt and scared at the vet's office. I'm also glad that Anna could be with him at the end and that she chose to be. When I was young our cat became very ill. My parents took him to the vet but didn't give me a chance to say goodbye or explained what was going to happen. All I knew for some years was that he went to the vet there and died and I was angry because I felt that they shouldn't have taken him there if the vet couldn't help him. I would have appreciated knowing what was going on.

I know we made the right decision but it was hard and it's hard now as we miss our friend. The next morning Bryn and I took a bootstrap attitude and made a huge effort to get us rolling again. I went to work, Anna had class, and we began taking a look at Oak's things. Which is what you do, I guess, when you lose someone.

Other delicious things...

It's another 90 degree day, which means that our stuffy little apartment is freezing. No wait, that makes sense. Because our place doesn't really breathe very well, when the day is really hot, you basically have to run the AC (we have two, a window unit and a portable unit) all day, along with a batch of fans. If you don't, at some point the heat will build up and it will be 85 inside and horrible. That means that all morning it's like in the 60s. But if you wait or keep stuff off or on low, it won't have the power to cool when things get really blazing. Plus the place never cools off at night, even when it's cool outside and we have every window and door open.


Last night the Hub whipped up an amazing dinner in like no time flat. He'd run by the local world foods for fresh hot pitas and dolmas. Then he cooked up some ground lamb with lots of wonderful spices (garam masala, garlic, onions, etc.). I prepped lettuce made a yogurt sauce. We filled our pitas with lamb, sauce, lettuce, and leftover couscous from yesterday's dinner.

Yesterday's dinner was the couscous (with chopped veggies and spices) and grilled chicken with pomegranate / honey glaze. The chicken was OMG good.

I recently made a batch of bran molasses muffins -- very dense, very good.

Ham went blueberry picking with a friend and we've been eating blueberries in and with everything. It's too hot for pie and I didn't have enough for jelly, but I froze some in for this winter and we'll just gnaw our way through the rest. Blueberries rock! When I was growing up in Southern New Mexico, berries were my very favorite fruits. But they were rare treats because they didn't grow at all well in our dry alkaline soil and desert climate. Here's it's berry central! One more reason I love the Pacific Northwest.

For my birthday I will be getting some paints, which I am very excited about.
When you say sourdough, most people think of San Francisco sourdough white bread. But any kind of bread can be a sourdough -- white, wheat, rye, raisin, buns, and even pancakes. The difference is that a sourdough is made not with commercial yeast but with a starter. This is a mix of water and flour that lives in your fridge (or counter top if you bake A LOT) that has a active culture of yeast living in it (either from a commercial strain or a wild one). Packaged yeast is alive, of course, but not active. It's sleeping -- in suspended animation really -- until you wake it up with water and flour. A starter culture is already alive and requires regular feeding and maintenance. Kind of a little yeasty pet. Here's a nifty site about starters.

Some starters are actually sweet (like Amish friendship bread) but all have a complex flavor caused by the digestive cycle of the yeasty beasties plus the good bacteria they attract and support. A basic starer with flour and water will tend to sour over time. A sourdough starter will need a lot more time to raise a loaf of bread but that bread will, in my opinion, taste very very good.

I have a starter I made by "catching" a wild yeast strain in my kitchen. It lives in the fridge until I need it and I feed it regularly and pour off the "hooch" -- the alcohol the yeasts produce along with their little carbon dioxide burps. Over time it's grown very sour. My starter is roughly a half and half mix of water and flour (a little less water maybe) to make a very batter-like starter. Some starters are much thicker and can even be solid.

I wanted to create recipe for sourdough bread to use in my machine. I knew that the regular bread cycles wouldn't leave enough time for the dough to rise, but I didn't want to use the "artisan" cycle on my machine because it requires that you remove the dough and do the final shape, rise, and bake externally. That's fine, but fully automatic was my goal. I got a couple of books at the library but was disappointed with their recipes. All the sourdough recipes added a lot of extra yeast to the mix, so much that my loaf over proofed. When I reduced the amount of extra yeast, I got a regular loaf of bread with no discernible sour taste. That makes sense. After all, commercial yeast is a very hardy strain that will take over any environment where it's introduced. My poor wild culture wouldn't be able to keep up -- which means it wouldn't have a change to populate enough to impart it's flavor to the bread.

I knew that without added yeast I couldn't make the machine do all the work (unless I hung around and paused the machine at intervals to impart extra rising time). At the same time, the added yeast was killing off my flavor. Then, I had an Epiphany. If I modified my sponge recipe to use the starter and then added the additional yeast on top, I'd get a long slow overnight ferment and rise to create flavor and the commercial yeast could take over the next morning to keep the bread moving fast enough for the machine.

I started with 1/2 cup starter (which is a half and half mixture) plus a quarter cup each of water and flour. This got mixed for 10 minutes and then additional flour plus other ingredients were added. A small amount of yeast (a scant 3/4 teaspoon -- this for a 1lb loaf) was carefully poured in a little well in the dry flour to keep it segregated from the sourdough sponge. Since the sponge bubbles up through at the corners, I put the extra yeast in the middle, away from the salt.

The result was very promising. While still mild compared to some sourdough breads, the finished bread had a sour tang and good flavor -- better than my regular sponge bread -- but rose nicely in the machine and was of "normal" bread density. Remember my goal here is sandwich loaves, not the crusty breads with big holes that truly need time and handling.

My next attempt was a rye sourdough which came out very sour, if a bit heavy (more extra yeast for the rye I suspect -- or I should catch a rye yeast for a separate starter). The next white loaf I tried had 3/4 cup starter, 1/4 cup water, and 1/2 cup flour -- with more of the finished bread being the sponge. This was even more tasty. I believe I could take this even further, until almost all the flour would be incorporated into the sponge with just a thin layer separating the salt, sugar, and extra yeast.

I'll have to try that experiment soon.

Bread Machine Bread that Doesn't Suck

So, I've been talking about my experiments with the HPI Bread Machine, but I don't think I ever described the actual techniques/recipes. Skip if you're not interested in making bread...

I love making and eating good homemade bread, but wanted a process that required less babysitting. I know people will say that making bread isn't hard... and it's not. But it does require a certain amount of scheduled "foolin' with" and my schedule wasn't being accommodating. Add to that the fact that we have no house A/C and running the oven on hot days isn't a good idea. And loaves of decent bread at the store (even the loaf breads) were getting annoyingly expensive. So, we bought this bread machine.

Making bread with this thing was about as easy as falling off a log. Unfortunately the taste of the loaves was in keeping with that metaphor... about as tasty as pulp. The problem wasn't the machine -- it mixed, rose, and baked perfectly. The problem wasn't the recipe -- it had the right proportions of flour, salt, yeast, and other ostensibly tasty stuff. The problem was that bread that only has a brief rise just isn't that good.

Now I wasn't expecting this thing to spit out baguettes or boules or Bavarian sourdough. But I was expecting tasty sandwich and toast bread... and I wasn't getting it. I began to understand why bread machines are one of those things that people often buy and abandon (like exercise machines). I mean, if I wanted Wonderbread, I'd just buy it. So I began to research how to make better bread in my machine.

Many bread machine recipes have lots of mix-ins. And I'm sure some of those loaves are OK. But I'm not interested in cranberry chive bread or cheddar chipotle bread. I don't mind a nice raisin or herbed loaf, but I wanted bread that was good on its own merits, not because I added two cups of stuff. Other bread machine recipes are meant to be pulled from the machine for a reshape, slow final rise, and then baked in the oven. This makes sense, particularly for rolls, twists, braids, etc. No amount of fiddling is going to make my bread machine bake anything other than rectangles. But I wanted a loaf that would be tasty without the extra steps and bake in place -- especially in summer.

Then I found this wonderful article. It contains a basic formula that you can use to transform any bread machine recipe into a sponge version.

In summary, you take the water, a cup of flour, and about half the amount of yeast and start them mixing in the machine for 10 minutes. Stop the machine and layer on the rest of the flour, any oil, salt, sugar, etc. -- but no additional yeast. Then reset the machine on a timer for 8-12 hours. Basically, you have a sponge on the bottom of the pan working all night long and when the timer starts the next morning it mixes the sponge with the rest of the ingredients and makes the bread as usual. The sponge will actually bubble up through the other ingredients by morning. This formula worked wonderfully! It makes tasty sandwich bread with a nicely developed yeast flavor. I've done white, whole wheat, and rye (all with a white flour sponge) and gotten good results. It works best for smaller loaves but is otherwise completely automatic.

It's so easy that we've only bought a few loaves in the months since I figured the technique out. I just set the machine up every couple of evenings and we have a loaf of warm bread by the next morning. The only manual step (when we remember) is to remove the mixing paddle before the final rise and bake, which keeps it from making a hole in the middle of the loaf.

Next time, my technique (and this one is all my own) for making a sourdough bread machine loaf.


I am extremely sleepy today. And whose fault is that, I ask? No one's but my own. That's what I get for spending the evening chatting with M until the Hub returned from his "practice gig" -- after midnight.

I'm looking forward to the band's "real gig." I have a sitter for the Ham (actually a sleepover date with her good friend) and it's the day after my birthday. I will, of course, buy a ticket as opposed to deadheading on a "wives and girlfriends" pass because the number of tickets sold by the band affects their stage time. And it's a Friday, which means I won't have to get up early and drag into work!

It's been such a busy summer!

The Hub is Rocking!

So, the Hub's band, Sons of Richard, has a gig on August 7st at the Satyricon at 125 NW 6th Ave here in Portland. If anyone local wants to go, I've got tickets for $8 or $10 at the door (tell the doorman you're there to see Sons of Richard). There are a number of bands slated that night and the rocking starts at 6:30. Their MySpace page has some of their music.

What kind of wife would I be if I didn't pimp him out to everyone I know?

As busy and crazy as this summer's been it's exciting that we still seem to be moving forward.

Long Weekend Update

Had Friday off for the 4th. Myra came by and took the Ham swimming and then we partied -- well, so much as people in their 30s with a kid party. Despite being 1000 degrees out, we had a lot of fun eating, chatting, drinking, talking, watching movies, conversing and dialoging. We watched Armageddon in honor of the 4th (Myra had never seen it and thought it was hysterically bad). (1) She crashed out at our place and we all hung out most of the next day as well.

For the 4th, we drove up to a nearby pocket part at the top of a little hill and watched a couple different displays. Good view, but low key, with most of the participants being locals from the neighborhood (you could tell the locals because they all carried up glasses of wine). Ham stayed up very late indeed.

Sunday was catching up day. In the morning, I took Ham and some neighborhood kids over to the little walking park. In the afternoon we had some errands to do. Finally, about 5 in the afternoon, the weather broke and a cold front moved in. It was such a relief. It was a good weekend.

Finally figured out the mysteries of fully automatic sourdough starter bread machine bread. Now I just need to tweak the recipe.

(1) Bryn and I have a theory that Armageddon was more popular than The Core not only because it had bigger stars, but also because it's more anti-intellectual. The Core, for all that it's as formulaic and far fetched as Armageddon, is about smart people solving hard problems across nations. Armageddon is about average American Joes saving the world's ass with really big power tools.

The Core
Dr. Josh Keyes: Is there anything you can't do?
Maj. Rebecca Childs: [smiles] Not that I'm aware of.
Dr. Josh Keyes: I find that incredibly intimidating.
Maj. Rebecca Childs: Yep. Most people do.

Truman: No, we don't have a back up plan. This is it.
Harry Stamper: And this is the best that you c - that the-the government, the *U.S. government* can come up with? I mean, you-you're NASA for cryin' out loud, you put a man on the moon, you're geniuses! You-you're the guys that think this shit up! I'm sure you got a team of men sitting around somewhere right now just thinking shit up and somebody backing them up! You're telling me you don't have a backup plan, that these eight boy scouts right here, that is the world's hope, that's what you're telling me?
Truman: Yeah.
Lots of great food coming out of the HPI kitchen. The festival of vegetarian pasta dishes continues, with a fried green tomato version. Also more fish, including high-quality canned tuna from New Seasons. This stuff is so good it barely needs anything in it to make a wonderful salad -- maybe just a touch of mayo. I will never buy Chicken of the Sea (El Pollo Del Mar) again.

My sponge / starter bread machine saga continues. This last loaf was a bit over-proofed and not as "sour" as I'd hoped, but I believe I may have made a breakthrough in understanding. If I use my starter to create an overnight sponge, I will get a long, cool rise (necessary for my wild yeast starter to work) then if I add a touch of store-bought yeast to the rest of the ingredients, I should be able to maintain the sour flavor while making next rises quicker in order to use the full cycle. See, my goal is to create a starter-based sourdough that I can make and bake in the bread machine completely on automatic -- no adding / checking / watching / stopping. I just want to start it with the timer and leave it alone.

Couscous with peas and olive oil was a simple dish that I made for the Ham to take for lunch to her summer program. Three days a week of sack lunches means she's getting bored with sandwiches. Hub brought home some dried handmade German sausage (not brats, the hard stuff that lasts a long time) and we've been nibbling on it. Sliced sausage in tomato soup is wonderful!

The other day I caved and bought some Bryers Health Bar ice cream, but I'm still planning on trying a gelato soon -- probably a vanilla, so I can judge the consistency / texture on its own merit. The all-whipping cream strawberry ice cream was amazing... the first day. But it didn't hold well (which is a problem with most homemade ice cream).

Also, I got the results of my first ever cholesterol test back. Triglycerides super low, good cholesterol high, bad cholesterol really low. Add me to the anecdotal evidence that a low-fat diet has little to do with blood cholesterol, since my diet is anything but low fat (it is low in trans-fats however).

Happy Solstice

Yes, indeed it was.

For those of us in the US, the astrological solstice was near midnight. So, depending on your timezone, it might have been either Saturday or Sunday. From a Pagan point of view (Summer Solstice = Longest Day), the whole weekend was the solstice here in Portland because the difference in day length was less than a second. BTW, see this site for nifty astronomical data including sunrise and sunset times to the second: http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/sunrise.html.

We had planned to spend Saturday at the beach. In fact, we even talked about getting a room and spending the weekend. However the weather was just NOT cooperating. It was forecast to be borderline all week anyway, but on Saturday morning we checked the weather on the coast to discover mid-50s, rain, and cloudy. Not good. So after some cranky discussion about what we'd like to do instead, we decided to go to Oaks Park for the afternoon.

This is a great amusement park, 104 years old, just across the river in Sellwood. The weather was cool and occasionally rainy but it was a wonderful time. First we enjoyed lunch at the Sellwood Public House (which is a great family-friendly pub with good food). At the park, we rode tons of rides (Ham was tall enough to go on almost everything), listened to a cool jazz/swing trio, and had giant ice creams while we watched the river and rode the little train. It rained on us a tiny bit, but it wasn't bad enough to shut down the rides. At the end of the afternoon, we rode the Ferris wheel and watched the storm clouds rolling in.

Finally, Ham and I rode the Herschell-Spillman carousel "a 1912 American carved piece of folk art." (Note, I take no responsibility for the phrasing of that quote.) I rode a goat. The animals are beautiful, hand carved and fantastically painted with glass eyes. This is the oldest carousel I've ever ridden* (the previous winner being the one at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs, from the 1930s).

* That I know of. I did ride one in Passau when I was a kid, the kind with the brass ring, but I don't know how old it was.

Oaks Park turned out to be a wonderful idea for the solstice. Carnivals, fairs, and old amusement parks (I'm not talking Disneyland here) have a kind of "summer's faire" Pagan vibe about them. They're a bit tawdry, a bit sticky, and a perfect microcosm of the human social animal. The weather hit as we were driving and it was beautiful. We were chilled and tired when we got home, so tomato soup and sandwiches were a perfect light supper.

Sunday Ham and I ran out early to fetch pastries and a giant orange daisy for father's day. In the car, Ham said "I love mother's day and father's day because I get a doughnut for breakfast!" -- which pretty much sums it up. Pastries and coffee in bed rock, let me tell you! We spent the rest of the day hanging out. We took turns playing Pente, Bryn got some solid studio time in (he recently acquired some nifty new equipment thanks to the wonder of Craigslist and a down economy), and Ham and I rode our bikes down to the library. The Ham is just getting old enough to ride on the street and I've been teaching her all the skills she needs in order to be safe. She did pretty well. She's still prone to stopping suddenly (which is challenging for me as I'm right behind her) and riding more like a pedestrian than a car. In the afternoon we put on Lord of the Rings.

Later I ran back out to the grocery store (bad planning, but that's what I get for going out pre-coffee) to pick up some stuff for dinner as well as some fruit for the coming week. The Hub made a delicious fish dinner with tilapia, savory rice, and local snow peas. It seems unfair that he should cook on father's day, but dinner was sooooo good, with a lemon-butter cream sauce for the fish and yellow raspberry crepes with whipped cream for dessert. I cleaned up the kitchen and got a loaf of sponge bread ready to go in the bread machine (bread machine bread tends to suck, IMHO, unless you start with an overnight sponge). I also managed to harvest a bunch of mint to dry for tea.

The energy around this solstice has been a bit odd -- pensive might be a good word for it. When the weather broke on Saturday afternoon it felt a bit better, but it's been interesting. I've had a lot of powerful dreams and get the feeling that, for the HPI at least, this is going to be a busy season with a lot of energy and change. I really felt the switch over the course of the weekend. To me the solstices feel like that moment on a swing when you just reach the top of the arc and are poised before you start to fall again. Which, astronomically speaking, is pretty accurate. So even though there is a lot more summer ahead, and a lot warmer weather, we've started the slow inexorable fall into... well, fall.

So happy solstice, and happy mid-summer -- and for my friends across the globe happy mid-winter.

Values... huh...

So, Pagan Values month... or Pagan Value Meal month...

I've read a lot of interesting stuff on Pagan values (or rather potential Pagan values, no one out there is claiming to have the definitive list). When I began thinking about the topic though, I ran across and interesting linguistic challenge. "Values" seems to be a term about what a particular group or demographic think is worthwhile for everyone to believe. So the "family values" of conservative Christian sects is about what they think all people should be for and about. When you're speaking only for yourself, you're not talking about "values" in a general sense so much as the things that you yourself value.

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't have Pagan Values, I don't have "values" period. I just have things I value. So in honor of the Solstice, here's a list of things that I value:

Personal Responsibility
Community / Family
Efficiency / Simplicity

Those are roughly in order, not of priority, but how well I'm doing in each area.