It just so happened that I was thumbing through a particular book that piqued my interest when I heard about Richard Olmer’s passing. The book’s title? “The Book of Dead Philosophers” by Simon Critchley.
It is Critchley’s view, essentially, that philosophers can be defined by their approach to death. One’s view of death, Critchley asserts, makes a profound impact — perhaps the most profound we can think of — on how we live.
I don’t know if Critchley would call Richard Olmer a philosopher, but he seemed as much and so much more as evidenced in his columns over the years for the
Sequim Gazette named “Discoveries.” Richard and his wife Candy moved to Sequim in 1997. He touched on any number of topics in his columns that began as early as 1998 — I’m not exactly sure the date when he started penning prose for us — but his pieces always seem to come back to his unshakable faith in an Almighty — capital “A.” His last Gazette column was in early 2012, as I recall.
Richard died on June 23 at age 71. His passing reminded me of a column he wrote back in 2009, titled “Tough Times.” Please excuse the rather long excerpt:
“I’m haunted by the recent death of my daughter-in-law Anne, who died leaving two young children, 3 and 7. My wife knew I had spoken with Anne before she died about a near-death experience that I had. I had drowned and been pronounced dead near Cape Cod in Massachusetts. In spite of these details, I never felt that I had lost consciousness … At the time, being dead didn’t really mean much to me. From my perspective, nothing had changed. Still, things did get different. It got cooler and brighter around me and the details of things were simply, not there. Everything was a colorless whiteness. I don’t remember hearing much either. But I was conscious and aware and very curious … The next day, I was told that I had a heart attack. I, of course, argued that that was silly; I had just passed out.
“What I could tell my daughter-in-law, and what I had already told my father, was that there was nothing at all to fear in death. And, perhaps just as importantly, was the fact that consciousness continued after death. Death was not a black hole or a nothingness; it was strangely, a welcoming place without any fear.”
Candy passed in November 2013 and he penned a particularly moving tribute to her in a letter following a get-together/remembrance near the Pacific Coast: “We were surrounded by howling wind gusts, paper-thin sheets of rain, whiteness and a constant roar as a mad ocean battered the rocky coast. It was the very best gift that I had ever been given. I love Rialto Beach — it is always a gift — but today, I just knew that Candy had ordered this show especially for me … a show directed by God to let me know that Candy was home! It was a blessing that I will always remember.”
For those who knew Richard, they may sign an online guestbook at www.legacy.com.
Initiative 1329 falls short on sigs
Initiative 1329, the initiative to reduce the influence of corporations and money in the political system, won’t be on the general election ballots come November. Brian Zylstra, deputy communications director for the Office of Secretary of State, noted this week that I-1329 sponsors have about 170,000 signatures, far fewer than the minimum number of 246,372 valid signatures in order to qualify for the 2014 General Election.
An amended version of the initiative reads, “Congress and the States may regulate and set reasonable limits on the raising and spending of money by candidates and others to influence elections.” (www.wamend.org)
Voters can, however, expect to vote on Initiative 1351, legislation that would lower class sizes in public schools. I-1351 supporters turned in nearly 330,000 signatures last week.
State goes green this week
Clallam County folks won’t see them anytime soon, it seems, but Washington residents are getting their first taste (or puff?) of retail marijuana businesses this week. State officials approved opening of licensed retail pot stores in 24 locations across the state, 14 of them in Western Washington.
Randy Simmons, the state Liquor Control Board’s project manager for legal marijuana, said on Sunday night that the first two dozen stores were being notified so early to give them an extra few hours to get cannabis on their shelves before they are allowed to open their doors at 8 a.m. today.
According to the state Liquor Control Board, Clallam residents will — until county folks get their act together — have to hop a ferry to patronize a retail pot store soon: the closest such shop is the Whidbey Island Cannabis Company in Langley.
According to an Associated Press story, officials eventually expect to have more than 300 recreational pot shops across the state. However, they also expect high prices and shortages in the meantime.
Kilmer pushes to stop sewage flow in Strait
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer wants to see certain Canadians clean up their act.
Last week, Kilmer called for the head of the Environmental Protection Agency to raise the ongoing issue of sewage being dumped into the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Canadian government officials at the yearly meeting of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation, set for later this month.
“Having grown up on the north shore of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, I am deeply aware of the effects that ongoing water pollution have had and will continue to have on our environment and marine economy,” said Kilmer, a Port Angeles native. “I would appreciate your honoring this request and sharing any feedback you receive from the Canadian delegation.”
He added, “Continued dumping of sewage into the region’s waters fails to adhere to commonly accepted sewage treatment practices.”
He also noted Washington’s maritime economy supports $30 billion in economic activity each year and provides 148,000 jobs.
On June 13, Kilmer led members of the Washington delegation in sending a letter to British Columbia leaders, asking that they work to resolve this issue.
Gov. Jay Inslee got in on the action as well, writing to B.C. Premier Christy Clark: “It is now more than 20 years since your province agreed to implement wastewater treatment in greater Victoria and yet today Victoria still lacks any treatment beyond screening.”
I’m not sure how much influence our state leaders will have after two decades of failed demands, but I do know it must have some calculable toll on the region’s tourism dollars: a few of my family members in town for a recent wedding said they refuse to visit Victoria until they stop spilling raw sewage into the Strait.
Reach Sequim Gazette editor Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.