My friend, Chris, asked me the other day if I collected anything. He went on to say that he loves rugs (not like rugs you might buy at Ikea or Walmart – but beautiful, expensive, hand-woven rugs, like those made in Turkey or by the Navajo). Chris said he would love to collect these gorgeous rugs – putting out different rugs in each season and for each holiday. As a person who can barely work up the enthusiasm to put up Christmas decorations, I have to admire his sense of style and his enthusiasm. But that is neither here nor there (I am SO easily distracted!) The point of this story is that Chris had asked about my collecting – and I let him know that the only thing I collected (if you don’t count the dust bunnies that are under all of the beds) are my glass balls.
When I was a kid, my parents had a collection of blown glass baubles. There were vases, tiny pitchers, and animal figures – and then there were a couple of very cool glass balls that my dad kept on his desk. I imagine they were supposed to be used as paperweights, but just loved the look of them – particularly one clear ball that had what looked like three blue and white mushrooms inside. I liked picking it up and feeling that cool smoothness and the nice heft in my hand as I gazed into the depths.
After I left home, my fascination with glass balls continued and my sister helped me to start my collection one day while we were shopping in antique stores in Washington. I found a clear glass ball, yellowing with age, which had tiny bumblebees frolicking inside. I turned it over to look at the price, sucked in a breath, and carefully put it back on the shelf – we were a military family on a strict budget and I just couldn’t justify paying over $30 for a ball of glass. My sister, who had been watching me, came up beside me and put the ball back into my hand – telling me it was her early birthday present to me. It was a lovely gift!
My bumblebee ball seemed lonely once I got it home, so I kept my eye out for other balls. I found a few inexpensive colored balls with bubbles inside and soon they were on the shelf as well. At a garage sale, I was thrilled to find a tiny antique ball for just a few dollars. Soon, my kids were giving me glass balls for Christmas and birthdays and, when my parents sold my childhood home and downsized, my dad made sure my favorite glass ball from his desk made its way to me – and it joined the collection. I purchased stands for some of the balls, so they could more easily be seen. I even found a lighted stand that adds a beautiful inner glow to the glass ball that currently has that place of honor. Don’t judge – it’s pretty!
Stay with me for a minute while we take a little sidebar. As you may know by now, I’m a bargain hunter. I hate paying full price for anything – and when my elderly in-laws moved to our town to be closer to us, they sold their burial plots in Florida and wanted to buy new plots here. While we were shopping for this, I was disgusted at the prices charged for a traditional funeral and burial. I decided then and there that I wasn’t going to pay that much just to be planted in the ground when my time was up. I decided a much better route to go would be cremation – but only if I was really dead. I have a deep inner fear of being burned alive – so I made my kids promise that if I kicked the bucket, they would cremate me, but that they needed to stab me with a fork a few times first to make sure I was really dead. It would be sad for everyone involved (particularly me) if I was put into the oven, only to wake up once the flames reached roasting temperature.
So, knowing that I want to be cremated – and knowing about my love of glass balls, you can imagine my delight when I found out that I could arrange for some of my ashes to be turned INTO beautiful glass balls! I’m not kidding! For about $350 each, my kids could literally have me on display – a beautiful swirl of crystal and their favorite two colors – presiding in a place of honor in their living rooms, for the rest of their lives! For some reason, they were not as excited about this prospect as one might think. I even offered to throw in a swirled glass pendant made with my remains – that way they could take me with them everywhere they went (or at least to special occasions, because we are talking about a $200 piece of jewelry here). Again, I was met with a disappointing lack of enthusiasm for my fabulous proposal.
I haven’t given up on the idea yet – but then I read this story on the The Huffington Post
It turns out that this bargain hunting woman, Jennifer Peterson, bought a fabulous blown glass ball at the neighborhood thrift store – for only THREE dollars!! She became curious about a stamp on the bottom of the piece, and after researching it, found that the ball had come from an art gallery in Oregon, whose website showed similar balls of “memorial glass” – made with one to three ounces of cremated remains. She called them and they confirmed that the blue and white streaks in her ball are “indeed the product of human remains.” Mrs. Peterson is now on a mission to find out just who is inside her glass ball – because, as she says, “I’ve got somebody’s grandma in my house.”
While I still think that having part of me in a beautiful ball of glass for posterity is still a magnificent idea — let me just go on the record now. Kids, I love you – but if I end up in a thrift store or sitting on some stranger’s shelf – I am totally going to come back from the grave and haunt your asses!