I have a non-working electric fireplace. It was working. It threw out heat, hummed electrically, had a warm orange glow and had a nifty little remote, but we broke this remote. And by we I mean is one of my kids. I could go on about that, but that's not the point.
The point is now that since it no longer serves its old purpose, I like to have a vase of fresh flowers on it. It's my home altar. A hearth. Like my favorite Greek goddess Hestia who didn't even have a seat on Olympus, but was there, tending the fire. The humble center of the circle of badasses.
Does a home altar sound goofy and Wiccan and Catholic? Bring it. I say. Bring it all. My grandmother-in-law is Costa Rican Catholic and her small place is littered with saints, mostly what I would call The Tacky Saints with hearts bleedingly exposed in their porcelain chests and crowns of gilt. On my altar, I have a very tasteful (I think) sculpture my sister brought back from India of a thin meditating Indian Buddha. This is no laughing Buddha. This is the serious shit.
Altar is so close to alter. Alter your perceptions. Tending an altar is a practice in the husbandry of memory, and attention. I have pictures of people I love, like George Eliot, and my grandmother. Things I love: scallop shells, acorns full of potential, and great signage like the wrapper from a St. Nectaire cheese, and an old fashioned garden plant identification sign that says, "Sassafras."