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Nov 24, 2016

'Never judge a book by its cover' is a saying that we have in English that you can apply to so many areas. If you think about it, in order to judge a book, you have to open it and read it, not just look at the cover. If you make an assumption about the book based on what it looks like, your judgment is likely(1) to be wrong. I was guilty of this when I went to an estate sale. First of all, let me explain that an estate sale is different from a yard sale. It is the selling of the entire contents of a house because either the owner is going to move, or has died. There was one of these sales last weekend very close to my house. I was in two minds about going; there always seems to be something else that I could be doing. But, I felt like looking for treasure for a few minutes, so I went. As I approached the house my expectations lowered. It was a small, run down place that had peeling paint, a rotten carpet on the porch steps, and a dingy(2) garage which, though it was open, was as dark as a cave. I assumed that I wouldn't find anything of any worth there. I walked into the garage and the man, who was about my age, greeted me. He showed me some items that he called 'brand new' and others that he said had not even been taken out of their original box. He wasn't a good salesman. So as I ignored his attempts to get my attention, I wandered towards the back of the garage and came upon a table that was covered in art. When I say art, I'm actually talking about pottery. The whole table was covered in gorgeous, shapely pots of all different sizes and colors, some with lids, others with delicate, thin openings. "Those are my mom's," he said. "She's got a ton of them downstairs too. Help yourself." "Your mother made these?" I asked with a mixture of surprise and admiration. "Oh yeah," he said dismissively. "She's always been into her hobbies." I gathered three pots that I absolutely had to have, put them to one side, and went downstairs. Two dusty, concrete rooms were filled with pots, bowls, and vases. There were patinas that shimmered(3), paint that was crackled, and enamels that were dabbed and mixed and swirled like the colors at a geological site. As I went upstairs I bumped into a local art teacher who is herself a very good artist. "Hello Anna," she said as she held up one of the cream colored crackled pots that rounded perfectly up to an opening that looked like a small flower. "Oh, that's just beautiful," she said. And she was right. This dark, dingy place was full of beauty. A lady had been working away for years with care and thought about her craft. I took my treasures home, examined them, and realized that the artist hadn't put her name on them. The sale is over now; the lady has gone, and the house is empty. But I have three blue pots that shimmer and wink at me, as if to say, "You can expect good things even from dark places."

1. The use of 'likely'. In this podcast it is used in a similar way to 'will probably'. It is an adjective, but can be used in front of a verb.

a. Storms have closed the roads; he is likely to arrive late.

   Storms have close the roads; he will probably arrive late.

b. What is the likely outcome of the boxing match?

    What is the expected/ forecast/ probable outcome of the boxing match?

c. The government is likely to lower taxes next year.

    The government will probably lower taxes next year.

2. 'Dingy' is another word for dull and dark. It has negative connotations, implying that a place is old and worn out.

a. The man went down to a dingy room and handed over the suitcase of money to a man with a gun.

b. I could not buy that house; it is far too dingy and needs total renovation.

3. 'To shimmer' is a mild shine; it is similar to glimmer.

a. The sunshine shimmered on her silk dress.

b. The gold pot shone brightly, but the bronze pot shimmered.

italki for practice with native English teachers.