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Wednesday, 23 December 2020


I woke up Monday morning, looked at my wife and said, "Well, summer's on the way."

She said, "Shut up."

Right now, it's 18 degrees outside.

Well said.
I have bought myself some great books and stuff. I have to give myself TLC in December. For years, I've not been well enough to travel back to Denmark to my sisters for xmas.

Thank you for the wonderful image and wonderful thoughts, and for all the wonderful images and wonderful thoughts this past year. Enjoy your rest. Happy Holidays to all!

Merry Christmas, Mike!

Thank you for all you do...I’m grateful for your sustained generosity, and for TOP being what you’ve made it.

Warm regards and a happy new year,


Merry Christmas and thanks for all the posts. Yours is a sustaining corner of the Internet.

I wish you good health, good cheer, compliments of the season and thank you for the stories.


Merry Christmas, Mike. Thank you for everything you’ve given us this year and in years prior. Next year will be better if we all do a little bit, and even if it’s not, this blog and community will continue to be a bright spot.

Stay safe and be well, mate.

Merry Christmas Mike. And...thank you.

On June 21st I always tell my wife we are now beginning the slow descent into the depths of winter. She says shut up too.

Merry Christmas Mike. Thanks again for keeping photography an avocation and reminding us to have fun.

Time to watch those great Christmas movies.

Merry Christmas, Mike! Dickens loved that sentimentality. He didn't invent it, of course, but he sure knew how to exploit it. His novels were published as serials, you know. And in that your lives may have had some similarity, on the surface. After all, each of you made the decision to sit down every day and write, with remarkable consistency to a dedicated audience. You've created something tangible out of words -- surely as close to an act of real magic as anything humans have invented.

On Groundhog Day, I think there may be something more profound to the redemptive story. I write this only because the weight against which Phil pushes is himself. It is like emotional push ups where he provides the resistance training. There is no personified external force like the Ghost of Christmas Past egging him on. And talk about a message suited to the medium . . . can you imagine Groundhog Day done as a Dickensian serial? Dickens would have been fired by Issue 3.

So I will put in my two cents for treacle. Honestly, I return to both works again and again and I am never disappointed, which may be another similarity between them.

If you know any young teens, I'd also put in a plug for Susan Cooper's _The Dark is Rising_, which seems a particularly apt fable for both our moment in the calendar's cycle (and history's spiral).

So be of good cheer! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, "God bless Us, Every One!"

And a Very Merry Christmas to you, Mike. I'm sure I'm not alone when I thank you for your interesting posts--even the ones about pool and diet. Well....

Merry Christmas, Mike. And wishes for a better new year.

Merry christmas and best wishes!

Mike, Thank you for everything you do. TOP is indeed a bright spot in my life. It looks like we are all still in for a number of rough months but with with hope and gratitude we can remain undaunted and endure.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!

All the best to everyone for Christmas and New Year.

John Camp and Jeff Lansing both have wives who know what they really mean. These matters are best approached wordlessly. If there's no verbal proposition, then it's somewhat difficult to formulate a refusal: it could just be a misinterpretation of intent.


You are not alone, Mike. You have friends and family to Zoom with, your TOP community to embrace virtually, and your four legged friends to embrace physically. I’m wishing you a safe and peaceful holiday…and a brighter new year.

Béla Fleck and the Flecktones - Sleigh Ride

Wow, great comments! And I second everyone!
It always bothers me when a friend or loved one is alone on a holiday like Christmas. My younger sister in the UK is in the same boat!
But it is what it is!
Have a very merry Christmas Mike, and a wonderful new year!

All the best for the season to you, Mr. Kitchen help, and the extended T.O.P. family.

After six months of surgery, chemo and radiation our four year old grandson got rid of his central port on Monday. His last scans showed no evidence of disease and his oncologist is very positive about his future.

We are doing Christmas by Zoom this year which is not ideal but Mrs Plews and I are so overwhelmed with gratitude over Leo's news that this could be the best Christmas of our lives.

[That's wonderful news Mike. Very happy for your whole family! I remember the picture of Leo. --Mike]

If the rest of the Internet was like TOP what a wonderful world it would be. It's been a good year here on this site, which I read every day. I know you will have a good 2021 because of the pool shed, a great and well deserved gift to yourself. I just hope you break away from pool often enough to keep TOP going. Maybe you should ask Santa for a laptop to put in the corner. Take a shot, write a few lines. Repeat. Thanks for all you do Mike.

Merry Xmas Mike and all the best for the new year for you and TOP.

Hi Mike,
Have a nice rest. And remember if you feel the need to interact with someone you just need to post something. There will be TOPpers ready to comment.

Not Bluegrass, but traditional country. Light of the Stable by Emmylou Harris (2004-11-09) https://www.amazon.com/Light-Stable-Emmylou-Harris-2004-11-09/dp/B01KAOH4CW/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Light+of+the+Stable+2004&qid=1608845108&s=music&sr=1-1

Silent Night https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiU4Sf7CJHY

Charlie Pierce has a great essay based on "A Christmas Carol":

Oh, and "The Thin Man" is another good Christmas Movie:
"I hope you like it, the man at the aquarium said I couldn't take it back"

A first this year, (among so many), we celebrated the Polish wigilia Christmas Eve dinner by Zoom. We began with the oplatek and honey, and well wishes, then chatted for an hour. Grandson in Connecticut, alone in his apartment, crafted the entire dinner, including kasha and pierogie, stewed dried fruits, and a poppy seed cake. Granddaughter nearby, on break from school, made butter, and pierogie, with her Mom. I have much optimism about the current generation, Gens Y & Z. After the Zoom, my wife cried for a bit, but then we made our own dinner.

Mike, this has been an amazing year to live through, but we have lived through it. We just need to hold on for a while longer. We know what March and April are like, we lived through it, so we can do it again. With hope, and multiple vaccines, and please, some rational beings in Washington, Christmas 2021 can be different.

Merry Christmas to you, Mike, and a happy and safe New Year.

Merry Christmas, Mike!

Thanks for all the posts this year. You're my daily read and I feel lucky I can support you in my own small way with a Patreon subscription.

I hope the enforced solitude this year doesn't weigh on you too much. I think there's nothing for it but to look forward to sunny days and to catch up with everyone we have missed once this plague passes.

All the best to you!

Merry Christmas Mike. I've enjoyed your blog since about 2014; I wasn't aware of your existence before then. I find your OT posts interesting; what a nice mix of content you provide us. I'd like to ask (since we are close in age), did your parents play this Ray
Conniff record during the holidays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IKKW-rQqdps Mine did and it sure takes me back in time hearing it again. Also, santa's helper front and center is easy on the eyes. I've always loved this album cover.

[Yep, my dad (born 1929) was a big Ray Conniff fan. I didn't like it as a kid but I'm a lot less "ego-involved" with music choices in my older age and willing to give a much broader range of things a listen. Sampling your link I have to admit his Christmas album has aged better than most since its days on our big Philco stereo console in the dining area of the kitchen:



Many thanks Mike for the entertainment and stimulation you give. Wishing you a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Merry Christmas, Mike! And thank you for your writing throughout the year. It is always one of the brightest spots of my day.

Mike, Merry Christmas and a happy and hopefully healthy New Year.

Merry Christmas Mike

Merry Christmas Mike! Besides photography and cars w/ 5 sod’s., I see we’re kindred spirits with an affection for Blue Grass. Although there are no Christmas songs, check out Sturgill Simpson’s new work, Cuttin Grass Vols. I & II. I really like Vol. I, and am hoping Santa brings Vol. Ii. Kind Regards - Jim

Merry Christmas, Mike. I hope your pool table arrives without further incident and you get to spend time mastering that incredible jump shot.

Well said and lovely writing. New to this blog and it is a gem! Looking forward to a hopeful 2021.

And a million wishes to you, Mike. Enjoy your quiet week, it sounds like a wonderful plan. Looking forward to reading you in the new year.

Since Mike has closed comments on his latest post - here is the same thing (theme) from The Seattle Times. (Sorry Mike but the world does not rotate around the NY)


[Yeah I like that a lot--I especially like that they started the piece with pictures of the staff photographers and the editor. And I like the theme that ran through the descriptions of prudence, and of respectfulness to subjects such as in the picture of Larry Brown. And humor plays a part, such as "honk if you like working outdoors," which cracked me up too! --Mike]

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