When I got home from work today, the first step in making dinner was to take out the compost. As I headed out to the compost bin I noticed three spectacular blackberry canes looping over the back fence, like the Martian’s fingers in the commercials for the War of the Worlds TV show from a few years back. I wanted to go out and hack at them right then, but Kate restrained me for the sake of getting dinner on the table. It was a good thing she did. When I got out back, limb-loppers in hand, I found that the three big canes (the largest of which rose about ten feet high and was thicker than my thumb) were only the vanguard of a massive invasion force, thorny and heavy with fruit. I whacked at them for about forty-five minutes, and would probably have been completely overwhelmed except that our neighbors (the best neighbors in the entire universe) came by just then. Pat, who’s much taller than I, was just barely able to cut the tallest cane with the loppers at their longest extension, while Michelle and five-year-old Rowan gamely helped denude the invading canes of their evil (and delicious) seed-bearing fruit. While I cut up the canes and gingerly transferred them to the yard debris bin, the neighbors picked about five pints of berries and left one of them for us. I’m more than happy with the deal. They’ll be back for more berries in a couple of days. Writing news: Four of my stories received Honorable Mentions in Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction: “A Book is a Journey,” “Circle of Compassion,” “The Ecology of Faerie,” and “Tk’Tk’Tk.” Which is, um, everything I published in 2005 except for “The Curse of Beazoel.” I’m going to go edit the novella some more now. Blackberries and yogurt await for dessert.