Reality Is the Illusion

by Lynne Ober

Pete Boie works with Butter.

‘Take life and make it what you will’ is the underlying theme of magician Peter Boie’s shows.  Boie uses comedy, audience interaction and his enjoyment of life in bringing his magic to the world.

He recently performed for nearly 100 awed children and adults in the cafeteria of Litchfield Middle School.  The event was sponsored by Aaron Cutler Library.  Children’s Librarian Carrie-Anne Pace said that she’d seen Boie and thought he was wonderful.  The audience agreed with her assessment. 

“I love to perform for libraries because that’s where I got my start,” Boie remarked.  “I checked out a book on magic tricks when I was 11.  That was the beginning of my lifelong love of magic.  By the time I was 15, I was performing on stage and now I do it full time.”

The music begins and the magic immediately starts.  Boie thrilled his audience with a series of disappearing scarves that changed color, floated through the air with no support, and finally produced Butter, a white dove.

Butter talked to the young audience members sitting at Boie’s feet.  She spread her wings and demanded full attention.  To get her off the stage, Boie had to promise to turn on the TV in her cage and then she happily went home.

“She has a TV?” asked a wide-eyed five year old audience member.  “In her cage?”

It was an evening of one fast illusion after another.  Finally, Boie offered to show the audience how he was making the scarf disappear and the egg appear.  He went through the steps.  Everyone saw it was a plastic egg, saw that it had a hole in the back and the scarf was tucked into the hole.

Then, with eyes glued on the constantly visible egg, Boie said the real trick was to erase the hole.  He brought out an eraser and before the audience’s eyes, he erased the hole.  Then he brought out a cup and cracked the plastic egg into the cup and guess what?  Even though everyone had been watching, it wasn’t a plastic egg, but a real one that broke into the cup.

“How’d he do that?”  No one could answer.

Boie especially loves to bring his audience into the show.  Robbie, eight, joined him on stage. 

Boie gave him a plastic ball, told him to close his hand around it and to concentrate on making the ball go away.  When he told Robbie to open his hand, not one but two balls were there.  Robbie’s eyes got huge and his grin was wide.  “Wow.  How’d that happen?” 

“I don’t know Robbie.  You were holding the balls,” said Boie.

“But you have the magic wand,” shot back a giggling and smiling Robbie.

The fun didn’t stop there.  Boie had a participant sign her name on a playing card (her choice from a full deck of cards).  Then, that card and half of the deck was put back into the card box.  Boie told his helper to imagine that the card she signed would pop out of the box and to the audience’s delight, it did.

Later he offered to escape from either a straight jacket or thumb cuffs – actually the thumb cuffs of death, and was surprised when thumb cuffs were chosen.  With much laughter and folderol, Boie escaped.  Then he egged the audience into asking him to escape from the straight jacket.  It took two helpers to get him secured into the jacket and then with the help of the William Tell Overture, accompanied by much galloping around the stage, Boie did his escape.

Boie has won two prestigious national magic awards for his performances.  He won at the New England Magic Contest and the Columbus Magi-Fest.  He was also a finalist at the 2005 Society of American Magicians National Stage Competition.

When the show finally ended, no one wanted to leave.  Boie had earned more fans and they eagerly gathered around to have a final word with him.

Pete Boie captured his audience’s attention with his astounding tricks.

BOS Debate Gets Heated

by Tom Tollefson

“Here’s where I get my reputation for being negative,” Selectman Maddox said at a recent Board of Selectmen (BOS) meeting just before bringing up the issue of IT’s recent purchase of three new chairs (two were $602.50 a piece, and the third was $712). 

The discussion that ensued would turn into a heated debate between Maddox and Chairman Jasper.

“The Planning Board got new chairs for $99,” said Maddox.  “They didn’t hire new people; they already had chairs.  This is the kind of thing that makes the government look bad with $800 hammers.  Why they need $700 chairs is beyond my comprehension.”

“The Planning Board is there three times a month from 7 - 11.  Our employees are here at least eight hours a day, 50 weeks a year,” Jasper said.

“All of these employees are existing employees that just moved to a different place.  They all had chairs,” Maddox said about the need for new chairs.

Jasper reminded Maddox that the purchase of the chairs had already been reviewed and approved by the BOS.  Jasper then said that Maddox had personalized it. 

“The time where you should have brought this up should have been under the encumbrances, not after we approved it,” Jasper said about the debate over the chairs.  “I hope that we don’t sit here and try to trash what people who work for us are doing without being fully informed and at least having a rational discussion.”

Despite Maddox’s objection, the BOS voted against the motion to direct the Town Administrator to cancel the contracts on the three chairs.

Maddox was also against spending the $11,708.86 for two new IT offices.  He thought the money could have been better used to get the town of Hudson their own internal e-mail system, which he estimated would cost about $12,000. 

“That is just the kind of inappropriate spending for IT.  If they had that money to build offices and buy $700 chairs, they should have taken e-mail systems and put it into practice, something we need,” said Maddox.

Selectman Robinson thought that Maddox should take time to go down to IT and see what the needs are for chairs and new offices before he proposed a motion to cancel the purchase. 

“Those people are here a lot, sometimes at 10, when I drive by Town Hall.  This is part of their work station, whether anyone agrees or disagrees,” Town Administrator Steve Malizia said about the need for new chairs.  “Personally, I don’t need that kind of chair, but I tend to get up and walk around a lot.”

Malizia also reminded the board that the town has spent more money on chairs in the dispatch function, which were manned 24 hours a day.  He also stated that IT is not around all day, but works more than eight hours a day to ensure that everything is running.

Massey was also sympathetic to the needs of the IT employees.  “I can speak from experience, having spent 35 plus years in the IT world that one of the most uncomfortable things to have to deal with is a chair, that after a couple hours of sitting in it becomes extremely tiresome and hard on your back, and in many cases, just plain uncomfortable,” Selectman Massey said. 

According to Selectman Robinson, IT Director Lisa Nute told him that a government bid was used to get the chairs 25 percent off from the normal price.

Justin Bissett:  February 9, 2000 – June 26, 2007 A Story of Faith, Family, and Friends

by Doug Robinson

The pool in the backyard is empty of water and the basketball rests untouched in the driveway.  Skateboards, bike, and balls are not to be seen.  Two decorated cement slabs, with the handprints of two small children and standing as tall as monuments, line the walkway to the deck of their home.  One handprint belongs to sister Casey and the other handprint belonged to younger brother Justin.  Justin, two years younger than Casey, has the smaller set of prints on the decorated slab.  

Before Justin became ill, he and Casey would spend their days biking, playing, skateboarding, and doing what kids do best.  They would play together.  They would run together.  They would do homework together.  They would love.  Love one another.  And, unlike most siblings, they never fought, they never argued.  But today, tomorrow, and for the future, those days have become a distant memory to be shared only through photos, conversation, and those private moments that we all call dreams.

Justin’s and Casey’s hand prints, encased in cement, share a corner of the garden .

In the blink of an eye, the precious and fragile lives of the Bissett family had changed forever.  Their family journey which had began approximately 17 months ago, ended on June 26, 2007, as Justin Bissett, favorite and only brother to Casey, and seven year old son to Jeff and Darlene, quietly passed away.

For nearly a year and a half, Casey would say the prayer: “Dear God, Please make Justin stronger and healthier so he can get the important medicine that he needs.  Please kill that tumor so his brain will get better.  We love him so much and need him to stay with us for a long time.  Please hear our prayers, God.  Amen.”  She said this prayer every night before she went to sleep.  She never believed the doctors.

Justin’s doctors were never optimistic regarding Justin’s health concerns.  What started as a simple headache on New Year’s Day 2006 would eventually end his young years on this earth.  Darlene will never forget the words spoken by the doctor, “It appears like he has something in his head, the left side of his head.  He has vision problems and he has gait issues.  I would not want to hear about this if it were my child.”  This is when time stopped for the Bissett family.

Justin was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  It was located in the deepest part of his brain, the brain stem.  The Bissett’s learned that the name given to this type of brain cancer was “pontine gliomas”, and that according to information from St. Jude Children’s Hospital, “Brain stem tumors account for ten percent of pediatric brain tumors.  The peak incidence (age group) is between ages five and ten.  Pontine gliomas are so rare that only 150 children are diagnosed with this disease yearly.”  Children’s Hospital of Boston reports that “there are no known factors or conditions that predispose an individual to the development of … pontine tumors.”  These tumors have also been found to impair the ability to walk, create fluid build up in the brain, vomiting, increased headaches (especially in the morning), and fatigue.

“He was just a very little guy” commented Justin’s dad, Jeff Bissett.  “He was strong and he knew how to fight.  For a kid only seven years old, he had a huge impact on a lot of people.  He was always smiling.  He was always sharing.  He was just a great kid.  He also showed people that the most important things in life are family and friends.  It is all about the quality of time you spend with your kids.”

During the Bissett’s 17 month ordeal, Jeff and Darlene were always appreciative of the support and the help they received.  At the 12 month mark, Jeff stated, “I am very thankful for all the help and support we have received from my friends and community.  I find myself becoming more anxious and more nervous to what the doctors have told us as we approach the year and a half mark.  We don’t talk terminal.  My wife, Darlene, daughter Casey, and I are just so thankful for this time of encouragement and support we have received from everyone.  We are continuing to fight this disease on all fronts.  It is very draining on the family… listen to me, who am I to complain … think about Justin.”

“He never complained,” stated Bissett.  “He outlived most of the time tables told to us by doctors.  He always kept his sense of humor and he was just amazing.”  Just a short time ago, carefully Justin adjusted himself to become more comfortable on the sofa as he had to be very careful of the tubes and medical equipment strapped to his body.  He had to be careful not to crimp the hoses, or pull a hose out of one of his feeding ports.  Justin had a port installed into his chest to assist in the administration of his medicine, and he had a feeding tube medically inserted so that he would receive the nutrients.  He had a drain inserted into his head to assist with the drainage of excess fluid that builds in the brain as a result of the tumor.  His symptoms included double vision, inability to close the eyelids completely, dropping one side of the face, and difficulty chewing and swallowing.  Justin also had weakness of the arms and of the legs, and his speech became difficult.  Walking became impossible.  And through it all, “He never ever complained.”

“I know that Justin is happier now and he is free of his cancer.  As much as we wanted him to stay, that would not be fair to ask.  When he was ready, he was in control and the decision was up to him.  Darlene and I decided his medications, his diets, his natural supplements, his exercise, but in the end, he was very tired of living in that sick little body.  We know we will see him again.  We know that a day in heaven is a lifetime here on earth.  It won’t be a long wait until we see him again,” continued Bissett.

Justin’s memory will live on as Jeff, Darlene, and Casey have pledged to host fundraising events in Justin’s memory, in an effort to continue to raise much needed funds for those children who are afflicted with brain cancer.  On September 9, 2007, the Bissett family will host a fundraising event at Mel’s in Litchfield.

“We are also going to keep the website going for a while.  We want to stay in contact with all those who have prayed for us, helped us, and with those who have contributed to our lives.  We are very thankful.”

The walls of Justin’s home have been stenciled with various verses of encouragement and strength, expressing the Bissetts personal commitment of values towards their family, their faith, and their friends:

• Things in life that are important are not things

• Sing like no one is watching

• Dance like no one is watching

“We would love to thank everyone,” commented Darlene Bissett, “who had prayed for our son Justin and who are continuing to pray for our family.  No words could ever express how we have felt and continue to feel with all the support we receive, especially for our daughter Casey.  She has endured more than any ten year old should have to deal with.  Casey and Justin were truly best friends and her loss is being felt daily.  Justin was a gift.  He was loved by everyone who knew him.  He taught us too much about love and about life.”

During the funeral, the following was read: 

To My Child.

Just for this morning, I am going to smile when I see your face and laugh when I feel like crying.

Just for this morning, I will let you wake up safely all rumpled in your pajamas, and hold you close until you are ready for the day.

Just for this morning, I will let you choose what you want to wear, and smile and tell you that you’re beautiful.

Just for this morning, I am going to step over the laundry, and pick you up and take you to the park to play.

Just for this morning, I will leave the dishes in the sink and let you help me put that 100 piece puzzle together.

Just for this afternoon, I will unplug the television and turn off the computer and sit with you in the garden, blowing bubbles.

Just for this afternoon, I will not yell once, not even a tiny grumble, when you scream and whine for ice cream.

And I will buy you one, if the ice cream man comes by.

Just for this afternoon, I won’t worry about what you are going to be when you grow up, or what the future might bring.

Just for this afternoon, I will let you help me make cookies, and I won’t stand over you trying to ‘fix’ things.

Just for this afternoon, I will take you to McDonald’s, and buy us both a happy meal, so you can have two toys. 

Just for this evening, I will hold you in my arms and tell you a story about when you were born and how much we loved you. 

Just for this evening, I will let you splash in the tub, and not get angry when water spills all over my nice clean floor.

Just for this evening, I will let you stay up late, while we sit on the porch swing and count all the stars.

Just for this evening, I will bring you a million glasses of water, and snuggle beside you and miss my favorite TV show.

Just for this evening, when I knee down to pray, I will simply be grateful for all that I have and not ask for anything, except Just one more day.

Those who wish to learn more, please visit,

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