The Cat in the Lab

​Very few things have left me speechless - nothing more so than my first meeting with Doctor Catherine Demetriades.  First impression? Energetic, beautiful and a little weird (in one of those wonderful ways).  There was intensity to her, the kind that draws you in, the kind you can't look away from; when you feel slightly dumbfounded, searching for the words to say.  And as I said before...intense.

I had googled her before we met and she is one amazing woman.  I will skip through her childhood - father an inventor, mother a fashion designer; violin prodigy, learnt the piano in 6 months; attended Saturday morning classes in a University learning to dissect brains in a laboratory aged 11 and the list goes on and on...
She has 4 PhDs in Molecular Medicine, Biophysics, Particle Physics and Quantum Psychology.  But what I thought was really cool about her, was that she also wanted to know about the Ancient Sciences so she became an Egyptologist and Ancient Egyptian Perfumer.  Not only can she read hieroglyphs but she can create her own perfumes, including the hidden formula that Cleopatra had in her perfume.  I don't know if it was exactly that one she placed along my arm, but it was a divine formula, and believe me the smell was both ambrosial and addictive.  
Did I fail to mention that she is a fully functional Autistic Savant!

Anyway, why had this awesome individual come to my house?  Well, she had brought over a ridiculously expensive piece of equipment - I want to say a Quantum Response machine, but I am not sure exactly what it is or how it works.  All I know is that it was jaw-dropping.  All my son had to do was touch these two round sensors for 15 minutes, non invasive and simple, right?  I can see all you ASD parents out there shaking your heads and smiling that knowing smile.  After 3 tries he managed to hold on for about 2 minutes, but only with all of us counting to 100 and me giving him the death stare if he so much as moved his hands (I was not allowed to touch him because the machine would pick me up too).  The results were astounding, for example she told us he had a problem with his left leg, a lingering virus.  My husband froze, as he remembered when my son was about 2 and a half, he had come home limping (the doctor told us it was a virus).  How did she know that and about twenty other pieces of information that only we knew?  What was this miracle machine?  But more importantly, how would it help our ASD son? 

Obviously we have to wait for her to properly study the results, but as I watched her talk and move, I had a strange feeling of the familiar, the way she ate and drank, hungrily yet savouring the flavour (she explained that she like other ASDs never felt full - which totally explains how my son rummages through the cupboards constantly looking for food even if he only ate half an hour ago!), and her mischievous grin, (like when my son is about to do something he knows is naughty) when she talked about things that challenged preconceived ideas about autism.  

I do not know what these results will bring, but I somehow feel a strange, trusting, secure hope that this specific Dr. Cat will find in her lab some way to help bring my ASD son to full function.

LPN MUM - Brand Launch Fashion Show

American Academy Summer School

‘Clamping down’ should be more than just words - Paula Manoli-Gray

It is always pleasant news when Larnaka Municipality states that it will clamp down on certain anti-social behaviours (of which there are many!) But it is never a guarantee that they will put their money (or that of the taxpayers) where their mouth is, so I really, really hope that this time the new law of not allowing eyesores and illegal obstructions on pavements will be implemented.

No doubt there are business owners who are up-in-arms at the new decree that only those with prior permission are allowed to put signs, tables, chairs and decorative items on the pavements and roads outside of their establishments. After all, the sight of a board menu or an 'open' sign is a common sight in town, and within reason, the practise seems fairly harmless.

But, you get establishments who think that they own the pavement and road outside of their premises, to the point that they fill both up either to stop people parking (and thus blocking the sight of their premises), or to extend their services outside. And there are those who go a step further and actually forbid members of the public to park even in metered spaces unless they are visiting their particular shop or restaurant. Not only is this unfair and illegal, but there have been many instances when the establishment owners have actually become aggressive or violent towards vehicles parked outside 'their' premises. I have personally heard of owners returning to egged or scratched cars for refusing not to abide by the establishment's demands to move along.

By claiming the surrounding areas of their business, there are many establishments that are inconveniencing and endangering pedestrians – especially those with pushchairs and wheelchairs - by forcing them to walk on the road. It makes me very cross that any business should take away someone's right to walk safely on a pavement, or abuse them if they try to walk through the obstacle course of pot plants, signs and tables, or dare to park legally outside.

The reason that this clamping down is taking place is actually mainly for aesthetic reasons. As a tourist town, rusty signs held down by an old tire do not look nice! There is no consistency to the type of signs used, and some of them are actually hazardous as well as ugly. Good luck to the municipality, as I really don't fancy their chances of policing an entire town's pavements or finding cooperative business owners!

Personally, I live in fear of parking in a legal spot outside someone's business, as they tend to peer out and give you a dirty look if you are not going inside. I normally park and run out of the car before they spot me. This is crazy but in Cyprus, people are very territorial of surrounding areas that they think 'belong' to them.

Case-in-point is the issue of residential areas where homeowners selfishly plant massive trees in the middle of pavements, or park their car fully on the pavement. It has long been a contentious issue for me, especially as nothing is being done about it.

I for one certainly look forward to a less hazardous town, and kindly request that residential areas are next on the list!

First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, week 03/07/15

Wobbly bits and genius ideas - Paula Manoli-Gray

Despite an unusually slow start, summer has finally made its grand entrance! The good news for residents of the island is that this year the summer will be 'milder' – or so the press tells us. That means it will be hot – too hot at times – but not super-unbearably-hot for the most part! Considering that it is almost July and we have yet to have to turn on the air-conditioning, we have done very well so far!

I cannot imagine there are too many people on the island who absolutely hate summer, because logically, they wouldn't chose to live here, but I am sure there are a fair portion, who – like me - still get a shock when it is time to bare some flesh!

Despite knowing all-year-round that summer is coming with certainty, and therefore sandals, shorts, t.shirts and swimwear are inevitable too, it is always a little traumatising when you first reveal a patch of white skin, or wobbly, cellulite-d, varicose veined or scarred imperfections! But the summer and the sea have a strange way of making us compartmentalise our body exposure. I personally wouldn't dream of wearing leggings, hot pants, a mini skirt or even shorts slightly above the knee, but I have no issue with wearing what amounts to underwear-in-a-purpose-made-fabric (a.k.a swimwear) at the beach. That said, I do choose my beaches with care and do not frequent those where the young and beautiful are living life like one big party, so that could have something to do with it…

…but I do adore the sea (I don't sunbathe, it's all about the water for me), and I love going early morning when the water is cold and calm and the sea creatures have not gone into hiding yet. Already this year I have found some unusual shells that I did not have in my collection, and have met a starfish, crabs and other assorted fish. And it is on one of these mornings, mulling over how we have once again topped the list for Europe's cleanest coasts, and how on earth that is possible when I am forever picking rubbish out of the sea, that I had one of those genius ideas that you know would be a winner but that you will never do.
If anyone from the municipality is reading, I would love them to take my suggestion on board because I really think it would help everyone to pitch in and keep our seas clean and safe. So, the idea is (drum roll please) Floating Sea Bins.

If there were Floating Sea Bins (moored down like buoys) with slots for throwing litter in, but that you could not take litter out of (like bottle banks), then maybe more people would care for the state of the seas by picking up any litter they found and depositing it in the bins. So far, the waters are generally clean but I have found too many tin cans and plastic bags for my liking. I do throw them out of the sea when I am close enough to the shore for my weak throw to catapult them out of the water, but most of the time I am too far from the sands to pick the litter out the sea and keep taking it out.

Floating Sea Bins… you heard it here first!

First appeared in The Cyprus Weekly, 26/06/15

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