Martha Stewart, beware! Although Ramona Frazier doesn’t share Martha’s celebrity status, or her multi-million-dollar equity, she’s blessed with the creativity and artistic talent to transform basic elements into handmade crafts that delight friends and family members.
Her first love is drawing — an interest she developed at a young age — but she also enjoys beading, knitting, crocheting, some aspects of sewing and painting.
“My father was actually a little disappointed that I didn’t go to art school,” Ramona said. “But I said Dad, I’ve got to be able to make a living! So I ended up going to the University of Denver to get my biology degree and I went on to nursing school.”
The instructors at Presbyterian-St. Luke’s School of Nursing in Denver discouraged Ramona from returning to her hometown. They argued that she’d get more experience if she stayed in the big city and worked in a big hospital. But she knew she’d see a broader range of patients with a wider range of needs in a small hospital like DCMH. Plus, she had no car and no money in her savings account. If she moved back home, she reasoned, she could pay off her school loans.
“My original plan was to work for two years, and get some nursing experience, then join the Peace Corps. But since I don’t like spiders, and I don’t like bugs, and I don’t like snakes particularly, that probably was not a good longterm goal.”
Nurses run in the family — Ramona’s mother Evelyn was a nursing supervisor at Delta County Memorial Hospital until 1995; she now volunteers at the hospital. Ramona’s father Bert owned Household Services in Delta. He also farmed and worked at Lockheed and Air Research in California. A woodworker, he builds birdhouses which Ramona paints.
“Being a nurse allows me a lot of flexibility to be able to do that artwork,” Ramona says. It’s also a great stress reliever and a welcome break from her increasingly complex responsibilities involving Medicare compliance, risk management and quality/performance improvement.
When Ramona first returned to Delta in 1984, she worked as a staff nurse at Delta County Memorial Hospital for about four years. As she took on more responsibility for infection control, employee health and utilization review, she began spending less time with patients and more time with paperwork. In 1988, she quit working the floor altogether. In 1994 she was named quality services director. Health care has gotten so complicated, a second person was recently assigned to the department to share the workload. For example, the federal government now requires staff to audit the chart of every Medicare patient, then submit data for posting to a national website. One person could no longer get everything done.
As quality services director, Ramona also keeps an eye on hospital procedures. “If we want to make a change to improve a system or a process, if we find there’s something that’s not quite working for the staff or the patient, we’ll pull a team together to take a look at that process,” she explained.
“I’ve been afforded a lot of opportunities here, so I’ve never regretted my decision to return to Delta,” she said.
Ramona describes herself as “happily single” with two cats, Buffy and Spike. Her home has a huge downstairs area which she’s set up for crafts. Plastic storage containers filled with yarn, fabric, ribbon, scrapbooking paper and other supplies line the walls.
“I work to support my craft shopping habit,” she jokes. She spends hours wandering the aisles of craft stores, browsing through magazines and picking up ideas from books. Most projects are the result of a combination of ideas and designs. As a result, each one is unique. Because she isn’t into mass production, and she’s always ready to try new ideas, she rarely makes more than one or two of each item. Some items are fashioned with friends and family members in mind; she donates others for the silent auctions held on Nurses’ Day to raise money for scholarships. She also contributes to the silent auction held in conjunction with the hospital foundation’s annual fund-raising event. Still, the projects pile up.
“I enjoy the making of it, the designing of it, but what do you do with the stuff once you’ve made it?” she said.
In the early ‘90s, she began holding a craft sale for friends and family at her house. It’s become an annual event for her colleagues at the hospital. Proceeds from the sale basically end up covering the cost of Ramona’s art supplies. “It definitely does not make a profit!” she said.
Employees at the hospital benefit from Ramona’s talents in other ways, as well. She designs birthday, retirement, and going away cards for fellow workers, and she incorporates her handmade soaps into new employee orientation packets with the reminder, “Don’t forget to wash your hands!”
From decoupage, to stamping, to papier mache, Ramona is ready to lend her hand to any craft — except oil painting.
“I envy the artists who can do oil paintings because those take months at a time, applying different layers and waiting until they dry,” she said. “I have a hard time with any project that’s going to take me weeks or months. I like to have a completed project as soon as possible. I need that immediate gratification. I don’t want to do anything that’s going to add to the stress, so if it’s something that’s going to cause me stress, forget it. That’s why I don’t read knitting patterns!” she joked.
She prefers to study a project and figure out how to make it without reading instruction. “I do a lot of designing by look and feel. If I can duplicate it great, if not I’ll just redesign it for me. If it’s too complicated, then it’s not fun. It’s got to be fun while I’m doing it.” blog comments powered by Disqus