61: The Integrity of the Kale


Portals #55 ©2015 Lisa Call 18 x 18 inches

So there I am, sitting in the chair closest to the door (it’s what you do if you’ve been traumatized – always have an escape hatch) at a breakout session at the World Domination Summit, stitching one of Nancy’s drawings. Just as the session was about to start, this woman comes whizzing in and plops down in the chair next to me. We listen, take a few notes, and are partners for the stupid worthless activities that eat up clock. When the session ends, I begin to put my things in the bag, moving slowly to avoid the herd. The woman sitting next to me remains in her seat, too.

When the din dies down to a tolerable level, she turns to me and asks what I am working on. “In June,” I tell her, “my developmentally disabled sister-in-law started drawing, and I’m now stitching every one of her drawings.”

She seems keenly intrigued then adds, “You know, I work with textiles, too.”

“You do? How marvelous.”

“Yes. Do you have a card?” she asks.

I reach into my bag and whip out a regular-sized business card and hand it to her. My card looks teensy beside the oversized postcard she puts in my hand. I did what you do when somebody hands you their business card – I read it. “Wait a minute,” I say, “you’re Lisa Call?”

“The one and only.”

“Well, it is really nice to meet you.” You see, I’ve been following Lisa online since blogs were invented, always intrigued with her textile paintings and impressed with her approach, dedication, and productivity. She is a systems girl who dreams big then lays down the plans to make sure it all happens. “I’ve been following you online since you moved to Denver. I watched you remodel your house. Watched you lay the carpet. Watched you start your garden.” I stopped there for fear of what she might think – you know, this is the stuff stalkers are made of. Fortunately, she just laughs, and we’ve been friends ever since. She was even an Envoy, taking photos of one of Nancy’s first drawings and writing about it, and I have taken several of her workshops, and she is now my art coach.

When I go visit my son who lives in Denver, I make sure to let Lisa know so we can get a walk in (something that’s become increasingly more difficult since she became a part-time resident of New Zealand earlier this year.) On one visit, we eat at a restaurant in Cherry Creek. Lisa orders first. “I’ll have the kale salad with no dressing and water.”

“We can’t serve the kale salad without the dressing,” the waitress says.

“Okay,” Lisa says, “I’ll have the kale salad with the dressing on the side.”

“We can’t serve the kale salad with the dressing on the side.”

“Time out,” I say, making a T with my hands. “Where I’m from, the customer is most always right, and certainly when she wants the dressing on the side or no dressing at all, she gets it that way.”

“We can’t serve the kale salad without the dressing or with the dressing on the side,” the waitress assures me.

“What if it’s a health issue?” I ask. “What if she is allergic to something in the dressing or has diabetes or some other illness that makes it necessary for her to forego the dressing?”

“Well then, she’ll need to order something else,” the waitress says, “because we have to preserve the integrity of the kale.”

I’m not kidding – she says that. “We have to preserve the integrity of the kale.” And she says it with a straight face.

Lisa and I sit there dumbfounded then start to laugh and gather our things, preparing to find food somewhere else – hopefully in a place where customer satisfaction is more important than with the integrity of the kale.

“Wait a minute,” the waitress offers. “I’ll go ask my manager if there’s anything we can do.”

“You do that,” Lisa manages to tell her between laughs.

The manager agrees to break the rules this one time, the salad is served with the dressing on the side, and soon enough, we are eating and talking textile art. And the best part? We leave with a secret code phrase that never fails to set things in proper perspective: “preserve the integrity of the kale.” And we’ve never eaten at that restaurant again. Ever.


Lisa’s latest exhibit – Endless Horizon: 14000 feet to Sea Level – opened this past week at the Spark Gallery in Denver. It’ll be up through October 18, so if you get a chance, go by and see it. Her newest work is striking. Stunning, really. But then all her work is.


  1. moon

    You know, That could be a code phrase for so many things.. The integrity of the kale. The beauty of this is finding the humor in the rigid stupidity. ~smile~

  2. Roberta Nelson

    Great story!!!

    • whollyjeanne

      Thank you. Who needs to make things up when you have truth like this, right?

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