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If you can’t say anything good…

September 25, 2010 1 comment

… just don’t say anything at all.

That was Grandma’s second commandment. The first commandment involved what time of year was appropriate to wear white.

Obviously, some book reviewers didn’t know my grandmother.

We all worry about reviews … the ones that come from your supervisor, of the hotel we are planning to book, the movie we are hoping to see.

And as writers, we are particularly sensitive to reviews of the paragraphs and pages we have labored over.

I was recently shocked to see some tepid opinions posted on Amazon about a recent book by a well-established goddess of her genre. How could anyone pan any of this writer’s books?

No wonder it’s with much trepidation that we seek out reviewers to pronounce our work as hot, lukewarm or cold as a dead fish. But, still, we do.

When you get right down to the heart of it, what really qualifies someone to judge another’s work?

Personally, I think it’s only a matter of preference. I like fish, you like chicken.

On more than one occasion, I’ve picked up an award-winning book and found myself trudging through the pages. I don’t want depressing.  I don’t want to wade through page after page of intellectual introspection.  As a career journalist, I edit through more than my share of depressing and sometimes technical stories.

I love romances. If you add in a fast-paced plot or a great sense of humor, all the better. But it’s not required. What is required is a first kiss, first sex and, of course, the promise to love forever.  I want characters who are so real that they remain on the edge of my consciousness every time I have to put their story down to go to work or finally give in to sleep.

I can appreciate good writing, vivid descriptions and intricate analogies in other genres. But I don’t want to relax with them if they don’t include romance.

So, with Grandma’s rule in mind, I’ve begun building my list of reviews at goodreads.com with the resolve to only review books I like.

If your book is posted on my page, relax. I liked it.

The list is a work in progress. I’ve begun with my most recent reads and am working back to books I’ve loved for years.  Check it out at:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/3170225-djackson-leigh?shelf=read

Categories: Uncategorized

My first pony ride

September 20, 2010 4 comments
My first pony ride, seated in front of my brother, who got to wear the chaps and hat. He always got everything.

I was visiting my parents this weekend and found a treasure I never expected.

Sadly, Mother and Daddy are both 77 years old and suffer from mentally debilitating diseases – Mother from dementia and Daddy from Alzheimer’s Disease. They still have a lot of recognition left in them, but short-term memories have become progressively elusive. That’s why it amazes me when they can still pull up memories from 50 years ago.

Remembering those times when they were young seem comforting to them and I love hearing the stories, so we were reminiscing Sunday when Mother said, “Get that yellow photo album off that shelf there.”

When I opened the book, I was surprised to see a bunch of pictures of me. I’m the oldest daughter, quiet and often felt lost in the crowd. I was sandwiched between my older brother — Mother’s favorite because he was her only boy — and my middle sister who loved to be in front of the camera and dominated family photo albums from the time she was born.

Most of the pictures of me, of course, were the embarrassing kind. They were snapshots in time of an gangling, straight-haired  tomboy whose mother constantly tried to make in to a curly-headed Shirley Temple.  I paged quickly through the album.

Then I found it. The brittle, sepia tone photograph said everything about who I would become.  Perched in front of my brother, I am sitting astride a pony for the first time.

The story goes that my parents were working in the yard one Saturday when a photographer came around the neighborhood leading a pony. He would stop at the houses where he saw children playing and take their picture on his pony for $5. My parents had little money, but I threw such a fit over the pony that Daddy insisted.

My delighted smile is a sure indication I had fallen in love and that day began my life-long affair with horses.

Categories: Uncategorized

Eulogy to a great horse

September 10, 2010 Leave a comment

Nell dar Tomar, affectionately known as Cody, was my first horse, after spending half my life riding horses owned by other people.  He was everything people love and hate in the Arabian breed.

When I was checking out horses to buy, he was the only horse who checked me out as well. That sold me, even when the owner went up on his price after she saw how we immediately bonded.

He was an energetic handful under saddle. He and I waged a constant battle for him to stand still when I mounted, and we had more than one bucking session when I pulled him in from a gallop or — god forbid — put saddle bags on him for a trail ride.

A leisurely walk was never on his “to do” list. He tried to turn tail and run every time he saw a deer, and he tried to give chase and bite – yes, bite – every time he saw a goat or my late doberman. They were insanely jealous of each other.

But … his version of a walk was a graceful prance, and when I rode in a group or unloaded him from a trailer at a new location, it was Cody who turned heads. He was so handsome.

Although he was gelded, he was a lady’s  man. He loved to hang out with the mares and they usually loved him back.

While other people had to chase or shake food buckets at their horses to retrieve them from the pasture, all I had to do was call and he came running.

He loved people and would readily abandon the herd to see what you were doing.  He had an annoying habit of picking up your tools and running off with them when you were trying to fix the fence.  He would retrieve a Frisbee like a dog.

He loved the trail and would practically jump into a trailer because he loved to go new places.

I  owned several other horses while I had Cody, but he was always my main man.  And, yes, I sometimes rode him bareback. We spent 15 years together.

My consolation is that I was able to retire him to a great farm with several mares he spent his last days escorting around lush pastures.

He will always, always hold a place in my heart.

(transferred from an earlier myspace blog post.)

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