Thanks all for the great responses! I think part of why I asked in the first place was in case I was getting the "oooh, nice photo" type responses, but from people who appreciated the technical more than the artistic/composition aspect. I am totally fine with the concept of some people liking it and some not - no one will ever please everyone. Just start a thread here on "St." Ansel vs Edward Weston and see what happens.
I wish I could get a straight answer from my dad (who rarely speaks and hasn't been involved in any of the questioned conversations) - he used to be the family photographer (I have his old camera) and there were several artists on his side of the family (not mom's side, AFAIK).
And, yes, the ones I posted in the initial post are a bit of a departure from my usual, but I needed something new for the "audition" and these were what she was looking at when she made the most recent comments. Thank you much to those who looked at my gallery to see my past history, too.
Believe me, johnielvis, I don't let other's opinions decide what/how I'm going to shoot. Like others before me, I do it my way. But I did want to know if I was failing completely and should think about whether it's worth pleasing only myself.
btw, she's NEVER criticized photos of her grandson. Hmmm, big surprise there.
As I've thought about it, there really are a fair number of other things on which she's had different opinions than I. The color of my room as a kid (she picked my least favorite color), assorted gifts over the years, so I guess I should just count this among those and move on. Thanks to all for letting me know I'm not totally nuts or blind!