Hoping that it might correct itself during the night while it and I were sleeping (I didn't!), there was no change at 6 AM. Afraid to force quit, and no way to back up files with no files to find, I decided to run ONYX, a Mac maintenance program that usually finds and fixes all that ails it. IT WORKED!!!! The cleaning requires several restarts, and so it was that it restarted, found the Finder and all the missing files and icons, and now it seems to be OK! Scared me!
I have now backed up all the important files and am working on my photos. So....that's the hurry. I've been remiss in completing the story of my trip to France, and I need to do that asap so that all the France photos get somewhere other than on the hard drive. I started to delete some of the 3500+ photos currently in iPhoto and then managed to NOT delete them and had to start all over. Still working on that.
So....I am going to simply upload all the remaining photos from my trip so that they are at least safely saved here. So here goes!!!
Well....that didn't work! So now I've uploaded them to Picasa Web Albums - and you'll just have to look at them there.