Just checking in . . . I miss you all!
I've made a few more new Apple Support Specialist pals around the country — including J (a patient, old-school Southern gentleman), D (Genius Bar, entertained us with spectacular mime and hip-hop moves during the long wait times of our 2 1/2–hour session), and S (Sacramento by way of New Jersey, rescued newborn kittens last year who didn't make it, so I'm hoping to talk him into adopting).
But my photos still aren't fixed and my laptop is still slow and cantankerous. My case has been "escalated" to an Apple Engineer, who will try to repair my iCloud account. This will take several business days. I don't know how it will happen, but I imagine that the engineer's first step will be to go up in a plane and look for my account, and then try to find my 9,000 missing photos, which are probably floating around loose up there, and persuade them to go back where they belong.
In the meantime, I'm supposed to keep my paws off the Photos app. But I will post some unedited recent photos tomorrow.