Your photos are wherever you put them, so even if the organizer never worked again you should still have access to them.
Try starting the organizer while holding down the shift key, which should bring up the catalog manager. Select your catalog, then Repair, then Optimize.
Thank you for your assistance. I am reassured now that at least I have not lost all my work. I guess I need to purchase a new back-up for this computer. I think I have picked up a virus somewhere and it is affecting photoshop, among other things. So I guess it is also time to get in touch with my local expert. I do really appreciate your help, I was afraid that I am the only one still working with elements 8. Especially since the on-line tech person I contacted this afternoon refused to help me because ‘it’s too old’. I could probably say the same about myself, since I seem to be less knowledgeable about computers than I was 20 years ago! Again, thanks for your help.