Okay, so it took longer than I expected it to, and there was more of a learning curve than I thought there would be, but I'm back. The first thing I learned was that there is a difference between a *wireless router* and a *wireless router/modem*, and that if you need the latter, the former won't do you a damn bit of good. So I had to trek back to Aberdeen to return the first replacement router, and buy a different router/modem.
Next thing I learned was that a huge percentage of people will drive in pea-soup fog without their lights on (nothing bad happened, that was just a cranky observation).
And then I spent the afternoon with grandgirls (even addiction takes a back seat to going for a walk and learning, or re-learning, how to skip rocks on the flooded fields). After they went home, I had about an hour before we had to leave for the evening, so I tackled the modem installation and configuration.
And, amazingly enough, I got everything plugged into the right orifices, and with the laptop directly connected to the router, I got back online (I think my heart rate went back to normal the moment I saw that little earth-symbol, and not the red X). I was a bit confused by the fact that the network was already named (Beth's Computer Network) and that a sample user name and password were already typed into the configuration software. I thought that was just to show me where to enter my information, and it wasn't until I unplugged the laptop from the direct line that I learned that Beth's Computer Network was encrypted and that I didn't have the key, and therefore I had no wireless capability. Which was the time I dimly realized that my *new* modem/router might not be quite as new as it was cracked up to be. That it just might have been purchased, tried out, and then returned, with Beth's (whoever she is) information, including her password, which I did not know, still on the router, locking things up nicely.
But I had to leave for the evening, so I let the problem percolate overnight. This morning, I was going to call Tech Support, but I had a light bulb moment, found the Beth's encryption key (she'd pencilled it in on one of the pages), changed it to mine, and enabled the wireless. Voila! I'm back in business.
And best of all? When I bought the new router, I also bought the $6 Wal-Mart 1-year replacement-for-any-reason service thingy. The packet looked familiar, so when I got home, I rooted through my desk drawer and, lo and behold, found the replacement-for-any-reason service thingy that I'd bought for the kaput modem. And it hasn't been a full year since purchase! So: I get a refund! Win/Win.
It's good to be back... and maybe, just maybe, I need to step back from the internet once in awhile, so when this happens again, I don't go into a panic... nah... not gonna happen...