Have you tried resetting the PRAM?
That was actually one of the first things I tried, but thanks for the thought.
I ran the repair permissions utility a few more times, there's still stuff coming up. Not as much as when I first ran it -- is it suppose to be completely empty?
Then I backed up (found my external HD ) and reset my PRAM again. I restarted the computer several times and it now takes less than 10 minutes . . . so, Progress!
RoseRose -- thank you very much for asking your husband. For some reason I get a bit itchy about reinstalling the OS. I'm not sure why, it's just a thing I have . So I was waiting to do that as a last resort.
and, um, well, uh . . . I can't find my start-up disk.
How do I go about getting a new one?
Would upgrading to a new OS work just as well?
Thank you all for your wonderful advice!
P.S. I have plenty of memory available. But thanks for the info!
My husband isn't around to ask if upgrading will do the same thing, but if you upgrade the OS to Mountain Lion, it creates a recovery partition, so you don't need a disk to do an OS reinstall.
And also if you decide to purchase the Mountain Lion upgrade, it gives you like... 30 days of AppleCare support. (If I remember correctly, Mountain Lion may actually be cheaper, or at least close to the same price as a one time support agreement for computer support.) so if you're no where near an Apple Store you can call tech support for help.
I hope that helps!