Well, I put that flashdrive in, started it up, and typed Windows logo key + L and, poof, the computer is working again. Just like I was using it last with most of the apps I was last using open just as they were. No restore, no reinstall needed.
I emptied the recycle bin.
But I soon got a message that my hard drive doesn't have enough space for Windows Update and click here to fix it. So I click and it asks me to attach external storage even though there is already over 1TB of available external storage already attached. So I put in that 32GB flashdrive I used for the recovery download which still has 25GB free for what it's worth. And then I disabled Windows Update.
Then a popup appears asking me to restart now, restart tonight. or pick a time. I click pick a time. The popup disappears and then nothing.
I think I should restart now myself but I'm a bit afraid. It's working perfectly.
The hard drive, which seems to be the original trigger for the problem, has 8.03GB free out of 118GB. My earlier deletion of several dozen documents apparently wasn't enough. I can't find where most of that 109.7GB is. The WINDOWS folder has 24.3GB, Users 1.62GB, Program Files (x86) 10.2 GB, Program Files 4.12GB. The rest of the folders which show on File Explorer are smaller.
And now I get another request for a restart. Choices: now, in an hour, and I forget the other one.
I'm shutting the computer down.