Eventually I ran out of Tom Clancy novels, and got over being lazy, and in February 2008 I finally decided it was time to get back to the project. First thing I did was take a picture of where things were at:
In the intervening 9 months, the back wood had straightened out, so I was ready to make another attempt at joining. Of course, I still didn't have a lot of experience with planing, nor sharpening, but I did some further research, including watching (many times!) several truly excellent videotapes lent to me by Doug Rice, on the subject of sharpening and using tools, and hung out on MN and read a lot there. Finally, I got a tip from Seth Leigh that really set me up. He sent me a picture of a jig he had rigged up, and that allowed me to emulate it:
This allowed me to FINALLY get the back joined properly. This point was mid-February. Wow, was I excited! Onward and upward!
By Feb 20, I was able to take the following picture - notice how the holes drilled in the workbench for the shooting jig are also useful here: