ok, managed to stumble into getting workbench to start and stop the server. Started server manually per these instructions found at http://dev.mysql.com/doc/refman/5.0/en/macosx-installation.html:
If you do not use the Startup Item, enter the following command sequence:
shell> cd /usr/local/mysql
shell> sudo ./bin/mysqld_safe
(Enter your password, if necessary)
(Press Control-D or enter "exit" to exit the shell)
You should be able to connect to the MySQL server, for example, by running /usr/local/mysql/bin/mysql.
Then in Mysql Workbench, I went to Manage Server Instances, System Profile, [had to reselect Mac OS X as it had changed to Windows], Sudo command, clicked on the text "EnterPasswordHere", and it collected my sudo password. From that point forward I was able to start and stop the server and connect to "test" database with the SQL Editor. Time to shut down, back up, take a walk