Just to record my eventual solution, just in case others have similar needs:
1) PCmanFM works well enough for me over ssh. Its a bit less reliable than Konqueror because it does not deal with ssh errors well: it does nothing for quite a while before reporting an error, and then cannot recover from it (in that it will not successfully open another ssh remote directory).
2) I have given up on a light weight text editor I like for coding and am using KomodoEdit. Its slow to start and feels a little less responsive than a light editor, but it is VERY good. I have suggested the open source version in package suggest.
3) I am using gvim for quick edits: for example, it is what is started by Firefox's Its All Text extension for textareas on HTML forms.
4) I have installed Textroom for writing, but have not really used it yet.