Here is what I think the dec in the pattern plots out as about one less mesh pattern each dec row.
Yes. In wandering the web, most crochet sites have me just removing an entire 'block' of the mesh but that leaves the proverbial step. :(
If I read your suggestion correctly (I do most of my crochet by appearance rather than charts/diagrams) you'd have the return row worked all the way to the dec edge (rather than the last dc worked at an angle into the dec of the prev row?)? Trying to make sense of your depiction. The way I was working it it visually ended up looking like I was losing nearly 2 sqs for each 'dec' (altho the sq count didn't reflect that).
I've ripped back and am ready to tackle the decs again so will play around, see if I can get the results I want.
I appreciate all your help. If easier for you to PM, feel free to do so.
Jack, thanks again.