Best Birthday Ever

I recently turned 60. 60? Really? How did that happen?

I happen to have an excellent husband; he’s loving, kind, generous, and thoughtful. He set out to make my 60th birthday the best birthday ever.

<Begin historic present tense>

It all starts a few weeks before the big day. The DH asks me if I’d like to go to a Pittsburgh Penguins game for my birthday.  The only NHL game I’ve ever seen in person was a preseason game–the Pens vs the Washington Capitals in the Giant Center in Hershey, PA–in which none of the “star” players participated. So, DUH!!! Of course I’d like to go to a hockey game in Pittsburgh for my birthday. He gets on the Internet and finds four seats together in the lower level of the Consol Energy Center for the night of October 15. The Pens vs the Buffalo Sabres. I like the Sabres. I love the Pens. Four tickets so we could bring the boy and his sock-worthy GF along. The excitement is building!

Next, the DH says to me, Let’s go to Bleacher Bums and I’ll buy you a hockey sweater for your birthday.

What? say I. You already bought tickets for a hockey game.

That’s as much for me as for you, says he. Let me buy you a hockey sweater to wear to the game.

Okay, say I.

I mean, it’s a no-brainer, right? So, we go to bleacher bums, and as soon as we walk in the door, I spy the hockey sweater I want.

Yep, a #87 Sidney Crosby dark blue alternate jersey, aka a Winter Classic jersey. Best birthday ever. But, believe it or not, it gets even better.

Gameday arrives. We leave Carlisle in the morning and hit the PA Turnpike headed west. It’s a glorious, sunny day, and the autumn leaves have set the hillsides ablaze. I have my knitting along and work on another Winter’s Coming hat, this one in two shades of pink, one of which is very purplish. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted weight wool in Peruvian Pink and Victorian Pink.

Winter's Coming Again Hat

Knitting in the car makes trips go much faster. We have an uneventful trip and arrive safely at our hotel in Monroeville. We couldn’t get a room in the city; the hotels are filled because both the Pens and the Steelers have home games. After checking in and getting everything stowed away, we drive to the GF’s place in Shadyside where we visit, watch college football, and eat Chinese take-out until it is time to leave for the game.

We leave the house and walk to the corner to catch the bus that will take us to the CEC. It’s been along time since I’ve ridden public transportation, so I’m enjoying myself immensely. I have a lot of really good memories growing up of riding the bus with my Grandma B, and this bus ride is bringing them back. The bus stops right smack in front of the CEC, which is an amazingly beautiful building. We walk around to the other side because that is where the will-call window is, and we have to pick up our tickets at will-call.

The will-call entrance is across the street from The Igloo, aka Mellon Arena, but for me it will forever be the Civic Arena. The old arena is in the process of being demolished, but the demolition is barely underway, so there it stands in all its glory. I never attended a hockey game in the Civic Arena, but I have been there for a political rally, dog shows, and a jazz festival. It’s kind of sad to see it go because it is definitely a Pittsburgh landmark, but the building has outlived its usefulness.

We enter the CEC, pick up our tickets, go to our seats, and soak up the atmosphere. The CEC was built to be a hockey arena.

It is very well designed. When you sit down in your seat, you realize that you are seated high enough that you can easily see over the heads of the folks in the row in front of you. You can look to the sides and see the action on the ice without having to lean forward and obstruct the view of the people beside you. The seats themselves are wide and well-padded and surprisingly comfortable. And there is plenty of leg room, even for the 6’4″ DS.

Our seats have a perfect view of the face-off circle and goal net in what will be the Pens offensive zone in Periods 1 and 3. That means that during the warm ups, I get some really good looks at the Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller, who is one of my favorite hockey players.

You may remember him as the USA goalie in the last Winter Olympics. He looked so sad after the OT loss. If you don’t remember him from the Olympics, you might recognize him from the Comcast  Xfinity commercials where he’s playing air hockey with Shaquille O’Neal and says to Shaq, “You’re in MY world now.” I love that commercial. Miller isn’t in goal this game, but I have a nice unobstructed view of him in the goalie’s corner of the Sabres bench.

The hockey game is really exciting.

It’s a little disappointing that the Pens fall behind, but they keep scrapping and get within one point of the Sabres in the third period when Jordan Staal scores a goal in the net right in front of us. The ending of the game is very exciting, but the Pens fall short and lose 3-2.

Under normal circumstances I might be a little disappointed because the Pens lost, but nothing could put a damper on this day.

Greg and me enjoying the game.

On a day when I get to spend the day with my husband, son, and son’s GF; when I get to eat Chinese take-out; when I get to see an NHL game live and in person; when I get to wear my #87 hockey sweater to the game; on a day when I get to do so many wonderful things, something even better happened. I got to meet, live and in person, Michelle The Knitting Lady and her DH Mike. I have followed Michelle and Mike’s Pittsburgh Penguinss hockey adventures on Ravelry and Mike’s blog for a while now, and finally meeting them in person was a real thrill. I actually had a pretty nice view of Mike and Michelle from my seat at the opposite end of the arena thanks to the telephoto lens on my camera.

Knitting Lady Says Do It!

Yep, Michelle is knitting! She’s able to knit and watch hockey at the same time because she can knit without looking at her knitting. I can knit when I watch hockey on TV, but not when I’m at an actual game, so I didn’t bring my knitting to the game.

The day finally has to come to an end. We hop on the bus and make our way back to Shadyside. We look at our pictures, finish our Chinese take-out, drink a little coffee, watch a little college football, and do a lot of chatting. And the icing on the top of the cake? Alma the Cat makes up with me. Perfect ending to a perfect day. We drive back to Monroeville, get a good night’s sleep, and hit the road headed east. When we arrive home and walk in the door, we are greeted by a couple of kitties who are very happy to see us. You’re in MY world now. ☺

Best. Birthday. Ever.

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