Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 4

The story continues for the fourth Sunday. The scene is Antarctica, but that will soon change…





Chapter 4


Hopper’s Early Education


Under the care of Emmett and Emily, Hopper learned the ways of the Emperors. At this time he didn’t realize he was different. Emily and Emmett were his mom and dad, and parents are always bigger.

But as they waddled among the other Emperors, Hopper would happily waddle and often hop along between his parents. They received looks of disgust from others as they passed and many not very friendly remarks about Hopper’s size. He was much shorter than the smallest Emperor chick. Also they didn’t like Emily and Emmett’s breaking with the tradition of hatching chicks in winter. However, the light season was a much better time for a Rockhopper to be born. So he grew up among the Emperors with the best of Emperors for his parents.

In his younger days, Emmett had been a great swimmer and diver. Hopper loved the stories he told about his adventures in the oceans and under the sea. What incredible things he had seen and done!

There were stories about his brother, Emp, who was a great traveler whom he hadn’t seen for years. “Is he still alive?” asked Hopper.

“I hope so,” answered Emmett. “I would really like to see him again, and to know he’s all right.”

Emmett loved to tell of his times with his friend, Bhill Blue, who was a whale. “He was the greatest swimmer and diver I’ve ever seen, and also the greatest friend a penguin could ever have.”

“Where is he now, Daddy?”

“He’s still traveling the oceans.”

“Does he ever come home?”

Emmett answered, “To Antarctica, you mean? Well, he comes by once in a while, but then he’s off traveling again.”

“By himself?”

“Usually, but I don’t think he’s lonely. He swims with the Creator, and he meets friends along the way, and it seems he’s always helping someone. And he’s not afraid of anything. Once I saw him look at the Great White Seal who was railing at him and threatening him, and what did Bhill Blue do? He laughed at him and swam away. I was hiding behind Bhill, hoping the Great White wouldn’t see me or my tail might be gone.”

“Who is the Great White Seal?”

“He is actually a sea lion, and the biggest one you’ll ever see. He rules over much of the Pacific Ocean, and he thinks it’s his. I think he would like to rule all the oceans. Some say he’s been alive for hundreds of years, and they say in his lair he has countless trophies, the tails of those creatures who got in his way or bothered him in some way, or those who opposed him.”

“Where is he?” asked Hopper.

“His headquarters are on the coast of what people call California…”

Hopper found himself shaking, and not about the Great White Seal, and he asked, “What are people?”

“People are the greatest of the creatures on earth, special to the one who made them. They were created to rule the earth and all of us animals. Long ago they turned away from their Master, and he’s had to deal with them firmly to bring them back to himself. Now we are forbidden to talk to them. Only one animal, one particular donkey, has been allowed to talk to a person. We have been made fearful of them, and that is why you started to shake when I mentioned them. They can see us, but can never be close to us as they would like to be.”


“It helps to put a longing in their hearts for what they had before they turned away from their Maker and what they can have some day if they will only turn back to him.”

Hopper learned many things from Emmett and Emily and heard many other great stories. As time passed his gray feathers turned into black and white, and long yellow feathers grew at the sides of his head above his eyes. This was no concern to Emmett and Emily because they had seen his Rockhopper parents, but to others it was hard to bear. He was the object of much ridicule and cruel jokes. Sometimes the yellow feathers bristled straight out when someone insulted him, but his parents would tell him not to let it bother him. Then they would tell him there was nothing wrong with him, and fighting back wouldn’t make it any better.

Now that he had his adult feathers, Hopper could learn to swim, and also to navigate, that is, to find his directions when traveling in the water. Emmett took him out into the cold ocean, showing him how to get from one place to another, and how to get back home again. He taught him how to catch his meals, whether it was fish or krill, and how to be wary of leopard seals and other potential enemies. Hopper became a great swimmer, diver, and hunter.

On one of their excursions, they came to land near a colony of Adelie penguins. In these waters patrolled the fore-mentioned dreaded leopard seals who would love to have a penguin for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

The Adelies were hungry also and wanted to go fishing, but they were afraid to jump into the water. They peered over the edge of the ice into the water to see if any seals were lurking there. They were all telling each other to dive in.

“You dive in, you coward!”

“No, you dive in, o you who are a coward and from a long line of cowards!”

“If you weren’t such a coward, you’d be jumping into that water to prove you weren’t!”

“And how about you, you coward of cowards!”

These encouragements continued until finally one of them told his neighbor, “You dive in, you dodo bird!” and with an evil smile shoved him into the water. When the rest saw he wasn’t eaten, they all dove in for their meal.

Hopper and Emmett headed home, braying with laughter.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 3

The third installment of serialized Fly Like a Penguin, the Adventure for Kids and Other People…





Chapter 3




Since the days of their courtship, Emily and Emmett hadn’t been so happy. Emily huddled over the egg on her feet while Emmett waddled back and forth exclaiming every now and then, “Wow! We’ve got an egg. We’re going to have a chick! We called for help, and here it is!”

During this time of waiting for the hatching, they talked over many things, like how they would walk proudly among their fellow Emperors with their new little one, and what the name should be. They decided on Peter or Penelope.

Finally the day arrived when the little penguin began poking his beak through the shell of the egg. They could hardly contain their excitement as they watched that beak pecking the hole bigger and bigger.

Then out popped a little gray head with two beady eyes that were also radiant with joy and determination. Then the whole egg split apart as a little male penguin hopped out onto the ice at Emily’s feet. He didn’t look at all like them and was much smaller than the usual babies they had seen among their acquaintances.

When it came time for him to venture outside of the warmth of Emily’s feathers, he did something else that surprised them, although it probably shouldn’t have. Instead of waddling as they did, he hopped around as he explored his new world. He hopped over to Emmett and rubbed his beak on his feet, and then hopped back to Emily.

“Well, Emmy dear,” said Emmett, “I think we had forgotten what he was here for. He’s not here to make us proud Emperor parents. He’s here as a gift and for us to teach him the right way, loving him as he is, even though he’s not much like us. He’s a Rockhopper, and Hopper will be his name.”

Emily smiled as she cuddled the baby penguin and said, “We’re glad you’re here, Hopper. I don’t know why you were brought to us, but I’m sure you’ll grow up to be someone special.”

News traveled fast about the hatching of old Emmett and Emily’s baby, and soon their place was surrounded by friends, relatives and others from the colony. Many came to offer congratulations as a matter of social courtesy, but when they saw Hopper, they would say something like, “We just wanted to say how happy we are for you, that you were finally able to have a chick. He’s such an interesting-looking little fellow, isn’t he?” Then they would leave, whispering rapidly to each other.

Others were more honest about what they thought and said things like, “He’s really quite small, is he not?” or “You’ll have to teach him to waddle, I can tell you that right now,” or “Where’d he get those beady eyes?”

By the end of the day, Emily and Emmett were feeling crushed. The most important event in their life, and no one really cared. They’d rather find fault. But they decided they wouldn’t let it bother them. Hopper would be their son, and he would be a part of the colony. He would learn to love others who didn’t understand or care about him.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 1


This story is available as a printed book or ebook in various stores online, but my plan is to post a chapter (or part of a chapter) every Sunday. If you’d like to have an idea what my writing is like, here’s the opportunity to sample it, and if you don’t want to buy the book, but still want to read the story, here you can read it for free over the course of the next 40 or so weeks.

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1

The Long Way Home

Chapter 1


A Prophecy


Just a small ray of sun from the East broke through the gray clouds covering the Falkland Islands as Cliffider and Cliffidee jumped from rock to rock up the cliff from the ocean to their home. They were penguins, Rockhopper penguins.

Their life, up to this time, had been spent doing the usual penguiny sorts of things, such as raising a number of little ones from the egg to maturity. As the time now drew near for another one to enter their world, they couldn’t have imagined how their lives and that of their whole colony could change. Life had been as it was for as long as they could remember, and it seemed it had been that way for their parents and grandparents.

But on this morning, something felt different, and they didn’t know why. After finishing their breakfast in the ocean, they were on their way to visit Cliffking. He was a very old and wise penguin who was considered a patriarch of their colony. Some, however, thought he was strange.

As they drew nearer to the top of the cliff the sound of the many Rockhoppers in their colony drew louder. It sounded like they were all talking at once. They could hear playful shouting, arguing, singing, and just regular conversation. It didn’t seem unusual to Cliffidee and Cliffider. That’s just the way it was, and always had been, just like the constant crashing of the waves on the rocks below them.

Finally, after reaching the cliff’s summit, they hopped and waddled through the multitudes of their folk and came out on the other side. Climbing uphill for a while, they came to the little rock cave where Cliffking usually stayed. It was a quieter place where he could think.

“Welcome, good friends,” he said. “How was the krill?” (Krill is a favorite food of penguins. It is a tiny shrimp-like creature that is very abundant in these southern waters. To us it may sound like swill, but to them it is just swell.)

“Just swell,” answered Cliffider. “I would have brought you some, but I didn’t have a good way of carrying it up the cliff.”

“That’s okay. I have plenty—all I need. So, what’s on your mind today?”

Cliffidee answered, “We came to see what’s on your mind. We have an uneasy feeling that something is about to change for us all. We were directed to come to you, because you have been given some wisdom about it. You have a message for us, don’t you?”

“Well, you know I hate to be a bearer of bad news, but the one who directed you to come here is the one who speaks to me, and what he speaks is the truth, whether we like it or not.”

“What has he told you?” asked Cliffider.

“I know my days are getting short, and soon I must lay myself down before our Creator. Soon after that a time of trouble will come to our peaceful islands. Do you see those birds up there?”

They looked up to see the brown gull-like birds flying over the colony with watchful eyes. “The caracaras?”

Cliffking continued, “They are, as you know, our natural enemies, but not that big of a concern to us. They’re mainly a nuisance, trying to steal our eggs and looking for opportunities to take away the weak or young ones among us. But a time is coming when they will become a terrible enemy. They will increase in number, attack us, and carry many of us away.”

“How do you know these things?” asked Cliffider.

“Well, son, I’ve hopped along on the rocks of these islands and swum the ocean around us for many years. All along I’ve been with the one who knows. He has shown me some things because I listened to him.”

“How long will this attack go on?”

“Until the one comes who will lead us in victory.”

“Who will that be?”

Then Cliffking stood up straight, lifted up his right wing, and his voice, saying,


When the trouble comes from the skies

He of yellow crest and eyes

Swims from the north.

He will suddenly come forth

With his mate by his side

And a seal as his ride.

Soon the flying ones will flee

And the Falklands become free.


“Hey, not bad!” said Cliffider to his mate out of the corner of his beak, “and such an old fellow, too.”

“Ay, what’s’at? If I was a bit younger, I would have heard that!” said Cliffking. “You think poetry is only for the young? I was composing it before you were an egg, and I was already old then!”

Cliffider laughed, “Sorry about that, old-timer, but I think you were born old.” Then he grew more serious and said, “Are you saying the one who will lead us to victory will be a yellow-eyed Rockhopper? We all have beady red eyes beneath our yellow crest feathers!”

Cliffking answered, “Many things are possible that we wouldn’t expect, but perhaps there is a Yellow-eyed penguin from New Zealand in his family line.”

Cliffidee asked, “Is there anything we can do to prepare for those days?”

“The most important thing is to remember the one who made us and to keep looking to him for wisdom and help.”

Cliffider and Cliffidee visited with Cliffking until late afternoon and then returned to their place in the colony. One of their neighbors asked, “What did old Methuselah have to say today?”

Cliffidee related the prophecies of the old penguin. Some laughed, some listened, and some said, “We’ll see.”

Others said, “Things have always been as they are. Why should it change?” But the prophecies remained in their minds.

In the days that followed, Cliffider and Cliffidee spent more time outside the colony in lonely places, listening and calling for help. One morning they each knew they were given a command, a message from their maker.

That hour they left their secure home on the rock and dove into the sea, heading south.

Coming Soon, Volume 1 Serial


No, it’s not something you have for breakfast with milk on it. Starting  Sunday, February 12, a chapter of Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, will be posted here every week until the book is done. There are 33 chapters, and some of them are longer than others, so some may be cut into two or three.  If you want a free version of the book, here it will be, if you want to take 40 weeks to finish it. I hope you like it.

This idea isn’t something I thought up on my own. Many of the classic writers, like Charles Dickens, posted their books as a serial first and then published the whole book. Also, a blogger I’ve enjoyed, Mitch Teemley, has been doing it with his story, The Wishing Map. He also has thought-provoking and/or humorous posts throughout the week.

Book Review of Michael Strogoff

I just finished reading Michael Strogoff by Jules Verne, which tells the adventures of the Courier of the Czar as he carries an important message from Moscow to Irkutsk in Siberia. The Tartars have invaded the country and the czar’s brother is in danger of assassination by an evil traitor. Michael’s mission is to get the message to the Grand Duke before the invaders reach him. He is a man who because of his love for God and country, refuses to be deterred from the duty he is called to accomplish.

Jules Verne was a writer with great, and at times almost prophetic, imagination. He had a great love for science, and in many of his books, like 20,000 Leagues under the Sea, he described the scenery in much-too-detailed scientific terms. This is the case sometimes in Michael Strogoff, but the story moves forward continually with one adventure after another until the final satisfying scenes.

You might wonder why I’m writing a review of a book written 140 years ago, and one that is somewhat obscure. The first reason is I just read it and greatly enjoyed it. Also, I generally like classics, and Jules Verne has been one of my favorite authors for many years. I think it’s good to draw attention to some of these works that many overlook.

As I try to figure out what I’m going to do with this blog, one thing I’ve considered is to write reviews of books as I finish reading them. We’ll see later if that actually happens. Whatever the case, reading is good, and especially finding books that build up the imagination and the desire to grow beyond ourselves, encouraging us to fulfill the purpose God has for us.

The Trilogy is Complete

The third book of the Fly Like a Penguin trilogy was published on March 15. Sometimes I call it a series, which leaves open the possibility of adding more to it. Right now it is a trilogy with the completion of Volume 3, The Last Wave.

I originally published the first book as Fly Like a Penguin in 2004, but finding more to the story, I published The Smell of Evil in 2012. At that time I also revised the first book and entitled it The Long Way Home. Volume 2 left some unanswered questions, which The Last Wave took care of. Now the story is complete, although I wonder, “Will there be more?” Time will tell. Then I wouldn’t be able to call it a trilogy.


Flap2-9-23-13jpgThe Last Wave







These books are available as printed books or ebooks. The first two are temporarily free as ebooks at most online stores. The lowest Amazon will let me go is $0.99. At Smashwords you can download a copy for any type of reading device, including Kindle. The third book is $1.99.

A list of stores where you can get them are at the right side of this page. You might have to scroll down a little bit.



The Penguin in Puget Sound

I posted this a few years ago, but I don’t know if anyone saw it. With the upcoming release of the Last Wave (Volume 3 of Fly Like a Penguin), I thought it would be good to share it again.

When I was a teenager, I saw a penguin floating on a log in Puget Sound. If you who aren’t familiar with that body of water, it’s the inlet from the Pacific Ocean that gives the state of Washington its great shape. Seattle is on the eastern side of the Sound, and my hometown, Bremerton, is on the west.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our house was on the waterfront with a porch along the whole front side, where you could stand outside, even on one of those rare rainy Washington days, and look aimlessly out at the water. The usual sights were seagulls, boats, including the ferry that went hourly to and from Seattle, other birds, seagulls, occasional jumping fish, seagulls, and boats, including canoes, rowboats, ski-boats, and yachts. Sometimes something more exciting might swim by, like a seal, or even more rarely, some whales.

A Seagull, not a Penguin

But one day a penguin floated by. Penguins don’t live in Puget Sound or anywhere near that far north. The most northerly penguins are the Galapagos Penguins on the equator off the coast of Ecuador. I really don’t remember my reaction to seeing a penguin there. It must have been whatever a typical teen reaction might have been. I didn’t think about it much after that until many years later when I had my own kids. One day, the thought came into my mind, “Hey, what was that penguin doing there?”
From that question came the years-long quest to answer it. Indeed, it took nearly 20 years for the completion of the story, in which is answered not only that first question, but also where did that penguin come from, and where was it going? Originally publishing it as Fly Like a Penguin in 2004, later on I found there was more to the story. The first book was revised (improved) in 2012, and the name changed to The Long Way Home, being Volume 1 of the Fly Like a Penguin series. Volume 2, The Smell of Evil, was published later that year. Volume 3, The Last Wave, will be published March 15.  That will probably complete the series, although I have some ideas for spinoff stories.

The Last Wave
Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 3

The first two books are temporarily free, until I make some corrections and improvements in the writing, after which I will republish them. The Last Wave can be preordered and will be available for download next week.

The Last Wave Coming Soon!

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 3, The Last Wave, is nearing completion, and I should be able to publish it in early 2016. I realize that Volume 2 left the good readers kind of hanging, and it’s taken a while to get unhung. Sorry about that. However, I hope to be able to remedy this situation fairly soon. Thank you to all who have read the first two, and haven’t forgotten about the series. For those of you who have forgotten, I don’t really blame you. There are a lot more important things going on in the world than a book series.

I think that you will find that the wait has been worth it. Stay tuned.

The Last Wave
Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 3, The Last Wave

The Taking of Seattle

This is a continuation of my last story, A Night in a Canoe, although a different adventure:

Later that summer we had a new canoe trip, this time with Dave and another Bob, Bob M. Between Bremerton and Seattle is Blake Island which is a state park and is only accessible by boat. Our plan was to spend a night there, continue on to Seattle, head back to the west, spend the second night on Bainbridge Island at Fay Bainbridge State Park, and then go all the way around the north end of Bainbridge Island and back home to Bremerton.

After a late start we headed for Echo Passage, which is actually a part of Rich Passage. We passed the lighthouse at the entrance to the passage and Namu’s inlet. This is the point that a ferry from Bremerton to Seattle disappears from sight from someone viewing from my home in Bremerton.

We arrived at Blake Island as the light was beginning to fade. Landing on the northeastern side of the island, we set up camp. It appeared that we were the only ones there so we proceeded to joke around and make lots of noise. Finally we climbed into our sleeping bags and fell asleep.

Blake Island with Mount Rainier behind it

The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and prepared for our departure on the next stage of our journey. As we looked around us we wondered how all those other people got there. Then we loaded up our canoe and snuck away.

Seattle didn’t look very far away as we slowly paddled in its direction. But it took a long time before it actually looked closer. We gradually crept up on Alki Beach on the southern shores of Elliot Bay, which is the harbor of Seattle. Landing on the sandy beach, we got out, stretched, and surveyed the territory. Downtown Seattle was still a pretty long canoe ride away, and going there would make it hard to complete our planned two day adventure.

We opted to cross directly from where we were to the north side of Elliot Bay and from there continue to Bainbridge Island. This was probably the second stupidest thing we ever did. Out in the middle of the Bay we were 3 dummies in a canoe in the territory of tug boats with big waves, ocean liners with big waves and ferry boats with big waves. And all of them were a lot bigger than canoes. But we were intrepid adventurers. We were terrified.


A few hours later we landed on the north shore of the bay which seemed to be a neglected part of the city. There were a few shacks on the beach that looked like they could fall apart, but I think people lived in them. We disembarked briefly to give our buns a rest and stretch our legs, but then it was straight across Puget Sound to Fay Bainbridge State Park. This was another grueling ride that took longer than it looked like it should.

The water was beginning to get a little rough and night was upon us as we approached the park. We took on some water as we landed, and some of our sleeping bags got wet. We got a fire going to cook a meal and to dry out the bags. Dave’s bag got too close to the fire and got a little burned. At this point I believe we may have been getting tired of our adventure, although great adventurers hate to admit to such a thing, and especially that they might want to sleep in their comfortable beds at home. Whatever the reasoning, we got back in the canoe and headed north along the eastern shore of Bainbridge Island. I think it was about 10:00 pm.

I don’t think we realized how far it was around the northern end of the island. If we had, we probably would have slept in our wet sleeping bags. This turned out to be the stupidest thing we ever did.

At the northern end of the island, we paddled along in a fairly narrow passage with calm water. If we shined a flashlight into the water, little fish would jump against the boat. This was the last enjoyable part of the trip.

As we rounded the last point to where we could see our side of Puget Sound (which should have been a very welcome sight) the water became rough. It wasn’t just mildly rough. It was very rough, the kind of rough a small boat shouldn’t be in, especially a canoe. We felt we had no choice but to continue toward home and our warm beds.

I was the in the stern of the ship as the steersman, Dave was in the bow as the scout, and Bob sat on a box in the middle of the boat. Our plan was for me to steer us directly across to the other side, but the storm wouldn’t let me go that way. The waves carried us along more in the direction of home, so we ended up angling our way to the other side. We wanted to take the shortest route to get to safety on the opposite shore, but we ended up being carried more in the direction we needed to go towards home.
The ordeal of crossing Elliot Bay doesn’t compare with this one of being carried by huge waves in the dark of night, well past our bed time, in a narrow canoe with three 18 year old guys, great adventurers who wanted to go home. We wondered if we would get a chance to see home again. Panic tried to set in, but didn’t get a chance. We were too busy fighting the waves.

Probably a half hour or hour later we reached the other side and continued paddling with the current toward home, passing Illahee State Park, and then all the familiar landmarks closer to my house.
We were plenty sore and tired as we reached the end of our adventure at about 4 a.m. Dave said as we pulled the canoe out of the water, “The next time we decide to do something like this, let’s just torture ourselves instead.”

Back Home

A Night in a Canoe

Shortly after our high school graduation, my friends, Dave and Bob J., and I decided to see what it would be like to stay out all night in a canoe. I lived on the waterfront and we had a canoe, so it could be done.

We shoved off from the shore and headed for the other side of the bay. Our side is Bremerton. The other side is the other side, where foreigners from South Kitsap County live. I’m not sure how far it is across, maybe a mile. Being on the other side was like being in a different country, one that could be seen from your own, but one you wouldn’t want to live in. But it could be visited by boat, and explored and conquered for the motherland. That was our first mission of the night, to cross over and stake claim to this wild and unconquered territory.

The Foreign Territory to be Conquered

Once that was accomplished we once again set sail, following the coast of our new domain until we came to a narrow passage. At this place is a little inlet, once made famous by Namu the killer whale who was kept there for a time.

Farther along we made the discovery of Echo Passage, a place where if you yelled anything on a very calm night at say, 1:00 in the morning, the very same thing would be yelled back at you. We were very proud of this discovery, and amazingly made it past this place with no attacks by the sleeping natives. Who knows how many of their curses we fell under.

Now on the other side of this passage is an island, Bainbridge Island. Of course, this too had to be conquered, which was done with no loss of life and no resistance from the natives. From there we headed back more in the direction of home. To continue as we were would lead us to Seattle, and we didn’t feel we had the time or the manpower to lay siege there. That had to be left for another adventure.

We followed the coast of the island for a while and then headed back to our side of the bay. On our way there I saw a fireball meteor. I could actually see fire coming off it as it fell toward the earth.

We landed at Illahee State Park and began our exploration as an army troop seeking out the enemy, one like you might see in the movies. We were in character, and Bob J. assumed command under the name of Monroe. He led us well, but all discipline broke down when Dave, who probably had a name like Kilroy, called him “Marilyn.”

Mount Rainier behind the Conquered Lands

By this time we were getting pretty tired. We slowly paddled our trusty craft back home as the sun came up over Bainbridge Island. Mount Rainier glowed orange as it towered over the trees on the far side of the bay. We landed back at the home base around 5:00. The other two headed for their homes and I went to bed.