etre tout sucre, tout miel

Jasmine Window (c) Kristin Espinasse
Squint your eyes and you might see the whimsical warning (beneath the flowy jasmine); the door sign reads: "Attention, Chien Bizarre!"/"Watch out for Strange Dog!" (Notice the little hearts on the ironwork. Photo taken in Brignoles, while on a stroll with Mama Jules. Imaged enhanced by Picasa's free "lomo" filter.)

être tout sucre, tout miel
(to be all sugar, all honey) 

    : to be the picture of sweetness (kindness)... or to appear to be!

Audio File: Listen to Jean-Marc: Download MP3 or Wave file

Une personne qualifiée comme étant 'tout sucre tout miel' montre une apparence lisse et extrêmement gentille - voire trop - mais ce n'est qu'une apparence. On utilise cette expression lorsqu'on soupçonne que derrière les sourires et l'affabilité de façade se cache autre chose, un caractère ou une envie bien moins avouables.

A person who is referred to as being "all sugar all honey" exhibits a smooth and extremely kind appearance—indeed too kind—but this is only an appearance. We use this expression when we suspect that behind the smiles and the apparent graciousness, something else is hidden: a character or a desire that one perhaps would not want to admit. —French definition from


A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse

The Control Freak & The Honey Harvest

This is not how I imagined it to be, waking up on what might have been a relaxing samedi. My plan was to stroll into the newly clean and orderly kitchen, make a cup of coffee in the calcaire-free coffee maker, and enjoy the morning ritual from this side of smudge-free windows. The coffee... the view... what more could a reformed slacker wish or do?

So much for four weeks of spring cleaning! And the house had been coming together so nicely... My eyes locked onto the offender, my stubble-faced soul mate. There he stood at the kitchen table, surrounded by every pot and pan in our nicked and handles-bent collection. Even the oven's roasting pan had been brought out... 

All in the name of honey!

ruche honeycomb beekeeping
                          One of those sticky frames pulled from the ruche.

It appeared to be bottling time. After three years of misses, Jean-Marc now had a hit! The amateur beekeeper had finally struck liquid gold!


"Oui!" he answered, oblivious to the mess. Jean-Marc continued to hum along to a favorite song. As he hummed he scraped the sides of the sticky wooden cadres. For this, he used our biggest kitchen knife which was now encrusted with beeswax!

Le gâteau de miel! There seemed to be more of it than the honey... and whether more or less both conspired to make one great sticky mess! The shambles continued all the way over to the kitchen sink, where a host of jam, pickle, and tomato jars were draining. But were they sterile enough to hold honey? My eyes returned to the suspicious surfaces and to the floor... where golden droplets glistened in the morning sun. 

I wasn't the only one staring goggle-eyed at the sticky drops of honey across the kitchen floor: Smokey and Braise, who stood outside, noses-flattened against the kitchen window, were already drawing up a Whose-is-Whose proprietorial map. I could almost hear Braise:

"Son, I'll take the sticky sector beneath the table. You get to lick up the floor by the sink."

"Oh no you don't!" This plan, real or imagined, would not see the light of day... not if I had it my way! I felt the remnants of a stubborn will... as it welled up from within me.... 

I looked over at the honey maker. Presently he was licking his fingers

"But you can't do this that way!" I cried. There had to be a more orderly and sterile system for bottling honey! 

"Laisse-moi faire!" Jean-Marc was calm, but firm in his suggestion. 

"But I..."

"Let me handle this!" he repeated.

I looked over at Braise and Smokey, who by now were drooling beneath their window-smashed noses. 

"Laisse-le faire! Laisse-le faire!" The dogs seemed to urge, all the while their eyes shined... as brightly as those glistening honey-drops which fell glop-glop-glop spot after spot.

The next morning I dragged my feet into the kitchen. On the stove were two great casseroles. I lifted the lids... 

Just as Jean-Marc had promised, the sticky process had worked itself out, thanks to a little heat! There, in the pan, was a perfect waxen disk. Below it, pure honey!

As I stared at the miracle of miel—and the perfect order that had arisen from chaos—the words from the song that Jean-Marc had hummed the day before came to mind. As I hummed, I thought about the control freak inside of me and how, in order to break free, one might chance to be wild—wild as honey....

You can go there if you please
Wild honey
And if you go there, go with me
Wild honey

You can do just what you please
Wild honey
Yeah, just blowing in the breeze
Wild honey
Wild, wild, wild...




                   "Mon Coeur"/"My Love" Do you see the big heart in the center?....

Please forward this edition to a friend who loves French. 

Here is that honeycomb-turned-"lid" that I found in the pan, on top of the pure honey. Please put your honeycomb or beeswax project ideas (candles? furniture wax?) here, in the comments box. Jean-Marc is looking for things to do with beeswax and ways to use this precious natural "cake". Thanks! Flowers from Anne and Karen

French Vocabulary

le samedi = Saturday

calcaire = chalky, hard water deposit

la ruche = bee hive

oui = yes

le cadre = frame

la cire = wax

le gâteau de miel = honeycomb

laisse-moi faire = let me handle this

laisse-le faire = let him handle this

le miel = honey


Fran and Katie by Alex and Joanne Polner
Jean-Marc, Fran Rorie, and Katie Dyer by Alex/Joanne Polner. Alex and Joanne took this next photo, too...


Jean-marc by alex or joanne polner

Katie dyer team fur
Katie notes: Here is a recent photo of the Team. Windsor is the smiley red boy in the back.  Aslan, half brother to Nigel and Smudge, is the silly blond in the middle, and Smudge is the naughty girl in the back row. Smudge's mother, Lizzie, is in the front next to her son, Nigel, who is Smudge's littermate.


Related Stories

  1. Bobbing for Bees - Smokey gets into some stingy mischief! Click here.
  2. "The Beehive/mailbox" - a cool idea -- but not so postman friendly! Click here.
  3. "On Entertaining Angels... or Unannounced Apiculteurs" -- another lesson in hospitality. Thanks for taking the time to read this one.

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