When President Reagan spoke at the Heritage Foundation dinner Tuesday he talked about the lessons of history. After the most terrible frustration and discouragement, he said, sometimes change can come so quickly and so unexpectedly that it surprises even those who have made it happen. "This is particularly true in Washington," he said. "One Cabinet member in a former administration put it very well. The toughest job in Washington, he said, is being able to tell the difference between the tides, the waves and the ripples."

The president didn't identify the Cabinet member, but former secretary of health, education and welfare Joseph A. Califano Jr. called to say he remembered the quote well. That's what Califano said at his press conference that July day in 1979 when former president Jimmy Carter fired him from the Cabinet. Califano said he was surprised and pleased, even if he hadn't been quoted by name. "It's in the Reagan tradition of quoting Democrats like FDR and JFK," he said. Living Without

More on life at the Marcoses' Hawaiian exile without all that money and all those shoes. Imelda Marcos told the San Francisco Examiner in an interview published Tuesday that she is optimistic about returning to her native land. But while supporters bring food to the Marcoses' rented home, "I worry about whether there will be enough rice on the table, enough milk for my grandchildren. Real basics. All the little details. Where do we buy a rake?"

As for all the shoes and other possessions left behind, she said she is not "attached to material things. The palace doesn't mean anything. I don't miss any of those possessions. I'm attached to principles like my country." Of the Hawaiian Filipino community, which has been very supportive, she said, "These were the kind of little people who came to the palace. We gave them courtesy, said hello, had our pictures taken." End Notes

New York Gov. Mario Cuomo wasn't about to let former president Richard M. Nixon get away with saying Cuomo was "more poetry than prose" compared with Sen. Gary Hart. Nixon also predicted either Democrat would lose to Vice President George Bush. Cuomo told the same American Newspaper Publishers Association convention in San Francisco that Nixon addressed Monday that "President Nixon is a man of great intellect, unique experience and extraordinary political wisdom. He has shared all of that with the American people . . . I believe most Americans are grateful for that and hope that he will continue to offer us his counsel for many years to come. That does not mean," he added with a pause, "he's right about the next election or knows anything at all about poetry and prose" . . .

Another repercussion of the Libya bombing. The Yale Glee Club has canceled its four-week European tour for fear the 65 members might be a likely target for terrorists. The group, whose tour was scheduled to begin in Norway next week, would also have performed in Sweden, Denmark, West Germany and the Netherlands . . .

About 35,000 tickets for two ZZ Top concerts at the Capital Centre May 24 and 25 sold out in three hours yesterday. To handle the demand, a third date, May 26, has been added, with tickets going on sale sometime next week . . . And on the other side of the Beltway, tickets have been hotly selling for the Kirov Ballet. When the box office opened last Sunday at noon, many had gathered six hours earlier to wait to buy tickets . . .

Actress Judy Carne, who starred in the 1960s on television's "Laugh-In," was shaken when she was sentenced in Northampton, England, to three months in jail on two counts of drug possession. She pleaded guilty to possession of drugs at her home and being caught with drugs at London's Heathrow Airport on a return trip from New York. The judge would not grant bail pending an appeal . . .

An update on actor Broderick Crawford, who is in the Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., suffering complications from a stroke. A hospital spokesman said his condition is serious but improved . . .

Violinist Yehudi Menuhin celebrated his 70th birthday Tuesday, doing what he does so masterfully: performing. He was joined at a special birthday concert at London's Royal Festival Hall by cellist and National Symphony music director Mstislav Rostropovich in playing Tchaikovsky's "Variations on a Rococo Theme," Brahms' Double Concerto and Beethoven's Violin Concerto . . .